It’s no secret that Houma is considered the new “Hollywood South,” with our beautiful and historic landmarks serving as sets for some of the film industry’s big-screen moments.
Starring Will Smith, Emancipation is the story of a slave named Peter, who escapes from a Louisiana plantation after being heavily whipped and must survive the swamps while being chased as he heads north to Baton Rouge to join the Union Army during the Civic War. Photographs of his bare back heavily scourged were published as magazine illustrations worldwide in 1863 and gave abolitionists proof of the cruelty of slavery, ultimately resulting in President Abraham Lincoln declaring an end to slavery in the United States.
Directed by Antoine Fuqua, filming of Emancipation took place at Ardoyne Plantation in December of 2021, with roads shut down to avoid disturbance. Scottish for “little hill or knoll,” Ardoyne Plantation is set in a cluster of live oak trees located at 2678 Highway 311 and overlooking Bayou Black. The Victorian Gothic sugarcane plantation is a two-story home built in 1888 and has been continually lived in by the original builder’s family for six generations. Ardoyne Plantation is listed on the National Register of Historic Places as possibly the largest and most elaborate example of Rural Victorian Gothic Architecture in the state of Louisiana.
As a way to commemorate the strides made thus far, Mrs. Margie Scoby, founder and president of the Finding Our Roots African American Museum was invited for a behind-the-scenes look at the filming of the movie.
Mrs. Margie watched the actors, took photos with extras and was presented with a designated chair to watch the scenes as they were filmed. “When I arrived, I was greeted by Maria Bierniak, and she took me over the entire grounds,” stated Mrs. Margie. “She gave me a gift bag and told me it was from Will Smith. I was allowed to watch several scenes, and as we moved from one location to the next, someone was appointed to move my chair, shine lights and clean the way. I felt like a queen.” Mrs. Margie recalled meeting Antoine Fuqua, delighted as he thanked her for everything she is doing with the museum.
Unfortunately, both the plantation and museum were severely impacted by Hurricane Ida and are not currently open for business; however, they both plan to open their doors again soon. Mrs. Margie recently announced her ‘mobile museum,’ an RV packed with information on African American history and culture. She plans to take this unit to local schools, libraries and more!
Catch a glimpse of Houma on the big screen as you view the Emancipation movie, now streaming on Apple TV.