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How I got a role in the new Book of Mormon live-action series

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PROVO, Utah — It was last year around the end of August when a friend sent me an email about casting for the Book of Mormon Visual Library.

I hadn’t heard about this new live-action project for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The Visual Library is breaking up the Book of Mormon into several seasons that will be available for the public to watch.

Although I wasn’t experienced, I decided to give acting a shot. I’ve never really considered myself an actress — maybe a little dramatic, but not an actress.

With coaching from my friend Jamie and my enthusiastic grandmother Pat, I sent in a video performing the script (essentially a verse of scripture) in hopes of getting the role of Abish.

For those unfamiliar with the Book of Mormon, Abish was a female servant that played a pivotal role in the conversion of her nation’s ruler Lamoni to the worship of Jesus Christ.

Season three of Book of Mormon Videos filming in Hawaii. Children listen to King Benjamin’s sermon. | Courtesy The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

For someone with no acting experience, I felt I was auditioning for a pretty significant role. Unfortunately, that part didn’t work out, but my name was kept on file for future work.

Then, late last week, I got word that I landed another part that I’ve been asked not to specifically mention until the series is released.

On Wednesday, I traveled down to Utah and started work at the church’s Motion Pictures Studio in Provo.

I was asked not to straighten my hair and keep it naturally curly. I was mortified because this may be the only time I’ll have a part in a film with a potential audience of millions of Latter-day Saints.

How I usually wear my hair compared to my natural look the day of shooting. | Natalia Hepworth, EastIdahoNews.com

The last thing I wanted to worry about was frizz or a stray curl. But, it wasn’t my production, so I did as directed and I used my signature curly hair products.

Once on set, I saw the other actors and couldn’t help but notice the diversity in nationalities, skin tones, hair types, and textures. I was surprised to see the types of actors chosen and felt less alone knowing I wasn’t the only one with their hair natural.

This was my first time at a motion picture studio and there was a lot to take in. It’s almost like its own town. There were various types of infrastructure making up the sets along with stages that held large scale props. There were backdrops and lights and cameras, not to mention the studio trailers and satellites, all enclosed in nature and trees. It was quite the production.

While waiting for my scenes, I was in a trailer with 11 other actors. We played games, ate a catered meal and got to know each other.

It was easy to make friends right away since you had to be together all day. We all had our hair looked over or touched up, and light make-up was applied before changing into costume. Overall, we filmed for seven to nine hours that day.

Utility truck at the church’s Motion Picture Studio | Photo taken by Natalia Hepworth, EastIdahoNews.com

While on set, I had the chance to meet others playing more iconic Book of Mormon roles. Jeffrey Dickamore was cast as Alma the Younger, a man in the Book of Mormon who undergoes an intense conversion process and becomes an influential prophet.

A scene from season three of Book of Mormon Videos filming in Hawaii. Alma the Younger teaches on the Hill Onidah. | Courtesy The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints

“I’ve been reading Alma’s words and hearing his stories since I was tiny. Growing up as a member of this church I’ve known about Alma my whole life and so the idea of stepping into this role and trying to portray him, it comes down to just hoping you don’t get in the way of things. Really as an actor, you’re just a very small part,” Dickamore told EastIdahoNews.com.

Directors and producers are wrapping up the third season of the Book of Mormon Video Library Series. The trailer for season one was released Thursday and can be watched below.

The production was filmed at several locations in North America, including the church-owned Jerusalem Movie Set in the Goshen, Utah desert, and in the tropical mountains of Hawaii.

New videos and images from the first and second seasons will be released each Friday from Sept. 20 to Dec. 27. Season three does not have an official release date.

After being behind the scenes of this huge project, I’m honored to know I could play a small part. I don’t know how much screen time I’ll actually get, but I’m grateful to be picked for a film that will be shown to Latter-day Saints all around the world.

If you’re considering trying out for a part in a church production, I would highly recommend it, even if you’re just an extra. You can learn more about casting opportunities here.

Learn more about the Book of Mormon Visual Library here.

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