Actor Joey Allen, 12, is a star of stage and school GLEN BURNIE

NOT YOUR AVERAGE JOEY

July 21, 1993|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,Staff Writer

He's feigned illness for Triaminic syrup, screamed for Hot Wheels he didn't get and ate more Apple Jacks over spring break than many kids ate all spring.

That's resume stuff for Joey Allen. At 12, the Glen Burnie boy is an actor with about two dozen commercials, four movies and a stage play to his credit. He has been in the business since he was 6.

Some weeks it's easier to catch his performance than to catch him because Jonathan Allen Jr. -- Joey -- spends so much time auditioning and taping in New York City.

One year, says his mother, Maxine Allen, the two logged 96 trips to the Big Apple. Joey always buys an Archie or Spiderman comic book for good luck on the trip.

These days, he can be spotted on television and in movie houses. The Apple Jacks commercial recently hit the airwaves.

Joey can be seen playing street hockey -- he had to learn in-line skating for the January filming -- in "Life With Mikey," starring Michael J. Fox.

In early spring, Joey juggled sixth grade at Calvary Baptist Church Academy with his first stage role as Elvin in "The Good Times Are Killing Me," at Ford's Theatre in Washington.

"The play moved to Canada -- to Toronto. And I drowned in the first act. I didn't move with the play," he says.

Though most commercials are taped in New York, the Apple Jacks spot took five days to tape "in sunny California. It hurt, but I went," Joey says.

His humor has made him a hit at school, too, where he imitates many a famed performer.

"We had to calm him down," says Joey's fifth-grade teacher, Donald Crandell. "He had his moments."

His academic performance belies the amount of school he has missed. His reading skills are at the high school level, and test scores show he is above grade level in just about every subject. Tutors provide help on some sets, but to a great extent the youngest of her three children is self-taught, his mother says.

Joey says he lands one job out of about every 20 calls.

"There are people that are hitting them like this," he says, snapping his fingers. "I wish I could do that, but I'm happy for what I got."

Philosophically, he says, "Acting, that's another sport. It's like football. You score, you get a movie, you get a touchdown."

He's on sports teams at school, but organized sports pose a scheduling problem for him. He gets called to New York at a moment's notice and spends many a weekend out of town.

While his life is atypical of his classmates, he's hot for Super Nintendo and enjoys riding his bicycle. He enjoys spending a small part of

his approximately $250,000 in earnings on comic books and videos, and bought a limousine for the long trips.

Mrs. Allen, an entertainment promoter, says she enrolled Joey in television commercial classes at Howard University when he was 5.

That was shortly after Joey's father, Maj. Jonathan Allen, who worked at Fort Meade, died of cancer and her son needed something to occupy him. The boy took to it, taped a "We Care" commercial in Baltimore, and attended a workshop camp, where the woman who became his manager says she is lucky to have snared him and his mother as clients.

Shirley Grant, whose Teaneck, N.J.-based agency manages mostly young actors, says Joey stands out in a highly competitive field. "He's got that charisma that you certainly don't see in a lot of kids," she says.

He's small for his age, helpful because directors want young actors to be articulate beyond their years, she says.

"He's going to have a really, really big future," Ms. Grant says. "I hate to pat myself on the back, but I'm usually not wrong."

She's hoping to place him in a television situation-comedy during next year's pilot season.

Joey has no qualms about trading Glen Burnie for Los Angeles, at least for a while, though he remains torn between careers.

"I want to be a pediatric heart surgeon," he says, though he hopes to continue acting and dedicate his best work to his late father.

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