BY ANNETTE LANGE
I love acting. It was something I was told I could do well. I delighted in the fact that once I stepped onto that stage, I had the freedom to be someone completely different from myself.
And to be brutally honest, I gloated in the fact that I, a tiny, insecure 13-year old girl, was able to show the big bad world what I was capable of.
It was glorious.
Luckily, I matured a bit since then (at least I hope so), and I realized acting was more than proving the world wrong. I genuinely loved it.
My school did not have a very extensive drama department. The only opportunity to act and perform was the biennial school musical, which was led by a couple of dutiful but tired teachers who volunteered their time and energy to rehearse on a Wednesday afternoon.
During rehearsal, the teachers were preoccupied with chasing the eighth graders away from the drum set, giving us weekly speeches on the importance of punctuality and reassuring the boys that holding the girls’ hands would not have to result in marriage.
Needless to say, not much time was invested in the quality and believability of the performance, but the teachers were just happy when everyone actually participated. So I went along and acted to the best of my abilities, figuring out what worked for me.
When God came into the picture, my zeal to prove everyone wrong turned into a zeal to do everything right and to please God in every way possible.
I was convinced that being a Christian in the industry meant only taking part in films where the character drastically changes for the good and realizes that the sin he/she committed was bad. The audience is supposed to believe in God after watching the movie, right?
In my mind, everything was clearly either black or white, right or wrong.
During the School of Acting for the Screen I was challenged a lot with the movies we watched, or the characters I had to play. I didn’t agree with them, and so it was hard for me to portray them believably.
I wanted to act for God and please Him, how was I furthering the kingdom by acting something that seemed to be controversial?
The more I criticized the characters, the less I enjoyed portraying them.
One of our speakers caught me off guard though, when she encouraged us to ask God for His heart for a character. I hadn’t thought of that.
I had been so caught up in acting for God, instead of with Him.
This small exercise opened up doors I had never stepped into before. I realized acting was an opportunity to invite and involve God into the process of exploring and developing the character. Even though it was ‘just’ a character, it still reflected the emotions many people feel and can relate to. God wants to bring restoration to all of them.
When viewers can relate to certain characters, situations or emotions, it often indicates an area they need healing in. A film or theatre piece has the power to give hope, assurance, conviction or provoke action, and actors are – among many others – in the position to do that.
Once I applied this, I found that my heart was softened not only towards the characters I was taking on, but generally to myself and others as well.
We are all a work in progress – in desperate need of a Savior.
Acting is such a powerful tool to reach every viewer on a personal level. We have the ability to touch them and to be a prophet of truth.
I encourage you not to make the same mistake I did and use it as a platform to avenge the school bully or to fall into the temptation of wanting to impress others.
We have the ability to invite God into that process – Let us take hold of that privilege!