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austen
monique s.
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elizabeth w.
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nicknames: Her friends call her Awesome Austen, and her sister has dubbed her Aussie Bossie. "But not 'cause I'm bossy," Austen says. "She used to call me Austen Boston, but it got shortened."

favorite food: Pizza and strawberry ice cream. I really like California Pizza Kitchen.

favorite TV show: "I don't watch much TV. I'm too busy, and my mom thinks it rots my brain. When it is on, I like 'American Idol.' I'd really like to be on there someday. Or 'House Hunters.' I'm obsessed with seeing everyone's houses."

secret talent: "I can sing two octaves, plus a few more notes."

not-so-secret talent: "I speak fluent French and a little bit of Dutch."

favorite singer: "Right now I really like Kelly Clarkson. And I like Pink."

favorite board game: Life

dream vacation spot: The Caribbean

favorite actress: Julia Roberts

favorite cartoon character: Tweety Bird - he's so cute!

dogs or cats?: "We're getting a dog because my dad doesn't like cats, but I'd like a cat. Dogs slobber all over you."

dream boy: "Cute - maybe brown hair and blue eyes. Also funny and nice."

greatest aspiration: "I haven't decided. Hopefully I'll continue acting on the side, but I'll probably get another job someday, as a lawyer or something."

our charm picks for austen:

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You think Simon and Paula liked Carrie? Just wait till they hear Austen. She's only 13, so "American Idol" may have to wait a few years, but when the time comes, this Illinois girl may have just what it takes. "Her voice is absolutely amazing," says her best friend, Inger Louise. "I'd die to have a voice like hers!"

For now, Austen sings and acts in musicals such as "Annie" and "Oliver." Her current gig is called the American Girls Show, a play about girls having a birthday party. Each character is a doll from a different time period, and Austen plays Felicity, a doll from 1774. Though Austen's been performing since she was 5 (she had her debut in an opera with adults), she says being chosen for the American Girls Show is her greatest accomplishment so far. "About 300 girls tried out, and they chose seven," she says. "I had no idea I'd make it past the first round. There were four rounds, and after each, I was so excited and surprised that they called me back."

Austen also sings in three choirs - two from school and a local children's choir. Last year, she traveled with the children's choir to Prague in Eastern Europe. "It was cool," she says. "I like to see different cultures."

But for Austen, the United States is, in a lot of ways, a different culture than she grew up with. She was born in The Netherlands, and when she was 4 she moved to Belgium, both of which are in Western Europe. She traveled to America quite a bit, but she didn't move here until just last year. "I really like it here," she says. "Sometimes I wish I could bring my friends from Belgium over, but there are a lot more opportunities here - like all the things there are to do in downtown Chicago. In Belgium, there were a lot more historical things - like museums about the Battle of Waterloo (an 1815 battle in which the seemingly unbeatable French Emporer Napoleon was defeated)." But the biggest difference between Europe and the U.S.? "There are a lot more fast food places here," Austen says.

The move wasn't too hard for Austen - not as hard as you'd think, anyway. "Since I'd traveled here a lot, I'd already made some friends in Illinois," she says. Now she spends a lot of her spare time with her friends - playing board games, riding bikes, going to the mall. She looks for friends who are kind, good-natured and have a good sense of humor - which are the very same traits her friends say they see in her. Take Inger Louise, for example: "Austen's so much fun to be around. She's very easy to talk to, and she's SO kind. I love that she's unique, and she's very funny."

The killer combination of a fun personality and amazing talent gives Austen great prospects for the future. Add her passion for performing - "I just love getting up and singing my heart out and dancing and having a great time," she says - and we have no doubt she could take "Idol" by storm. Heads up, Simon - here she comes!