Thirteen-year-old Emma Olgers doesn’t know what she wants to be when she grows up, but her options have certainly opened up recently.
Olgers, the daughter of Darrell and Michelle Olgers of Sutherland, will be appearing in the PBS movie “Insurrection,” which is slated, she said, to air in November.
“Insurrection” is Olgers’ second movie, both of which were filmed, primarily, in her home, the historic Sutherland House.
The house, which Darrell Olgers said was built in 1803 and was acquired by the Olgers family in 1903, is a former plantation manor and was used as an inn and tavern. During the Civil War, Darrell Olgers said, the house was used as a battlefield hospital.
Roughly four years ago, Emma Olgers said, film director Tamara Eastman approached the family about filming “Birthing a Colony” at the manor, when Emma was only nine years old.
“(Eastman) knew of this house and its historic significance,” Darrell Olgers said.
Emma had a non-speaking part in “Birthing a Colony,” playing the daughter of an indentured servant who wasn’t supposed to have children.
Being in the movie, Emma said, seemed like a natural progression of her love of history, which she had been cultivating since she was a little girl and Civil War re-enactors would flock to the house for a yearly event.
“They would bring me extra dresses to wear,” Emma said. “After a while I really started getting into it. It’s like going through a time machine.”
Emma, who attends St. Joseph’s School in Petersburg, has also begun to see her Civil War re-enactments as a way to better understand history and puts her in a position where she can explain that history to others.
Darrell said once Eastman learned Emma was as into history as she is, putting her in the movie was an easy decision.
“I thought it was fun,” Emma said of the first film. “But after the second movie I thought it was a LOT of fun.”
Darrell also believed doing the movies fit into Emma’s personality.
“She’s always been well-spoken and interested in history,” Darrell said. “We thought this was a natural fit for her.”
Emma’s second movie, “Insurrection,” gave her the chance to play two roles. In the first, she plays the daughter of a plantation owner who gets killed during a slave revolt. However, her face is never really visible in her scenes, which allowed Eastman to use Emma as the daughter of a different plantation owner later in the movie, one whose fate remains a mystery.
Playing the second role, however, did give Emma a chance she hadn’t had in “Birthing a Colony” — she had lines.
“I think I’m in this movie a fair amount,” Emma said. “We filmed two scenes in the parlor here, a scene in the dining room, two scenes outside and two more at the courthouse.”
While Emma did enjoy the movie experience, she said she’s still not sure if acting is something she really wants to pursue, so “going Hollywood” is not an option, at least not at this point.
“I still don’t know what I want to do with my life,” Emma said. “So I know if I did want to pursue acting, I would really be going after it. But right now I’m not sure.”
As for her friends, Emma said they think it’s cool she’s been in couple of movies, but she added they’re not too surprised it happened.
“I think they think, ‘it’s just another crazy thing Emma’s doing,’” Emma said.
As she waits to see “Insurrection” in November, Emma is still doing her Civil War re-enactments, traveling to Maryland, and other parts of Virginia, mostly, and keeping up with the Virginia Production Alliance, which keeps her filled in on other movie and television production opportunities.
She also hopes to get a chance to appear in the PBS series “Mercy Street,” which films right behind her school.
Emma added she’s interested not only in acting, but in the technical aspects of theater production, which only broadens her horizons and opens up her options further.
Darrell said he and Michelle are looking forward to seeing what Emma does next.
“I’m very proud of her,” Darrell said. “Emma has always been a take-charge kid. Other kids have video games as their life, and I’m not knocking that, but we’ve raised Emma a little bit differently. She’s never been afraid to tackle a challenge, and my wife and I are both very, very proud of her.”
Featured Photo: Roger Bell/Dinwiddie Monitor
Emma Olgers stands in the dining room of her family home, where two scenes from the film “Insurrection” were shot. The movie is scheduled to air on PBS in November.