9 Biggest Details Ordinary Angels Leaves Out & Changes About The True Story
8 mins read

9 Biggest Details Ordinary Angels Leaves Out & Changes About The True Story

Warning: This article contains spoilers for Ordinary Angels.




  • Ordinary Angels changes some real-life events for emotional impact, with convincing performances from Swank and Ritchson.
  • Michelle Schmitt’s true story inspired the film’s immersive narrative, despite some creative liberties taken for storytelling.
  • The importance of community support shines in Ordinary Angels, showcasing the human spirit amidst real struggles and triumphs.

Ordinary Angels closely depicts the real-life challenges faced by the Schmitt family and how Sharon Stevens helped them, but it takes a few creative liberties to raise the emotional impact of its narrative. Starring Hilary Swank and Alan Ritchson, Ordinary Angels follows the story of a hairdresser who helps a widowed father save his daughter’s life after a snowstorm prevents him from getting his daughter a liver transplant. Although fairly linear with its storytelling, Ordinary Angels never leaves a dull moment with its uplifting portrayal of the human spirit and the importance of community.

Both Alan Ritchson and Hilary Swank give compelling performances, which further elevates the impact of its poignant drama. However, what primarily makes its storyline effectively immersive and relatable is its true story connotations. Because of how Ordinary Angels deeply connects with viewers through its portrayal of the triumphs and struggles of real people, it is hard not to wonder how much of it happened and how much was fictional.


Ordinary Angels Ending Explained

Ordinary Angels is a faith-based film with a powerful ending that answers whether Michelle lives long enough to get a liver transplant.

9 Theresa Schmitt Died At The Age Of 29

Ordinary Angels changes Theresa Schmitt’s age of death

Sharon shows Ed a bill on the porch in Ordinary Angels.

In Ordinary Angels, Ed Schmitt’s wife, Theresa, dies from a condition called Wegener’s disease. While this is factually correct, the movie takes some narrative liberties when it comes to depicting the timeline of her demise. While Theresa dies at the age of 35 in the film, she was actually 29 when she passed away in August 1992.

8 Michelle Schmitt Was Much Younger When The Film’s Events Happened

Michelle Schmitt was not 5 when she got the liver transplant

Ordinary Angels shows that Michelle Schmitt was five when she received a liver transplant after being increasingly ill for several years. However, in real life, she was only three when her family got the call about the availability of the donor. Her sister, Ashley Schmitt, revealed that everyone knew who she was, and she grew up being dubbed as the “Snowbaby of Louiseville.” Ashley Schmitt also added that her sister was a bubbly people’s person who would be very excited about Ordinary Angels.

7 Rose Is a Fictional Character In The Film

As realistic as her chaarcter may seem, Rose is not based on a real person

Rose talks on the phone in Ordinary Angels.

Played by Tamala Jones, Rose is introduced as Sharon Stevens’ friend who runs the beauty salon with her. In Ordinary Angels, Rose also keeps a close eye on Sharon and holds her back from relapsing into her alcohol addiction. However, even though she is among the secondary protagonists in the movie, she is not based on a real person and was only a part of the film to enhance its story development and character dynamics.

6 Stevens Seeked Help For the Schmitts Through A Radio Station

Tamala Jones looking at Hilary Swank in Ordinary Angels

To help the Schmitt family in Ordinary Angels, Sharon Stevens calls a TV station to let the community know about what the family is going through. In real life, however, Stevens had contacted a radio station, Newsradio 840 WHAS, where she explained the family’s condition and their need for the community’s help. Moments later, news reporters showed up at the family’s home and helped them get the word out about their plight.


Where To Watch Ordinary Angels: Showtimes & Streaming Status

Hilary Swank and Alan Ritchson star in a faith-based true story movie, and here is where to watch Ordinary Angels in theaters or on streaming.

5 Louisville’s Residents Clearned The Snow During The Day

Except for the time of the day, Ordinary Angels gets everything right about how locals helps the Schmitt family

Ordinary Angels portrays that the Louisiana locals worked through the night after receiving the Schmitt family’s call for help. They spent the entire night shoveling snow to ensure Michelle got her treatment on time. While it is true that hundreds of Louisville residents showed up to help the young girl, they plowed through the snow during the day instead of at night.

4 Sharon Stevens Was Not An Alcoholic

Sharon Stevens’ alcoholism is a major creative liberty in Ordinary Angels

Rose and Sharon look to the side smiling in the snow in Ordinary Angels.

Rose’s characterization in Ordinary Angels primarily revolves around her keeping Sharon Stevens’ relationship with alcohol in check. However, while the movie highlights that Stevens struggled with alcoholism, the real Sharon Stevens has no history of substance abuse. She grew up in a home where her parents were alcoholics, which even caused her mother’s liver cancer. As revealed in Stevens’ book, this, in turn, led to her promising herself that she would allow alcohol to control her life like it controlled her mother’s.

3 Michelle Schmitt Received The Liver Of A 7-Year-Old Boy

Ordinary Angels does not reveal the name of the donor

Michelle smiles with her dad's arm around her in Ordinary Angels.

A 7-year-old boy, Brian Friesen, had died from a brain aneurysm a day before Michelle Schmitt’s parents received the call about the availability of a liver transplant. Brian Friesen went on to become the young girl’s donor, allowing her to get a second shot at living her life. As per reports, the Schmitts even met Brian’s parents after Michelle’s surgery and maintained a close relationship with them.

2 Michelle Schmitt Underwent Kidney Transplant Surgery In 2011

Ordinary Angels Alan Ritchson holding his young daughter in church.

After getting liver transplants, both Michelle and her sister had to regularly get their health checked and take various medications on a daily basis. This ultimately took a toll on their kidney health, and they got kidney transplants in 2011. This time around, Michelle’s donor was her best friend, Crystal. In the years that followed, Michelle got married and started working at the University of Louisville.

1 Michelle Schmitt Passed Away In May 2021

Michelle Schmitt died in 2021 but her story inspires change

This custom image shows Ed and Michelle from Ordinary Angels.
Custom Image by Yailin Chacon

At the age of 31, Michelle Schmitt died from a stomach aneurysm. Since Ordinary Angels had started filming in 2021, she was aware of the film, and, as her sister revealed (via The Lane Report), she would have loved knowing that it “could help save someone’s life by bringing attention to the mission of organ donation.” Explaining how her sister would have appreciated the efforts put into bringing Ordinary Angels to the big screen, Ashley Schmitt also added that “Michelle would be honored by this movie and the awareness her story will help raise.

Ordinary Angels Movie Poster With Hilary Swank and Alan Ritchman

Ordinary Angels

Based on a true story, Ordinary Angels is a drama starring Hilary Swank and Alan Ritchson. Swank plays a character named Sharon, a Kentucky-based hairdresser who tries to help a widower (Ritchson) as he struggles to provide for his two daughters. When Sharon discovers one of his daughters needs a liver transplant, Sharon moves mountains to help.

Jon Gunn

Release Date
February 23, 2024

Vertigo Entertainment , Kingdom Story Company , Stampede Ventures


Meg Tilly , Kelly Fremon Craig

Hilary Swank , Alan Ritchson , Nancy Travis , Amy Acker , Skywalker Hughes , Tamala Jones , Drew Powell , Emily Mitchell

118 Minutes

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