This Is Seven: Meet Treehouse TV's newest stars
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TORONTO - They're both only seven years old, but Scarlett Dovey and Isaiah Gero-Marsman act like show-biz pros as they sit in front of a throng of cameras, surrounded by handlers at a packed media event on Toronto's waterfront.
The pair are the new stars of Treehouse TV's reboot of its award-winning "This Is..." franchise, where kids hang out with real professionals and participate in interesting activities — from learning hip-hop dancing to jiu-jitsu — all from a child's spontaneous, adventurous and often funny perspective.
Gero-Marsman already seems comfortable with all the attention.
"Well, now since I'm used to it, it doesn't really feel like" — and here, he squeals "joy joy joy," and pretends his body is wracked with excited convulsions — "but the first time I did something, I was so happy, I was like 'oh my gosh, I'm going to be on TV, wow, I never saw this coming. So it's really a pleasure to be on TV.
"(At school) they call me 'Rich Kid.' Because they know I'm on TV, so they call me Rich Kid. And I'm like, 'I'm not rich!'"
Dovey, who shows an affection for frilly skirts and says the episode where she made a tiara was her favourite, and Gero-Marsman, who hopes to one day become an astronaut, are also already comfortable dispensing advice to other kids.
"All I want to say is, you can do anything, boy or girl," says Gero-Marsman.
"Obviously," Dovey adds.
As the two swing their legs on chairs they had to clamber onto, giggling through questions and putting a hand on top of the other's mouth when one speaks out of turn, two people look on, like they've been there before. Fourteen and 16 is awfully young to feel like a wizened veteran at anything, and yet that's exactly the perspective of Daniel Cook and Emily Yeung — who each hosted their own "This is..." show.
As six-year-olds, the pair did on-camera activities like exploring castles, learning acrobatics and make-up from Cirque du Soleil.
"I'm never allowed to forget it — every day at school, somebody says something about it," says Cook, now 16, with a laugh. "But it's not something you want to forget, though. It's an experience that a lot of people dream about having, and I didn't really know what it was going to be like until now. This was such an important thing that it's going to change Scarlett and Isaiah's life, and it's going to be a great adventure for them."
The biggest lesson for Yeung, 14, was that she didn't want to stay in the limelight, choosing instead to focus on her studies.
"I didn't want to be into show business that much. I really wanted to just be normal. I got enough grief with it when I got back to school, but now, people have — not really forgotten it, but have just accepted it, that it was a part of my life, and it's still a part of me, but I've gone to where I can progress more to what I want to do in a career.
"You're amazed by so many things at that age," said Yeung. "And now, you've got those experiences to help make choices that will really matter in your life."
Indeed, Yeung said she was so inspired by an episode where she swam with dolphins that she is angling to pursue to a degree in marine biology. Cook said the show helped to make him a more confident and comfortable public speaker; he hopes to study law and politics.
But though they've moved on, listening to Dovey and Gero-Marsman fills them with a strange kind of pride.
"Just listening to Scarlett and Isaiah talk to the guy back there working the sound (for the event), I just thought, 'These are the perfect kids to carry on this series,' because they're adventurous, they're interested, they want to learn and touch everything that was in that room," said Cook.
"Isaiah found one of these little microphones, and he started practising his rap, and listening to them talk, I just think, 'That was us. We were those kids.'"
"This is Scarlett and Isaiah" premieres in September on Treehouse.