Is Kaitlyn Based on a Real Girl? Where is Sedona Murphy Now?

Brooklynn Prince helms the narrative in ‘Little Wing,’ as Kaitlyn McKay, a thirteen-year-old girl undergoing the effects of her parent’s recent divorce. As the same threatens to take away the young girl’s childhood home, she resorts to drastic measures and steals a skilled, high-value pigeon from the local pigeon racer, Jaan Vari, in an attempt to raise funds. However, her ill-planned ploy lands her in an awkward dynamic with Jaan that somehow blooms into an unlikely friendship as the duo works towards rescuing the latter’s pigeon. In the process, Jaan ends up mentoring Kaitlyn, igniting her love for the sport of pigeon racing.

Since the pigeon racing world has been fairly underexplored within mainstream media, ‘Little Wing’s’ depiction of the same seamlessly attracts the audience’s curiosity. Consequently, Kaitlyn McKay’s relation to reality also comes under questioning, compelling viewers to wonder if the character has a real-life counterpart— and if so, what her current whereabouts are.

Sedona Murphy Inspired Kaitlyn McKay’s Character

‘Little Wing’ reaps inspiration from a real-life story while simultaneously blending certain fictitious elements into the fold to craft a cohesive narrative. Therefore, Kaitlyn McKay’s character ends up harvesting significant inspiration from a real-life individual, Sedona Murphy. In 2006, Susan Orlean penned a New Yorker article, ‘Little Wing: When homing pigeons leave home,’ featuring Murphy’s experiences as a then-thirteen-year-old pigeon racer active in the eclectic sports community. The article went on to become the inspiration for Dean Israelite’s film, hence strengthening Kaitlyn’s connection to Murphy.

While Kaitlyn and Murphy possess slightly different origin stories regarding their involvement with the pigeon racing sport, some details regarding their early life remain identical. Kaitlyn’s character mines inspiration for her complicated family background from Murphy’s experiences. Murphy’s mother, a detective, separated from Murphy’s father when her daughter was young. However, the film exaggerates and dramatizes the divorce’s influence over Kaitlyn, partly diverging the character’s storyline from Murphy’s.

For the same reason, Kaitlyn’s relationship with her pigeons remains intrinsically tied to her negative emotions about her parent’s divorce. Comparatively, in Murphy’s case, the young girl received her first pigeons through her mother, Maggie’s friend, Bill Hussey, a fellow pigeon racer himself. However, unlike Kaitlyn, Murphy— an established animal lover with numerous pets— immediately took to the birds. In fact, the girl showcased an interest in pigeons from an early age, examining them in parks in her early childhood.

Thus, despite Kaitlyn’s basis in Murphy and her real-life experiences, the two individuals end up retaining significant differences. The most glaring of these differences emerges through Kaitlyn’s off-beat relationship with Jaan Vari, who ends up mentoring the young girl through her pigeon racing career. In real life, Murphy’s fascination with the sport was born without any involvement in illegal bird thefts. Likewise, Murphy never shared a meaningful friendship with Matt Moceri, the probable inspiration for Vari’s character.

Therefore, although Sedona Murphy’s pigeon racer journey and complicated family dynamics laid down the path for Kaitlyn’s narrative, the latter isn’t a biographical account of the former. Ultimately, Kaitlyn was crafted in Murphy’s image with a few tweaks implemented in service of the film’s balanced plot.

Sedona Murphy Leads Private Life

Much like Kaitlyn in ‘Little Wing,’ Sedona Murphy also faced a big move in her life after her family planned to leave their home on East Fifth Street in Boston and move into a house in Southborough. While the same became Kaitlyn’s narrative focus in the film, leading to grave conflict, Murphy dealt significantly better with the change. As such, Murphy moved away from her old home, leaving her flock of pigeons behind in 2006.

Due to the pigeon’s habit of returning to their forever home— and a general lack of an aviary at Murphy’s new house— the young girl had to give away her birds within the local community of pigeon enthusiasts. Nevertheless, at the age of thirteen, Murphy held onto her fascination with the birds and dreamt of possibly returning for her birds or raising show pigeons, such as the ones showcased in circuses.

Now, in 2024, when Sedona Murphy will be in her early 30s, the woman has undertaken a different path. Instead of continuing as a pigeon racer, Murphy went on to pursue higher education in the scientific field. Moving through Haverford College and Stanford University, the woman has obtained a Bachelor’s in Science and a Ph.D. in Genetics. Furthermore, she’s focusing on Cell Biology at Yale School of Medicine.

Yet, no other information about Sedona Murphy’s personal or professional life is accessible to the public apart from these surface-level details found in her social channels. Still, even though life took her on a different path than the one she imagined in her early teen years, Murphy continues to have a close, if a more scientific, relationship with nature.

Read More: Little Wing: Is Jaan Vari Inspired By a Real Person?