Beneath a clear night sky, the procession makes its way through the ancient, torch-lit streets of the city. The people are all carrying lamps and going joyously to a wedding feast to be held in a tiny inn.
Well, not really.
The whole beautiful scene actually consists of cardboard cutouts, Styrofoam, stage lamps, and many talented actors. You can’t always believe what you see in the movies.
Though the setting might be fake, Emilee Susannie Barber is for real. Emilee is playing the part of a wise virgin in the parable of the ten virgins for a Church Education System video. The message of the parable is for real too, and like the wise virgins of the parable, Emilee is trying to ensure she has enough oil for her lamp.
Then shall the kingdom of heaven be likened unto ten virgins, which took their lamps, and went forth to meet the bridegroom.
And five of them were wise, and five were foolish.
They that were foolish took their lamps, and took no oil with them:
But the wise took oil in their vessels with their lamps (Matt. 25:1–4).
When she was first cast in the role, Emilee thought it was ironic because, she says, “I’m kind of a procrastinator.” She says she puts off her schoolwork and has a hard time studying the scriptures sometimes. But playing the part of someone who is prepared to meet the Lord reminded Emilee to keep Christ as the focus of her life. Besides her role as a wise virgin, Emilee has acted in numerous plays and televisions shows, including the television series Touched by an Angel. No matter what part she plays, Emilee says she tries to always have the Spirit with her.
Though Emilee finds it hard to keep going sometimes, she says, “Every day is a continual process because each day is a new day to grow closer to God.” She is collecting oil for her lamp by going to church every week and praying continually for the Holy Ghost to be with her. She hopes she will be ready for the time when the bridegroom comes.
While the bridegroom tarried, they all slumbered and slept.
And at midnight there was a cry made, Behold, the bridegroom cometh; go ye out to meet him.
Then all those virgins arose, and trimmed their lamps.
And the foolish said unto the wise, Give us of your oil; for our lamps are gone out.
But the wise answered, saying, Not so; lest there be not enough for us and you: but go ye rather to them that sell, and buy for yourselves.
And while they went to buy, the bridegroom came; and they that were ready went in with him to the marriage: and the door was shut (Matt. 25:5–10).
To be prepared to meet the Savior when He comes is what Emilee is striving for. “That’s just an overwhelming thought. Just that moment would be so overwhelming,” she says. Emilee hopes those who watch the video will understand what the parable is trying to tell them: We all need to prepare to meet Christ now. Before all her performances, Emilee prays that she will be able to do her best and that the other performers will also. She prays too that the audiences she performs for will feel the Spirit and learn from her performance.
Afterward came also the other virgins, saying, Lord, Lord, open to us.
But he answered and said, Verily I say unto you, I know you not.
Watch therefore, for ye know neither the day nor the hour wherein the Son of man cometh (Matt. 25:11–13).
Though she feels she is unprepared in some aspects of her life, such as keeping a positive attitude about her trials, Emilee is trying to align her actions with her testimony of the gospel. She couldn’t imagine anything more awful than realizing that she would be locked out of the presence of her Savior because of her lack of preparation. But she also could not imagine anything more wonderful than being ready for Christ’s Second Coming. Emilee says one scripture sums up her attitude toward who she wants to be:
And at that day, when I shall come in my glory, shall the parable be fulfilled which I spake concerning the ten virgins.
For they that are wise and have received the truth, and have taken the Holy Spirit for their guide, and have not been deceived—verily I say unto you, they shall not be hewn down and cast into the fire, but shall abide the day (D&C 45:56–57).
Emilee wants to take the Holy Spirit for her guide. She says the Holy Spirit “pulls her out of her seat” to bear her testimony sometimes. Her testimony—Emilee says that’s her extra oil. That’s what keeps her lamp burning even in the darkest night. Her testimony grows strongest when she remembers with gratitude her relationship with the Savior. When she thinks of her friends who don’t have the gospel and don’t know that Christ is their Savior, she is even more grateful that Christ is a part of her life. She acknowledges that without Christ she would be nothing.
Besides all she learned from playing the part of a wise virgin, Emilee had lots of fun acting in an ancient setting. “It’s just really neat, because I usually don’t have the opportunity to play a historical figure in the Church.” She also says it was a learning experience to play someone whom everyone has heard of. She also learned more about the kinds of people she enjoys working with. It was a new experience for Emilee to work with a crew of Latter-day Saints, and she enjoyed opening the day’s work with a prayer and feeling like she was with her family.
What was the main reason Emilee enjoyed her part so much? She says, “I think this story has one of the greatest messages that you could show or tell someone.” We all need to be like the wise virgins and be ready for when the Lord comes again, because we will forever regret being foolish and unprepared.