A class of New Orleans second-graders was treated to a unique sneak preview of an upcoming Hollywood thriller thanks to a show-and-tell presentation with a dose of Tinseltown. That was the day eight-year-old Sabrina Aurora Junius brought her photo album to school with shots from the set of The Reaping, a Warner Bros. film in which she plays a role opposite an Academy Award-winning movie star.

NEWS BEAT: Local girl lands on the silver screen“I play Sarah and she’s the daughter of Hilary Swank,” says Junius, a New Orleans native who lives here with her family.

Swank, who has won two Oscars for her roles in the films Boys Don’t Cry and Million Dollar Baby, stars in The Reaping as a former Christian missionary who lost her faith and has since become a world-renowned expert in disproving religious phenomena. In the film, she comes to a small Louisiana town to investigate what appear to be the Biblical plagues and realizes that science cannot explain what’s happening.

The Reaping is set for theatrical release at the end of March and was filmed in Louisiana around the Baton Rouge area. Junius, who is registered with the Mid-City-based talent agency del Corral Model and Talent Agency, was selected for the role after several rounds of auditions and a screen test with Swank in 2005 before Hurricane Katrina.

NEWS BEAT: Local girl lands on the silver screen“After the hurricane, we were scared that they would forget about her or assume we were all living somewhere far away,” says Aurora Junius, mother of the young actress. “But [the producers] found us in Florida and we drove to Baton Rouge to shoot the scenes.”

Junius is following in a long family tradition on the stage and screen, says her mother. Her great grandmother was a Vaudeville performer in New York and she is related to Nancy Carroll, an actress from the 1920s and ‘30s, her mother adds. Junius’ aunts are all active in theater and Junius herself began performing on stage at age three. 

Junius has had stage roles singing and dancing and says her experience filming a major motion picture “was fun.” While she will likely audition for other roles in the future and says she wants to act in movies when she grows up, she’s also focused on more typical activities for local eight-year-olds. She is learning to play soccer and in March, when The Reaping makes its debut, she will celebrate her First Communion in New Orleans. – I.M.