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Brief Biographies
of Latter-day Saint and/or Utah
Film Personalities


Biographical sketches are arranged alphabetically on separate pages, by last name.
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Jjana Valentiner-Morrill
Latter-day Saint. Also credited as: Jjana Valentiner; Jjana Morrill; Jjana Valentiner Morrill. Married to Matthew J. Morrill (Matt Morrill). Actress. Star of Tawnya Cazier's short film "Just Say When" (2000). Major supporting role in "Daniil Kharms' The Old Woman" (2000), a film adaptation, available on video, of Kharms' novella adapted and directed by Duane Andersen. Has performed in many stage plays, including the critically acclaimed productions Bedroom Farce and The Caucasian Chalk Circle, both at BYU in 2000. Appeared in Ludwig Holberg's Erasmus Montanus directed by Eric Samuelsen at BYU in 1998. Utah County-based film and theater critic Eric Snider called her "a veritable workhorse in BYU theater." Also appeared in the BYU productions A Midsummer Night's Dream; The Cherry Orchard; Barefoot in the Park and Joyce Baking. Jjana and her husband Matthew were both members of the BYU-based comedy troupe "The Garrens." Jjana appeared in the Garrens stage production The Seventh Sense. Jjana was the casting director for Chris Bowman's award-winning short film "The Wrong Brother" (2000), and also has a small on-screen role.
Steven J. Vana
Lives in Park City, Utah. Set dresser/prop credits: Under Contract, The Ballad of Lucy Whipple, Nobody's Baby, A Secret Life, Promise Land. Set construction credits: Promised Land, The Way of the Gun.
Annie Van Alstyne
Utah-based actress. Ballet West administrative manager. Played Jake's secretary on the TV soap opera "General Hospital" (ABC). Has appeared in commercials for Novell and the Utah Travel Council. Has done voiceover work for Ballet West. Has appeared on stage in Jack Cohen's "The Actors' Network Showcase" (Hollywood, California), Roman Conquest (Valley Players' Guild Palm Springs, California, and The Hound of the Baskervilles (Perkins, Valley Players' Guild Palm Springs, California).
Pat Van Duser
Lives in Salt Lake City, Utah. Also known as: Patrick Van Duser; Patrick R. Van Duser. Film editor for the TV series "Promised Land" (1996-1997).
Alexander Vance
Latter-day Saint. Film student at Brigham Young University (BYU). Director of short film "Amazing Grace." Film editor for the Latter-day Saint-themed feature film "Pride and Prejudice: A Utah Comedy" (2003). Film editor for the short film "The Snell Show" (2002), which won the Grand Jury Prize at the Slamdance Film Festival held in Park City, Utah in January 2003. Also did the visual effects and titles for "The Snell Show." Additional editor for the award-winning short BYU student film "The Promethean" (2003).
Kerynee Vance
Latter-day Saint. Mother of three. Actress and vocalist. Was an extra on multiple episodes of the TV series "Touched by an Angel" and in the TV movies "Luck of the Irish" and "Perfect Murder, Perfect Town." Placed 4th in UVSC's ballroom class competition 2001, Waltz. Licensed cosmetologist (Arizona). Has been a private vocal instructor in Mesa, Arizona and Payson, Utah. Toured Eurcpe with Sonoran Desert Chorale, Summer 2001. Director of Allegro Children's Choir, established 2001. Producer and founder of the "Upstage Theatre for Youth." Theater experience includes playing "Julie" in "Saturday's Warrior" in Gilbert, Arizona, 1993. Music and drama director for "Charlotte's Web", Summer 2001. Has performed in "The King & I" at PCT and in 3 plays at Utah Valley State College (UVSC).
Janet van de Graaf
Latter-day Saint. Sometimes credited as: Janet van de Graaff. Comedic actress. Has starred in a number of Canadian TV comedy series: "Improv Heaven & Hell" (1999), "History Bites" (1998) and "Go Girl!" Small part in the film "The Five Senses" (1999). Bit part in the 2002 TV movie "The Music Man," starring Matthew Broderick. In 1993 made at least 3 guest appearances on the the TV variety series "Royal Canadian Air Farce," playing many different parts, including a Martha Stewart Clone. Nominatd for Canadian Comedy Awards in 2000, 2001, and 2002 for her work on "History Bites." Won the award for Pretty Funny Female Performance in 2002.
Simon Van Gelder
Post supervisor and online editor for Eric Hendershot's direct-to-video movies "Message in a Cell Phone" (2000) and "Horse Crazy" (2001), filmed in southern Utah. Worked on Rocco DeVilliers' feature film "Fly Boys," which was filmed in southern Utah.
Ten van Horn
Co-cinematographer, along with Grant Williams, of the Church video "Cipher in the Snow" (1973).
Monty Van Valkenburgh
Lives in South Jordan, Utah. Set construction/design.
Lola Van Wagenen
Latter-day Saint. Born 1940. Dropped out of college to marry actor/director Robert Redford on September 12, 1958; they divorced in 1985 after having four children one of which died of sudden infant death syndrome. Redford and Van Wagenen are the parents of including Shauna, actress Amy Redford and filmmaker James Redford. Cousin of Sterling Van Wagenen, the founder of the Sundance Film Festival. It was through her relationship with Lola's cousin that Redford became involved with the Festival. Consumer activist. Has done academic research and writing about women's issues and Latter-day Saint history. Executive producer of PBS documentary "There She Is: A History of Miss America" (2001).
Marilee Van Wagenen
Latter-day Saint. Lives in Utah. Sometimes credited as: Marilee VanWagenen. Starred as the mom in the Church video "Man's Search For Happiness" (1986). Had a small part in "The Trip to Bountiful" (1985), produced by Sterling Van Wagenen. Extras coordinator for the short film "Alyson's Closet" (1998). Extras casting for the feature-length film "The Rage" (1997).
Michael Scott Van Wagenen
Latter-day Saint. Lives in Brownsville, Texas. Documentary filmmaker. Married to filmmaker Monica Delgado. Sometimes credited as: Michael Van Wagenen. Writer/producer/director of: Telling Our Story; Arte y Color; Vatos Locos: The History of the 38th Street Gang; Folk Healing Practices in the Latino Immigrant Community; Low and Slow (1997); Spirit Doctors (1996); Mundo Milagroso (1995); The Attack on Fort Stevens (1993); The Candy Bomber (1992); Der Vetter (1991); North Africa 1944 (1990). Worked as the writer or director or producer (or some combination thereof) on over 25 other films, including: Beauty Before Me: Navajo Weavers (1994); Utah on the Home Front (1993); Fedora (1994); Grandma Vera's Tortillas (1999); Justice and Mercy (1992); The History of Yellowstone Park (1997); Yellowstone: America's Eden (1997); The Magic Bracelet (1994); Big Foot: The Search For Sasquatch (1994); A Day With Sheriff Joe (1997); Piana (1996); The Temple of God (1992). First assistant camera for the short film "A Truce with Death" (1993), about Latter-day Saint pioneers. Author of The Texas Republic and the Mormon Kingdom of God (Texas A&M University Press, 2002). Taught history at the University of Texas at Brownsville.
Sterling Van Wagenen
Latter-day Saint. Also credited as: Sterling VanWagenen. Director of "Alan & Naomi" (1992), which won the Crystal Heart Award at the Heartland Film Festival. Producer of "The Trip to Bountiful" (1985), for which Geraldine Page won the Best Actress Academy Award, and which was nominated for a Best Screenplay Academy Award. Producer of the TV movie "The Witching of Ben Wagner" (1987). Producer of the documentary "The Faith of an Observer: Conversations with Hugh Nibley" (1985), made at BYU. Writer/director of the Discovery channel documentary "The Haunted Desert: Archaelogy and the Dead Sea Scrolls" (2001). Director of the PBS special "Christmas Snows, Christmas Winds" (1978). Co-founder of Sundance Film Festival. Director of film school at the University of Central Florida in Orlando (UCF). Formerly taught at Brigham Young University. Executive producer of PBS documentary "Helen Foster Snow: My China Years (2000) and the PBS version of Elizabeth Hansen's play "Eliza and I" (1997), directed by Richard Dutcher. Producer of other films, including: Convicts (1991); Innovators (2000); Secrets of the Pharaohs: A Quest for DNA (Discovery Channel). Bio from faculty page at UCF (
Mr. Van Wagenen came to UCF in August, 1999 from Brigham Young University where he was an Adjunct Professor of Film and the manager of the university's TV group. He has been in the independent film movement for over twenty years and is the co-founder of the Sundance Film Festival in association with Robert Redford, along with being the founding executive director of the Sundance Institute. While at Sundance, he produced films such as El Norte, Desert Bloom, Promised Land, Belazaire The Cajun, and Waiting for the Moon. His film, The Trip to Bountiful, won an Academy Award for Best Actress Geraldine Page) and Academy Award Nomination for Best Screenplay Adapted From Another Medium. This same film won a Luminas Award and Retirement Research Foundation Owl Award. Another one of his films, Yosemite: The Fate of Heaven, which he co-produced with Robert Redford, won Blue Ribbon at the American Film and Video Festival and Best Environment Film at the Banff Film Festival. Currently, Mr. Van Wagenen is the producer-director of The Archeology of the Dead Sea Scrolls, a 60-minute documentary for the Discovery Channel. He is also the executive producer for Kids in History which is three feature length, dramatic projects in development for PBS. Additionally, Mr. Van Wagenen is co-producing a six-part series, The Call of Stories, for KBYU-TV and PBS. He is the executive producer of Innovators which is a national concert special for PBS, narrated by Patrick Stewart.

Kathy Varga
Lives in Pleasant Grove, Utah with her husband, David Varga. Key make-up/hair for the Latter-day Saint-themed feature films "Brigham City" (2001), "The Singles Ward" (2002), and "Handcart" (2002). Make-up artist for the Latter-day Saint-themed direct-to-video film "Only Once" (1998) and for Deseret Book-owned Jericho Road's music video "Finding my Way," directed by Tyler Measom.
Manju Varghese
Film student at Brigham Young University. Cinematographer of short films "Woodwork" (2001), "Elise" (2001) and "Just Say When" (2000).
Sofia Vassilieva
Lives in Sandy, Utah. Born 22 October 1992, Minneapolis, Minnesota. Daughter of Russian immigrants. Her mother teaches biology and her father teaches physics at the University of Utah. Child actress. Best known for starring in the title role in two "Eloise" movies based on the popular children's books. The movies premiered on network television as part of the "Wonderful World of Disney." Acclaimed actress Julie Andrews co-starred as her nanny in the movies, "Eloise at the Plaza" (2003) and "Eloise at Christmastime" (2003). Previously had major roles in the family film "Inhabited" (2003), about a haunted house, and as Cindy Brady in the TV movie "The Brady Bunch in the White House" (2002). Had a guest appearance on the popular TV series "The Agency" in 2001. Bio from official "Eloise in the Plaza" website (
Actress Sofia Vassilieva seemed destined to play "Eloise" in ABC's upcoming "Eloise in the Plaza" based on the famed children's book series by the late Kay Thompson with illustrations by Hilary Knight.

In addition to bearing a striking resemblance to the precocious and lovable six year old character, American born Sofia is also as cosmopolitan as one can be: she fluently speaks Russian, French, and travels the world. By the age of 6, Sofia had resided in four states and traveled in half of the United States, including Hawaii. And last by not least she followed Eloise's adventures as she's visited Paris, Moscow, Rome, Vienna, Toronto and even Siberia.

It also seemed a rather destined event that Sofia's tenth birthday, October 22, fell on the same day of the nationwide release of the long awaited book of her on-screen alter ego's latest adventure, "Eloise Takes a Bawth."

When Sofia was three years old, her parents encouraged her to pursue studies in ballet and later in piano and singing. She has danced in the theatrical productions of "Celtic Dances" at the Creative Dance School of Tucson, "Alice in Wonderland," "The Nutracker" and "Pinocchio" at the Eugene School of Ballet, Oregon.

Sofia's acting talent was discovered two years ago at the International Modeling and Talent Association in New York where Sofia won the title of child actress and first runner up child model of the year 2000. A year later, Sofia guest starred in the series "The Agency." Most recently she played the role of Cindy Brady in the TV movie "The Brady Bunch in the White House" opposite Shelly Long and appeared in the feature film "Inhabited" opposite Malcolm McDowell. Sofia's other talent includes gymnastics, in which in a few months of training she reached the silver level in the American Talent Opportunity program for gifted children. Sofia also adores ice skating, swimming, diving, roller skating, biking, and just playing outside with her friends.

Sofia Vassilieva resides in Sandy, Utah with her parents and a cast.

Eric Vaughan
Non-LDS. Lives in Salt Lake City, Utah. Actor and filmmaker. Had a featured role in Duane Andersen's short film "Shooting People" (2001). Uncredited production assistant for the feature film "How the Grinch Stole Christmas" (2000). Uncredited stand-in for the movie "Drive Me Crazy" (1999).
Robert D. Vaughan
Lives in Ogden, Utah. Sometimes credited as: Robert Vaughan. Assistant set designer and painter for the feature film "Halloween 5" (1989).
David Veloz
Latter-day Saint (non-churchgoer). Graduate of Brigham Young University. Graduated from USC School of Cinema-Television, 1991. Feature debut was as the screenwriter of Oliver Stone's controversial "Natural Born Killers" (1994). Writer/director of "Permanent Midnight" (1998), starring Ben Stiller. Screenwriter of "Behind Enemy Lines" (2001). Profile Page
Rob Verdery
Born 8 May 1974, Charleston, South Carolina. One of the producers (along with Darrin Fletcher, Chet Thomas and Brian Hennessy) of the short film "Simplicity" (2002), which competed at both the Eclipse Film Festival and the LDS Film Festival, both held in Utah in November 2002. "Simplicity" was directed by Thomas and written by Fletcher, and was filmed in Los Angeles, California. Also producer of the short film "The King" (2002), written and directed by Russell B. McKenzie. Verdery is also credited as an office assistant to producers for the Steven Spielberg feature film "Minority Report" (2002), which was produced by Jerry Molen. He was a staff assistant for Spielberg's "Artificial Intelligence: AI" (2001).
Ken Verdoia
Producer/director of Utah-themed PBS documentaries: Promontory (2002); Skull Valley (2001); Joe Hill (2000); Fire in the Hole (2000); Glen Canyon: A Dam, Water, and the West (1999); The Frontier Photographers (1998); Brigham Young (1997); Utah: The Struggle for Statehood (1996); The Man and the Mountains: Paul Petzoldt (1994); The Atomic Stampede (1993); Frontier Code Blue (1992); A Matter of Principle (1990); Streetlife: The Invisible Family (1988); Topaz (1987); Thirty Years to Justice (1985).
Ray Versluys
Lives in Springville, Utah. Sometimes credited as: Ray A. Versluys. Construction coordinator for the feature films "Bats" (1999), "Made Men" (1999) and "The Crucible" (1996). Also a carpenter for the TV movie "Divided by Hate" (1997) and the film "A Midnight Clear" (1991). Other carpentry credits include: "Crossroads", "Harmful Intent", "Appointment for a Killing", "Bigamist Story", "Promised Land", "Avenging Angel", "Extreme". Electrician for "600 B.C." and "It Nearly Wasn't Christmas."
Ethan Vincent
Film student at Brigham Young University (BYU). Director of the PBS documentary "The Making of the Memorial Day Special" (1999). Director (and sometimes writer and/or cinematographer) of short films: "Claims & Dividends (2002); Sublimating Arthur (2001); Brooklyn Boy (2000); Brule (1999); An Education in Art (1998); "Seriously Sophine: Do I know?" (1998; music video). Cinematographer of "Terry Nails the Sale" (2001); "Employee of the Month" (2001); "Indifference" (1999). "Claims & Dividends" (18 minutes, color), which competed in the 3rd LDS Film Festival (Jan. 2004), is a short drama which "tells the story of Sean Prescott during his final evaluation as a failing life insurance agent. New division manager Harry Lovich tries everything to motivate Sean and drive one last sale. Sean must make the sell or loose it all." Biography from his website (
At the age of eight, Ethan moved overseas, to Trier, Germany, where he attended German Elementary and High shool. He moved to Vienna, Austria when he was fourteen to continue his education. After successful completion of the Matura (equivalent to an Associates Degree), he enter the University of Vienna to pursue studies in the areas of German linguistics and Theatrical science. During this period, Ethan was active in theatrical work, including playwriting, directing and acting.

After two years, he returned to Utah to enter the film program at Brigham Young University. Ethan had already completed his first 16mm short film, Brule, before acceptance into BYU's film program. For this and other accomplishments, he received the ORCA scholarship and several grants for his second 16mm short film, Sublimating Arthur. Currently, Ethan is making his fourth short film, Claims & Dividends (working title). Ethan will receive his B.F.A in August 2001 and is currently applying to several renowned film schools in L.A. and New York to obtain an MFA in Directing or Screenwriting.

Gary Voorhees
Lives in South Jordan, Utah. Also credited as: Gary Voorhies; Gary L. Voorhees. Art director for the Gospel-themed short film "The Touch of the Master's Hand" (1988), which was directed by T.C. Christensen and included on videos produced by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Carpenter for the Church-produced Christmas film "Mr. Krueger's Christmas" (1980), starring Jimmy Stewart. Set dresser for the feature film "Windwalker" (1980), directed by Kieth Merrill. Property master for the TV movie "Evil in Clear River" (1988).
Cheryl Voss
Lives in Salt Lake City, Utah. Key makeup artist for the TV movies "Body Language" (1995), "The Avenging Angel" (1995) and "Getting Up and Going Home" (1992). Her many TV and film credits as a make-up artist include the TV series "Freaks and Geeks" (1999), the feature film "Dumb & Dumber" (1994), and over 12 TV movies.
Aisake Vuikadavu
Lives in Provo, Utah. Student at Brigham Young University, majoring in Business Management. Bit part as a medical technician in the Latter-day Saint-themed feature film "Jack Weyland's Charly" (2002).
Christian Vuissa
Latter-day Saint. Born in Austria, circa 1970. Hometown: Bregenz, Austria. Graduated inn 2002 with a dregee in film from Brigham Young University (BYU). Credited as the Director's Assistant in the feature film "Little Secrets" (2002), directed by Blair Treu and distributed by Samuel Goldwyn/Columbia TriStar. Founder of the International Young LDS Film Festival, first held in Provo, Utah in 2001. Some scenes in Ryan Little's feature film "Out of Step" were filmed in Vuissa's Provo apartment. Director and co-producer of the award-winning short film "Roots & Wings," shown on PBS and now available on video and DVD. "Roots & Wings" won Best Actor, Best Screenwriter, and the Audience Choice awards at BYU's Final Cut, 2002. "Roots & Wings" later won the Best Director and Best Screenplay awards at the prestigious Eclipse Film Festival, held in St. George in November 2002. The screenplay was written by Maria Perez. His short film "A Given" (2001) won 1st Place in Christophers' 14th Annual Video Contest for College Students. Also director of the short films "Switched" (2002), "Daybreak" (2000) and "Bill's Christmas" (2001). His final thesis film as a student, "Unfolding," which he als wrote and produced, featured a musical score composed by Thomas C. Baggaley. "Unfolding" premiered at BYU's Final Cut film festival in March 2003. Vuissa is destined to be the greatest Austrian filmmaker since Billy Wilder. Website:
Kirsten Vuissa
Latter-day Saint. Married to filmmaker Christian Vuissa. Credited with caft service for her husband's short film "Roots & Wings" (2002). Set dresser, craft services and an extra for Vuissa's short film "Unfolding" (2003).
Laurie Vukich
Latter-day Saint. Lives in South Jordan, Utah. Sometimes credited as: Lauri Vukich. Makeup artist and hair stylist. Credits include the TV series "Cover Me", "Deadly Games" and "Touched by an Angel." Makeup department head on the PBS documentary "American Prophet: The Story of Joseph Smith" (1999). Key makeup/hair stylist for Martin Andersen's short film "Follow Your Heart" (1998). Other numerous film and TV credits include: Double Teamed (2002); Horse Crazy (2001); Baby Bedlam (2000); Made Men (1999); The Robin Hood Gang (1998, a.k.a. Angels in the Attic); The King's Falcon (1997); Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers (1995).

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Web page created 7 June 2002. Last modified 20 January 2004.