Neli Kastrinos, 8, attended her first Hollywood premiere Tuesday, wearing a sage dress with a white fur hem from Calgary designer Paul Hardy's collection.
The Edmonton actor stars in The Unforgivable opposite Sandra Bullock which comes to Netflix on Dec. 10.
"It was just amazing," Neli told CBC's Edmonton AM about seeing herself on the screen for the first time. "I didn't know how good I was."
She described getting a "giant hug" from her Oscar-winning co-star who called her "baby girl" at the after-party and whisked her away from her family as people crowded around her.
"She was very popular," Neli said.
Kastrinos' mother said Neli was always an expressive child but it was after seeing her perform in a kindergarten play that she decided to further her career prospects.
"She showcased a lot of performance skills," Roshan Kastrinos said.
Kastrinos got her daughter into Mode Models, an agency in Edmonton and later found her an agent with Vancouver's Cue Management.
In December 2019, Neli was given the opportunity to audition for a major role in Hollywood.
"At that time, we had no idea that it was with The Unforgivable," Kastrinos said. "We didn't know the name of the movie or that she was ever going to be working with Sandra Bullock.
"So we were all quite surprised and happy and blessed when we found out she booked the role."
Neli was told late January 2020 that she was going to star as Katie, a younger version of Bullock's character. Filming took place in February and March.
The movie is heavy on emotion and Kastrinos said she was moved to see her daughter perform.
"She was a superstar. She just took it and ran with it," Kastrinos said.
"I mean, she was six years old when she filmed. So this is a couple of years ago now, and it was definitely just eye opening to see her perform in this way."
Despite her youth Neli already has a firm grasp on how to work her emotions for scenes.
She didn't do anything to prepare for her role, she said matter-of-factly.
"It just all felt, like, really real for me when trying to do a sad scene," she said.
"I just look around me, look at my surroundings, sometimes like all the time, it feels real to me."
For auditions, she would think about bad things happening to friends and family to get her in the right mindset, she said.
Neli said she wants to continue her acting career.
She also stars in an episode of the TV series Yellowjackets and wants one day to work on the Netflix series, Sweet Tooth.