What a Year, Fam!
Is there anything you said you’d NEVER do? (That’s legal, of course! :=)
2012 was a year of Knocking out NEVER for us.
— KNOCKING OUT NEVER! —
When I finished my Masters at Dallas Seminary, I assumed I was done with higher learning. I thought I’d NEVER go back to school. This year, I finished my courses (2010-12) & became the 1st female Doctorate in Ministry candidate in Talbot’s (BIOLA) Preaching cohort. Now, I’m researching and preparing to write my dissertation on Hollywood’s values and how to serve here in La La Land.
As we’ve learned ALLLL that there is to know about the book publishing biz (royalty & self publishing) in preparation to release my upcoming book, Confessions of a Hollywood Christian, I said I’d NEVER obligate myself to daily posts. Didn’t quite work out.
This year, my DAILY BLOG about Hollywood and faith took off reaching thousands via email subscriptions, Facebook and Twitter. My pers Facebook maxed out over 5,400, so I had to start a public page (now at 4,150). Several mags & newspapers asked for interviews re: Hollywood Christian. Onward & Upward!
Actor to Pastor?!
I’ve served in ministry for 15 years, and I said I would NEVER shepherd a church. All that time, I’ve known my calling to share God’s Word & I’ve done so thru one-woman plays, teaching, preaching. Kevin says he asked me years ago if God was calling to pastor. I have no recollection of the convo. LOL!
Several leaders’ confirmations and 4 adventurous years later, we began Hope in the Hills in Beverly Hills with a dynamic team of young dream chasers and dream makers. We dream of a church that looks like heaven (diverse), sounds like heaven (worship-filled), loves like God loves (sacrificially) and lives like Christ lives (radically).
God showed out this year. We just mailed the YEAR-END news. Let us know if you didn’t get it. And please consider donating a tax-deductible, YEAR-END gift to help us continue to fulfill our mission to share God’s Word and love God’s creative children here in Hollywood as much as He does. As one of the most secular regions in our country, this is great soil. We’re planting, watering, harvesting. There’s hope!
SO WHAT’S YOUR NEVER?
What have you said you’d NEVER do?
2013 is here. What a great year to knock your NEVER out and keep it moving.
Let us know what you have in mind! :=)
As we reflect over this year and settle into the flow of the holiday, Kevin and I want you to know how very much we appreciate and love you.
Many of you have walked with us for years on this “never-a-dull-moment!” journey that has led to life, work and service in the Hills. Thanks for your prayers, and know that you’re in ours.
Look for the Year-End e-News after Christmas. We’re taking the next week off. Instead of writing the daily blog, I’ll be enjoying a much-needed break with my husband, father, oldest brother and his family, and friends. I encourage you to do the same. Feel free to peruse back through the year’s blogs for daily devotions or meditate on Luke 1-2 and the story of Christmas.
Wishing you a Christmas filled with joy, peace and love. Always remember, there’s hope!
My oldest brother asked me this morning, “How do you choose which films to write about?”
I wrote about the films that either:
1) you specifically asked me about,
2) had lots of Hollywood buzz, and/or
3) had hope.
We need more hope.
I could’ve reviewed Zero Dark Thirty, The Master, Anna Karenina, Celeste & Jesse Forever, Rust and Bone, Brave, Snow White and the Huntsman, The Sessions, The Dark Knight Rises, The Intouchables and This is 40, but I really would’ve been saying the same thing over and over:
“Where’s the hope?”
If I left the movie theatre in a sad funk, I figured you wouldn’t want to do the same. And I saw screenings for free. I assume you don’t want to pay $13.50 per ticket for a downer.
At the end of Zero Dark Thirty, I asked my husband, “Why was this movie made?”
I had no desire to write about it whatsoever, which is really disappointing because I usually make it a point to support female filmmakers.
The film Quartet was actually refreshing, and the final 2 films I have to see are Lincoln and The Hobbit. Folks seem to really love what Steven Spielberg did with Lincoln, so I look forward to it. Maybe it’ll have more hope.
But much of what I have seen of our award films are deep explorations of how dark, twisted and hopeless we are as human beings. We torture one another. We commit suicide. We’re perverted in really sick ways. We hurt each other. We kill each other. We exploit our women. We hate each other. We fight and do really bad things. On and on and on.
I could probably digest one or two such dark films per month, but not a dozen or so back to back. After awhile, it’s like enough already. I get it. We’re really messed up. Geezzz!!!!
I’m beginning to understand more and more why Kevin and I, along with a wonderful young team of dream chasers and dream makers, have been called to plant H0PE IN THE HILLS in Beverly Hills, the Mecca of Hollywood’s decisions.
We have hope! We know that things will get better. And we know that even though we, as human beings, are really messed up and we live in a dark, angry world, we have a Messiah and “…In his name, the nations will put their hope.” (Matthew 12:15-21 & Isaiah 42:1-4)
One of our Christmas classics, O Holy Night, puts it this way:
“A thrill of hope! The weary world rejoices, for yonder breaks a new and glorious morn…”
Do you remember it? I can still hear my Uncle Hawthorne’s clear tenor soaring each year: A thrill of hope; the weary world rejoices,
For yonder breaks a new and glorious morn.
Fall on your knees! O hear the angel voices!
O night divine, the night when Christ was Born;
O night, O holy night, O night divine!
We have hope that came the night when Christ was born.
It’s Christmas, doggone it!
And I’m going to celebrate.
Join me, why don’t you?
Thanks for the lively discussion yesterday re: Django Unchained. Your interaction is refreshing.
Today, we’re back on BEASTS. I blogged about Beasts of the Southern Wild when it was first released. Recently, I was asked about it again with respect to my recent film reviews. So, here’s an updated review.
In light of the Newtown, CT shootings of twenty children, numerous 6 and 7 year olds, I am so proud of the performance that Quvenzhané Wallis (pictured above) gave as a 6-year old. The innocence of the little ones lost is forever captured on screen through this brave, new actress.
BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD
It’s a looonnnngggg shot (based on the Academy Award® voting block described by the LA Timesas 94% Caucasian, 77% male, 62 median age), but the award-winning fantasy drama, Beasts of the Southern Wild, could be this year’s Oscar® underdog.
Film critic Roger Ebert writes“Sometimes miraculous films come into being, made by people you’ve never heard of, starring unknown faces, blindsiding you with creative genius. Beasts of the Southern Wild is one of the year’s best films.”
Fox Searchlight describes its Rocky-esque contender with the following: “Benh Zeitlin’s BEASTS OF THE SOUTHERN WILD whisks you to a surreal realm, where little girls and mythical animals coexist in a bayou called The Bathtub, all intertwined in the cosmic mesh of the universe. Hushpuppy (stunning newcomer Quvenzhané Wallis) relentlessly explores her world for answers, to satisfy her curiosity, and to make her budding mark on a world she’s only beginning to comprehend.”
1ST TIME ACTORS
Quvenzhané Wallis portrays Hushpuppy. When she auditioned, she was only 5 years old and could barely read. She had never acted before, yet she landed the role over 4,000 little actresses who auditioned. Quvenzhané filmed the movie when she was 6, just turned 9, and recently won the first major trophy of the Oscar® season: Hollywood Film Award’s New Hollywood Award. Past recipients of this ‘new talent’ award have been Robert Pattinson (Twilight), Gabourey Sidibe (Precious), and Jennifer Lawrence (Hunger Games).
Quvenzhané isn’t the only new actor. The other star of the film, Dwight Henry (who portrays her onscreen father Wink), also had never acted before this film. He’s the Hurricane Katrina survivor who owned the bakery across from Beast’s casting office in Louisiana. He even turned down the role of Wink several times before the writer/director’s persistence persuaded him to do it. He’s now filming a new movie with Brad Pitt.
1ST TIME WRITER/DIRECTOR
That writer/director who wouldn’t take “NO” for an answer from his leading man is Ben Zeitlin. This is his very first full-length feature film, or that’s the story that is being released. Ben didn’t have lots of money where he could hire lots of professional crew. He used friends and family.
He told Oprah, “I want to fill my life and my films with wild, brave, goodhearted people, and whatever amount of chaos and disaster that leads too, it doesn’t matter because you’re going through it with the people you love and in the end, no matter what, the movies come out wild, brave and good hearted.”
1st time lead actor and actress.
1st time writer/director.
1st time filmmakers/crew.
And its a fantasy story well told with a message of courage and heart. Wow!
One Caution, Maybe Two
Beasts of the Southern Wild is Rated PG-13 for “thematic material including child imperilment, some disturbing images, language and brief sensuality”.
Please note, before you rent the newly released DVD or Blue Ray disc, that the language is rough for children, even though the film stars a 6-year old. Don’t sit your little Sharon or Khalil on the couch and get mad when Wink starts cursing everybody out, OK?
Also, the underlying message is more naturalistic than monotheistic. In other words, Hushpuppy learns that all of nature is connected as one – humans, animals, water, fire, etc. That’s naturalism. Biblically-speaking, I can’t back that up. While I appreciate nature as God’s creation, I am not one with nature.
Genesis 1-3 clearly describes how God created nature, then He created man in His image and instructed man to subdue nature. As are result of sin and the curse, man will “return to the ground because from it you were taken; For you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” 3:19
Death and our current earthly bodies returning to dust comes as a direct result of sin. But each one of us lives eternally. There is life beyond earthly death. We can choose to spend that eternity in paradise with God when we accept His Son Jesus as Lord, or choose to spend that eternity disconnected from God in a world of perpetual pain and suffering. Our choice. But either way, while we’re on this earth, we are made in God’s image redeeming a fallen world, not made as one with His trees or oceans or chickens. Does that make sense?
The film doesn’t explicitly address these theological paths, but I noticed a recurring theme of Hushpuppy’s oneness with her surroundings, and I feel responsible to create dialogue about elements that agree and disagree with the Christian worldview.
FANTASIES COME TRUE
When you get a chance, get lost in this fantasy. It’s a tear-jerker. And for many involved in the film, it’s a fantasy-come-true. We cheer for the underdogs during the film and we’re cheering for the underdogs who made the film.
And I’m definitely cheering for little Quvenzhané, who at 6 years old, held her own on that big screen. I cheer as she walks the red carpet and pray that more doors open for her to hone her craft and carve a career with roles that bring truth and hope in our world.
Django Unchained is many things…
But is it to blame for shootings like Newtown, CT?
“No,” says its Academy Award®-winning writer-director, Quentin Tarantino.
BBC News reports that Tarantino responded at a Django New York press event on Saturday that he was “tired of defending his films each time the US is shocked by gun violence” saying “I just think you know there’s violence in the world, tragedies happen, blame the playmakers…It’s a western. Give me a break…Violence should fall on those guilty of the crimes…”
Lead actor, Jamie Foxx had a different view, “We cannot turn our back and say that violence in films or anything that we do doesn’t have a sort of influence. It does.”
This is indicative of the split that runs deep in Hollywood. We saw it also with The Dark Knight Rises and the movie theater shooting in Colorado. On the one side, artists say, “Don’t blame us.” On the other end, they say, “We do influence.”
Which is it? One way? The other? Both?
Can we blame our filmmakers when a 20-year old takes 3 assault weapons from his mother’s gun collection, shoots her and then kills 20 six to seven year old children at their elementary school? Is Django Unchained and films like it responsible?
Django Unchained has been nominated for five Golden Globe awards including Best Film, Best Director and Best Screenplay. It stars Academy Award®-winner Jamie Foxx, Academy Award®-winner Christoph Waltz, Academy Award®-nominee Leonardo DiCaprio, NAACP Image Award-winner Kerry Washington and the world’s highest grossing actor Samuel L. Jackson (Guinness Book World Record, 2009; 68 films which grossed over $7.81 billion total).
The official film synopsis reads as follows: With the help of his mentor, a slave-turned-bounty hunter sets out to rescue his wife from a brutal Mississippi plantation owner.
Django Unchained is…
But you knew that. Everyone knows. Why?
It’s classic Quentin Tarantino, which means it is Violent with a capitol V. One review called it a “brutal, obscenity-laced Spaghetti Western about slavery” that is “spectacularly violent” in which “the body count approaches the triple-digits by the end of the film”. Guns, whips, explosives. Lots of blood. Lots and lots of death. I don’t do so well with ultra-violent films, but the Tarantino fans in the theater seemed to enjoy, laugh and applaud at all the clever ways he chose to off people. I buried my head in my husband’s shoulder a lot and exclaimed, “Oh, Lord!” a’plenty.
Think Clint Eastwood’s Unforgiven meets Richard Roundtree’s Shaft. The good guys do bad things to get the bad guys because they were wronged and seek to right their wrong in their own way. No such thing as “Vengeance is mine… saith the Lord” (Romans 12:19). This is more like Revenge 2.0. meets Blaxploitation 3.0 during slavery times.
Tarantino gives his fans their money’s worth. The film is 2 hours and 46 minutes. Yep! It’s almost 3 hours long. Eat hearty before you go or get that really BIG tub of popcorn. Fictional.
This ain’t Alex Hailey’s Roots in which an author/historian is trying to tell the story of his family. This is a fantasy. If Django or any person of color had used the type of attitude and language that Jamie Foxx or Samuel Jackson used during slavery times, they’d be dead, dead, dead. Think Nat Turner and Denmark Vessey.
This is the epitome of the dude-flick-western-get-the-bad-guy-save-the-girl-fantasy.
Opposite of chic-flick-rom-com-save-the-girl-fantasy. Guess the girl always needs a’saving?
My husband, a dude’s dude, called the film “better than expected”, when it was over; but he approaches films with low expectations. I usually have high expectations. This means I’m often disappointed, and he’s often pleasantly surprised. Perhaps I should try his method. :=)
One Caution, Maybe Two
Django is Rated R: “strong graphic violence, a vicious fight, language and nudity.” Tarantino told the LA Times, “If we could get a triple R rating, we would have had a triple R.”
Believe him. Tarantino means that thing. Fam, this is not for the weak-hearted. My spirit was vexed. I can get down with a dude-mentality with the best of them (having grown up with 3 brothers and lots of guy friends); but it’s difficult for me to digest that much violence and sleep at night. That’s why I didn’t make it through Kill Bill or Inglorious Bastards.
Whose to Blame?
So, back to our original question: Are our films to blame for the horrific violence in our society?
I personally think that sin is to blame. Folks were being ripped apart for sport and entertainment in large arenas 2000 years before film ever existed. Violence pre-dates film.
In the very first family on earth, when Cain plotted to kill his brother Abel, God said to Cain, “Why are you angry? Why is your face downcast? If you do what is right, will you not be accepted? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at your door; it desires to have you, but you must rule over it.” Genesis 4:6-7
Sin is at the core of our violent natures. And when we see the type of senseless violence acted out against innocent children, we see firsthand why Jesus submitted to such horrific violence against Himself to take on the penalty of our sin and free us.
Now, that being said, my opinion is that our glorification of violence through our films, media and games can desensitize us and create a culture in which young people think that it’s acceptable to murder our children. It’s NOT OK. It’s never OK. It wasn’t OK for Cain. It wasn’t OK in the Roman arenas. It’s not OK in Newtown, CT.
Isn’t violence violence?
Tarantino fans are enjoying Django Unchained. They, like him, will not see a connection between violent films and violent society. They might even ask me how I can cheer for Optimus Prime to get Megatron in Transformers or for Iron Man to get the aliens in The Avengers, but gasp when Django mows down slave owners? Isn’t that hypocritical? Isn’t violence violence?
Robots taking out robots doesn’t affect me the same way. Maybe that is hypocritical. Or maybe I’m just more sensitive to human life because I’m charged as a pastor to care for human souls.
What do you think? I’d love to hear your thoughts on the film and the subject.
If there is any doubt, beyond our own daily shortcomings, that we still live in a fallen, twisted world, just turn on CNN or FOX or wherever you get your news and see the report of today’s Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting in Newtown, CT.
Who shoots our babies???
Unloading up to 100 rounds
from a Glock and Sig Sauer
into a sea of 5 – 9 year old kindergartners thru 4th graders?
Who does such a thing?
Law enforcement is still trying to figure out what happened. Initial reports say that there are almost 30 deaths, with 18-20 of those being children. The exact number of fatalities is not being released until all parents can be notified if their child is one of the tragic victims.
Our hearts break.
Our hearts are broken for each parent and child in this horrific situation. Losing a child is said to be one of the most unnatural things in this world. I can’t even imagine.
And just 11 days before Christmas? Devastating.
I think of how Joseph and Mary felt when Jesus’ life as a child was in danger. They had to flee and escape in the night to Egypt. Matthew 2:13-23 recounts the story of the hit King Herod put out on the baby Messiah as he tried to trick the Magi into disclosing Jesus’ location.
“When Herod realized that he had been outwitted by the Magi, he was furious, and he gave orders to kill all the boys in Bethlehem and its vicinity who were two years old and under, in accordance with the time he had learned from the Magi. Then what was said through the prophet Jeremiah was fulfilled: “A voice is heard in Ramah, weeping and great mourning, Rachel weeping for her children and refusing to be comforted, because they are no more.”
Again, who kills our babies?
Who orders all kids to be murdered?
This assault on our children’s lives is not new.
Praying for our Children
Let’s pray, Fam.
Let’s pray for our children.
That these senseless assaults on their lives will cease!
We pray for all the families who have lost children and loved ones today, that the God of all Comfort who comforts us all in our troubles, will comfort every family. We pray for healing for all the children and teachers and school officials who have been injured and are still in the hospital. We pray for life. We pray for the family of the shooter, who looks to have shot himself as well. We pray for the entire community of Newtown. Their lives will never be the same. We ask that there will be a healing balm to soothe all broken hearts, especially during this holiday season. May families know that we have a savior who has felt every pain that we feel, including death, and He is near. We pray that each heart will lean into His presence during this very difficult time.
Because it’s “based on a declassified true story”, we know the end of the story. Yet, while screening the film, at one point, my heart was thumping so loud I thought surely my husband was going to lean over and say, “Shhhhhh!”
There’s plenty of suspense in this political thriller. But it also manages to have fun poking fun at Hollywood along the way. The heart-racing happens across the water. The ha-ha happens in Hollywood; but not in a hilarity kind of way. It’s more like making fun of the nonsense that is our industry. You gotta laugh (especially if you work and live in the LaLa).
ARGO is directed by and stars Academy Award® winner Ben Affleck and is produced by Affleck, Academy Award® winning actor/director George Clooney and Academy Award® nominated producer/writer Grant Heslov.
The official film synopsis reads as follows: Based on real events, the dramatic thriller “ARGO” chronicles the life-or-death covert operation to rescue six Americans, which unfolded behind the scenes of the Iran hostage crisis, focusing on the little-known role that the CIA and Hollywood played—information that was not declassified until many years after the event.
Not to give too much of the story away, (nothing more than what’s in the trailer), CIA specialist Tony Mendez devises an unbelievable plan to try and rescue six Americans during the Iran hostage crisis of 1979-80. He’d creates a movie. The rest is history, (as they say)!
Elephant in the Room
Let’s talk about the elephant in the room: Ben Affleck.
Is it just me or do you still think “Bennifer” when his name comes up? And not for his wonderful marriage with actress Jennifer Garner since 2005, of which he has three beautiful children. But for the publicity-crazed, international circus that was his engagement to Jennifer Lopez from 2002-2004. By the time those two called it quits, we were all exhausted.
There is such a thing as over-exposure. And Ben got a backlash after “Bennifer”. Think Kim Kardashian and that 72-day marriage facade. Rejected! Such was life for Ben. Folks couldn’t take him seriously. He went from Oscar wonder-kid® who wrote Good Will Hunting with best friend Matt Damon to J.Lo’s music-video-player-relationship-road kill. His films suffered.
Ben had to slowly and meticulously work his way back through his directorial efforts. ARGO marks his third go in the director’s chair, and it looks like the third time’s the charm. If magazine covers are any indicator, it looks like he’s being dubbed as the hottest director since sliced bread. My latest Entertainment Weekly marks him as “Entertainer of the Year”. Not bad, huh?
Call It A Comeback
Hollywood loves a comeback, the underdog, someone who has to face insurmountable odds and overcome. That’s what ARGO is about. That’s the turn Ben’s life took after Bennifer. Folks look for, root for, yearn for redemption. Where is there life after death?
As Christians, we know redemption. We know life after death. We’re the comeback kids. In Romans 8, Paul describes the new life that we live through God’s Spirit, “And if the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead is living in you, He who raised Christ from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies because of His Spirit who lives in you…” Vs 11. We definitely identify.
One Caution, Maybe Two
Argo is Rated R for language and violent imagery. What film re: the government, military or Hollywood is made without F bombs? Is that true in reality? Do our military and government officials use more profanity than most? What about Hollywood producers? Good question.
Also, this film is based on a true story. The real CIA operative that Ben Affleck plays is Antonio “Tony” Mendez, whose memoir, Master of Disguise, is a basis for the film. Tony Mendez is of Mexican ancestry. (Tony’s interview: The Fascinating Story Behind Argo)
Was there no talented Hispanic/Latino actor available to portray the leading man? Javier Bardem, Benicio Del Toro, Andy Garcia, Benjamin Bratt, Michael Peña? Not one? Why did Ben Affleck (English, Irish, Scottish, German) feel the need to cast himself in the leading role in a story about a Mexican American?
People of color ask these questions because we know firsthand how few stories actually make it to the big screen about people of color. But when one such story does make it, it’s absurd to us that the person’s color is erased. It’s like Angelina Jolie being cast in A Mighty Heart as real-life Mariane Pearl, who is biracial and looks black. When I saw the kinky wig they put on Angelina to try to make her appear more ethnic, I was done. But, I digress.
If you can look past reality and go on the journey with this dynamic cast that also stars Bryan Cranston (Breaking Bad), Oscar® winner Alan Arkin (Little Miss Sunshine), and John Goodman (Roseanne), then it’s a thrill ride with a dose of laughs along the way. Let me know what you think.
Are you having a hard time finding it?
And having an even harder time defining it?
Honestly, I think that “perfect” part is overrated… and I love gifts.
The reason I think trying to find the “perfect” gift is so daunting is because it’s fluid. It changes every year. What was perfect last year may not be perfect this year. Otherwise, we’d give the same gifts over and over, right?
Our gifts to one another change as often as we do. Our needs shift. Our desires change. Everything in life is a constant ebb and flow and very little remains constant.
So, back to this worry-free Christmas idea that we started in yesterday’s blog, I’d like to encourage each one of us to let go of the pressure of finding, giving or receiving that perfect gift. Just let go.
If the person we gift loses love for us based on a material product, could the love actually be that authentic? Aren’t the gifts simple expressions of what’s deeper anyhow?
If we really want to get technical, when James writes to believers about enduring trials and temptations, he actually says that, “Every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like shifting shadows…” James 1:17. It can be argued that the gift he refers to is spiritual, of our new birth in our faith.
What really matters, at the end of the day, is that the gifts that will last come down from our heavenly Father. No need in stressing over trying to give the moon and the stars this Christmas. Give a gift from your heart and call it a day!
Folks are excited. And I don’t blame them. Christmas has always been special.
And we know how to celebrate!
Stress Time Out
The holidays can also be stressful for some – dealing with family, gifts, financial woes – but how about we choose to take a stress time out? Honestly, will worrying cause things to change?
“Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life?” Jesus asks. (Matt 6:27) “Do not worry”, He concludes. Matthew 6:25-34
What could a worry-free Christmas look like?
Choosing to be grateful
Choosing to be gracious
Choosing to be present
Choosing to love
None of these have to involve over-stretching financially or adding on more debt or screaming at family members or getting smashed at the Christmas party and embarrassing one’s significant other. Just saying.
It’s the time of year that we celebrate Jesus’ advent. Joy to the world! Peace on earth. Good will to men. Let’s celebrate!
I’m having a ball reviewing this Academy season’s films for you.
And today, I’m really excited because I get to tell you about indie darling, award-winning film Middle of Nowhere, that stars two of my friends: David Oyelowo and Edwina Findley (above).
You’ve seen David, an Oxford-born, classically-trained, award-winning actor, in the films Lincoln, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, The Help, Red Tails, The Paperboy, A Raisin in the Sun, and The Last King of Scotland. His next releases are Jack Reacher, Nina and The Butler. David stars as Brian, a ray of hope for main character Ruby, in Middle of Nowhere. We met filming an indie several years ago. He has a beautiful family, wife Jessica and 4 children.
David’s faith grounds him. He’s quoted as saying, “I think it’s vital to have something outside your acting to keep you rooted in the real world, and help you fill the vacuum… For me being a Christian has been invaluable: it simply means acting isn’t the centre of my life.”
You know Edwina, a Washington, D.C.-born, New York University Tisch alumnus & award-winning actress, from her recurring roles on Treme, The Wire, and Brothers and Sisters. She’s also appeared on Law and Order, One Life to Live and Blue Bloods. In Middle of Nowhere, Edwina is Ruby’s lovable sister. When she isn’t jet-setting from set to set, Edwina finds time to give motivational workshops through her company, Abundant Life.
Edwina just married her best friend, Kelvin Dickerson, in a movie-themed wedding in New York. They shared their amazing Christ-filled story with the New York Times, including their decision to wait for sex until marriage.
Middle of Nowhere
Winner of the 2012 Sundance Film Festival Best Director Prize and an official selection for the 2012 Toronto International Film Festival, Middle of Nowhere is causing buzz.
Oprah called the film “powerful and poetic… I was so moved by it. I think you will be too.”
The New York Times said, “a soul-stirring drama.”
And the Los Angeles Times described it as “moving and accomplished.”
The official film synopsis reads as follows: What happens when love takes you places you never thought you’d go? MIDDLE OF NOWHERE chronicles a young woman caught between two worlds and two men in the search for herself. Ruby, a bright medical student, sets aside her dreams when her husband is incarcerated. This new life challenges her to the very core, and her turbulent path propels her in new, often frightening directions of self-discovery.
Ruby is played by Panama-American actress Emayatzy Corinealdi (The Young And The Restless, The Nanny Express). And Ruby’s incarcerated husband, Derek, is brought to life by Omari Hardwick (Miracle at St. Anna, The Guardian, Saved, Next Day Air, I Will Follow).
Slice of Life
The best way I can describe this film is ‘slice of life’. Film-publicist-turned-filmmaker Ava DuVernay, the first African American woman to win a Sundance Award for Best Director of a Drama, said “I wanted to write about the sisters I saw. Everybody knows somebody who knows somebody who’s locked up.”
Born and raised near Compton, Ava writes this very real story about a young woman torn between her relationships. Ava earned her BA from UCLA and built the successful DuVernay Agency whose mission is “to create connections to African-American audiences”. Yet she connects across audiences with this film because everyone knows what it is to struggle with your past and future.
Life’s about choices.
I’m reminded of God’s word to His people before they crossed into their promised land. In Deuteronomy 30:19-20, God says, “This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the Lord is your life…”
God’s people had a choice. They could choose life or death. He said, “Choose life.”
In the film, Ruby has a life-altering choice to make.
You and I have choices all the time. What will you choose? Life or death?
One Caution, Maybe Two
Middle of Nowhere is Rated R for drug content, some teen drinking and sexual material. I don’t recall there being nudity, but this is adult subject matter. Not so much for the kiddies.
At first glance, you may be thinking like I did when I first read about the film, “Not another movie about black people in jail! When are we going to get out of prison?!” LOL! But when I saw what Ava did with her screenplay (which she filmed in an insane 19 days with only $500,000), I was pleasantly surprised that this isn’t just another jail tale. It’s a complicated love story about family and choices. You’ll be talking about it long after you leave the theatre.
Go see the film and let me know what you think. And send up some prayers for David and Edwina. While the Lord is blessing their acting careers, they remain faithful to Him and sharing His love with our wonderful colleagues in Hollywood. Lift them up as they shine for Him.