With November as National Adoption Awareness Month, a Summerville novelist’s adoption story is ready for Hollywood to make her incredible narrative into a feature length film, made-for-T.V. movie or documentary.
In fact, Jo-Ann “Jody” Bierer Wilhelm just won for Best Short Script/Any Genre at the South Carolina Underground Film Festival (“SCUFF”) on Nov. 10 in North Charleston.
Under the pen name, Lenora Livingston, Jody wrote, “Where’s Stephanie? A Story of Love, Faith, and Courage” as a novel that revolves around Jody placing clues in Social Services files in the hopes her granddaughter—who was placed for adoption—will follow those clues and find her. Flashbacks of rape make her face her fears and follow the dreams the rapist stole from her.
Jody later used her real name to write the screenplay, “Where’s Stephanie: The Ultimate Gift,” which has won 15 awards at various U.S. Film Festivals during this past year. Wilhelm, who has been a model since age 50, is about to turn 80 and is represented by the Millie Lewis Models & Talent here in Summerville. Jody said this proves it is never too late to follow your dreams.
“Never, never, never give up hope!” Jody said. Her life has indeed taken an interesting path over the course of almost 30 years before her granddaughter figured out the clues from her social services file which led to their reunification.
This unique, inspirational story teaches others how to be brave, stop being a victim, face one’s fears, follow your dreams, and be a survivor. Jody says she never dreamed she would become a writer, let alone win so many awards.
“It’s so exciting, seeing all of this come to fruition. Now all we need is for investors to complete it and make the film for TV or the big screen a reality.”
Wilhelm added she always knew she was meant to write this story as both a book and screenplay because when this “greatest miracle of my life” evolved before her eyes, she visualized it in a matter of seconds, like a movie in fast-forward.
Wilhelm recently produced a concept trailer to court the media, investors, and entertainment industry. Arts & Culture Columnist, Mary E. Regan for the Journal Scene is on board as her Publicist. Jody’s longtime friend, Suzanne Manseau Green, Owner of Millie Lewis Models & Talent, serves as her Agent. Green will soon approach New York and Hollywood agents, investors, film production companies, directors, and actors to try to get this story produced as a film.
Green is incredulous about this whole journey.
“Jody’s story is a real warm-your-heart, unforgettable tale. It’s the kind of award-winning script which ought to be on the screen right now!” she said.
Wilhelm’s former writing coach at the Screen Actors Guild Conservatory in New York City, Mark Weston once wrote, “Betcha there’s a screenplay or a TV special in this one.”
Nationally, there are more than 107,000 foster children eligible for and waiting to be adopted. In 2014, 50,644 foster kids were adopted — a number that has been consistent for the past five years. The average age of a waiting child is 7.7 years old and 29 percent of them will spend at least three years in foster care.
According to information from The Adoption Network, many adopted persons feel it is important for them to find out the answer to why their birth mother left them and what were the factors around their adoption. Many express the need to find that part of themselves that has, up until now, been denied to them. Adopted persons also have expressed that perhaps they do not “have the right” to upset their mother’s lives (but that) one has the right to seek one’s natural family as well as the right to know who you are.
About the Author: Retired educator, Jo-Ann Bierer Wilhelm, earned her Bachelor of Arts and Master’s of Arts Technology degrees from the University of South Carolina and continued post master’s studies at The Citadel. She previously wrote a history book.
As a freelance writer, she has written numerous articles for various publications. For more information, go to www.LenoraLivingston.com. The book, “Where’s Stephanie? A Story of Love, Faith, and Courage” is available in paperback, in Kindle through Amazon, audiotape through Audible, iTunes and Amazon; in a First Edition/Limited hard copy with book jacket or in paperback via AbeBooks.com.
Jody is both a member of the American Christian Fiction Writers and the South Carolina Writer’s Workshop. She and her husband Werner live in Summerville.