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RUSSELL COUNTY HEROES: Defying the odds, Angrick Cooper takes center stage
In May 17 issue, Russell County News
By Derek Aaron
Russell County News Editor

ABOVE: Angrick Cooper, who will be a 7th grade student at Russell County Middle School in the fall, has some limitations with her current medical situation, which she first started seeing signs of in elementary school. But, she can make up for that with her acting and memorization skills as evident by her exemplary performance as May Belle Aarons in “Bridge to Terabithia.”

This week’s “Russell County Hero,” is the youngest to date, but by no means does that diminish the honor, in fact it may help to set a standard with this feature.

Angrick Cooper, a soon-to-be 6th grade graduate from Salem Elementary, has experienced several roadblocks in her young life. But to anyone that saw her recent performance in the Star Theater production, “Bridge to Terabithia,” knows she stole the show playing the role of May Belle Aarons.

“I stood out even though I wasn’t the main character,” Angrick, the daughter of Patrick Cooper and Angela Edwards, said. Her name is a combination of both of her parent’s first names.

Angrick, 11, has an undiagnosed medical condition that has caused her legs to become weak and her walking to become suspect in recent years, but that doesn’t hinder her mind and what she has been able to accomplish with it, both in school and with acting.

Born six weeks premature with lungs that weren’t fully developed, Angrick, stayed in the hospital for three weeks after being born and has not stopped defying the odds.

“She was a small child but other than that she was as normal as anybody else,” Angela said. “She always got straight A’s in school … she is a super smart kid.”

Angrick, whom her mother says has always been the smallest child in her grade, has some limitations with her current medical situation, which she first started seeing signs of in elementary school. But she can make up for that with her acting and memorization skills.

“The plays are something she can do,” Angela said. “She is very good at it and she’s always loved it.”

She has had several medical tests run on her at the University of Kentucky Medical Center and none have come back with an identification of her current problem. Her mother also said she regularly visits Shriner’s Children Hospital for check-ups and tests.

“It is still something we’re going to have to figure out,” Angela said of the medical condition. “It might slow her down a little bit but other than that, she’s just your average, ordinary 11-year-old girl.”

Angela said she would like to know what’s causing her daughter’s problems but said that if she doesn’t find out, it wasn’t meant to be. “It’s harder to not know.”

“Maybe it will stop her and this will be as bad as it gets,” she said. “She’s got a lot of people praying for her and caring for her.”

After not fouling up any lines in the six showings of “Terabithia,” Angrick said she was said to see the production come to an end.

“It was my first play where I had to talk except for church plays,” she said. Angrick had played a part in the earlier Star production of “Peter Pan,” but didn’t speak.

Angrick, who also lists cheerleading and modeling as favorites of hers, said she loved to act and would continue to be in Star productions in the future.

“I practice my lines with my mom and dad and when my friends come over,” she said. “I have a photographic memory because I remembered everybody else’s lines, too.”

She said she had to keep up with all the lines so she would know when it was her turn to speak again.

Angrick said she had been to every Star play since “Titanic,” and had wished to be part of one until she tried out for the mermaid role in “Peter Pan,” in February 2007. The first play she ever attended was “Beauty and the Beast,” at age 3.

“We could never take her to a movie,” said her mother, Angela. “But the first time we took her to a play she didn’t move a muscle.”

Angrick said she enjoyed live performances because of the “real” people involved. She also said she loves being in the spotlight.

She attends Mount Pleasant United Methodist with her mother and on occasion, Welfare Baptist with her grandfather, Lyle Cooper, and said she loves to sing at church. She has even memorized many verses of the Bible.

“She’s never been a shy one,” her mother said with a smile. Angrick said her favorite television show was “America’s Next Top Model,” and that a goal of hers was to be on the show as a competitor.

“She loves the show because of all the makeup and the clothes,” her mother said. But her number one love is acting.

“I still have people complimenting me on my part in “Bridge to Terabithia,” she said. “Before the first show, I was really nervous,” she said. “But when I got out there and started doing it I did fine.”

She said she knew there were large crowds watching her but that once she got on stage her focus turned over to her lines, and the outcome was one to be proud of.

Angrick said she was deeply saddened by the passing of Adam Redmon, one of the directors, along with Kyle Hadley, for “Bridge to Terabithia,” because she had gotten to know him so well over the past few months.

She also said it was Redmon who chose her for her first role in “Peter Pan,” without even auditioning another person for the part.

Her grandparents are Mike and Bonnie Edwards and Lyle and Deanna Cooper, all of Russell County.

Angrick said she was going to take several plays off before beginning on another one but said she has realized that her talent could take her places.

She even said she was complimented by a Lindsey Wilson professor after one of the plays.

So, chances are that Russell Countians will again get to witness the wonderful acting of one of our local heroes in the not-so-distant future.
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