Marijke Rowland

Young Turlock actors make their mark on Hollywood

Turlock-raised actors Gabriel Bateman, 11, left, and Talitha Bateman, 14, are the youngest children in a nine-sibling family who all grew up in Turlock. The family recently moved to the Los Angeles area so they could pursue acting.
Turlock-raised actors Gabriel Bateman, 11, left, and Talitha Bateman, 14, are the youngest children in a nine-sibling family who all grew up in Turlock. The family recently moved to the Los Angeles area so they could pursue acting. Hg5 Entertainment

When the Batemans say it runs in the family, they truly mean it.

Most of the Turlock-raised family of nine children have participated in the performing arts locally, and its two youngest members are currently busy in Hollywood. It’s a bit of an embarrassment of riches for the close-knit clan, whose siblings range in age from 27 to 11. They’ve done so well, in fact, that the family – who had been splitting time between Los Angeles and Turlock – moved down south full time in December.

The move makes sense when you look at the résumés of 14-year-old Talitha Bateman and 11-year-old Gabriel Bateman. Talitha currently can be seen in the big-budget sci-fi film “The 5th Wave” starring Chloë Grace Moretz. The film is based on the popular young adult novel by the same name. Gabriel has been cast in the new Steven Spielberg-produced CBS series “American Gothic,” set for release this summer.

And those are just their current projects. Talitha has a recurring role in the CW series “Hart of Dixie” and soon can be seen on the big screen in starring roles in the comedy “Nine Lives,” starring Kevin Spacey and Jennifer Garner, and the drama “So B. It,” starring Cloris Leachman and Alfre Woodard. She was also listed among actors to watch in the 2015 Variety Youth Impact Report.

Gabriel has a starring role in the new Cinemax series “Outcast” coming out later this year and had a recurring role on the CBS series “Stalker” as Dylan McDermott’s on-screen son.

He also has guest spots on “Code Black” and “Grey’s Anatomy.” He is also a horror film veteran, already having roles in 2014’s “Annabelle” and this year’s upcoming “Lights Out.”

And those are just the highlights. Quite frankly, if I listed their entire IMDB profiles, it’d take up the whole column.

The Batemans’ older children have also dabbled in Hollywood over the years. The family’s eldest daughter, 20-year-old Leah Bateman had a role in the David Duchovny 2015 series “Aquarius,” and guest starred on “CSI” and “Rizzoli & Isles.” She was also one of the stars of the Lifetime movie “River Raft Nightmare,” which was set in Knights Ferry and aired last September. Leah has since taken a break from acting.

Their mother, Jonelle Bateman, said her talented brood all showed their own genuine interest and talent for performing from an early age. As often happens with siblings, one started and it cascaded to the others. Through the years members of the Bateman clan were perennials in productions by Modesto Performing Arts, Townsend Opera, Youth Entertainment Stage Company and Sierra Repertory Theatre. They even formed their own family band, called the Wee Urchins, for a while, which performed at fairs and events around the region.

The adult children have since all gone off to college, so now the youngsters are carrying the family torch.

“I never encouraged them to do anything, but as a parent you look for things your kids happen to show ability in,” Bateman said. “It was a very, very quick trajectory. When you have a lot of kids and couple of kids are good at karate, soon you find them all there taking karate.”

The busy schedule makes for hectic days for Bateman and her husband, who are sometimes forced to split duties when Talitha and Gabriel are shooting in different locations. Last year the family went from Georgia to finishing filming of “The 5th Wave” with Talitha then to South Carolina where Gabriel was filming “Outcast” later that year and various places in between.

“We came to Hollywood kicking and screaming. It was never my intention. My kids actually grew up without watching television; there’s the irony,” she said. “They had a lot of group efforts in community theater, and then suddenly all of this happened. But I’m proud that in a very volatile and finicky business they have done really well, really quickly.”

Bateman said both Gabriel and Talitha are in the mix for some high-profile projects she can’t talk about just yet. But even if it all ended tomorrow, she is happy her children are doing something they love while they can.

“We’re talking about little kids. So they change their minds. But even if they say they want to stay doing this for a long time, this business is fickle. I’m not one of those who have illusion my children will be the next Dakota Fanning or Leonardo DiCaprio, child actors who have had longevity,” she said. “Even if that’s unilaterally their hearts’ desire, it may not be in the cards for them. But we also try to leave the door very open for them.”

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