When Kevin Benn Jr reached out to us about his talented six-year-old daughter Jeriya, her bright eyes and adorable smile had us instantly spellbound. Kevin Jr is just the proudest dad, with not one but two daughters starring in Fantasy Island. It’s a horror adaptation of the popular 1970s television show about a magical island resort and stars Maggie Q, Michael Peña, Lucy Hale, Michael Rooker, Kim Coates and Ryan Hansen.
Jeriya plays Lila, while her little sister Keeva plays a younger version of Lila during a flashback scene. Set to be released in the US on Valentine’s Day, it follows the enigmatic Mr Roarke, who makes the secret dreams of his lucky guests at his luxurious yet remote resort come true. However, their delight is short-lived when the fantasies suddenly turn into a nightmare, leaving the guests to solve the island’s mystery in order to escape alive. A killer storyline and some local talent? Book us in.
Born in Melbourne to South African mother Mandy and African-American father Kevin Jr, Jeriya comes from a richly diverse cultural background with a love of music and food. She’s been excelling at modelling and acting since she was just a year old, so she is obviously very experienced and professional for her young age. Her career has seen her model for major retail brands including Myer, Target and Bonds as well as clothing label Frankie + Roy. Her acting breakthrough came after a meeting with acclaimed director Jeff Wadlow, and just five weeks later the Langwarrin family received the exciting news that Jeriya had scored the role of Lila in Fantasy Island.
With no acting lessons, Jeriya is a true natural and we’re sure her first movie won’t be her last. Her strong personality, confident demeanour and ability to adapt to any situation have propelled her short career, yet she’s still a kid at heart. When asked what the highlight was from her three trips to Fiji, she told us it was the fairy floss and popcorn set up on set for her and the actors to enjoy because she was filming until 2am. Oh bless, it’s that genuine and down-to-earth nature that makes her even more adorable.
Working on the movie was a momentous occasion for her, and having her sixth birthday on set topped it. Keeva jumped in front of the camera during one trip to Fiji to film her scene and was just as excited and talented as her big sister. Voice and dialect coach Danielle Roffe travelled with the family to Fiji, offering assistance and guidance for the young actors, and Mandy said Maggie Q’s manager gave her some valuable advice too: “He told me while watching Jeriya on set that I will need to get her an agent because when the movie is released, everyone will want to know who she is.”
It’s without a doubt her confidence and ability to shine that makes Jeriya a true natural behind the lens. Add her passion for music and contemporary dance and you just know she’s going places, and after being signed to Talent Creative Box with agent Sonya Maturano, there’s no stopping her now.
“I want to be a superstar when I’m older,” she says. “And my friend and neighbour Tina will be my assistant as she helped me learn my script.”