Raleigh girl hits big screen in Nicholas Sparks movie

Posted January 16, 2013
Updated January 17, 2013

— The latest screen adaption of a Nicholas Sparks novel stars an 8-year-old actress from Raleigh.

In "Safe Haven," Mimi Kirkland portrays Lexie, the daughter of a widower who falls for a woman with a mysterious past. Josh Duhamel and Julianne Hough star in those two roles.

"Lexie's really sassy, kind of. She really likes to color," Mimi said Wednesday. "When I played it, I actually felt like I was his daughter, and it was really cool."

The movie was filmed in Southport last summer, and Mimi spent about a month and a half on the set.

"I was, like, 'I'm going to meet someone who's been in a lot of movies,'" she said. "That was that part that was really fun because you got to hang out with them."

Still, filming was hard work.

"Emotion was the hardest part because you know what your character is but you have to try to feel it," she said. "(Learning lines) can be really easy because, if I look at them and read them a couple times, I have them stuck up here (in my mind)."

Mimi has been acting since she was 5, appearing in commercials for Food Lion, Biltmore Estate and the North Carolina State Fair before getting her first movie role.

Scene from "Safe Haven" movie Young Raleigh actress loves hanging out on set with co-stars

"We just kind of went into this thinking, 'OK, this is sort of her extracurricular activity. Let's see where it goes,'" said her mother, Gina Kirkland. "It's beyond our wildest dreams of where this has taken her."

Mimi, who also enjoys riding her bike, swimming and playing with her two sisters, said she wants to continue acting "for a long time."

"I try out for many, many things," she said.

"Safe Haven" premieres in theaters nationwide on Valentine's Day.

The Kirklands haven't yet seen the movie in its entirety, and Mimi's parents joked that she will watch it with "some blinders and earmuffs" because of some intense love scenes.


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  • IPayYouPay Jan 22, 2013

    Hope mom and dad are realistic about this...Please don't bring another Lindsay Lohan into the spotlight....Please!

  • luvstoQ Jan 17, 2013

    killian, have you ever seen an 8 year old drugged out party hound?
    I'm talking about where situations like this have *LED* in the past (statistics). Don't believe me?? Look up some of the child stars when they reach late teens/20's/30's. Not all, true, and thankfully, but enough that I wouldn't risk it for sure (not just them, but a lot of parents, siblings). A lot of them cannot handle the wealth, hero worship, etc. so sad, but look it up.

  • Fireflies Rock Jan 17, 2013

    Adorable kid, way to hire a local!

  • Killian Jan 17, 2013

    Personally, I despite Nicholas Sparks' books, but kudos to Mimi. She looks like a cute kid who had a lot of fun doing this.

    jma47 - Not every kid who acts is a drugged out party hound. Her parents may well be keeping it tightly monitored. Why are you judging them without knowing any facts?

  • bubbba Jan 17, 2013

    Way to go kid! Dont have a clue who Nick Sparks is but I am going to watch it. Just don't let Hollywood and the kooks out the suck you in.
    January 16, 2013 6:12 p.m.
    Report abuse

    Really?? You don't know who Nicholas Sparks is?? Ever heard of these things called books??
    January 16, 2013 6:51 p.m


    I have suffered from Dyslexia my whole life and books are not by best thing. But I was raised to believe books don't make you a good person, now I know what she means. Again, way to go kid.

  • cah1912 Jan 17, 2013

    Very excited for her and this opportunity. I'm also excited for the film, it was a great novel. Oh, and the girl's name is Kristen, not Lexi.

  • gerber1969 Jan 16, 2013

    Mimi is just a beautiful little girl! Totally poised and absolutely charming!! I can't wait to see the movie!

  • Uhavenoclu Jan 16, 2013

    Good for you,way to go.Remember people act everyday,to their parents,their principals,their partners.Just know who you are playing and act.
    Keep it up.

  • luvstoQ Jan 16, 2013

    She is so cute. Parents, what are you thinking? Have you not seen what has happened to most child stars (and unfortunately a lot of their siblings and parents)? Let the sweet little girl have a normal life and you will all be happier for it.

  • bjmurra2 Jan 16, 2013

    Really?? You don't know who Nicholas Sparks is?? Ever heard of these things called books??