TAMPA — L.J. Ruth's picture has appeared on billboards, advertisements and even boxes of strawberry fruit bars.
Now, the 9-year-old South Tampa resident has the lead role of Ethan in an independent short film production, “Show & Tell,” premiering at 5 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 15 at Muvico Centro Ybor 20.
The film, written and directed by Palm Harbor resident Lucas Omar, 23, a University of Pittsburgh film production graduate, tells the story of a young boy who is bullied about what he likes to do — design dresses.
Part of the filming was at Bayshore Christian School where L.J. is an A student in the fourth grade.
“It was really fun, just awesome,” said L.J., recently. “I got to work with great people... and Lucas was great with all the kids.”
“It's a feel good story,” said C.C. Ruth, his mother, who said her son began modeling at age 3 after being seen on television as the winner of a contest as the most photogenic baby.
Since then he has appeared on billboards for Ron Jon Surf Shop, commercials for Tampa Theatre, Disney Vitamins, BJ's Wholesale Club, Bright House Networks, Sweetbay supermarkets and other companies. He is featured on the Publix store-brand strawberry fruit bars.
He also appeared in other short films, including “ECHO” and “What a Wonderful World” and local theater productions including “Aristocats” and “The Little Mermaid.”
L.J.'s mother drives him to Orlando often to audition for roles and he has to make up all work he misses at school, she said. He also is in Cub Scouts and enjoys playing Xbox with friends.
“You have to be dedicated to do this,” said C.C. Ruth, who graduated from Plant High School in 1979 as C.C. Caro.
Omar said L.J. was recommended to him for the film by another family with a child actor.
“He was very professional, very cute and did the cold read very well,” Omar said. “The character needs to very innocent looking and when I met him, I liked that look, too.”
C.C. Ruth said she doesn't know if acting will be a life profession for her son.
“We just want to see how it goes,” she said.
L.J. said he would like to be producer in Italy.
“Lamborghini,” he replied.