5 Boss Babes

As I am drowning in the workload of college deadweek and the stress of the upcoming “Film Major Prom,” I find myself turning to my “Boss Babes,” the powerful women who inspire me. I thought you guys might also benefit from the inspiration on this list!

To me, the definition of a “Boss Babe” is a strong woman who is living life on her own terms, using her talents and notoriety to successfully reach out across several platforms and speak about issues that she is passionate about. Now, Boss Babes certainly do not have to be celebrities but I know for me it is sometimes easier to be inspired by public figures, especially girls who are just a few years older than me whose careers I have following growing up. So, without further adieu, here are my list of Top 5 Boss Babes:

1) Lauren Conrad:

They say reality TV is the quickest way to end a serious career? Not for Lauren Conrad. She spent several years as the star of MTV’s Laguna Beach and The Hills before deciding she was done with reality TV. She instead capitalized on her reality TV fame to kickstart the career she really wanted in fashion. She is now the published author of three non-fiction books and two young adult fiction series. She is also the editor-in-chief of her own lifestyle site, runs two clothing lines, is the co-founder of an online store that focuses on empowering female artisans around the world and has an eco-friendly line of cosmetic and travel accessories with BlueAvocado. Did I mention she is also thirty and married?

2) Ashley Tisdale:

Having trouble finding another standout role after your wildly successful Disney Channel movie franchise? No problem! Just jump behind the camera! Post High School Musical, Ashley has continued to act but where she has found real success is in her production company Blondie Productions and lifestyle site The Haute Mess, not to mention her marriage to singer Christopher French. Ashley is one of the producers on the hit ABC Family-er-Freeform series Young & Hungry which is going on its fourth season. Its success has earned Ashley her very own spin-off show according to reports from the 2016 Freeform upfronts. She uses her website to highlight young female professionals in a variety of fields and has spanned a merchandise line to go along with the site which features clothing, notebooks with messy bun artwork on the front and wall art. In addition, she recently became the creative director of Los Angeles based t-shirt company Signorelli and is helping to relaunch the brand. All this also before her thirty first birthday.

3) Demi Lovato:

A trip to rehab is the quickest way to end a career? Well for Demi, her three months in Timberline Knolls Residential Treatment Center really was, in many ways, the beginning of her career. It would have been easy for Demi to refuse to talk about her time in treatment or create a fluff story regarding what happened, but she decided to be honest and transparent with her story in order to help others. Four years later, Demi is an advocate for mental health awareness and open about her past with substance abuse. She may have stepped away from her successful Disney Channel show in order to focus on post-treatment recovery, but that has not stopped her from guest starring on shows like Glee and From Dusk Till Dawn as well as spending two years as a judge on X-Factor. She currently has a successful music career, a New York Times best-selling book, her own charity and a skincare line. She is also vocal about her faith and an active advocate for LBGT and women’s rights.

4) Shay Mitchell:

While it might be easy to coast on the triumph of a popular television show, Shay decided the success of her current job was no reason to stop working. Known best for her starring role on the show Pretty Little Liars, Shay branched out after a few years to expand across other platforms as well. She started with her lifestyle site (before everyone & their mom had one), which eventually morphed into her Youtube channel (although the website is supposed to come back soon new & improved!). Her Youtube channel has been active for a year and a half now and recently hit one million subscribers. Her videos range from Youtube challengers with other Youtubers (Glozell? check, Superwoman? check) to travel diaries from places as exotic as Morocco to those as local as Atlanta, Georgia. Shay also recently published her first book which she co-wrote her with her best friend, released a fitness wear line with Kohl’s and filmed her first movie role in the upcoming film Mother’s Day where she plays the stepmother to Jennifer Aniston’s children. She co-hosted Live with Kelly and Michael this morning and still has basically a full year left until her thirtieth birthday.

5) Selena Gomez:

Once you become more famous for your dating life than your job, it is hard to be taken seriously as a professional, right? Well, Selena Gomez is trying to prove us wrong. Her newest album was not just a new batch of songs. It introduced a new movement in her career. It was titled Revival and truly represented Selena’s efforts to re-invent herself not as Justin Bieber’s (ex) girlfriend but as an artist in her own right. She took press opportunities to address issues she had never talked about before such as her battle with Lupus and her first real encounters with body shaming. She talked about Justin but made it clear that she was moving forward into a career all her own. She used a series of elaborate Snapchat videos to announce that Joe Jonas’ band DNCE was coming on tour with her and has utilized an Instagram campaign to share details about her upcoming world tour. This Selena Gomez “revival” feels like a page pulled right out of her BFF reinvention queen Taylor Swift’s handbook and so far, it’s working. Selena is experiencing more success with her music than ever before with each single gathering more and more airplay from “Good for You” to the latest “Hands to Myself” which was made into a lip-sync video by Victoria’s Secret models and covered by celebrities like Joe Jonas and former Disney star, Oliva Holt. Who says you have to wait for your 24th birthday to reinvent yourself?

 

Photo Journal: Bethany Joy Lenz & Wakey!Wakey!

One of my favorite parts about living in Southern California is the easy access to LA. There are few things I love more than going to music shows at various small venues in and around Los Angeles. There’s something so special about the vibe, ticket prices are much more affordable and the venues are all quirky and cool.

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The concert I went to this past Sunday was particularly special because it transported me to Tree Hill, North Carolina for a few hours.

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Tree Hill is a fictional small town created by the Mr. Mark Schwann, the showrunner of the long-running television drama One Tree Hill. As most true-blue fans of the show will tell you, the show changed my life. My senior year of high school, watching an episode before bed became a nightly routine. By the time I got to season 2 or so, I cried at least every other episode. So when the opportunity came to see two of the show’s stars in concert–Bethany Joy Lenz (Haley James Scott) and Wakey!Wakey! aka Michael Grubbs (Grubbs)–I jumped at the chance.

Water at the bar

For those of you who have seen One Tree Hill, you’ll understand what I mean when I say that the concert felt like a night at Tric. Many of you probably remember Grubbs from Season 7– the lovable bartender with a magical talent for predicting (almost!) everyone’s drink orders and making beautiful music. You’ll be happy to know his singing and piano playing are even more amazing in real life. There’s something remarkable when you listen to live music that makes you sad about having to listen to the studio version for the rest of your life. Michael’s in-between song commentary was so funny, proving his real-life persona to be just as sweet and endearing as his character (which Mark wrote for him while they listened to Wakey!Wakey!’s debut album “Almost Everything I Wish I’d Said Last Time I Saw You…”). He played songs from the show like the classic “Dance So Good” which his character wrote for Miranda and also played songs from his other albums. Overall an amazing set.

Wakey!Wakey!

Now for Bethany Joy. As soon as Joy stepped onstage, it was clear that I was watching Bethany Joy Lenz not Haley James Scott. Not that that’s a bad thing. Joy is much less polished than Haley with a free-flowing energy that makes her delightful to watch onstage. She messed up and started over and swore and told stories that made us all feel as if we had come over to her house for drinks to watch her perform a few songs with the neighborhood band. She played piano (for the first time in public in years), played guitar, sang from center stage and even took a turn as a backup singer for a couple songs so that her next door neighbor Doo Crowder could share some of his music with us. She was effortlessly charming, sexy and classy not to mention that voice!

Joy CUJoy guitar

Joy didn’t sing any songs from One Tree Hill or any of the songs I was familiar with from her scattered EP’s, but it didn’t matter. Her voice and performances were so compelling, I could have listened to her all night. She has a great deep, soulful, jazzy kind of voice that does indeed feel modernly vintage, much like her website ModernVintageLife.com. Cannot wait to hopefully hear the songs she did perform on her next album!

Joy b&w

 

She announced the last song of her set much too soon and of course, we all cheered for an encore. Joy seemed surprised we weren’t all ready to go home but indulged us with one last song, her very first single “Songs in My Pocket.” If you’ve never seen the adorable homemade music video that goes along with this sweet song, go check it out (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3uZ9jcnr2F0). The song sounded even more amazing live ten years later!

My only regret was not biting the bullet and paying the extra $50 to meet Joy. She was truly a delight and I hope to see in concert again soon.

Joy pink&blue

To wrap up the night, I got to meet Michael Grubbs. He took the time to talk to every fan who waited after the show to meet him and even told the story of how Mark heard about him in the first place (one of the writers from the show attended an open mic Michael performed at). He shook hands, took pictures and signed every CD.

Hallway post showLine to meet Michael

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

When it was my turn, I introduced myself and he shook my hand, introduced himself as “Michael” and asked if it was my first show. When I said yes, he asked if I enjoyed it. I told him he sounded even better in person than on TV (totally true!). Me & Grubbs

He was so sweet and as I told him, I really do hope to come to another show of his soon. In the meantime you can find me streaming Wakey!Wakey! on Spotify and complaining about how the quality does even begin to compare…Wrist stamp

-C.M.B.

Happy, Free, Confused & Lonely – Stephanie

STEPHANIE SWAIN may only be 19, but she is dealing with the same challenges as any 20-odd, trying to decide whether to pursue her passions or follow a more conventional route. The student/model/actress currently resides in her hometown of Tucson, Arizona following a brave move out to L.A. and back.

I was honored to work with Steph as the lead of my independent film “WENDY: Lost Girl” where she played Wendy Darling. She graciously agreed to video chat me from Arizona to talk about the joys and struggles of early adulthood.

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Age: 19, Location: Tucson, AZ

The most surprising/unexpected about being in your 20s?

I think it’s truly like going with something, running with something. It’s so surprising to me to learn about yourself and learn about what you really want to do and sticking with that. Once you find that, it really just surprises you that you can follow through with that and really have a love and dedication to go through with something. Because it’s hard, you know, when you’re [in your] 20s, you’re always second-guessing yourself.

The best and the hardest thing about being in your 20s?

I think the best part about being in your 20s is definitely having that independence that you didn’t have your whole life. Making your own decisions, all those things. And that’s also the worst part about being in your 20s because it can get very lonely…. You kind of have to jump out of your own and be strong because no one will catch you but yourself.

Something you wish someone had told you about being in your 20s?

I wish someone would have told me that it’s okay to not know. It’s okay to fall. It’s okay to second guess yourself. It’s okay to cry.

Biggest thing you’ve learned since graduating from high school?

This is kind of sad, but I’ve learned that you can only trust yourself and loving yourself and being there for yourself is probably the most important thing in life. Because if you don’t have that love, you’re gonna be searching for it through other people and it’s just gonna end up bad.

Advice you would give to your younger teenage self?

Take life a little bit more seriously. I wish I would have paid more attention in school and taken myself more seriously and worried about my future more because it’s really important that you’re serious about your life goals and not just like “Oh, this is just high school, whatever.”

Best advice you have ever received?

I’ve received a lot of advice that’s good. I think, I wanna say from my mom, she said that you can’t really change what other people think or feel. And to me, I let other people’s emotions and how they feel really get to me but I kind of realized that what other people want and go through is their life, it’s their path and as long as you know you can’t change that and just do you, it really helps me get through life and not be as sensitive and emotional as I am towards my friends, family and whoever else.

How would you describe where you’re at now versus how you were as a kid or a teenager? How have you changed?

I think I’ve become a lot more serious. In this particular moment right now, I’m going to school and stuff and I think that I never really imagined myself to be living such a “normal” life. Like after moving to California and stuff, I’m just going to school and having a job. And while that’s good and dandy, it’s just not where I see myself. And I think it’s kind of interesting, I surprised myself. I didn’t think I could do this and now that I know that I can, I can expand my horizons and do what I actually want. It’s a good surprise.

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First Job?

I was a buser at a cafe. It was horrible. I got soap in my shoes every day and I grabbed dishes and I felt like Cinderella.

Current job?

I’m a hostess at PF Chang’s. It’s definitely dealing with a lot of people who are cranky cuz they wanna eat but it’s pretty fun.

Where do you see yourself by 30?

I see myself living in definitely a different state than Arizona, having a family and being financially stable as well as traveling the world cuz that’s very important to me and I want to do that.

Tell me more about the move to and from LA:

I’m bittersweet about it because right now I know I’m taking a break and just kind of figuring out what I want and who I am. But you know, moving out there [to LA], it was such a hard thing for me to finally put my feet down there and follow my dreams and wake up every day and be excited to go to work. And now that I’m back here, I just find myself just living an average life and you know, I feel like I’ve learned a lot about myself just knowing that it’s really not for me and life is more about what makes you happy, what you’re passionate about as opposed to just doing what’s right. And that’s partly why I moved back here. I wanted to go to school, get an education, be financially stable. But in learning that, I just don’t think… you should do what you want. Life is too short. Just do what makes you happy. At the end of the day, it’s not about the money and as long as you just know yourself and what you wanna do. I know I wanna go back to LA for so many reasons.

Why did you move to California?

My whole life growing up in Arizona, I’ve always been like “There’s more.” There’s a fire inside of me that is unlike any people here and I just want to explore the entertainment world. So I moved out to California right after high school and I started pursuing acting and modeling and whatnot. It was just a crazy whirlwind. And it was terrifying at first and I didn’t know what I was doing and I didn’t know anyone. But once I got that going, that ball going, it kind of gained momentum and it just kept getting better and better. Because once you break out of your comfort zone, it feels like there’s no boundaries. You can really just do whatever you want. And then you look back and you’re like “Wow, I did that.” And it’s truly like anything is possible. You can do anything you want. There’s nothing holding you back. I loved it. It’s probably the best decision I ever made and I recommend it to anyone in their 20s. Go out, break your comfort zone, do what you wanna do because at the end of the day, you’re gonna have a great story to tell as opposed to just doing what’s right, what you’re “supposed to do.”

If you loved it so much, why did you leave?

Last fall, I kind of went into a slump. I started seeing my friends in California become people I didn’t really admire. They were getting sucked into the social media world and sucked into the fame aspect. I kind of had this realization about what it was to be a young actor, young model in LA and it kind of scared me. I kind of realized I don’t want this. I want people with values that love their family and love their friends and would never use someone or mistreat them. At the same time, I was looking at people who were struggling to pay their rent in California and still doing background acting after all these years and I kind of was like, “You know, I think I could live a better life than this. I think I’m smarter than this. I think I could get my degree and then maybe come back out here.” But at the time, I was ignoring my passion…. So I came back to Arizona to get my education cuz it’s much cheaper here. I kind of missed my family. I wanted to see what it was like to live here because while in LA, I watched all my friends that went to high school [with me] go to college and have that experience and it was kind of like, “I’m missing out on something.” And every time I visited them, I felt like that. So I think I really needed to have this experience to see what it was like because if I didn’t, I would have wondered my whole life.

So I came back for several reasons but mostly because I was second-guessing myself which goes back to what I was saying. In your 20s, constantly second-guessing yourself. You know, you’re just like “Ooh, am I doing this right? Should I be doing this?” And you’ve gotta do that to figure out your path and I think that’s just what I’ve been doing.

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What inspires you?

This sounds cheesy but I inspire myself. I try to compare myself to my past self and kind of improve on that as opposed to comparing myself to other people which I find really kind of drives me down and makes me sad. I’m kind of like “What can I do to make myself better?” So, using yourself as inspiration, as weird as that sounds, really benefits you.

Is there a motto or quote you try to live your life by?

I think it’s just what’s most important to me. I guess, it’s not like a motto but more like what I always am thinking about is you, I mean as the stereotypical as this is, you only live once. You should make it as fun and happy as possible.

I think it’s good but it’s also bad cuz I don’t think about the serious things in life. I’m like “I just wanna have fun.” Just enjoying yourself. I don’t wanna live as one of those people who have a cubicle and hate their life. Just enjoy life.

I know that you recently started modeling again. Can you talk about what inspired you to start modeling and to continue in Arizona?

I moved to California to act and every time I was on set, people were like “Oh, you should model. You’re tall enough.” I never really thought about it. And then, I figured out I could make money this way if I tried and I was like, “Wow, I should start doing this.” So I started to, you now, apply myself, go on different shoots and things like that, kind of dip my toes in it. And I found out that the modeling industry is pretty harsh on self-esteem, your body weight and all that. So I took that into consideration and I made it so that modeling wouldn’t be my end goal. It would be a pathway to where I wanted to be so that if I did get rejected, it wouldn’t hurt me as bad. And I think it’s a really fun way to express myself. Why I love modeling the most is seeing the pictures and the art in them. How they’re styled, how the photographer did it. I think that’s more important to me than ever looking beautiful or “hot” in a picture. Just kind of like a storyboard of all these different shoots you did and the art and the energy that the photographer did. I really love that. ANd right now, I’m trying to get signed to an agency but it’s really tough. The restrictions they have for you, you’ve gotta be like a perfect Barbie doll. I definitely don’t let it get to me that much though because it’s more fun than anything.

Has it been something that helped you stay tapped into that creative part of yourself while you’re in AZ?

Yes, definitely. I think for a while I kind of think I stopped doing everything in Arizona cuz I was so sad that I wasn’t in LA and that nothing could compare to the energy and things I was doing there that I was like “Oh, it’s not worth it to do photoshoots here because it won’t be like LA.” And then I kind of realized I was losing myself, that once yous top creating art and doing what you love, you completely go delusional and aren’t yourself anymore so I kind of forced myself, as hard as it was, to go out into Arizona and explore that and I think it’s really helped me keep who I am in LA together and like keep that passion alive so that I can go back.

Who makes up your support system and/or do you feel like that part of your life is lacking?

I think I have a ton of friends who make up that support system like honestly you. I love you and you just support everything I do no matter what, so that’s awesome. And just like some other friends I have in California, mostly I’ve found that people who are also artists are the best supporters to have because we truly understand the struggle of not the rest of the world understanding what we’re doing. I think having friends that are artists really does help.

Something you can’t live without?

I’m gonna say chocolate… I eat it almost every day. I’m like a chocoholic.

A fun fact about you?

I like to eat lemons… I don’t know why. I just started doing it at restaurants. I was like, “I bet I can eat this. It’s so sour.” And then I started liking it and now I’m like, “I’m curing cancer and cleansing my body” so I eat lemons. What the heck? But it’s kind of fun.

Favorite emoji?

I think my favorite emoji is the little angel one with the little halo. It’s just so happy and cute. I just love that one. I use it all the time.

Taylor Swift used the four words “happy, free, confused and lonely” to describe being in your early 20s. What are four words that you would use to describe where you’re at?

I think that’s pretty spot on but I’ll try to think…

Lost… happy… nostalgic, definitely one of them and hopeful.

What’s next?

Alright. What’s next is I’m planning on my move back to California this summer, actually, I was planning on going back and just doing school while pursuing the entertainment industry so that I’m not missing out on any part of being in your early 20s. So that I can just fully experience both of those things.

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Photography by Rayann Marie Photography

 

I’m a Christian and I Only Hate Some Christian Movies

I don’t hate Christian movies…

I know, I know. Such an unpopular opinion. No, it’s not unpopular because I’m a non-Christian but rather because I’m a Christian film student. Christian films students are “educated.” We’re supposed to “know better.” And it seems most of us herald the cheer, “Holl-y-wood! Holl-y-wood! Down with Christian films and more R rated movies!!” Well, that’s not how this film student feels. And before you jump all over me, let me clarify. I don’t hate Christian movies. I hate bad movies.

This post was inspired by the article, “I’M A CHRISTIAN AND I HATE CHRISTIAN MOVIES” By Alissa Wilkinson (https://www.thrillist.com/entertainment/nation/christian-movies-why-gods-not-dead-and-faith-based-films-hurt-religion), which I admit has a somewhat misleading title. The article opens with “It’s a frustrating time to love movies and God,” something I definitely will not argue with. It is really hard to find quality Christian films. I have sat through more badly produced, badly written and badly acted Christian films than I care to recount.

The article says, “Hollywood’s definition of the ‘faith audience’ boils down to churchgoers, often Evangelical Protestants, well enough off to afford a night at the movies, interested in inspirational Biblical adaptations and movies about heaven, family, and genial, good neighbors, and highly critical of any sexuality or bad language.” This description brings to mind a conversation I had with a friend last year who ranted several times about Christian movie review sites that listed every curse word and, as she put it, things the site thought were “sins.” She didn’t care about any of that stuff and couldn’t seem to see why anyone else would. And yes, I’ll admit, if I’m going to a movie on my own or with friends, I almost never check Plugged In. If I’m doing my movie-going solo or with friends, are the films the article describes as pandering to Hollywood’s definition of the faith audience the ones I’m going to buy a ticket for? Nope! I don’t need movies to make me feel good or “inspire” me, per say. I want a good story. I want characters I care about and yes, usually, I want a little edge. I can handle your bad words, your sex scenes, your less than moral actions. I’m an adult. Bring it on!

But when it comes to a movie I can watch with my family? When I want to sit down with my parents and younger siblings and see something that I won’t have to wince through? When I want to be able to recommend a movie for family night or kids’ night without worrying that I forgot about a sex scene or major expletive? It’s nice to know there are movies I can pull off the shelf without worrying about any of those things. It’s nice to know that among all the garbage of films, both those riddled with profanity and sex as well as cheesy Christian films riddled with bad film making, there are a few films we might all actually enjoy. Yes, even the hyper-critical film student (all those of you who are the only film student in your family know EXACTLY what I’m talking about).

The article then follows up with, “A lot of these are basically well-intentioned kitsch, innocuous in the manner of a lousy conventional rom-com or inept indie drama.” Well, can’t argue with this one, sorry. Except to say that I occasionally overlook such sins for Disney movies or rom-coms so it seems hypocritical to automatically rule out all Christian films because they might be cheesy or cliche. Some of them, certainly. Most of them, probably. But I can overlook a little cheese or a few plot holes if I’m invested in the characters. And that applies to all movies. I’m not making an exception for Christian movies because I’m taking pity on them. Bad film making is bad film making. But less than perfect film making can be forgiven on occasion. Yes, I’ve seen more Disney Channel and Lifetime movies than I care to admit to…

The next great point the article makes is, “It’s practically catechistic among many faith-based devotees and movie producers that mainstream critics pan the films because they ‘don’t believe in Jesus.’ The problems run deeper. Jesus is all right; the screenwriters, not so much…. Christian theology is rich and creative and full of imagination, that’s broad enough to take up residence among all kinds of human cultures. It contains within itself the idea that art exists as a good unto itself, not just a utilitarian vehicle for messages. (In the Greek, the Bible calls humans “poems” — I love that.) There is no reason Christian movies can’t take the time to become good art. Each one that fails leaves me furious.”

This is so often overlooked in the arguments from Christian filmmakers. As Christians, we have an even higher calling to produce quality art. We don’t get to use our faith as a shield to hide behind as we put out crappy films that have a “good message.” Colossians 3:23 commands, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.” I don’t know about you, but the quality of my work would soar through the roof if I was making it for a king, much less the God of the universe. There are so many Biblical examples too. Were the tabernacle or temple examples of poor workmanship? Did they lack good architecture and quality design elements because they were only church buildings? Of course not. And of course, there are beautiful cathedrals in countries all around the world as further examples. Christians don’t get a free pass on quality because we’re making evangelical or faith-based projects. We, in fact, should be working even harder and producing even higher quality work than our secular counterparts because we’re not working for a human audience but a divine one.

There stands in my mind a glaring example of a deeply flawed film put out by Christian film makers and praised by Christian film-goers. That movie is, yes, you guessed it, God’s Not Dead.

The article says about the film, “The glaring problem with God’s Not Dead, and most other films made for and marketed at the ‘faith audience,’ is that instead of exercising and challenging the imagination of their audience in ways that would make their audience better Christians, they shut down imagination and whisper sweet nothings into their ears instead…. God’s Not Dead enlists an army of straw men… then burns them in effigy. The movie isn’t content to merely convert our main antagonist, effectively forcing him to grovel before his 18-year-old student. It also trots in a deus ex machina and kills him off. (Spoiler, sorry.).”

My main issue with the film, as touched on above, is that it spends the entire film trying to convince the audience that there are evidence based reasons to belief in God despite the argument from this “evil” professor that people only turn to God in moments of emotional vulnerability. Then at the end of the film, that same evil professor turns to faith in, yep you guessed it, a final emotion-wrought moment before his death. The filmmakers tried almost the whole movie to make a point they ultimately couldn’t stand behind even in their own storytelling. I was deeply offended AS A CHRISTIAN at the way they portrayed not only the atheist professor who can only come to Christ at the brink of death but also all the other non-believers who “hate God” mostly because back in the day, He did something they didn’t like. That’s not the world I’ve encountered and I would never ask any of my non-Christian friends to subject themselves to the same portrayal of them in film. I can’t use this film as an evangelical tool and would never bring my Christian friends to see it… so what’s the point?

The article by Alissa Wilkinson, to be fair,  does not bash all Christian films despite the misleading title. The last section is titled “There’s great Christian entertainment, if you look” and includes a pretty good outline of what the Christian life should look like especially in the art we produce. “Christians live within a system of belief and practice that is meant primarily to be a blessing to people outside the church walls. It is a basic article of Christian belief that all people bear God’s image. We are to exercise the same boundless imagination and creativity that he does. Christians, of all people, ought to push hard against people who try to sell a fear-mongering, illogical, politically driven version of Christianity, where the goal is for your team to win, to prove you’re right.” I would encourage you to read that last section of the article, if nothing else, because it makes some excellent points about the level of Christian entertainment we should be aiming for.

That being said, there are a number of Christian films that have come out in the last year that I have actually enjoyed. My dad and I had a great conversation after we separately watched War Room. We agreed that, yes, the film was flawed but it somehow managed to step above some of the most common pitfalls of Christian films. It felt a little bit more like the Christian life we actually experience. I also really liked Do You Believe? and was deeply disappointed that it didn’t get more publicity. It was, in my opinion, much better than God’s Not Dead, but because it didn’t do as well, it is unlikely that the same type of film will be produced in the future. It showed real people with real struggles, Christians and non-Christians alike, and how faith was applied to the situation. I also loved how over the top and funny Mom’s Night Out was without delving into raunchy content that would have made it hard to watch with my family. While it is great to be entertained when I watch movies, occasionally I don’t mind being encouraged in my faith. I don’t mind seeing characters like me on-screen struggling with issues of faith and how God is applicable in their daily lives. Even in spite of all its flaws, Facing the Giants helped revive my faith at least once in high school. And when it came out during my senior year of high school, the movie To Save a Life encouraged me into thinking I could make Christian films without neutering the language and content needed to authentically tell the story.

Now, please don’t misunderstand me. This is not me saying every Christian should watch Christian movies or even aspire to make them. I am simply sharing my opinion and perspective because I’m sick of being underrepresented. Sure, maybe Christian films aren’t for you. But before you overarchingly bash something, stop to consider that maybe what’s not for you might be for someone else. God has gifted every one of us to reach out and advance His kingdom in different ways. He has also created several different ways to advance His kingdom. Maybe our witness would be overall increased instead of consistently damaged due to our focus on bickering with each other if we focused on finding the ways He has created us individually to advance His kingdom (i.e. being nice to co-workers who disagree with our beliefs so they can no longer blanket all Christians as judgmental and hypocritical) and stopped bashing other ways God is also working (as long as those vehicles are not heretical)?

There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all…  But now indeed there are many members, yet one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you”; nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary… that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it” (1 Corinthians 12:4-7, 20-22, 25 – 26).

Bad Christian films hurt all of us. They hurt non-Christians by damaging our Christian images and hurts us Christians because our image has been damaged. So, if you have been called to make Christian films, great. Please strive to a higher level of excellence than the mast majority of Christian films out there today. And if you have been called to make secular entertainment, please honor your call but also follow the countless Biblical guidelines for Christian living. Treat others with love, live in a way that honors God and work hard because you’re working for God, not man. And if you are simply a entertainment goer, don’t be afraid to tell people when you find a Christian film you like. Don’t be afraid to dive into dialogue about Christian films, even bad ones, and the issues they bring up. Be open to God working through anything, whether that be the latest B-level Christian flick or a hard R drama that causes a friend to start asking some hard questions.