Women Behind ‘Jane And Emma’ Reflect On Bringing History To Life

Oct 12, 2018, 3:06 PM | Updated: 9:32 pm

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – Two days before the Utah premiere of the film, “Jane and Emma,” the two women whose vision for the project brought it to fruition met KSL TV at This Is the Place Heritage Park, where some of the film was shot.

Director Chantelle Squires was excited about the project from the beginning.

“The fact that we were going to be able to tell a story through their voices?” she said of bringing the lives of Emma Smith and Jane Manning to the screen. “Sign me up!”

“Jane and Emma” explores the relationship between Emma, the wife of the Prophet Joseph Smith, and Jane, an early convert to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. It tells the story of an unlikely friendship between women of different races and circumstances.

Screenwriter Melissa Leilani Larson said creating the story from the two women’s journals and historic writings was a two-year process.

“It is historical fiction,” she said. “… Usually in a history those kinds of things are a line or two in a book, but you rarely are going to have whole conversations. So it was up to me to decide the voices of these two women.”

What drove this storytelling was the unique situation of their relationship.

“It’s unexpected for the time period to be looking at a black woman and white woman and their friendship and to just see them on equal footing, on equal ground,” Larson said.

The story of the film takes place the day after Joseph Smith and his brother, Hyrum, were murdered in Carthage Jail, June 28, 1844. At the Mansion House in Nauvoo, Emma fears a mob will steal Joseph’s body, and Jane stays with her to guard it.

“(For Jane) being rejected for the color of her skin, there’s nothing she could do to change that,” Squires said. “So Emma, going through everything that she went through, especially on the night after her husband’s death, they were both elevated to this equal place of pain.”

Timing can be everything with a movie. The women behind “Jane and Emma” say, from the beginning, this was a film created by women, about women and for women. It’s about letting the voices of 19th century women be heard today.

“It’s the story of two really strong women,” Squires said, “… the relationship that they have with each other and also with God.”

The creative team hopes this universal message of friendship will appeal to audiences beyond their faith.

Squires said she believes that heartfelt feelings of faith are universal.

“There’s a moment in the film where Jane is crying at God,” she said. “I think that experience has happened for a lot of people.”

Larson said they did not start this project with only one audience in mind.

“These two women happen to be Latter-day Saints, and they happen to be in Nauvoo at a time that’s crucial to Latter-day Saint history,” she said. “But it’s not a propaganda piece. It’s not about preaching to people. It’s about these two women and their relationship.”

“Jane and Emma” opened Friday in theaters statewide from Logan to St. George.

KSL 5 TV Live

Local News

The van losing control on the highway almost hitting UHP Trooper Juan Branchini. (Courtesy: Utah Hi...

Brianna Chavez

UHP trooper avoids potential crash, credits drivers for slowing down

A close call for some drivers in Layton Friday morning after a van slid across HWY 89 going northbound due to snow on the road.

12 hours ago

The "Star Spangled Babies" event. (KSL TV's Mark Wetzel)...

Michael Houck

Operation Homefront, Kent’s Market host ‘Star-Spangled Babies’ baby shower for local military mothers

The "Star-Spangled Babies" baby shower welcomed 75 new and expecting Utah military mothers on Friday. 

13 hours ago

Noah McArthur (left) in the hospital with his mother, Christine Sara (right) (Courtesy: Christine S...

Emma Benson

Local school district making changes after 3 students hit in crosswalks

After three teenagers were hit by a car in the last year, Wasatch School District is implementing new safety features on their city's streets.

15 hours ago

An artemia shrimp in a tank. (KSL TV)...

Jeff Dahdah, KSL TV

Great Salt Lake preservation key for global food security

A valuable food resource that supplies the world, could disappear with the Great Salt Lake if water levels are not maintained.

15 hours ago

Brighton Ski Resort (Mark Less, KSL TV)...

Alex Cabrero

Utah’s fastest lift opens at Brighton Resort

This lift is all about speed. It brings 2,400 people up to the top each hour. That's a thousand more than the old Crest lift.

16 hours ago

Blair Barfuss, the new Riverton Police chief. (The City of Riverton)...

Eliza Pace

Riverton Police Chief leaves office

Police Chief Blair Barfuss with the Riverton Police Department is no longer the Police Chief according to Riverton City. 

17 hours ago

Sponsored Articles

Stylish room interior with beautiful Christmas tree and decorative fireplace...

Lighting Design

Create a Festive Home with Our Easy-to-Follow Holiday Prep Guide

Get ready for festive celebrations! Discover expert tips to prepare your home for the holidays, creating a warm and welcoming atmosphere for unforgettable moments.

Battery low message on mobile device screen. Internet and technology concept...

PC Laptops

9 Tips to Get More Power Out of Your Laptop Battery

Get more power out of your laptop battery and help it last longer by implementing some of these tips from our guide.

Users display warnings about the use of artificial intelligence (AI), access to malicious software ...

Les Olson

How to Stay Safe from Cybersecurity Threats

Read our tips for reading for how to respond to rising cybersecurity threats in 2023 and beyond to keep yourself and your company safe.

Design mockup half in white and half in color of luxury house interior with open plan living room a...

Lighting Design

Lighting Design 101: Learn the Basics

These lighting design basics will help you when designing your home, so you can meet both practical and aesthetic needs.

an antler with large horns int he wilderness...

Three Bear Lodge

Yellowstone in the Fall: A Wildlife Spectacle Worth Witnessing

While most people travel to this park in the summer, late fall in Yellowstone provides a wealth of highlights to make a memorable experience.

a diverse group of students raising their hands in a classroom...

Little Orchard Preschool

6 Benefits of Preschool for Kids

Some of the benefits of preschool for kids include developing independence, curiosity, and learning more about the world.

Women Behind ‘Jane And Emma’ Reflect On Bringing History To Life