Augsburg grad lands role with Reese Witherspoon

MINNEAPOLIS - The movie "The Good Lie" is a story of survival and triumph, and a Minnesota refugee is helping bring the story to life on the big screen.

Kuoth Wiel, a 2013 Augsburg graduate stopped by KARE 11 Tuesday to chat about her upcoming role in the film which opens Friday.

Even when the cameras aren't rolling, the 25-year-old exudes energy. She laughs before answering questions about what it was like to work with the academy award winner, Witherspoon. She smiles while recalling the experience.

"It was great. She is great mentor," Wiel said.

But she said little about Witherspoon and focused more about the importance behind telling this story. It's about the Lost Boys of Sudan. They were children orphaned by a civil war that started in 1983. Some walked thousands of miles to escape violence. More than two million people died. Wiel plays the role of a Sudanese refugee, Abital.

The story reflects reality for Wiel. She said she spent time in a refugee camp, and then immigrated to Minnesota when she was eight years old. Her mother, still lives in Faribault.

Adrienne Broaddus: What is on your heart leading up to the screening of your debut in the Good Lie?

Kuoth Wiel: Excitement. Ready to see my family and friends and see how they react to this movie because they have been waiting for this as well, too.

AB: Why is it important that this story is told?

The civil war and the topic of the Lost Boys in Sudan has been around for many decades. I think that it is time that the world gets to know who these people are but also for the story to have a face.

KW: What was the most challenging part for you playing this character?

KW: My character is Abital. She is the sister of three boys. Since the beginning she was kind of put into a position of being their mother at a young age. I had never --- I was fortunate enough to have a parent with me when we were going through the war in Sudan but I knew a lot of women that went through Abital's situation. So I used them for my research. I interviewed a lot women who went through what Abital went though and that helped me a lot. At least to get their perspectives and how they survived through this. Even for my accent, I had to find a Sudanese accent. I spoke to a lot of women who I felt were more influential for her character.

AB: Was it tough?

KW: I was comfortable. But when it came to emotions and evoking a certain feeling the director was really good, he would tap us aside and talk to us. He knew us personally rather than just professionally. He knew how far to take a certain emotion because of the fact that we had gone through the war ourselves. He felt that at times he would have to take us aside and put things in perspective. Even at times when we felt we didn't want to show certain emotions, he would tell us it was important.

This topic has been with me all of my life in a sense. I immigrated to a new country and when I was here I didn't really dive into those kind of emotions until I did this movie.

I think I found out the most about myself and I learned more about the story of Sudan by doing this movie.

I did a lot of research into the Lost Boys in general. I had a brother who was a lost boy. It is really grueling to know what those kids went though. And even for girls. Out of the 3600 who immigrated of the US only 89 were girls. It is a really huge issue for the women to have a voice in this story.

AB: How did you land this role?

KW: The movie kind of found me. If you learn about the writer, Margaret Nagle, it took her 11 years to make this movie. If it happened at the time it was supposed to I wouldn't be in this movie so I feel like it kind of found me.


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