Sunny-side Up: Fresh Faces From Sundance

See four emerging actresses whose films stirred buyer buzz in Park City.

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Dreama Walker

Photo By Jason Merritt/Getty Images for Nintendo

The Sundance Film Festival wrapped up on Sunday, a key step for several new movies — and faces — that will be hitting theaters in the next year. Titles acquired by studios include the Richard Gere-Susan Sarandon finance drama “Arbitrage,” also featuring one of last year’s breakout ingenues, Brit Marling; “Red Lights,” the Sigourney Weaver-Robert De Niro paranormal thriller with past Sundance darling Elizabeth Olsen, and Josh Radnor’s “Liberal Arts,” also co-starring Olsen. Here are four fresh faces whose movies are also stirring up buyer buzz in Park City.



Starring in a gritty, low-budget Sundance film is one way to break out of a mainstream television mold. The tactic seems to have worked for 25-year-old Dreama Walker, who until now was best known for playing mean girl Hazel Williams on two seasons of “Gossip Girl.” In “Compliance,” directed by Craig Zobel, Walker plays a fast-food employee who falls victim to a prank caller. The film, which polarized audiences at the festival — some called it misogynistic and others praised the tension-filled plot, which was based on true events — was acquired by Magnolia Pictures on Saturday.

“I was interested in showing the perspective of a naïve young girl who felt as if she didn’t have a choice,” Walker said. “These people were not idiots. They were put in a horrible situation.” She’ll be switching gears to co-star in ABC’s new comedy, “Don’t Trust the B---- in Apartment 23,” which will follow “Modern Family” in April. “I’m all for proving women can be funny,” said Walker, who plays a small-town girl living in New York City with a manipulative man-eater played by Krysten Ritter. 

Since her first role as a drunken teen on “Law & Order,” Walker has appeared in “Gran Torino” and “The Invention of Lying” and has three more films in the pipeline: the family dramedy “The Discoverers,” the teen coming-out tale “Gay Dude” and the comedy “The Kitchen.” “I am still at a place in my career where nobody sees me in a certain way, so I can do different things,” she said.


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