Mike Olshansky in Hack

David Morse - Contact

Posted on Sun, Jun. 02, 2002

Philadelphia Inquirer

Actress hails a 'Hack' to stardom

Washington Township's Amanda Danielle VanDerziel hopes her part in a new CBS show launches an acting career.

By Jake Wagman
Inquirer Suburban Staff

Abducted, bound, drugged, and awaiting the aid of a disgraced cop turned cabbie.

All in a day's work.

Washington Township's Amanda Danielle VanDerziel, 16, plays a naive teenager who, after a conversation with a stranger on the Internet, is lured from her suburban home in the debut episode of a television show set in Philadelphia.

Hack stars David Morse, of St. Elsewhere fame, as Mike Olshansky, a police officer fallen from grace. Helping fares he meets in his new job driving a taxi, Olshansky uses his detective skills to become a freelance do-gooder.

His first charge is the character played by VanDerziel, a Washington Township High School sophomore who will make her major television debut when the show airs on CBS this fall.

"It's not exactly Cinderella," VanDerziel said of the part, which requires her to portray an 18-year-old who is drugged and kept in the closet in a Center City apartment. But "it was awesome," she said. "I had so much fun."

VanDerziel, who uses her first and middle names as her stage name, moved with her family to the township from southwest Philadelphia in August.

Except for two commercials, VanDerziel has never appeared on the small screen. She has been a model since age 7, however, appearing on the pages of Twist magazine, British Vogue, Seventeen and Cosmo Girl. Modern Bride had her on its cover last year - when she was 15.

"They didn't realize how young I was," she said.

Her character in Hack is seen only in the last quarter of the hour-long show's initial episode but is intrinsic to the plot. The taxi driver played by Morse meets her father in a downtown drive, and vows to help him.

"The whole thing is basically about finding her," VanDerziel said.

While several movies have been shot in the city, Hack will be the first television drama series set and filmed in Philadelphia. Even the courtroom drama Philly, staring Roxborough native Kim Delaney, was shot in a California studio, except for exterior views of the Liberty Bell and other landmarks.

VanDerziel's agent said the part called for an "angelic" and "especially thin" female to play the part of the kidnapped adolescent.

"She is definitely a natural," said Alicia J. Schwartz of the Reinhard talent agency on Arch Street in Philadelphia. "She is very effervescent."

A fan of "light rap" music, shopping and playing basketball - at 5 feet, 9 inches, she is a center and power forward - VanDerziel hopes the role is the start of an acting career.

So does her mother, Mary, who was with her daughter when her scenes were shot in April at 30th Street Station and the rundown apartment where her character is held captive.

"When they were ready to tape, they said, 'Come here, come here,' " Mary VanDerziel said. "I heard her lines, the banging on the door, everything."

She plans to invite Amanda's friends and family over for a premiere party when the show airs in September.

"I can't wait," Mary said. "I want to have everybody come over and sit there and watch it while we tape it."

Contact Jake Wagman at 856-779-3829 or jwagman@phillynews.com.



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