In 2014, I landed the lead role in a faculty-led film produced by Missouri State University called Greene County. It was a great experience, and I learned so much about the aspects of solid lighting as a viable character from Harrison Witt, the cinematographer. But I also learned something very important about myself, and the plight of actors everywhere.
One chilly, slightly foggy morning, we were waiting for a shot to take place at the main farm house. Breakfast had also been served in the “green room”, which was a small apartment that had been built onto the side of a large horse barn. There was an assortment of yummy doughnuts and bagels with coffee, juice and milk. I jumped in line, and waited my turn. It was quite hectic in that little kitchenette with bodies all jockeying for a position around the countertop. One of the tech crewmen was standing behind me as I was pouring myself a Styrofoam cup of orange juice. I offered to pour him a glass too. He refused.
Josh: You’re an actress. You don’t serve me. I’m supposed to serve you.
I responded with a smile and politely handed him a cup of juice.
Josh: (shaking his head) You’re different.
Cheryl: Uh, okay. Is that a good thing?
Josh: Most actresses we work with…they can be shallow and demanding. But you’re not. (shrugs) I guess that’s a good thing.
He thanked me for the juice and walked away. I stood there, blocking the line for a second, absorbing what I had just heard. And I was filled with a mixture of shock, joy, sorrow and accomplishment. Yes, pride. But not pride for myself, but pride that Josh could see Jesus working through me.
THE WORLD IS WATCHING
As Christians, we need to live our lives as if the entire world were watching. Why? Because the entire world IS watching. And they notice when we are different. As Christian actors, we need to be “different” because our Savior demands it.
You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven. Matthew 5:14-16
Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these. Mark 12:30-31
Some time ago, a high school senior was preparing for his very first audition for his school’s production of The Pirates of Penzance. He asked for my advice. I gave him some solid tips for a good audition. But I also gave him a piece of bonus advice. Since I knew this young man was a Christian, I told him to bring Jesus with him to the auditions. I advised him to exude a Christ-like example during the auditions; treating the other actors and casting directors with respect, love, admiration and edification.
Chris: Thanks. I had never thought about it like that before.
And guess what? He got the role. And he got another role in the school’s spring production of Wait Until Dark too. I’m not suggesting that Christ is a “lucky-charm”, guarantying that you’ll land a role every single time you take Him into an audition. But I am advocating that, if you name the name of Christ, you should be different. The world is full of shallow, demanding actors (believe me, I’ve witnessed them first hand, even here in the Ozarks). But we, brothers and sisters, are called to be the light. To be the salt. To be different.