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Woman In Film: Writing On Purpose, With Purpose & Laughing About It!

woman-typewriter

What is there to write about?  And, why? How do you write a whole existence of worth that hasn’t already been written?

Just as there is not a single birth of a new human soul that is the same as another, neither are the lives of any two individuals!

Does such a simple truth blow your mind? Mine, too!

The theme for the 2016 168 Write of Passage, 12-page screenplay competition was, “The Love of the Father.” The scripture provided by 168 for spiritual inspiration was Proverbs 3:12 (NKJV):


“For whom the LORD loves He corrects, just as a father, the son, in whom he delights.”

Before we dive into my case of creative action, let’s first clarify the coordination of the contest, shall we?

Screenwriters from across the nation have 168 hours, i.e. one week, to develop a Treatment for a short film, and then complete a full 12-page screenplay (no more and no less) grounded by the given theme.

To all my fellow writers out there, you know how difficult a deadline for creativity can be, especially when you have a full-time job, pressing family affairs, and other demanding creative projects that require your attention all at the same time. Our daily grind is quite the expert in presenting a multitude of distractions that eat away at your contemplation, adoration, and the time for the GOLDEN GIFT of SILENCE which is required to focus on that one specific goal—your writing.

What makes this 168-challenge unique to writers and filmmakers?—the fortuity to be mentored by your designated first-round Judge, who is also an established and successful Hollywood screenwriting professional and insider, hereon in, referred to as a Development Executive (DE).

What is the grand prize? $1000.00 (first prize), Inktip.com listing of your featured script, Hollywood introductions and, options for your film to be produced through the 168 Film Festival as a Write of Passage spotlight film. (Learn more here.)

For starters, my intent was to go for the gold! Whereas, the grand prize may hold keys to open new doors to one’s career, my desire, more essentially, is to grow in my craft, and develop a great story. Under superlative guidance (with trust) from my assigned DE, my story will honor our humanity and address deeply the causation behind human behavior and private choices—a strong story that I would personally be inspired to produce, direct, and enjoy watching!

Okay! It’s Day 1. GO!

I ask myself again, “What is there to write about? What do I know? What have I learned? How can I make a difference?”

Day 4! Still no Treatment! Oh, my Lord! “Cutting it close, aren’t you, Apolonia?” I ask myself, “Why are you even competing?”

“Are you having a tough week? Yes!”

“Are you the only one with trials to bear? No!”

I immediately turn to the person that knows me better than I know myself for encouragement. I employ direction from my personal Spiritual Director—my mother—for help! God bless her words of wisdom.

Photo by Jason R. Coleman Photography

Photo by Jason R. Coleman Photography

What was my epiphany? Imagination holds endless originality, because with God, there is no end; and with God, there is meaning in all things. I just must surrender. I, the writer, must listen to the lessons that are speaking to me from my life, and even what I’ve shared with others.

That night, I put the world on hold and stopped to listen. I heard from the Lord, “Turn to Me! Pray about it! Go to bed! Wake up and, GET TO WORK!”

God has a reputation for works that showcase the mystery of His mercy, but in this case, He was very direct! *Laughing*

Day 5! Treatment submitted! Amen! Draft 1 begins! Received prompt feedback from my DE and advised to re-write initial Treatment.

Day 6! Treatment submission number two goes through. Victory!

Back to the script. “Keep writing, Apolonia. It’s not over yet!”

Draft 1 of LISTEN (working title) submitted! “AMEN!”

LOGLINE: Bruised by the double edge sword of losing a life and saving another, two lonely children discover a new family.

Day 7! Feedback received! Much to edit and apply.

“How am I going to do this? My job beckons?”

“Prioritize, Apolonia! Then at lunch, re-launch and, GET IT DONE!”

I ask you, my fellow reader, have you ever gotten a sweat in a sedentary position? (The bicycle does not count. Hehe.) My heart was racing to cross the finish line, to value and apply my DE’s direct and profound advice, to defend and honor my characters, and then, meet this final deadline!

DONE! Twelve pages. The “who,” “what,” “when,” “where,” “why,” and “how” all vested-on paper in PDF format. There’s no going back now! BREATHE!

Wahoo!!! I’m exhausted, but I’m happy! The rest is in God’s hands. Time to get back to work, go home, and sleep!

I know what you’re wondering, my dear, beloved reader. Did I win? Is that the point?

My honest answer is “no” and “NO!”

I did eventually read the “winning script” of the competition. And, I can honestly say that I’m still very proud of my final submission. So much so, I’m looking forward to going back into the writing room, applying some additional feedback, and transforming LISTEN from script to screen! Because of competing in the 2016 168 Write of Passage Screenplay Competition, my next film production has been born! I gave myself the creative outlet to pursue my passion for writing, and also completing a solid story (with a fresh perspective, and as a more learned film director and editor). In such a short amount of time, I learned and grew immensely as a writer and as a person. It’s amazing what you can accomplish in a week. Let alone, in my case, a weekend!

Life is funny. And I’m going to continue laughing and powering through! *Laughs*

About this Contributor


Photo by Jason R. Coleman Photography

Photo by Jason R. Coleman Photography

Apolonia Davalos (AEA/ WIFT-Nashville and TWIFM Member) is a film and Off-Broadway theater director and actress. She is named after APPOLLONIA, an ancient, biblical town, in Macedonia, Greece, south of Lake Bolbe, known today as Nea Apollonia. Hence, she was born with a passion for God and love of history! Her upcoming short, modern-western film, Children of War, debuted through the film festival circuit in 2016. She is the Co-Writer and Co-Star of the online radio broadcast “The Baby Shug’s Show!” As an actor, her feature film credits include: “The Good Book” (on DVD), “Providence” (recently released in select AMC Theatres), “The Perfect Wedding” (on DVD), etc. In theater, she received great acclaim for the originated role of LYNN CORDERO in the Off-Broadway production of Looking for Billy Haines in Times Square (NYC). Other theater credits include: A Midsummer Night’s Dream (The Nashville Shakespeare Festival); Metamorphoses (The Boston Actors Theater): The Crucible (Salem Theatre Company); and Sisters of the Church (Afrikan Women’s Repertory Theatre). She is further recognized as a producer, director, writer, as well as an inspiring advocate for classical Greek theater through her production company APOLONIAD Productions. Known for her hearty laugh, talent for accents, love for martial arts, and singing classic 1930’s tunes!  “Apolonia Davalos is a passionate, young director dedicated to exploring the plays of Euripides. As a member of a generation used to reading no more than 140 characters at a time, her devotion to a classical poet is worthy of tremendous admiration.” – Show Business Weekly.

Follow Apolonia on twitter and instagram and learn more about her on her movie production website, APOLONIAD Productions!

*The article, Woman In Film: Writing On Purpose, With Purpose & Laughing About It, first appeared on To Be A Person (TBAP).

Artist Scoop ~ Interview with For King & Country’s Joel Smallbone

joel-smallboneFor King & Country has been a powerful voice of gospel and entertainment music for five years now. Since they first started, they’ve amassed an envious fan base that speaks of the quality of their music on a spiritual level, as well as an emotional one. In 2016, they decided, along with their brother, Ben Smallbone, to branch into filmmaking, producing the movie, Priceless, which turned out to be a delight on the entertainment front (you can read the TBAP review here)! Staring in this movie was one of the brother’s in the band, Joel Smallbone. Joel took some time out to answer a few questions. Join our chat below!


Miranda ~ Hello Joel! Delighted to have you visit TBAP today. Please tell us a bit about yourself and, what is music to you?

Joel: My brother, Luke, and I, who make up the two front men of FOR KING & COUNTRY, have been a band for 5 years now; it’s been a really humbling and thrilling journey—a lot of highs and lows, and we’ve experienced some very special moments that you dream about as a musician.

Music is inherently spiritual—if you traveled to a remote tribe in the corners of the world with no electricity, no iPods or iPhones, one thing you would find is rhythm, melodies, and lyrics. It’s within our lifestyle, our celebrations, and even in mourning. It’s a spiritual, universal language.

Music also builds us up and tears us down, as well as emotionally shifts us from within. Our hope as musicians is to take grand themes of stories of hope and present them in a way that’s culturally relevant, but to also invest in a deeper love for each other and for God.

Miranda ~ You recently branched into movies and filmmaking. What inspired the movie, Priceless, and, do you intend to continue in film. If so, why?

Joel: The script, for both the movie and the book, is an extension of the Priceless message that so deeply resonates with our community. We are moved as young men in the middle of the journey of marriage and family—understanding what it means to love a woman, to protect your eyes, and to treat women, in general, with respect. I went to Ben about making a film on this topic, and he recalled editing a documentary—a 60 second piece of a man who had grown up in the world of slavery where his family was involved in the recruitment of slaves, prostitution, and human trafficking. With a blurred face, due to protective services, he shared that he’d had a massive conversion and used the system against itself to pull the ladies off the street. He ended up falling in love and marrying one of the women he’d saved from slavery. We married his story and ours, and handed off the synopsis to two screenwriters.

For future films, there are a few concepts that we have been discussing. At the end of the day, we are very focused on Priceless. If this film works, we believe we will have more opportunities. We also believe that if we remain in touch with God, who is the Creator of art and all creativity, then our hope with this inspiration is to tell stories that are culturally relevant and creatively inspiring.

Miranda ~ What audience does your heart sing/act for—the lost, heartbroken, those in despair etc.?

Joel: One of the things that we have felt very moved to share about as a group is celebrating a woman’s worth, and also charging us as men to love extraordinarily, and that chivalry is alive and well. On occasion we are asked what this really means. When you put flesh to that statement in a modern context, chivalry to us, in a romantic way, is to truly respect, honor, and love a woman well, and to do so even beyond romance, with family—with our mums and sisters—and to truly celebrate the beauty, strength, and dignity of a woman.

THIS or THAT (The Fun Questions!)

Coffee or Tea? Tea

Boots or Sneakers? Boots

T-shirt or Polo shirt? T-shirt

Breakfast or Dinner? Dinner—love Thai food!

Winter or Fall? Fall

Leather jacket or Blazer? Blazer

 

Thank you, Joel, for stopping by today!

 

joel-smallboneAbout Joel Smallbone


Joel Smallbone is one of the driving creative forces—writer, producer and front man—of the two-time Grammy Award winning group for KING & COUNTRY.  Along with his brother, Luke, the Australian duo’s soaring melodies, driving rhythms, theatrical instrumentation, and personal themes have served to drive the group’s success. Billboard’s New Artist’s to Watch for 2012 has since sold nearly 1,000,000 albums, topped the 100,000,000 mark in total streams of their music, and headlined a U.S. Arena tour.  It has been a lifelong dream to explore filmmaking, and so in the 2016 movie, Priceless, not only does he realize this dream, he also makes his big screen acting debut for a feature film whose subject matter he’s long felt passionate and committed to.

Movie Review ~Priceless by Radiate Films

priceless-2

A man who has lost his wife and the custody of his daughter is unable to hold down a steady job. He agrees to drive a truck across the country, no questions asked…until he discovers what’s in the truck.


Genre

Drama/Romance/Thriller

Release Date

January 31, 2017 (Digitally)

February 14, 2017 (DVD)

Rating

3.5 Stars

Review


Priceless deals with the difficult topic of human trafficking. This story, in particular, emphasizes the worth of a woman (and her younger sister) who’ve been forced into prostitution by a human trafficking ring as a result of difficult life circumstances. It is also a story of redemption of one man who’s [almost] lost it all, and is trying to find his way back. In a twist of fate, their paths collide, and hell breaks loose soon after.

Of worthy mention are the impressively believable characters portrayed by Joel Smallbone (James) and Bianca A. Santos (Antonia). The characters, James and Antonia, exuded intense screen presence, although, not as much could be said about the chemistry between them—at least not to the degree that the story inclined their relationship. I perceived that the actors behind the characters held back from releasing the full intensity that a relationship of that nature inspires, which I believe can be adeptly done even in a movie that is Christian-themed.

This story was engaging enough to follow, and made more so by the intriguing character, James. However, there was nothing new than the regular and ordinary portrayed by a typical romance thriller with a human trafficking theme. As a faith-based movie, this is a huge stride compared to what is regularly rolled out of the Christian film industry, and I greatly applaud the effort, especially the impressive production/post-production techniques that were applied. Some scenes may have appeared too convenient—placed there to move the plot toward a desired end—and so didn’t give much room for what could be incredible twists. Outside of this, it’s a neat story with a beautiful message. I definitely look forward to more movies by Ben Smallbone and For King & Country.

*Though I offer this review to the public, it is my opinion and simply that. My gratitude to Icon Media Group and Universal Pictures Home Entertainment for the provision of a private screener to view this movie in exchange for my honest opinion.

Entertainment Scoop! ~ Interview with Dick Rolfe, Co-founder & Chairman Emeritus of The Dove Foundation

dick-rolfeDick Rolfe, through The Dove Foundation, has inspired much positive change in Hollywood, independent filmmaking, and the Christian film industry. His work speaks of a courage that many hope to emulate. In the midst of the busyness due to his transition from CEO of The Dove Foundation to Chairman Emeritus, Dick took the time to answer some questions and offer some interesting advice/insight into the world of filmmaking. Follow our chat below, and discover more about Dick’s admirable and inspiring journey.


Miranda ~ Hello Dick! Truly honored to have you visit TBAP today. Please tell us a bit about yourself.

Dick: Thank you, Miranda. I was born and raised with my older sister by two loving Christian parents in West Michigan. I served 4 years in the US Navy.  I’ve held leadership roles in various media-related ministries for the past 35 years.

Miranda ~ How did you become a Christian? Tell us your story!

Dick: Being raised in a Christian family, I embraced the simple message in the children’s song, “Jesus loves me this I know, for the Bible tells me so.”  I had a personal encounter with the person of Jesus at age five.  My family was visiting friends in another town. During dinner, my sister and her older friends heard an ambulance siren and bolted out the door into the woods across from the house following the sound, and I ran after them. I was unable to keep up and I got totally lost in those woods. I finally sat in a clearing and prayed to Jesus to help me find my way. In my mind’s eye I saw Jesus standing next to me, hand outreached to lead me to safety. A neighbor who took me back to our host’s house told my parents she saw this little boy walking up to their door with one hand in the air as though I was holding on to the hand of an adult. Ever since, I’ve had no trouble believing that Jesus is real and that He watches over me.

Miranda ~ What would you say are your most sacred values, and why?

Dick: I have learned over my lifetime that the two most cherished values are unconditional love and trust. They are the very manifestation of God’s love for us and our response. Since those values work in our vertical relationship with God, I’ve discovered they also work in horizontal relationships with others. In Hollywood, unconditional love and trust are extremely scarce and therefore cherished when discovered. My relationships with scores of media executives and filmmakers are based on those two principles.

Miranda ~ You co-founded The Dove Foundation to help improve the moral quality of movies in Hollywood, and subsequently, in the Christian film industry. What particular moment or situation first inspired you to do this?

Dick: As a parent, I was concerned when I first visited a video store (in the late 80’s, many of them were retrofitted porn shops that moved their “adult” selections into a back room behind a curtain or door.) We decided to pre-screen all movies before permitting our kids to watch them. Soon the idea spread and others contributed to the list which totaled over 600 titles that were deemed “safe” for family viewing. A reporter interviewed me about this “dove” list and the story appeared in 165 newspapers across the country. Within 10 days, I received over 2,000 phone calls from folks asking for a copy of the list. We decided that this was a movement, so we applied for a grant from a local Christian donor, and received our nonprofit charter as The Dove Foundation in 1991.

Miranda ~ How would you describe the early days of The Dove Foundation? What lessons did you learn in your “days of little beginning?”

Dick: In the beginning we knew we weren’t influential enough to approach the studios with our message. We focused on selling video store chains on the value of a Family Approved list or section. We later added a sticker, which is now the iconic blue and white Dove Family Approved Seal. Once we had Dove Sections in 1700 video store and super market chains, the movie studios considered us a valuable marketing partner for endorsing and promoting their “family” line of titles. We never bashed Hollywood for making raunchy movies, but rather encouraged and promoted the good stuff and endorsed it with the Dove Seal.

Miranda: Since The Dove Foundation came into being, can you say you’ve witnessed a profound change in the quality of movies as you initially hoped? Can you quantify the work The Dove Foundation has done?

Dick: It’s easy to point to the sea change that has taken place in movies since 1991. The number of family friendly and faith friendly films has climbed significantly over the past two decades. It’s more difficult to attribute that change to Dove specifically. We are joined by many others in the industry in a combined effort to move Hollywood in a more family friendly direction. Several studios have responded by adding faith and family brands to their lineups. For example, Sony Pictures uses its “Affirm” label to brand such films. One concrete statistic that I can offer—a study we commissioned in 2012 revealed that the average movie approved by The Dove Foundation is 2.5 – 3 times more profitable than those that missed the mark. I can also report that most studios offer us confidential early screenings of their new releases intended for the faith or family markets hoping to receive our endorsement.  In a number of instances, producers have made suggested edits in order to get the Dove Seal of Approval.

Miranda ~ What difficulties did The Dove Foundation initially face when you started the work to improve the quality of movies? Does The Dove Foundation still face these problems or have other issues developed?

Dick: One problem we faced early on was to overcome some preconceived notions that Dove was a right-wing, religious radical group dedicated to eradicate every R-rated movie from existence.  Once we showed them that we were an advocate for the family and not an adversary, the tension broke and we gained the respect and trust of the “movers and shakers” at the studios as well as hundreds of independent filmmakers.

Miranda ~ What can you say is the difference between secular movie making and Christian movie-making? In what ways do you think Christian filmmakers should improve?

Dick: We evaluate Family-Approved films and Faith-Friendly films in two ways. Both categories are required to meet certain content guidelines in the areas of Sexuality, Violence, Language, Drug/Alcohol abuse, Nudity, and Other unsavory behavior. The difference is in the message. A Family-Approved movie has a clean, wholesome storyline. A faith-friendly movie has the expression of faith as its core message. This is usually portrayed by acts of redemption, reconciliation and/or forgiveness. We also have a Dove Faith-Based [Caution] Seal, which is reserved for films with some content portrayals that would exceed our usual standards, but include a powerful message of redemption and forgiveness. The Passion of the Christ, which shows the beating and crucifixion of Christ, is an example of this category.

Miranda ~ In your opinion, are Christian filmmakers and filmmakers of Christian/Christian-themed films in the same category? If they aren’t what’s the difference?

Dick: Some studios operate under the misconception that a Christian film is one that is based loosely on the Bible. They make a tragic mistake of assigning the project to a producer and/or director who lacks an organic connection to the Christian faith. In one case, the director publicly announced that he is an atheist. Hollywood has made a few blunders recently that reflect those poor choices. One was NOAH and another was EXODUS.  In both cases, the films’ creators went well beyond extra-biblical content, and presented anti-biblical themes which were rejected by the audience. I believe the more successful Christian films are those that are actually produced and/or directed by Believers, which ensures that the message will authentically represent our faith.

Miranda ~ In recent times, Hollywood has taken fiction books and turned them into blockbuster movies. Do you see this happening in the Christian film industry? In what way would you encourage the Christian literary world and the Christian film industry to work together?

Dick: There are many fictional stories that have been made into successful films. Ben-Hur, The Robe are a couple of epics.  Of course, C.S. Lewis’ Chronicles of Narnia series was also very well received by the movie audience. There is a new wave of Christian books called YA fiction (Young Adult) that have powerful messages of redemption and could make very compelling movies. One that I recently saw during one of those early screenings I mentioned earlier is, The Shack based on the best-selling novel by William P. Young. The filmmakers were able to successfully translate the book into a stirring movie that should have broad audience appeal. It’s scheduled for release in March.

Miranda ~ How did you know it was time to step down as CEO of The Dove Foundation? What led you to this decision? Do you have other interests you hope to pursue—filmmaking, perhaps?

Dick: There are several reasons I felt the time was right to pass the reigns to someone else. The new age of digital distribution requires special expertise of someone who has international brand marketing experience. My friend, Suzy Sammons, the incoming CEO, possesses an impressive background with that very skill set. And, at age 75, I have other items on my bucket list and precious time to accomplish them. After a period of R&R, I may consult— if asked—in the area of the nonprofit organizational development, or advising those who are developing faith and family films.  I’d also like to write some (possibly a blog or op-ed column).

Miranda ~ What are you most grateful for—generally and right now?

Dick: I am most grateful to my Lord and Savior for keeping me on a short leash and for continuously helping me find my way when I get lost. He has been my inspiration in times of dryness, and my strength when I am weak. I am also grateful to my lovely wife, Mary, and the loyal staff at The Dove Foundation for allowing me the privilege of leading them down a path that had not previously been traveled.

Miranda ~ In recent times, new and more Christian organizations, websites, and movie studios have emerged, using the media, social media, and other online platforms to propagate the gospel through entertainment. What advice would you give to a person who believes they’ve been called by God to do this and are just starting out?

Dick: I’ve been studying the millennial generation recently. They claim to be putting their faith and trust in ideals and belief systems that are organic and authentic, two characteristics that are emblematic of the Christian faith. Now, it is up to the rest of us to share the Gospel message via filmed, digital, and social media with those two characteristics in mind.

 

THIS or THAT (The Fun Questions!)

Coffee or Tea? Coffee

Gym or Outdoor? Gym

Sneakers or Boots? Sneakers

Running or Walking? Walking

Cereal or Fruit? Hmmm, tough choice. I prefer Rice Krispies with sliced bananas.

Music or Books? Music

TV or Magazine? TV

Summer or Spring? Spring

Rain or Snow? Rain

Blazer or Leather jacket? Blazer

 

Thank you, Dick, for visiting today!

 

dickrolfe-closeupAbout Dick Rolfe


For the past 25 years Dick Rolfe has made Hollywood the focus of his work, building relationships with entertainment executives and filmmakers; encouraging them to create more movies that are suitable for family viewing. The organization’s DOVE SEAL of APPROVAL is recognized internationally as the trusted symbol of wholesome entertainment. Rolfe recently spearheaded the launch of DOVE CHANNEL, a new online streaming service featuring hundreds of faith-friendly and family-approved movies and TV series. Many are calling Dove Channel, “a family-friendly Netflix.”

In addition to his usual written monthly commentary, Rolfe has been quoted in the Wall Street Journal, USA TODAY, Variety, Billboard, Hollywood Reporter, Premiere Magazine, Forbes, The Washington Post, The New York Times and The Financial Times. His national television appearances include NBC News, MSNBC, CNN, FOX News, Hollywood Reporter on Starz, Entertainment Tonight, and PBS’ Freedom Speaks.

Rolfe is a frequent conservative voice in prominent forums of debate; he has appeared as a panelist with such noted individuals as playwright, Neil Simon. Rolfe also addresses civic groups and churches around the country about the powerful influence of media on today’s society.

Prior to his work with The Dove Foundation, Rolfe held senior management positions in radio, television and magazine publishing. He produced a TV special, Hollywood’s Impact on Family Values, hosted by entertainment legend Steve Allen. He is executive producer of the feature film, Frontier Boys.

Rolfe has served on boards and advisory boards for 20th Century Fox’s FoxFaith division, Mott Children’s Hospital, Compass College of Cinematic Arts and The Business Roundtable (CBRT). He is also a member of Biola University’s Studio Taskforce.

He and his wife Mary live in West Michigan; not far from their three children, six grandchildren and seven great grandchildren.

Album Review ~ Surrender by Joel Vaughn

joel-vaughn-surrender-artwork-digital

Category

Religious/Christian

Genre

R&B/Pop

Release Date

January 27, 2017

Rating

4.5 Stars

Review


Surrender is a beautiful album that reflects a person’s need for God and His love. It’s more than a collection of songs—it’s a string of prayers, hope, and truth that is organic and relatable on a very deep level.

With a clear, powerful, and soothing voice, Vaughn sings with heart that leads a listener to that true place of faith, hope, and worship. Need I mention the stunning lyrics? Vaughn is an artist that has successfully combined R&B with pop to create a unique blend that can be donned the Vaughn Style. Most definitely an artist to watch. It won’t be long before he becomes a brand. Finally, I’d be sorely disappointed if the song, If I Trust In You, doesn’t appear in the next Wow release…yeah, it’s that good.

*Though I offer this review to the public, it’s my opinion and simply that. My thanks to DREAM Records for a private download link that allowed me access to the Surrender Album in exchange for my honest opinion.

 

joelvaughnphotoAbout Joel Vaughn


Joel Vaughn is a singer/songwriter based out of Nashville, TN. Growing up in the South, Joel was influenced by many different genre’s but none were closer to his heart than pop and contemporary music. Joel started singing in his local church at the age of seven and he has kept going ever since. Known as “the singer” of an all-musical family, Joel originally taught himself to play guitar at age 14, simply to keep up with his siblings, all of whom played instruments. But his love of playing didn’t stop at guitar, and he also decided to pick up the drums and piano as well. By the time he was a high-school senior, he was writing songs & playing whatever musical instruments he could get his hands on.

Joel studied at West Texas A&M University, and he began to lead worship for student ministries and churches in the area. Over the last 12 years as a worship leader in Texas, he has released three independent albums. All of these albums featured the rock and worship styles that he grew up with, but as he continued to progress, his music began to mature and he began to create songs that leaned more toward the contemporary pop genre.

While his label debut EP, Kinetic showed Joel in a whole new light garnering his first top 20 Billboard Christian Hot AC / CHR single for “Wide Awake”, his sophomore release, Surrender shows an even more evolved sound — with deeper lyrics, soaring vocals, and haunting melodies.

His southern drawl, humility, and nice boy looks remind you where he comes from, but his sound will show the world where Joel Vaughn is headed. Settling in to deeper and modern music —Joel’s voice truly shines and it is clear that he is home.

How Fear Inspired my Life & Career

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“Have I not commanded you? Be strong and courageous. Do not be frightened, and do not be dismayed, for the Lord your God is with you wherever you go.” Joshua 1:9 

Fear is a powerful word. Fear is real. It can stop us right in our tracks, debilitating us. It is the enemy messing with our heads—lying to us, telling us we are less than worthless, and discouraging us from hope. Fear also mirrors that you need to grow in strength and wisdom.

I was afraid of my mother. She was very strict, critical, and moody.  She was the disciplinarian of the house. I felt I could never make my mother proud of me as a child no matter how or what I excelled at. Often, she called us, “stupid, good-for-nothing kids.” When I became an adult, I was still anxious and worried she was looking over my shoulder, disapproving angrily, even when she wasn’t there in my apartment.

I wanted to become an actor with my main goal being to make a television commercial so my mother could see me looking back at her on her T.V.; then she would see that I could shine. When it aired, she was shocked, happy, and proud, especially when the neighbors said they saw her daughter on T.V.!  She didn’t know I could act or desired to.  I finally felt an achievement of my own, and validation that I mattered to her! I WAS GOOD FOR SOMETHING. I knew it; I just had to prove something big to her. How sad that I wasn’t sure of her love or felt validated that I was important to her. That fear was a lie, and I bought it.

“What are YOU afraid of?” I posed this question one night at a dinner.

One guest said he was afraid of getting cancer because his family has a history, and many family members had died from it. Both his parents were diagnosed and, thankfully, are survivors.

One woman said she was afraid of being racially profiled.

Another said she was afraid of being alone in dark, unknown locations.

A young man said he was afraid of disappointing those he loves.

“Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe.” Proverbs 29:25

 “What do you DO to calm your anxiety?” I asked them.

 “I get cancer checkups; I need to take care of myself and my family.”

“When I’m afraid, I do what I love. I draw and write stories.”

“I surround myself with good people I trust, and work with my community in being a part of the solution and not the problem.”

 “By having the support and love of my family, it gives me strength.”

  • Action cures fear.
  • Prayer leads to strength.
  • Support provides wisdom.
  • Mentors encourage and give good advice.
 “The Lord is my light and my salvation—whom shall I fear?  The Lord is the stronghold of my life—of whom shall I be afraid?” Psalm 27:1

Action cures my fear. When I’m nervous, frazzled, or scared, I stop and acknowledge the moment, take a breath, and then I say this little prayer over and over again, “God is with me all the time.” When I do, I don’t feel alone, my anxiety melts away, and , it’s replaced with focus and courage. Change your focus; keep your sight on God.

“I can do all things through Him who gives me strength.” Phil 4:13

Prayer is strong medicine. Don’t be afraid to ask for prayer, it is an honor to pray for others. God lets us contribute to aide one another in this way. *A helpful tip – If you feel uneasy about asking for prayer for yourself at church or don’t attend church for whatever reason, ask your prayer warrior friends on social media for their help.  There are so many prayer groups that you may join or just put in a prayer request. God sends help when we least expect it.

“Do not be anxious about anything, but in every situation, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God.” Phil 4:6
 “But they that wait upon the Lord shall renew their strength; they shall mount up with wings as eagles; they shall run, and not be weary; and they shall walk, and not faint.” Isaiah 40:31

Support and knowledge provide wisdom. Support is all around us; you just need to seek it out. We know more about mental illness, cancer, racism, dangerous streets, and the weather— basically anything that we’ve ever known, and tomorrow we will know more.

“If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you.” James 1:5 NIV

Seek a mentor. These are people you trust, admire or respect.  They could be within your community or not. They could be doctors, teachers, parents, clergy, or co-workers.  The internet is full of free information and encouragement.  24 hours a day. 7 days a week.

“As iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another.”  Proverbs 27:17

Reflecting on my relationship with my mother, we realized she suffered from mental illness, she was possibly bi-polar. This was never diagnosed because it wasn’t something doctors knew too much about back then. She wasn’t sure how to express her love, and didn’t understand how to control her emotions. She didn’t confide in anyone and felt alone and afraid, which turned into resentment towards her husband and children.

Before she passed away many years ago around Halloween, she was invited to a neighborhood party. As I was helping her with her costume, in a tender moment between us, she confided in me a secret. Apparently, when she was young, she once had dreams of performing in the theater as a singer and actress, but was afraid to make it happen because, she grew up poor, and nobody she knew believed in that kind of dream or in her. Then she became married, had kids, and her dream was over. She gave me a sweet, proud smile, and said she was proud I was able to make my dream come true. I realize now that back then, when she was having a good day, she was always singing, and singing took away her fears.

Fear may have led me to reach down deep, which made me gain the strength to bring up the good stuff that gave me the momentum to move forward. It may have pushed me to seek Jesus and His wisdom, and also to reach out to others for help, and even to open my borders to new opportunities, knowledge, and growth in His name. But the one thing that I did not do is, let fear rule and cripple me. I know I am good for something. I always was, and will always be because, I am a daughter of the King of Peace.

And that is the truth.

 “For I am the Lord, your God, who takes hold of your right hand and says to you, ‘Do not fear; I will help you.  Do not be afraid, for I myself will help you,’” Isaiah 41:13-14

Irene TheatricalHeadshot by ChloeAbout this Contributor


Irene Santiago’s moto is A.B.C = I Act Because of Christ. She is an award winning, working actress, voice talent, speaker, acting coach, and producer. Her work can be seen in television, film, theater, and several commercials.  You can find her on her website, facebook, twitter and IMDb.

 

 

 

The article, How Fear Inspired My Life & Career, first appeared on To Be A Person (TBAP).

 

Album Review ~ Jonah by KJ-52

jonah-by-kj-52

Category

Religious/Christian

Genre

Hip-hop/Rap

Release Date

January 20, 2017

Rating

4 Stars

Review


The 11th release by KJ-52, album, Jonah, begins on a relatively soft note with Hold On, a song aimed at inspiring hope in a listener, and then moves on to more head-nodding numbers that entertain as well as preach. The general form of the lyrics, apart from achieving its original objective of uplifting a listener, has its fair share of humor entwined in it, which adds to the overall positivity that Jonah exudes.

With collaborations with artists like Curt Anderson, Chris August, Canon etc., a whole new mix of unique flavors is achieved and consequently results to an awesome Jonah, a treat that any lover of hip-hop/rap would deeply appreciate.