Jane Manning James was a free black woman who
converted to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints and lived in the home of the Prophet Joseph Smith and his wife Emma Smith in Nauvoo, Illinois.
For a detailed biographical sketch visit The University of Utah.
This is a story of faith. In spite of all the hardships these women encounter, one of the things I love the most about this story is how deeply both women want to love God and obey him, even when what he is asking them to do seems impossible. Both women find their own strength, wisdom and answers as they strive to remain true and faithful to his word, and follow the revelations they have been given. For both Jane and Emma, their situations are less than ideal, their trial of faith seems never ending, but their hope in something beyond the darkness that surrounds them is what allows the Lord to carry them and help them find the will to keep moving forward. I am honored and thrilled to direct this film and tell the story of these two incredible women.My reasons for telling the story of Jane Manning James and Emma Smith reach beyond the historical events and compelling drama that are in this script. I personally have gone through some very difficult trials in my own life that have shaped me into the person that I now love being, but almost shattered me and my will to keep moving forward. It was during this time, in what I refer to as being in my “tunnel of thorns” that I gained an unshakeable witness of the saving grace and mercy of Jesus Christ, as I finally allowed Him to carry me through that tunnel. The witness of faith I gained from that experience was worth every tear shed. In this film, we are with these two women as they are in the middle of their own tunnel of thorns, trying desperately to understand what it is they have faith in, who they really are in their own eyes and in the eyes of God, and how they can possibly endure the trials they are faced with. Jane and Emma deal with a number of issues, including marital struggles, being a single mom, racial persecution, violence against women, social injustice and even questions of faith and religion. Their love for God and desire to do his will amidst all of the hardships brings the power of the atonement to the screen in a way that is unique, powerful and important. I personally believe that by being honest with the struggles of these women, and by telling their story sincerely and unflinchingly, we can be honest with our own story, and come to love these women as well as God, our Savior and ourselves more fully.
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