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This October, the moment Courtney Chu had been spent her whole life preparing for became a reality, when the 12-year-old found herself filming a skit for “Saturday Night Live” alongside actress Gal Gadot.

And while nabbing a part on SNL is certainly noteworthy, it’s not the first time the Mount Laurel pre-teen has appeared in front of television cameras. Chu has performed in a number of PBS shows and was recently asked the join the cast of “Cyberchase For Real,” which airs through January. The show, which is a spinoff of the animated PBS show “Cyberchase,” teaches kids about STEAM skills.

Chu on the set of “Cyberchase for Real”

Chu caught the acting bug early, and when she was just 6 years old, she was cast in her first musical, “The Sound of Music,” with her local theater company. Just a few years later, she got her first Broadway callback for a role in “Matilda.”

“When I got called back, I was so happy,” Chu says. “I remember I was waiting to go into a voice lesson and we got the email. I just freaked out. I had to be really quiet because there was another student. But I was silently freaking out.”

Chu says her favorite part about acting is being able to leave herself behind and completely encapsulate a character.

“If you had a bad day it doesn’t matter, because your character, hopefully, didn’t have a bad day,” she says. “And if your character did have a bad day, you can just totally break down as that character. There are no restraints on you. You can do a lot with the character and just be accepted for it.”

Though Chu has worked with companies like PBS/WHYY and Broadway Records, she says her favorite performance so far has been her role in Walnut Street Theater’s production of “South Pacific.” “The cast included a number of Broadway stars. It’s just mind-boggling to think that I was on stage with these people.”

Chu is also fond of the performances she’s done for charities spreading an anti-bullying message, including Broadway Records’ “Broadway Kids Against Bullying” CD and the Mini Misfits Traveling Troupe’s anti-bullying play “The Gaggle.” Chu also joined 24 other Broadway children and a number of adult Broadway stars to record a rendition of “We Are The World” in order to raise funds for the victims of the 2016 Orlando nightclub shooting.

Chu says her career in performing has proved to her that she can do anything she puts her mind to and works hard to achieve.

“I didn’t just sit around and wait for it to happen,” she says. “I had to work. It’s just truly an incredible thing. My teacher used to say, ‘There’s no elevator to success – you have to take the stairs.’ It’s really true.”

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