A big message for the big screen.
That’s how Columbus actress Tera Smith sees a newly released independent film, “Wig’d Out,” in which she plays pageant coach Loralee Nightengale. The movie, to be shown at 7 and 9 p.m. Wednesday at YES Cinema in Columbus, highlights a story about a feisty, bald teen with alopecia finding her way through self-discovery and a jealously laced beauty pageant.
The local presentations were sparked partly because those connected to the movie heard about two young Columbus girls dealing with alopecia, an auto-immune condition that attacks hair follicles.
“If the community here is more aware of something like alopecia and comes alongside them and encourages them, especially in a day in which there is so much bullying, then we will have done well,” Smith said.
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The flick was inspired by Noblesville teen Olivia Rusk’s real-life experiences with alopecia after she decided at age 8 to stop wearing wigs and go to school just as she was — smooth-headed. Her book has sold 5,000 copies, and she has become a motivational speaker, complete with national media attention.
In the movie, a teen Olivia Warren ends up being the real winner when she reveals that she has alopecia and lets everyone know that it’s OK to be yourself, according to the film’s marketers. The local screening will include writer-producer Sandy Rusk, the real-life teen’s mom, and several other cast members besides Smith. A question-and-answer session will follow the showing.
Daphne Sturgill’s 5-year-old daughter Bella, who will be a first-grader in the fall at Columbus Christian School, was diagnosed with alopecia last year. She struggled with her growing bald spots — until she met local 14-year-old Syd Kimber, who is completely bald, and completely confident, with alopecia.
“Bella has a wonderful personality,” her mom said. “And now, it does not significantly affect her (emotionally). She’s come very far in just a couple of months.”
The parent, who acknowledged that she sometimes worries about her child, sees the movie as just one tool to build awareness and understanding among the public.
“We all need to make sure we can be supportive and empathetic,” mom said.
Those connected with the film shot last summer in Noblesville, Fishers, Castleton and Carmel, are planning additional screenings as close as Kokomo and as distant as Las Vegas. Smith mentioned that, with a groundswell of grassroots publicity, a national distributor might agree to push the flick. A Los Angeles firm currently is considering such.
The trailer on youtube.com boasts nearly 8,000 views.
For now, though, the Columbus presentations will include a touch of Hollywood glitter with a red carpet and limo for cast members. Other than Smith, there were extras from the flick who are local residents: Delaney Babinec, Kapri Geraghty, Molly Bray and Jetta Smith.
“I think it’s always neat when you can watch something like this that’s based on a true story, and know that it can both help and inspire people,” Tera Smith said.
What: Showing of the newly released dramatic teen comedy, “Wig’d Out,” featuring Columbus actress Tera Smith and several local young people appearing as extras.
When: 7 and 9 p.m. Wednesday
Where: YES Cinema, Fourth and Jackson streets in downtown Columbus
Tickets: $9, available only through the Facebook page at Wig’d Out The Movie. No tickets are available at the theater.