HOME is where the heart is for young Dani Rayner but the yellow brick road to fame and fortune leads away from Cheshire.
Living in London for the first time has been an eye opening experience while singing and performing live to millions of viewers is an experience she describes as “terrifying”.
As the youngest contestant in BBC’s Over the Rainbow contest, 16-year-old Dani, from Whitegate, has so far won the hearts of the judging panel, comprising Lord Andrew Lloyd Webber, Charlotte Church, Sheila Hancock and John Partridge.
But more importantly Dani, who attends the Grange School, needs support from the voting public, something already in huge supply in Mid Cheshire.
“I have just spent the afternoon at school and it was mad. I was mobbed by first years! But it was lovely to see all my friends and teachers,” she said.
“I can’t quite believe what is happening. Singing in front of millions of people is terrifying but I am trying not to think about it.
The first week I was really scared but I really enjoyed this weekend.
“I want to thank everyone for all their support so far and I hope they will continue to back me.”
Dani, who is expected to take her AS Level exams in French, English Literature, Politics and Art once the show has finished, has reached the final nine competing to become the next Dorothy in The Wizard of Oz.
She has been able to call on her big sister Jo, 22, who made the move from Cheshire to London to pursue an acting career.
“Knowing my sister is not far away is a big help. She is really supportive and sometimes it can feel a bit lonely living in London.”
All the finalists are housed under one roof in the capital to give them a taste of life as a professional actress.
“It’s really tough,” said Dani. “It’s such hard work rehearsing, learning the choreography and performing for long days.
“We only really get one day off a week. But it’s an amazing experience.
“It’s such fun living with the girls, they are all lovely. But I can’t really predict who will win because it really is a level playing field. Everything depends on the public vote.”
To vote for Dani, tune in to BBC One on Saturday at 7.15pm. The results show goes out on Sunday at 6.15pm.