Lifetime's Girl in the Bunker tells the true story of Elizabeth Shoaf's 10 days in captivity and how she finally managed to escape from her abductor, Vinson Filyaw. She was only 14 years old at the time. It would be a complicated and challenging role for any young actress, but who plays Elizabeth Shoaf in Girl in the Bunker?
Julia Lalonde takes on the part, opposite Henry Thomas as Filyaw. She's a young Canadian actress perhaps best known for playing Diana Barry in a series of TV movies adapting L.M. Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables. Lalonde appeared in the first adaptation in 2016, then in two subsequent films: L.M. Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables: The Good Stars and L.M. Montgomery's Anne of Green Gables: Fire & Dew.
Most of Lalonde's work has been in television, though she has appeared in a few short films as well, such as Bergère and Riley. Until playing Diana, Lalonde had only had small parts in Ghostly Encounters and the TV movie Catch a Christmas Star. Afterwards, she had recurring roles in two series: Odd Squad and Amélie et Compagnie. She has primarily been involved in children's programming, making Girl in the Bunker her first more serious, mature role.
Since Lalonde's career is still in its earliest days, there isn't much information about her available online. Her social media accounts are full of excited promotion for her projects, chief among them Anne of Green Gables and Girl in the Bunker, but feature very little of her life outside of her professional responsibilities. And that's perfectly understandable — Lalonde seems quite young, so it makes sense that she might want to be a little more private.
She has revealed a talent for the piano on her Instagram, as well as a stint as a page in the Ontario Legislature in 2016. Thanks to that, she even got to meet Prince Harry when he visited Queens Park to promote the Invictus Games in Toronto. Lalonde also seems to share a close friendship with Odd Squard cast mate Peyton Kennedy, the star of Netflix's Everything Sucks!.
Taking on the part of Elizabeth Shoaf in Girl in the Bunker will be Lalonde's first time carrying a film almost entirely on her own. Based on what happened to the real Shoaf, it seems likely that much of the TV movie will focus on the isolated days she spent with her abuser in his bunker. Filyaw kidnapped Shoaf when she was on her way home from school, then kept her chained inside his hideout. Shoaf pretended to be friendly to Filyaw until she was able to gain access to his phone, which allowed her to text her mother and eventually escape entirely. The Lifetime version, which airs on Memorial Day at 8 P.M., will probably rely quite heavily on Lalonde and Thomas.
Though Lalonde hasn't talked specifically about playing Shoaf, she did discuss the importance of variety as an actor when speaking with MaximoTV on the red carpet of the 36th Annual Young Artist Awards. She said, of her performances in Heartland and Odd Squad:
It's really nice, cause it's a good difference, and for an actor it's good to be able to say that I was able to play this [a more reserved character] and this [a bubbly character].
She also spoke about the importance of staying in the moment so that she could maintain a sense of realism in her more serious roles, which is a skill she'll have to call on again in Girl in the Bunker. The part will be quite the undertaking, but Lalonde seems up to the challenge.