The phenomenon that is American Girl is coming to Winnipeg to film a movie, and a local actress has the lead role, with several young gymnasts getting parts as well.

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Nia Vardalos is coming home to Winnipeg to film the latest American Girl film. (Peter Kramer/Associated Press)

The popular line of multi-ethnic dolls and its boutiques of accessories that feature every extra a little girl could dream of, including ear piercing for their dolls, has spawned books and movies as well.

The sixth film in the movie line, as yet untitled, will star Winnipeg's Nia Vardalos, and her family couldn't be more thrilled.

Constantine and Doreen Vardalos say they haven't had a chance to spend a good bit of time with her since their 50th wedding anniversary last year: "Eighteen of us for two weeks in Hawaii. It was great!"

The parents have had cameo roles in all of their daughter's movies, including My Big Fat Greek Wedding, but don't know whether they will get roles in this one, which features a story line about rhythmic gymnastics.

However, about 10 talented Manitoba gymnasts will get a chance to shine in the new film, thanks to three producers from Universal Studios who came up to the High Performance Training Centre International to watch them work out.

"Originally they only wanted to use one of the groups, but when they saw everybody they wanted to use all of them," said head coach Shari Hebert.

Gymnasts feel no pressure

Kaedyn Lashley, who has been doing gymnastics for eight years, is a fan of American Girl products. Asked how she felt about getting a part in the production she replied, "Really excited!" Why? "Because we get to be in a movie!

The girls say they are not nervous because they will just be performing the gymnastics they practise.

"And this is easier than a competition, because if we mess up they just cut and we restart," said Emily Richard.

Shooting starts July 11 and will go on for about four weeks. The gymnastics scenes are scheduled to be shot in early August.