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Winnetka teen breaks into movies with ‘The Bling Ring’



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benefit screening

When: 7:45 p.m. Monday
(followed by a Kate Chang

Where: Wilmette Theatre,
1122 Central Ave., Wilmette

Tickets: $75 (proceeds benefit the not-for-profit theater)

Info: (847) 251-7424;

A pre-party at Gilson’s
Restaurant, 1126 Central Ave., begins at 6:30 p.m.

Updated: July 17, 2013 6:33AM

With little more on her actor’s resume than some children’s shows at the Winnetka Community Center and a musical at New Trier, 18-year-old Katie Chang has made a very auspicious movie debut.

The Winnetka native plays Rebecca, the leader of a real-life band of overprivileged, celebrity-burglarizing suburban-L.A. teens, in writer-director Sofia Coppola’s “The Bling Ring.” The film will make its local debut with a red-carpet premiere Monday at the Wilmette Theatre and opens in other theaters Friday.

Chang talked about rich-kid crime, the Cannes Film Festival and what it was like hanging out in Paris Hilton’s walk-in closet.

Q. How did you wind up auditioning for Sofia Coppola?

A. Carole Dibo, who runs the Actors Training Center [at the Wilmette Theatre, which she also co-owns], heard about the casting notice and decided to put me on tape for it. Then I flew out to meet with Sofia and auditioned a few more times on tape before flying out for an in-person audition. And after that, I booked it.

Q. What was it like working with her?

A. She’s fantastic. Very smart, very kind and very open to new ideas when she was working with the actors.

Q. Did you and the rest of the cast go with her when the film debuted at Cannes?

A. Yes! It was the most amazing thing. The area where we stayed was so beautiful, and there are so many people and so many glamorous things going on. We were also amazed at how many people had heard about the movie and were excited to see it. Then we walked the red carpet and all the photographers were there. ... It felt surreal, the entire experience.

Q. What sort of person is your character Rebecca?

A. She’s the ringleader. She’s very manipulative and insincere and selfish, though on the outside, she seems to love everybody. She also loves fashion and she’s obsessed with celebrity culture — the actors and actresses, the social life. And she really wants to be a part of it.

Q. What do you think of these kids in general?

A. My initial reaction when I heard the story was, “Oh, my God, I can’t believe anyone would be stupid enough to do that.” (Laughs) But then I realized there was a lot going on behind the scenes with these kids that should be kept in mind. I almost pity them, because they did it without considering the consequences.

Q. What do you think “The Bling Ring” is about, basically? Our fixation with celebrity culture?

A. I think it shows how people can develop an unhealthy obsession with the celebrity lifestyle, but it also points out that there’s a twisted perspective these days on what a celebrity is — these kids were just as interested in socialites and reality TV stars.

Q. Famous for being famous. Speaking of which, what was it like shooting a scene in Paris Hilton’s actual walk-in closet?

A. That was insane! (Laughs) I couldn’t believe she had that many shoes! We were really lucky to have access to her house, because it made the film so much more realistic. It really was incredibly insane, though — just the amount of stuff that she has and the way it was decorated and how glamorous it all was. I’ve never seen anything like it.

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