Sofi Tyler Brown, a Tatnall School grad who has landed a role in a major film, has more than good luck to thank for her success.
That’s because the 19-year-old singer has been working on perfecting her voice and honing her craft since the age of six. After graduating from Tatnall, Sofi committed to music and moved to California to study at the Los Angeles College of Music.
Her years of hard work will be recognized this Friday when she returns to her old stomping grounds to attend the premiere of her first movie, High Strung Free Dance, at AMC Painter’s Crossing theater in West Chester.
The upcoming film features Tyler (who performs under the professional moniker Sofi Tyler) in the role of Ava, an opera singer with a mischievous sense of humor.
High Strung Free Dance explores the life of talented performers — much like Tyler herself — on the journey to creating New York’s most anticipated Broadway show. Filming took place back in 2017, but the film will finally have its national release on October 11.
Tyler says there is no formal meet and greet planned for the Oct. 11 premiere, but she will be available before and after the show for folks who might like to snap some pics with her.
“I’m really excited to see what everyone thinks about the movie,” says Tyler, who grew up in Chadds Ford. “It will be fun to have the screening in my hometown.”
She was first discovered by directors Michael and Janeen Damian after the pair found some of Tyler’s music on ReverbNation, a social networking website for musicians, producers and venues. According to Tyler, she has been sharing her music since childhood and was excited when the Damians wanted to use her original song “Cinderella” in their 2014 movie Love by Design. Her song “Monotony” was later featured in High Strung, the prequel to High Strung Free Dance.
Tyler started singing and acting at age six, taking lessons from vocalist and songwriter Emily “Iva” Tepe (Tower Hill ’96) and recording a dozen original songs by the age of eight. (The YouTube music video of Tyler below is from the original High Strung movie.)
In her teens, she performed at open mic nights and karaoke events at a variety of venues in Wilmington and Chadds Ford, and she performed at the Wilmington Flower Market three different years.
Mom Toni Toomey says Sofi started pursuing singing ‘professionally’ from an early age. “She actually took the initiative to call a Disney representative when she was 6 or 7 to get an audition! Of course, they told her they needed to speak to a parent. And now she’s making her movie debut. We are extremely proud to watch Sofi live her dream and believe she won’t ever stop. I think we’ll be seeing a lot more of her on the big screen!”
Inspired by the choice of the production, Tyler landed the leading role in the Tatnall Showcase her senior year. The winter play, The Flaming Idiots, is “a story about two girls — dumb and dumber — who open a restaurant, and basically all hell breaks loose,” she says.
As she enters her second year studying vocal performance, Tyler is certain that singing is her true passion. Though she plans to focus on music, she’s open to the idea of more acting. According to Tyler, her month on the set of High Strung Free Dance provided valuable insight into the excitement and hard work of the entertainment industry.
“Every single day everyone was working so hard from early in the morning until late at night. People would just keep going all day,” she says. “They wouldn’t stop until they got the perfect shot. It was interesting to see how much work and dedication they put into it.”
She also says the film hits all the right notes. “People can look forward to amazing dancers, hard work and a riveting story. The movie is about a young Broadway choreographer who gives the break of a lifetime to two hopeful artists. But that move puts relationships in motion, forcing leading characters to find out how much they’re willing to risk for love.”
Following the premiere of her new movie, Tyler says starting a band is next on her radar. She hopes to write original music with other musicians and share it for the world to hear. According to her, no style of music is off limits.
“I always wanted to do pop, but now I’m leaning a little bit towards rock and roll. I’m really open to anything,” she says.
Although she lives in Los Angeles full-time for college, Tyler makes a point to visit her hometown whenever she can. She misses her community of friends and family from the East Coast, but she’s excited to build a new network for herself in California.
“It’s definitely weird being across the country alone and having to figure everything out by myself,” she says. “It’s a learning experience and I’m figuring everything out.”