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Eight-year-old shines on silver screen

The 5.9-magnitude earthquake that shook Louisa, Va., in late August caused quite a stir, its effects reaching the Tri-State.

Eight-year-old Louisa resident Emma Rayne Lyle is creating a stir of her own and, just like the earthquake, she has also rumbled through our area.

Emma portrays Emily Reddy in the recently released feature film “I Don’t Know How She Does It,” as the daughter of characters played by Sarah Jessica Parker and Greg Kinnear. The film also features Pierce Brosnan, Kelsey Grammer and Christina Hendricks.

I have to admit, any movie starring Parker is not one I would ordinarily pay to see. But Emma once played a role as my daughter, Holly (aka Smiley Eyes), so I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to see her on the big screen.

Plus, she absolutely loved her onscreen mommy, which altered my view (although you still won’t catch me watching Sex and the City without somebody holding a gun to my head).

“She’s really nice and she cares about me,” an upbeat Emma said about Parker last Thursday, the day prior to her silver screen debut. “She’s nice to everyone!”

Fair enough. I started rooting for Notre Dame in 2002 because of the behind-the-scenes kindness of the Irish football players toward local teenage leukemia patient Shane Jones. I can do the same for Sarah Jessica Parker.

Rewind to December 2009. A production company from Washington, D.C., Two Meter Films, was wrapping up filming the script of a true story that started with Shane Jones and ended with a little girl from Florida named Meghan Mack.

For those of you who made the trip to the Ironton High School Conley Center that Saturday and later endured the outside scene in Tanks Memorial Stadium in freezing temperatures, a future star was in your midst — an adorable blonde-headed six-year-old with a beaming smile and smiling eyes.

Even though our movie, titled “The Shoebox,” never made it off the ground, the youngest member of our cast is flying high.

The funny thing is, prior to the release of “I Don’t Know How She Does It,” few of the approximately 1,500 people in Louisa were aware that one of their neighbors was acting in a major production.

“Nobody really knows,” an affable Nyna Lyle said with a laugh about public reaction to her daughter’s role in the movie.

“What?” I screamed in disbelief, nearly bursting her ear drums. “Don’t the kids at her school know?”

Nyna broke into deeper laughs. It turns out that the family relocated to Louisa from Florida to follow the career of Emma’s real-life daddy, Grady Lyle.

Since Emma is home schooled to accommodate her acting ambitions, she has little contact with local children outside of close friends.

“This was so unexpected,” Nyna said, obviously proud of Emma’s accomplishments.

“Never in a million years did I think my daughter, or anyone in my family, would do this. My husband and I were in shock for two weeks.”

Emma has a 13-year-old brother, Ryan, who also played a role in “The Shoebox” as a friend to the character who portrayed my son, Andy.

She also has an eleven-year-old sister, Savannah, who, as her mother said with a laugh, “is like me … not into the spotlight at all!”

But Emma certainly feels comfortable on the center stage.

“It was exciting,” she said, describing the film’s New York City premier, walking the red carpet, and the adulation that followed. “I was just having fun. I wasn’t nervous at all.”

Emma’s next movie, “Return,” featuring Linda Cardellini (ER, “Brokeback Mountain”) and Michael Shannon (“Vanilla Sky,” “Pearl Harbor”) will be out this winter.

Another film, “Predisposed,” starring Oscar nominee Jesse Eisenberg (“The Social Network”) and Oscar Award winner Melissa Leo (“The Fighter”), will debut in 2012.

To keep tabs on Emma, you can visit her Web site at www.emmaraynelyle.com.

If I seem overly giddy about this, well, I am.

As the career of this little girl progresses, I’ll always be able to look back and remember when she portrayed my Smiley Eyes.

To me, that’s worth getting giddy about.

Billy Bruce is a freelance writer from Pedro. He can be contacted via email at hollankat3@aol.com or by visiting his Website at www.hollandkat.com