After a nationwide audition that brought out the country’s talented and young rising performers, Celina Smith has landed the title role of Annie in NBC‘s upcoming holiday production of Annie Live! 

The young star has an extensive resume already. She started her career as Young Nala in the national touring company of The Lion King and currently plays Rebecca in Tyler Perry’s Young Dylan on Nickelodeon. Smith will star alongside an all-star ensemble that includes Taraji P. Henson as Miss Hannigan, Harry Connick Jr. as Daddy Warbucks, Nicole Scherzinger as Grace and Tituss Burgess as Rooster. 

The live musical event will air Thursday, Dec. 2, at 8 p.m. ET/PT on NBC. The live production will be executive produced by Robert Greenblatt, Neil Meron and Alex Rudzinsky. Lear deBessonet and Alex Rudzinski are to share the directing chair. The show’s choreography will be led by Sergio Trujillo and produced by Chloe Productions. 

The Harold Gray comic strip “Little Orphan Annie” debuted in 1924. The musical premiered on Broadway in 1977 and went on to win seven Tony Awards. Actress Andrea McArdle won fame as the big-voiced star, and succeeding Annies include Sarah Jessica Parker, Lila Crawford, Aileen Quinn and Quvenzhané Wallis in film adaptations.

“It’s an honor to follow in the footsteps of the talented young ladies who have played Annie before me, and I can’t wait to start this journey,” Smith said in a statement received by Shadow and Act.

Smith started her career as Young Nala in the national touring company of The Lion King.