A Lockport girl's big screen debut

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Mar. 8—A Lockport girl's debut on the big screen began close to home.

During the Wednesday night special screening of the movie "Cabrini" at the North Park Theatre in Buffalo, 13-year-old Mary Kate Souliske watched herself portray an orphan in New York City in the late 19th century.

"Going from the set to there is kind of crazy," Mary Kate said.

The movie tells the true story of Mother Frances Xavier Cabrini and her mission to help Italian immigrants in New York City by sheltering, feeding, and clothing impoverished children of Italian descent at her orphanage.

When Mary Kate and her family submitted her audition materials to the film company two years ago and received a phone call from the company shortly thereafter, with an offer to be in the movie as an orphan in Cabrini's orphanage, she said she was "shocked" to land her first on-screen acting gig.

"It felt unreal. I couldn't really process it in the moment, I was just so happy," Mary Kate said.

What followed was a 10-day period of filming in Buffalo to capture the essence of the struggles Cabrini faced as a woman and an immigrant in 19th century New York City.

A majority of filming took place in Buffalo with some landscapes shot near the Niagara River around Niagara Falls.

Throughout the process, Mary Kate said she learned the ropes of what goes into the film making process.

"They like gave us, like, instructions of what to do. For one scene we had to sit and eat soup or, be asleep in one scene, and you have to do that like 10 times, and we'd just redo it every time," she said.

Ultimately, Mary Kate's biggest takeaway from the experience was learning "how much work actors like put into their movies and how Mother Cabrini was an amazing influence for women and hope around the world."

"It's a beautiful film and I was just so impressed by it....It's a masterpiece and I was so so proud of (my daughter)," Mary Kate's mom Amanda added.

"Cabrini" is debuting in theaters everywhere today, which is International Women's Day.