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Ruff heads west to pursue dream of becoming professional actress

Thirteen-year-old Julie Ruff poses with her family after closing night of a production of “Annie” at the Berkshire Theatre Festival in Stockbridge, Mass., where she had the title role. Julie was joined, from left, by her mother, LeeAnne; brothers Jordan and Justus; sister, Jenna; and father, Jon.

Thirteen-year-old Julie Ruff poses with her family after closing night of a production of “Annie” at the Berkshire Theatre Festival in Stockbridge, Mass., where she had the title role. Julie was joined, from left, by her mother, LeeAnne; brothers Jordan and Justus; sister, Jenna; and father, Jon. Photo provided

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Julie Ruff performs at the Clinton County Fair in Morrisonville last month.

— Julia Ruff is chasing her dream.

The 13-year-old Peru Middle School student is packing her bags and heading to Los Angeles, Calif., to pursue a career as a professional actress.

“I’m very nervous,” admitted Julia. “I’m going all the way across the country, really not knowing anybody. It’ll be an adventure.”

Julia didn’t just wake up one day and decide to become an actress. It’s been something she’s wanted to do since she started acting in local theatre productions at the age of 4. Her parents, LeeAnne and Jon Ruff, have been behind her every step of the way.

“When she was 5, she told us she was going to be on Broadway,” said LeeAnne, smiling.

Through the years, Julia’s parents have encouraged her passion for acting which has led to roles with productions for Peru Music Theatre, Adirondack Regional Theatre, Essex Theatre Company and Lake Placid Center for the Arts, among others.

“I’ve been in Peter Pan twice, Annie twice. I’ve been in Grease, The Little Mermaid, Gypsy, The Sound of Music, Seussical,” Julia recalled. “I love acting. It’s something I want to keep doing for the rest of my life.”

And, just as her decision to pursue becoming a professional actress didn’t happen overnight, neither did Julia’s pilgrimage to the West Coast. It began with a benefit concert at the church the Ruffs attend where they met Karen Mason, a Broadway performer.

“Karen and her husband encouraged us to get Julia to New York City to see what possibilities there were,” said LeeAnne. “So, we did.”

Julia enrolled in an acting workshop in the city where she met later with managers and agents who were impressed with her acting abilities, said LeeAnne.

“She got called right away by several people,” said LeeAnne.

Eventually, Julia got enough attention to land parts in two television commercials for Chuck E. Cheese and a commercial for Hellman’s Mayonnaise.

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