Some would call Cassidy Mack the All-American girl, but there is much more to her story. This girl, who started her life without a family to call her own, has now found her way to the silver screens of Hollywood, and it all began in East Texas.
Cassidy was born in Longview to a mother who was incapable of caring for her children. Shortly after birth, Cassidy was placed in foster care and would find herself completely alone.
She would spend six tough years in foster care before being adopted by Jen and Mike Mack. Since then, her life has never been the same.
"Life is very good for me right now. I'm very happy," said the now 17-year-old rising star who just wrapped up shooting another movie.
Jen said, when Cassidy was adopted, she had a lot of energy and anxiety, but was also very confident.
They discovered the stage was a perfect outlet and the young girl had a natural talent for acting.
She would soon be discovered and has now starred in about half a dozen movies including "Chilly Christmas," "‘Zoey to the Max," "Two Secrets" and "‘The Storyteller." She has also starred in Disney's "Make Your Mark" and "Dr. Ken." Next year, she has three films scheduled to shoot.
"I definitely think it was part of God's plan. Not only did I have to go through foster care and be adopted, but I also got to start my story with the world through my passion and purpose in life, which is acting."
Many of the roles Cassidy has been cast in involve playing the part of a foster child. The many television and movie scripts she memorizes seem to mirror her own life.
"It's easy because it's something I don't really have to act towards. It was like I was just living it all over again," noted Cassidy, about being real and relatable in the films.
Cassidy recently made a trip back to East Texas to talk to a group of local foster children to give them encouragement.
"My message to them is they need to surround themselves with a great support system and also to dream big and never give up those dreams. In foster care, you don't really have control over a lot of things, but one thing you do have control over is your dreams and where you can see them going in the future."
Behind Cassidy's endearing smile lies years of uncertainty, but, she said it's her support system today that has led to her success.
"If I ever do have questions, or I do question myself, I have them to lean on," Cassidy said about her forever family.
Buried behind her bubbly personality lies a strength not exhibited by people twice her age, and this wise young lady has advice for prospective adoptive families as well.
"They shouldn't be afraid of foster kids. They should come into this experience with an open mind and they should come in with the right intentions, which is seeing these kids for who they truly are, and to hopefully bring one of these precious children home."
Cassidy's determination to succeed would aid her in turning a monologue she had written for an acting showcase into a foundation for a nonprofit to help kids in foster care. She first called it Love Gives Chances, but recently changed the name.
"As I'm getting older, I want to broaden my audience. So, I changed the name to Stride to Survive. It's a foundation reaching out to children, who are not only in foster care, but are going through any cause that's being spoken up about today," shared Cassidy.
Several of Cassidy's movies have been honored with awards and recognitions. She said, while awards are nice, what drives this young actress is touching another child's life.
"I tell foster children you are a survivor and right now may not be the easiest time in your life, but you are strong and you'll make it through, so just keep fighting!"
To learn more about Cassidy Mack, join Gillian Sheridan for her Children are a Gift report next Tuesday night on CBS19 News at 6 p.m. For information on East Texas children waiting for a forever family go to cbs19.tv or email gsh