Gabriela Kreszchuk came into the world on May 25, 1995, in Mission Viejo, a day her mother, Polita Campaneris, describes as overcast until she gave birth.
"As soon as she came out," she said, "the sun shined."
One of her middle names, Soleil (pronounced So-lay), became her stage name. The French word, which means sun, seems a perfect fit for a girl who is cheerful even when faced with the pressures of balancing an acting career with third grade.
"I sing all the time. I sing when I do my homework," said Gabby, who learned to read at 5 and is an A student in the advanced GATE program at Rainbow Elementary School in Moreno Valley.
Grabbing a microphone from a mini-karaoke machine at the home of her grandparents Paul and Lonnie Catledge, with whom she lives, Gabby belted out a love song by The Cheetah Girls.
"Set me free. I'd rather rescue myself," she sang as she grooved across the floor in a comic book print skirt and black boots, moving to some fancy dance steps. She laid the facial expressions on as thick as maple syrup.
Lonnie Catledge said when Gabby was younger, she sang and generally entertained passengers and the crew on plane trips. "(Pilots) said, 'Gabby, we'll see you in Hollywood!' "
Said her mom: "She was born a drama queen."
Gabby caught the eye of a talent manager on a Beverly Hills street, Catledge said. She scored her Screen Actors Guild card - coveted by many an aspiring older actor - at the tender age of 4.
Her first job was an advertisement for Met Life, in which she looked so heart strings-tugging cute it would be hard to resist buying insurance to protect a child's future.
Next came commercials including spots for Target and Radio Shack. She recently finished an Oscar Mayer ad in which she sings the classic, "I want to be an Oscar Mayer wiener" ditty.
At the mention of the commercial, Gabby broke into song: "And if I'm an Oscar Mayer wiener, everyone will be in love with me."
Charming moments like that helped win her roles on television shows such as "The Hughleys" and "Half and Half" on UPN, "I'm With Her" on ABC and "That's So Raven" on the Disney channel.
Fine said the "Johnson Family Vacation" job was the perfect role for Gabby at the perfect time.
Plus, she's talented, Fine said. "When you have it, you have it."
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