Every year thousands of 20-something actors flock to Los Angeles hoping to break into the film industry.

Some will make the cut. Most will not.

Caroline Barry is one of the success stories.

The 2009 Air Academy High School graduate moved to L.A. two years ago after earning a Bachelor of Arts degree in theater performance at the University of Colorado in Boulder.

"I never loved singing. I was more into plays and movies," said Barry, 24, about choosing L.A. over New York City. "I really loved being taken away into a movie and living in that world. California was where I wanted to end up."

It only took two months in Hollywood before she landed her first role - and not just a tiny supporting role with a few sentences. No, she's the bona fide star.

"10 Days in a Madhouse - The Nellie Bly Story" will open in theaters Nov. 11.

Barry saw the open call for actors, sent in her audition tape and let go of all expectation. The next thing she knew, director Timothy Hines was on the other end of the line asking if she'd be interested in the coveted role of Bly. Out of 8,000 submissions, he chose her.

"The director said he was looking for Nellie Bly's smile and that optimistic spirit," she said, "and he felt my audition was the one that really had that smile and the brightness and optimism."

Bly, who died in 1922, was an American journalist famous for her investigative and undercover reporting. The film is based on her 1887 infiltration of the mental institution on Blackwell's Island in New York City. She disguised herself as a mental patient in order to gain entrance and report on the living conditions and treatment of the female patients living there.

Bly's exposé made headlines due to its revelations of neglect and physical abuse and led to a large-scale investigation of the institution and health care improvements. Her series was later reprinted in the book "10 Days in a Madhouse" - the inspiration for the upcoming film.

"There were lot of different layers," Barry said. "It's the most fun I've had in a role. I did a lot of research about mental illness and what we know now versus what we knew then."

Though she didn't know who Bly was before she submitted an audition tape, Barry is now well aware of her work and the lay of the land during that time period.

"There were lot of things women could be committed for that would be outrageous today," Barry said. "You could be committed for being upset one day. Menstruating was looked upon as a shameful thing that can make women go crazy. They also used to medicate women with opium and didn't realize it made them hallucinate. There was a lot they didn't know whereas today we know a lot more, though the mind is considered the final frontier - it's still so mysterious in a way."

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