Filming is underway on a movie about the late Pearl Carter Scott, a Chickasaw girl from Oklahoma who is well known as the youngest licensed pilot in America. Befriended by famous aviator Wiley Post in the late 1920s, Pearl was performing as a barnstormer and commercial pilot by age 14.
Produced by the Chickasaw Nation, the feature-length film is based in part on Dr. Paul Lambert's biography "Never Give Up!: The Life of Pearl Carter Scott" published by the Chickasaw Press in 2007.
"Pearl was a dynamic Chickasaw woman who is a legendary figure in the history of Oklahoma, the world of aviation and in the Chickasaw Nation," said Chickasaw Nation Governor Bill Anoatubby. "She was a unique individual who had a profoundly positive impact on everyone she met. Bringing her life story to the screen will help preserve that impact for generations to come."
Pearl was the daughter of a successful businessman in Marlow Oklahoma who witnessed the world around her change from prosperity in the late 1920s into the Dust Bowl days of the 1930s. These social and economic changes serve as a backdrop for the passion, celebrity status, romance and internal conflict which marked Pearl's teen years.
The movie is being filmed on various locations in the state of Oklahoma, including the historic Harn Homestead, the El Reno Municipal Airport, the Jude and Jody Airport and several locations in and near Guthrie.
Chris Freihofer Casting was involved in the search for talent for the film. Freihofer has been involved in projects including the movie "Elizabethtown", television special "Days That Shook the World: The Oklahoma City Bombing" and the Pilot episode of the television series "Saving Grace", among others.
Actors in leading roles are a mix of talent from Oklahoma and actors from across the U.S. The lead character, Pearl Carter Scott, is portrayed by Elijah DeJesus, a 13-year-old actress from Burbank, California. DeJesus has appeared in the primetime ABC comedy "Ugly Betty," as well as other productions, but "Pearl" is her first leading role in a feature film. "It's going to be a wonderful family film for everyone to see. Pearl Carter was amazing. It's good to bring her story out to the world." "I am honored to be Pearl," said Elijah.
Isabel Archuleta is Pearl's sister Opaletta. Archuleta performed in several theater performances at the University of Oklahoma, where she earned her bachelor's degree in acting. Her roles at the University of Oklahoma include Juliet in "Romeo and Juliet" as well as Hermia in "A Midsummer Night's Dream". Ironically, she had recently moved to Los Angeles to pursue an acting career when she was cast in the film.
Andrew Sensenig is Pearl's father George Carter. Sensenig has performed in dozens of film and television roles, including roles on two popular cable television series, "Burn Notice" and "Prison Break".
Tom Huston Orr, Director of the University of Oklahoma School of Drama, plays legendary aviator Wiley Post.
Paden Brown, a Chickasaw from Byng, Okla., plays Pearl's sister Arnetta. She auditioned on a whim and now is living the life of Arnetta each time she dons a costume. "It's like going back in time, it makes me feel like I'm in the 1920s, and it's really fun." Paden said she admires Pearl and she is proud to bring the story of a powerful Chickasaw woman to the big screen.
Angela Gair will play Pearl's mother, Lucy Carter. Gair has performed in more than a dozen roles in film and on television.
Other Chickasaw principal actors include Pauline Brown, Daniel Walker, Milton Brown, Micah Hart, Jaisen Monetatchi, Dakota Brown, Tim Harjochee, Robert Cheadle and Skylar Wilson. More than 200 locals will also appear in the film as extras.
Two 1920s era biplanes and a Curtiss Robin airplane used in filming are being provided by members of "Nostalgic Wings". The Heartland T's and the Horseless Carriage Club of America, Oklahoma City chapter are providing a number of vintage automobiles, including a 1928 Model A Roadster, 1924 Touring Sedan and a 1922 Dodge Enclosed Patty Wagon.