"My character is Gertie or Gertrude Nash," said Staley, the 16-year-old daughter of Bob and Beth Staley of Cartersville. "She's 14 and she's an orphan. She lost her mother two years before the movie starts. Her mother dies of cancer and she has a little 9-year-old sister that she has to take care of because her mother set it up to where she can live on her own without DFCS having to find her.
"She basically has to play the role of mother, father, friend and sister. And over a course of events, things start to happen to where her teacher starts to figure out that things aren't exactly right at home, and just over a course of events they wind up getting their happy ending."
Filmed around Atlanta in the spring, Staley said the TV movie was shot in 18 days. Along with Staley, the presentation also features Rockmond Dunbar, Vanessa Williams and Kyla Kenedy.
"I was really excited [to attend the screening]," she said. "This was my first premiere and they flew us down to Miami for the ABFF, which is the American Black Film Festival. And sitting in the screening, I think I was more nervous than I've ever been, even for the audition. To actually watch it, it was really weird.
"I like to say, I'm my world's worst critic because I'm always, like 'Oh, I could have done that better.' ... It's pretty awesome," she said about starring in a TV movie. "It's kind of cool to know that you were picked out of 200 girls to do something and this was also my first lead. So the fact that I've made that accomplishment over eight years, it shows progress to me and I like that."
Interested in the craft since the age of 7, Staley started acting professionally when she was 8. Locally, she has been fine-tuning her acting talents at The Grand's Summer Music Theatre Camp program for about five years.
"Ever since I was little, I've always been trying to entertain people, making jokes, pretend to pass out in people's arms because I thought it was cute," said Staley, who previously appeared in two episodes of "Tyler Perry's House of Payne" and six episodes of NBC's "Surface." "I actually got started by an organization called AMTC, and it's a Christian organization that is judged by managers and agents and casting directors. It's kind of like a talent show with the benefits of the professional world. Then I've been at The Grand for a while and been working here locally.
"Then after that I've been taking acting lessons. ... My long-term goal is just to entertain. I'm also a singer. Everybody [dreams] of doing what they love to do and the fact that I'm able to do what I want to do is really awesome. Overall, it's not even about how big you can get but more so how much you do and how much you live in that craft."
For Morgan McCrary, who is a director for The Grand's "Bye Bye Birdie," Staley's talent is unmistakable.
"I've known Victoria four years now," McCrary said. "This is the first time that I've actually had the opportunity to direct her and I am thrilled. She is one of those actors that I've had the opportunity to watch in background scenes as a member of the crowd in a town scene. Even then in such a small part, she's an actor who knows how to make the most of it. You can look at her and even though she's not maybe the center of attention as far as being a main character, you want to watch her because you get the sense that this is a fully-developed character with a backstory.
"Her ability to do that means that she is that much better when she does have to do a lead role. She understands the hard work that goes into it. ... For her to be able to start [acting professionally] at this young age, I like to think that her work with the camps, not necessarily with me, but with other acting opportunities locally that that had something to do with her maturity and her ability to get cast in television programs and movies like this. It's rewarding for us to see her succeed."
The Senior Music Theatre Camp's production of "Bye Bye Birdie" will be presented July 27 and 28 at 7 p.m. and July 29 at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are $10 for adults and $7 for students. For more information or to obtain tickets in advance, call 770-386-7343 or visit The Grand Theatre ticket office -- 7 N. Wall St. in Cartersville -- Monday through Friday from 8 to 11 a.m. and 12:30 to 5 p.m.