You may have seen her on television in “Cold Case” or “Wizards of Waverly Place,” or the big screen in “The Family Stone.” She’s a talented young actress who’s hoping for star status in the Hollywood scene.
But, what makes this week’s Valley Sun All-Star a star quality standout are the qualities she exhibits off screen, as a humanitarian and compassionate individual.
Savannah Stehlin, a 13-year-old La Cañada High 7/8 seventh grader, is “all about helping others,” according to Linda Finnegan, founder and director of the Culver City-based Kids With A Cause, a non-profit organization aimed at teaching young people in the entertainment industry the benefits of philanthropy and helping others.
“When I think of Savannah, I think of smiles. She’s an intelligent, bright and caring person with a tremendous compassion for others and a willingness to give,” Finnegan said.
Stehlin has been involved with Kids With A Cause for the past few years. During that time, she has traveled to Oklahoma with the organization to help kids displaced in a Kansas tornado, gone on a trip to Mexico to help and interact with children in an orphanage there, and also helped out with local hospital and homeless shelter visits, bringing a message of hope and working to “make things more comfortable the people there,” Stehlin said, adding that she enjoys being part of Kids With A Cause because, “I fell in love with the organization. It’s really cool to see how much personality and diversity the children have and how much I can do, even though I’m just a normal girl, not anything special.”
Stehlin is the daughter of Robert and Melissa Stehlin and has two brothers, Robby, 11, and Jaxson, 6, both students at La Cañada Elementary School.
She was born in Jacksonville, Fla., and lived in the Fort Lauderdale area until she was about 8 years old, when the family moved to Burbank and later La Cañada. She was home-schooled until this year, when she began La Cañada High 7/8.
Savannah began performing at the age of two, during a $1 million First Baptist Church Christmas pageant performed 18 times in front of about 3,500 people. Two years later, she was a soloist in the show.
“Savannah was born to perform, it’s in her blood,” her dad, Robert Stehlin said, adding that his wife, Savannah’s mom, also was a soloist in the Christmas performances.
At the age of 5, on the advice of family friends, Savannah began acting in commercials.
Being on stage and in front of the camera came naturally for the youth, who was “outgoing and not very shy,” she said.
“I always loved watching people act on television, so I knew this was something I wanted to do,” she added.
She also enjoys playing the piano and guitar, singing and writing music. She received a new Martin guitar for her birthday last week.
When she grows up, Stehlin, said, she want to go on a world tour with her music and spend the rest of her time acting and spreading the message of hope to children around the globe.
“Children need to have a voice and I can help give them that. I may not be as big as Angelina Jolie, but that’s OK, I can do what I can do to help kids,” she said.
Stehlin believes her music can help inspire others. She recently wrote a song, called “Memories of Hope.” The lyrics to the chorus of the song are her mantra: “Listen to what you believe in — what you started, what you end. Love who you are from the start — and at the times you fall apart. These are the memories of hope.”