THS sophomore lands role in multimedia book/movie

Published 4:40 pm Monday, May 17, 2010

A Thompson High School student is well on his way to achieving his dream of a career as an actor after being cast as a major character in the recently released multimedia book “Trackers #1.”

Urijah Sailes, a sophomore, beat out thousands of teens across the United States to win the role of “Finn.”

The book was written by Patrick Carman, an award-winning author who writes for children and young adults.

His bestselling series work includes “The Land of Elyon,” “Atherton,” “Elliot’s Park,” “39 Clues” and “Skeleton Creek.”

“Trackers #1” is the latest of Carman’s books that incorporates multimedia to engage young readers.

Sailes plays one of the four main characters in the movie portion of the novel, which is posted on a special website dedicated to the book.

Readers discover clues and pass codes to log onto the website and watch live action movie sequences and play an accompanying video game.

The book, which was released this week, is the first in the series.

A second book will be released this fall.

“I think it is a cool way to draw young people into reading more,” said Sailes. “In order to see the movie or play the video game, you have to read the book and get the codes.”

Sailes said he thinks middle school and high school-aged readers will enjoy the book, which he describes as a “good mystery.”

According to promotional materials, the book follows four tech-savvy kids, called the Trackers, who are armed with high-tech video cameras and esoteric coding skills. The Trackers can find almost anyone, anywhere. Told through a collage of videos, text and websites, “Trackers #1” follows Adam, Finn, Lewis and Emily as they become entangled in a high-tech, high-stakes game of cat and mouse with Shantorian, the world’s most dangerous hacker. At least, that’s who they think they’re tracking. As the four dig deeper into the shadowy world of online crime, they soon learn that things aren’t always as they seem.

Sailes spent last summer in Walla Walla, Wash., filming his role for “Trackers #1” and “Trackers #2,” the sequel.

He was cast in the part after submitting his audition via YouTube.

He won the role over other teens who also auditioned online and through open casting call auditions in Washington.

Sailes’ older sister, Alexis, first told him about the opportunity to audition for the role.

Alexis, a senior at Thompson, is an aspiring model who has a modeling contract with New York based MMG Model and Talent Management Agency.

She was contacted by her agency about auditioning for a part in the movie, and she encouraged her brother to audition also.

“I originally auditioned for the part of Adam,” said Sailes. “The director, Jeffrey Townsend, contacted me and encouraged me to audition for the part of Finn. I really like the character of Finn because he is similar to me and how I act — laid back, fun and energetic.”

Alexis can also be credited with making sure her brother was ready for the audition and for filming it to put on YouTube.

“I am really proud of him. I didn’t really know if he could do it because he is really lazy,” she said jokingly. “I was pressuring him to learn the script because he wasn’t taking it seriously. I started to realize that he really did have it in him when he started to memorize the script and I started to video it to put on YouTube.”

The acting bug first bit Sailes when he was 9-years-old and told his parents that he wanted to be an actor. Before landing this role, his previous acting experience had been doing local community theatre in Virginia Beach, where he father was previously stationed in the military.

His parents, Larry and Theresa, said words can’t even express how excited and proud they of their son.

“We are so excited for him to have this opportunity. For him to be selected over all of these people makes us feel, as his parents, that we must have done something right in encouraging him to pursue something that he really wants to do,” said Larry.

Sailes said that filming for the entire summer opened his eyes to the hard work and dedication that takes to be an actor. It also confirmed that acting is something that he is passionate about and wants to pursue further.

“It was a lot of hard work,” he said. “We did a lot of late night shoots, which gave me a new appreciation for how hard it can be. But, it was also a lot of fun. I bonded with the other cast members and have been keeping in touch with all of them. They are also really excited about the book coming out.”

The book can be purchased at major book retailers, and the website address for the book is