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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

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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.

 

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.

Author Scoop ~ Interview with Jonathan Long

luluJonathan is from small town, Roanoke Rapids, North Carolina. After being an atheist for a time in his life, he came to realize God as a loving father, and decided to dedicate his life and use his experiences to help others know God on a much deeper level. One of the ways he aims to achieve this is with his recently released devotional, Whispers from God. Follow our chat below, and learn more about Jonathan’s inspiring story.


Miranda ~ Hello Jonathan! Honored to have you visit TBAP today. Please tell us a bit about yourself.

Jonathan: I was born in the small town of Roanoke Rapids in North Carolina, and raised Baptist, even though I secretly was a self-ascribed atheist; I hid this from my family and friends. I struggled for a time to grasp the concept of an unconditional loving God. Right now, I’m dedicated to using my experiences to help those around me know God on a greater level.

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

Jonathan: Like countless others, I was raised in the church environment with many common traditions. Being familiar with an altar call and a sinner’s prayer was nothing out of the ordinary. But true relationship with God became a real experience as a teenager, alone in a room, through an undeniable experience of God’s loving voice and sweet presence.

Miranda ~ Though born into a Christian family, you were secretly a self-ascribed atheist. What led you to become an atheist?

Jonathan: Not believing in God came from depression, disappointment, anger, and pure doubt in a higher being.

Miranda ~ You are now a creative teacher and a prayer warrior. What led you to this place and, how would you describe your experience as a prayer warrior?

Jonathan: I wouldn’t say that the publishing of this book has now given me the right to claim myself as a creative teacher or effective prayer warrior; but I will confidently say that having an open heart and teachable spirit has given me much wisdom and revelation which I have only become privy to because God uses life to teach us many things at different levels in our lives. Wants and desires may motivate us to pray, but pain and loss teach us how to pray effectively in an entirely different light. Regardless of how we feel about our hardships and difficulties, they are all designed to fit into the overall scheme of our pathway in life, which leads us to become stronger in our faith, prayer life, and overall, in offering our lives in worship to God. Every day and every moment in prayer is a genuine experience—just like learning how to crawl or ride a bike. My life prayer is, “Lord, teach me how to pray.” This is because the level on which I live and serve those around me changes as I grow. Therefore the level and reasoning for which I pray, and the reason why I pray, develop right along with everything else I’m connected and assigned to.

whispers-from-god-bookcoverMiranda ~ Out of your journey with God, Whispers from God was born. What particular moment or incident first inspired you to create Whispers from God?

Jonathan: When God spoke to me and told me to stop throwing away what He told me, but instead, to record it and begin seeking His face daily, and only write that which is spoken to my heart by the Holy Spirit. The instruction was clear and unmistakable. God told me the purpose of the book and what it was meant to do for people who would need it. Thankfully, I have already received testimonies of people sharing how God has spoken to them in a very direct and personal way, just like God told me it would.

Miranda ~ Many Christians long to pray more but find themselves discouraged to do so because, certain circumstances have led them to believe that their prayers have gone unanswered. What encouragement do you have for someone like this?

Jonathan: Firstly, realizing God partners with our “decision” toward prayer. He never partners with our “feelings” toward prayer. That we “feel” we’ve done too much, or we aren’t as righteous as the next person, has nothing to do with God desiring to hear from us and communing with us. It’s not just our spiritual relationship with God that suffers based on feelings, but also our natural relationships with others from which we bring the overrated misconception that our feelings are a trustworthy source of credibility whereby we determine if something is good or effective. Discouragement does not hinder our words from touching the heart of God, but not praying will.

Miranda ~ How would you describe the experience of hearing from God? What’s it like?

Jonathan: God speaks through His Word, through songs, dreams, visions, ideas, other people, and so on. The problem isn’t that we don’t hear God, but more so that we have ignored Him for so long, we honestly believe He’s either not speaking or there’s something wrong with our hearing. Loud distractions, confusion, drama, and other hindrances will always find a way to present themselves. Learning how to silence life, minimize the confusion and evict any trace of drama is mandatory. The goal is to be still and exist only in the present moment that surrounds you, given by God Himself. This is when we are able to enjoy the voice of God that fills our lives.

Miranda ~ Some Christians confess that they’ve never heard from God. What encouragement do you have for someone like this?

Jonathan: The encouragement I would give them is that you’re not waiting for God to finally speak, but you should reflect and rediscover what God has already said. Again, many of us just don’t know that God is not limited to a set of lips like people are. God speaks through memories, talents, music, and so much more. Our lack of confidence, our over analytical minds and sometimes, just underestimating the simplicity of God, play a negative role in us, pushing us to second-guess and question what is right in front of us.

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

Jonathan: Right now, I’m most grateful for a focused life and true friendship.

Miranda ~ What advice would you give to a person who believes God has called them to be a prayer warrior but is experiencing doubt and lacks the confidence to do this?

Jonathan: If you believe God has called you to prayer, simple tell God “Hey God, for some reason I feel like you have called me to prayer. Please show me in a way that I will know that this is true.” God has a good habit of giving confidence to those He gives assignments. He will not only provide the confidence to do it, but the purpose in why He wants you to do it. Satan is depending on you to stop because of fear, but the world is depending on you to live in spite of fear.

 

THIS or THAT (The fun Questions!)

Coffee or Tea? Tea

Boots or Snickers? Snickers

Chocolate or Vanilla? Vanilla

Vegetables or Fruits? Fruits

Juice or Smoothie? Smoothie

Rain or Snow? Rain

Spring or Fall? Fall

Summer or Winter? Summer

T-shirt or Collar shirt? Collar shirt

Breakfast or Dinner? Dinner

Music or Movies? Music

Gym or Outdoor? Gym

Leather Jacket or Blazer? Blazer

 

Thank you, Jonathan, for visiting today!

Order a copy of Whispers from God devotional!

luluAbout Jonathan Long


Born in the small town of Roanoke Rapids in North Carolina, Jonathan Long was no stranger to the Southern Baptist culture that his community offered but secretly was a self ascribed atheist hidden from the awareness of all family and friends. From struggling to grasp the concept of an unconditional loving deity in the heavens, to sharing the many layers of his life and matters of the heart; Jonathan has vowed to dedicate his life to using his undeniable experiences to help thrust every heart and soul around him into a greater level of awareness of an ever present and ever loving Father who continues to prove himself as God.

Have A Successful New Year!

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“Have a successful new year.” We’ve all heard and said this prayerful blessing for a profitable and purposeful new year. And we try diligently to make it come true. We resolve to break old habits or establish new ones. We strive for a sense of accomplishment and pride. To add a few more numbers to our bank accounts and a few more contacts to our friends list. To enter into this time next year somehow better—better looking, better equipped, better at life. The new year holds a special kind of hope—that if we just want it bad enough, we will find what it takes to work it out, and make it happen.

But how does one measure success?

What exactly are the parameters? Is it based only on what can be seen and held? I don’t think so. Here are other, less tangible ways, to determine if our year has indeed been a success. More often than not, we get out of bed every morning. Most days we may even make said bed. We allow ourselves to face whatever that day may hold. The minute our feet hit the floor we’ve made the choice to be present in our lives. That’s success.  And, if we remember the night before to set the coffee pot to brew, bonus success. We may find our job uninspiring, mundane or stressful. It may take every ounce of will we have to turn that car key. But we do it, and go ahead to open the garage door. That’s success. That project we’re working on—you know, the one we’ve worked, struggled, jostled, and reworked until we’ve cried and bled—just got pulled and wasn’t allowed for in the budget, but died on the table. Nonetheless, we saw it through to the end. We endured, tried our best, and learned exactly what doesn’t work. Believe it or not, that’s success. When we are overwhelmed at the vastness of our own dreams, and scared and unsure how to make them come true, and just about ready to throw in the towel and move on to plan B, but give it one more day, that’s success.

Success is measured by our own attitude. It is the ability to look at a sink full of dirty dishes, but instead, see family dinners and daily provision. It is looking at disappointments as stepping stones and character builders. It is being able to stand in the face of adversity and say, “I’m not backing down.”  These are the daily choices we make to claim our own lives for good. To identify successful moments that make up successful days and years that build successful lives. No matter our situation, it’s our perspective that’s the key. So have a successful year, starting today.

 

Juli Tapken 1About this Contributor


Entering just her third year in the film industry, Juli Tapken has logged more than 20 IMDb credits with major roles in feature films like faith-based projects Providence, Mission ImprobableThe Reins Maker, and many more. Juli is also showing up big in television with upcoming shows like 12 Masks and Think. Create. Repeat, plus multiple commercials in various markets. She began singing and acting very early as a child in Oklahoma, building to lead-roles in musical theater classics like Oklahoma, Gypsy, and The Diary of Anne Frank, which led to a professional career in Branson, Missouri, where she performed in Two From Galilee, and a long run on the musical comedy, Smoke on the Mountain. Juli Tapken is dedicated and driven to bringing her characters to life in an honest and relatable way, while being a strong asset on set. Juli also has great range, performing many different role-types, and is actively seeking even greater challenges! Visit Juli on this website, view her IMDb profile, and connect with her on twitter and her facebook page!

The article, Have a Successful New Year, first appeared on To Be A Person (TBAP).

Actor Scoop! ~ Interview with Jessica Koloian

jessicaI am once again delighted to present to you an interview with another cast member of Doc Benson’s Losing Breen! Jessica Koloian played the character, Hope, a character that she says is neutral. She raises some interesting points about acting and the faith-based film industry, laying much emphasis on the art itself.

Sit back and enjoy this interesting chat between Jessica and I!


Miranda ~ Hello Jessica! Delighted to have you here on TBAP today. Could you please tell us a bit about yourself?

Jessica: Hi Miranda. Thank you for having me. I don’t do personal synopsis, but I’ll be honest. I don’t enjoy interviews. People observe and learn. This process humbles me. No doubt a year from now I could answer these questions again and find very few answers to be the same.

Miranda ~ When did you find God? What led you into a personal relationship with Him?

Jessica: I became a Christian over 20 years ago, and I’m grateful for the life Jesus has given me.

Miranda ~ When did you first discover your talent for acting? At what point did you decide to use it to serve God?

Jessica: The discovery came at a young age as I memorized Bible verses and performed monologues or short skits at church. As I got older, those performances became Theater.

I never decided to use my talent to serve God. That’s like asking, “When did you decide you love your mom?” If I had to make a separate decision about that, then I’d question my intimacy with Him. If I made it to Hollywood, I’d still be honoring God. If I never act again, I can still honor Him. What it looks like to navigate being a Christian and an actor is different for each of us.

Miranda ~ What has your journey into film being like? Has it strengthened your relationship with God in any way?

Jessica: I am so honored to have had these opportunities, no doubt about it. I’ve enjoyed my roles and on-set experiences. My journey in film has been frustrating, however. Very few filmmakers in the “faith-based” film industry understand what art is, let alone how to create it. They prefer to    spoon-feed a message because it’s easy. Good art takes time, patience, and     more than anything else, room. As an artist, you leave room for the audience to come into your creation and contribute their thoughts, experiences, and interpretations. This is what makes art a powerful tool in discovery. Where my relationship with God comes into this, is simply that He’s the creator of the universe. I wish His name wasn’t taken in vein so often by people who are a poor representation of the depth of His character and the complexity of what He’s created.

Miranda ~ Why do you act?

Jessica: I act because incarnation is a beautiful, powerful tool. We see this with Jesus’ own life.

Miranda ~ How would you describe your experience on set of Losing Breen?

Jessica: Being on set of Losing Breen was a blast. On most films I’ve work in, it’s been a very tight-knit cast and crew. Losing Breen was no exception. I very much enjoyed working with Chris to develop our characters and their relationship. It’s a very intimate experience to develop two characters together. I compare it to a very mild version of parenting. We have these two people who we get to know through a bunch of words, and then we look at each other and go, “Okay. Now who are they and, how are we going to show people that?” You sit down and work on a scene, you get in your character’s head, and you start making decisions for them. You give them a voice. I’d say Chris and I were very intentional about making a lot of those calls together, especially as when it came to Brian and Hope’s relationship. Listening is crucial.

Miranda ~ How did your role in Losing Breen inspire you personally?

Jessica: It wasn’t anything groundbreaking. And sometimes, that’s okay. Brian is the complex character of the story; Hope is neutral.

Miranda ~ What do you hope viewers of this movie will walk away with?

Jessica:  I have no opinion regarding what people should walk away thinking. Would I be pleased if they took away something? Yes. If they are solely entertained for a period of time, that’s fine, too.

Miranda ~ What other actors/filmmakers have you worked with in the past? How has working with them made you a better actress/person?

Jessica: Every project I’ve worked on has been more challenging than the last. Each time I work on a film, I’m reminded of the collaborative process—how many tasks need to be accomplished, and how minuscule my contribution actually is.

Miranda ~ What actors/filmmakers do you hope to work with in the future?

Jessica: Professional ones.

Miranda ~ How do you balance family, friends, and your career successfully?

Jessica: First of all, by no means is acting my career. I work in communications at a construction company. That’s what pays the bills. The films I’ve been in have been volunteer projects, and those that I’ve been paid, were small stipends.

In general, I’m of the opinion that you work hard when you’re supposed to, and play hard when you need to. I’m able to compartmentalize those, which provides balance. Currently, I’m in a stage where I can focus the strong majority of my energy on my career.

Being that this exists only as hypothetical, I’m conflicted on whether I could balance film and a family. It’s challenging. The intimacy on set as you all work towards a common goal together cannot be shared or understood outside of those participating in it with you. And when I’m in that frame of mind, that’s all I’m focused on. Family goes away. Friends, too. It’s   about the film and the people I’m working with. I don’t know that  I’m capable of having both.           

Miranda ~ Where do you see the Christian movie industry in the next five to ten years?

Jessica: Stuck in a rut. I’d be delighted to see the people who are trying to produce “faith-based” films become artists who produce art. I want to see the industry become obsolete. It’s one thing if you’re only goal is family-friendly entertainment. But to have a whole genre of film dedicated to watering down the word, “Christian” is socially destructive. I don’t believe in “Christian  film.” My college theater director said, “People are Christians. Books and music are not.” If the industry continues as it is, I’d prefer to disassociate with it completely. Films that are raw and edgy have power to impact. No film that’s slid its way into the “faith-based” film genre has ever left me saying, “Shoot. I don’t know what to do with that.” For those that are doing things right, keep going. The church may not be behind you, but you will be the ones who succeed.

Miranda ~ Can you say you’ve experienced any paradigm shift since you ventured into acting?

Jessica: I’ve experienced an extreme paradigm shift—more from working in corporate America than in film. You can’t judge people, especially at work. It needs to be a safe place where everyone can be true to themselves. The “faith-based” film industry has yet to navigate this in the way Jesus modeled. So going back to where I see room for growth in the industry, that’s a great example.

Miranda ~ Who are the people that have inspired you the most? How have they done so?

Jessica: Tracy Manning, my college theater director. I’ve never met anyone more dedicated to the art than she is. Her dedication laid the groundwork for my own transitioning from the hobby of acting to the art of acting. Shawn Denny is another. No one has asked me more challenging questions about life and my career than he has—questions I very rarely have the answer to at first, but he’s patient as I process and grow to understand my own answers or lack thereof.

Miranda ~ What advice would you give to anyone going into acting for the first time?

Jessica: Don’t. You have to be inspired. It’s not a hobby. It is art. Art demands discovery; it’s a gift given to the audience and a platform to be challenged. You do a great disservice to a production by failing to grasp the gravity of what acting does for you, and on an even larger scale, what it does for others. If you do understand this, then you’re probably not going into acting for the first time and I have nothing to offer, but no doubt could learn much from you.

THIS or THAT (The Fun Questions!)

Coffee or Tea? Both. There’s a time and place where I value what each has to offer.

Breakfast or Dinner? Dinner

Spring or Summer? Summer

Winter or Fall? Summer

Heels or Flats? Heels

Ice cream or Shake? How about a Godiva Truffle instead?

Lemonade or Orange juice? Orange juice. But only freshly-squeezed.

Cooking or Cleaning? Cooking is fun and cleaning is satisfying.

Dresses or Pants? Dresses

Gym or Outdoor? Outdoor

Books or Music? If you listen, you can learn from both.

Fancy Scarf or Fancy Gloves? Neither. That’s way too much going on.

Leather Jacket or Blazer? Ew. Unless there’s a man wearing the leather jacket.

Thank you, Jessica, for stopping by today!

jessicaAbout Jessica Koloian


Jessica’s passion for acting began at a very young age and has only grown as her talents have been refined. She studied theatre for 3 years at Taylor University working on over 15 productions. It was there that Jessica developed a large skill set in many areas of production, on stage and off. This was enhanced as she participated in the collaborative process on Taylor University Theater’s production staff.  Since then, she has appeared in several feature films.