MOUNT ZION – Nicole Butler has a new challenge: Acting.

The Mount Zion High School graduate successfully challenged Mount Kilimanjaro in Africa after swimming with sharks in Cape Town, South Africa; sky diving; and riding on an elephant.

This is the toughest challenge by far. She aims to become a movie star. Hollywood is full of beautiful, talented women who have the same goal, and not many reach the top.

“I'm totally dedicated to an acting career,” she said. “I'm studying in an acting company, I have had three roles in films on the ICON-TV channel. I've had two screen tests for a role on the 'Criminal Minds' TV show.”

In December she was in, “A Perfect Christmas List,” an ICON film. She developed a friendship with Marion Ross, the star in that show. Ross was a regular on the “Happy Days” TV sitcom that ran from 1974 until 1984, and now is a mentor for Butler. The ICON channel offers family friendly entertainment similar to the Hallmark channel.

“I live in Los Angeles, five minutes from the beach,” Butler said. “I'm always making rounds of talent agencies, checking to see what's up, what roles I might apply for.”

“She's a go-getter,” her father, Dick Butler of Mount Zion, said. “She is focused, she's beautiful and she's talented. She doesn't let much of anything stop her. My wife and I were excited to watch the Christmas show.”

Butler, was 31 in 2011 when she was selected as one of the 50 most beautiful women in Chicago by Chicago magazine. At the time she was a speech pathologist in a Chicago public high school. She was an athlete, playing basketball and softball at Mount Zion High School. She went on to Purdue University, West Lafayette, Ind. , and New York University.

In California as a speech therapist, she has raised thousands of dollars for the Autism Speaks Foundation and the No Limits for Deaf Children Foundation.

The Mount Kilimanjaro adventure happened in January 2014 after months of training and working out. On the fifth day of the climb she reached Summit Ridge, 300 feet from the summit, before collapsing with high altitude cerebral edema, which can be fatal.

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