I thought that I had reached a milestone. I was first cast as a background bar patron on a pilot then called again to potentially be a “regular background” on a new television series. Being a regular background meant a certain level of stability in a very unstable economy. It meant I could join the union and there would be that longed for union job on a regular basis for me. If they liked me, I could eventually get a line or perhaps become a semi-occurring character. This is precisely what every background player dreams of. After three years of silently walking past the on-camera action, sitting for hours on hard bleachers pretending to cheer at various high school sporting events, pantomiming without acting, etc., etc., this could this be the break which I had been praying for. Only after they stopped calling did I take a look back and see that the series which they wanted me for was one of the worst, carnal glorifying, and socially damaging shows that the network has green-lit this year. What was I thinking? I knew that I had no control over the content. I was just doing a job, right? I was not in any of the nudity scenes (it is a cable show), my mother and pastor back home would never watch it anyway. It’s a resume builder, that’s all.
What does a God fearing believer bent on changing American culture through visual storytelling do in the above situation? I had no creative control. I was there to do a job and hope they’d call me back.
Content is one of the biggest issues the American church has with present day Hollywood. There is a cyclical process of movies and television telling the “everyman” story about him and his culture, the very culture, which in turn influences. So where does that leave the believer, the actor or writer who loves Jesus and is called to work and minister in Hollywood ? How do we change the content which comes out of this place? We want God fearing professionals to be the decision makers in the studios. ut the problem is, how does one get there without morally compromising? I thought of Joseph and Daniel who were God fearing men, yet were under the rule of foreign kings. They served. They served faithfully, had favor from God, and then were eventually put in places of authority. They became decision makers in their perspective foreign pagan kingdoms.
This is the constant dilemma that believers are put through. There are no easy answers or “proven” formulas. I received that word about Joseph and Daniel through devotional times and through the teaching of believers who have been in the industry for years. But ultimately, the peace came from Christ. Please pray for people such as myself and other believers in Hollywood who have answered the call to serve Christ here.
By Chuck Hayes, Actor/Writer