During it's TV run from 1974-83, the hugely popular 'Little House On the Prairie' saw many quirky, eccentric, rough and gruff, yet memorable characters come through the little midWestern prairie town of Walnut Grove. But the heart of the story in every episode of life in the late 1800s was the Ingalls family – Charles, Caroline and their children Mary, Carrie and, of course, "Half-Pint" (Laura), played by now Michigan resident Melissa Gilbert. Collective Development Inc.'s family-friendly, faith-based 'mid-Western,' filming now entirely in Michigan, takes its cue loosely from the enduring books by Laura Ingalls Wilder. And family is first and foremost at the center of the story.
That is why CDI producers and director Jesse Low auditioned dozens of actors/actresses from across the country to bring on board just the right chemistry to bring this story to life.
Leading the Murphy family as 'Emmett' is veteran stage and film performer Shane Hagadorn of Lansing, Mich. Also a producer on the project, Shane is the writer-director of 'Ashes of Eden' and has given memorable performances in the first installment of CDI's faith-based 'Quest Trilogy,' '40 Nights' (Lightworx Entertainment release) and soon to be released, 'Chasing the Star.' Shane's unmistakeable, unflinching presence as Arch Angel Gabriel in both films, will seamlessly transition into the role of Emmett, a 'gentle-giant' of sorts, who tries to keep the 'mixed family' together while fighting his own demons from his Civil War service to the death of his wife.
Detroit, Mich.-based actress, singer and author Lisa Lauren Smith earned the starring role of 'Haddie,' the widowed mother of a young daughter, who tries to rear her child amidst the elemental and social/racial issues and hardships that endure today. Lisa grew up and watched her mother, a retired school teacher and actress, tour and perform with theater companies and the Michigan Opera Theater. A graduate of the Detroit High School for the Fine and Performing Arts, as well as Wayne State University on a Presidential Scholarship, Lisa plays piano, French horn and violin. On stage she has portrayed legendary blues singer Billie Holiday with an Off-Broadway touring company, and another legend, jazz singer Ella Fitzgerald. Some of Lisa's TV credits include recurring roles on ABC's 'Detroit 187' and BET's 'Let's Stay Together.' Her film resume includes such work as 'Redeemer,' 'The Citizen' and 'Sparrow.'
Portraying the children of Emmett and Haddie are Xylia Jenkins (born in Flint, Mich.) and Detroiter Joe Cipriano.
As 'Grace,' Xylia brings to the screen a new meaning of 'the innocence of youth' in the harshness of 1870s Michigan. Xylia wanted to be an actress since age eight and has worked at the craft by taking acting classes with several prestigious actors/directors and has worked her way up the ranks by performing as a background player. She's earned speaking roles in feature films, shorts, voice over and commercials.
Joe is no stranger to CDI audiences, having portrayed Young Jesus in the highly acclaimed '40 Nights.' Playing Emmett's son, Henry, Joe, too, caught the 'acting bug' at the tender age of eight. Joe's career has thus far included roles in features ('Sand Castles,' 'The Midnight Hour,' 'Dead Quiet'), shorts, television, commercials and music videos.
Bringing comic relief, yet the knack for disarming tense and/or oftentimes dangerous situations (created by man or beast) with his worldly charm and backwoods know-how is 'Uncle McKinney,' who lives with Emmett and Henry in their cabin nestled in the woods. Veteran character actor Greg Mason out of West Virginia was the solid choice to bring Uncle McKinney and his nuances to life on screen. An actor with 70 films to his credit, Mason is no stranger to audiences. 'Wild Faith' is his forth feature film with CDI. His turns in 'An Ordinary Killer' and 'Dean Teaster's Ghost Town' were memorable. Highlighted by his unique ability to break down and cry on cue.
Audiences are in for a special treat with 'Wild Faith,' whose producers are also in talks with TV networks about an on-going series. 'Wild Faith' will bring back echoes of 'Little House On the Prairie,' yet this vehicle, which appeals to a broad demographic, will immerse audiences in a world of its own. Complete with drama, adventure, action, sweetness and levity. And it all starts with casting!