David A.R. White on His New Memoir, Between Heaven & Hollywood

David A.R. White on His New Memoir, Between Heaven & Hollywood

Posted on October 25, 2016 at 10:58 pm

Copyright Zondervan 2016
Copyright Zondervan 2016

David A.R. White is one of the most recognizable actors and producers of faith-based films, best known for his starring role in the “God’s Not Dead” film series.

In his two-decade career, David has starred in more than 25 films and produced over 40 films, and is a founding partner of Pure Flix Entertainment, the largest indie-faith film studio in the world.

David grew up as the son of a Mennonite preacher, near Dodge City Kansas, where his early jobs included rock picking (such a job exists!). But as a young man, David felt a yearning to pursue a career in the entertainment industry.

After graduating high school, and upon his father’s urging, enrolled in the respected Moody Bible Institute in Chicago. It was there David was expected to graduate with a pastoral degree and find a wife.

At nineteen years old, David dropped out of college and moved to Hollywood without a job, home, or many friends. He never imagined the vital role prayer and determination would play in pursuing his life-calling in the entertainment industry. Early in his career, David worked with stars like Billy Bob Thornton, Hilary Swank, Leah Remini, Candace Cameron Bure, Kevin Sorbo, and Burt Reynolds.

In his book Between Heaven & Hollywood: Chasing Your God-Given Dream (Zondervan), David shares with wit, wisdom and spiritual encouragement the journey (and roadblocks) to pursuing your God-calling, and how your talents and gifts can have a positive impact on others.

What is your God-given dream for you own life?

I know that it is in being the father and husband that God called me to be. On the career side, it’s been to build a faith and family studio that can impact culture for Christ, and to enlarge that footprint around the world. Also, it’s to use my performing side in unique ways to accomplish those goals.

How can you tell if a dream is yours or God’s?

This is a little more complicated, and I reveal more of my answer in my book. But one way, is the overall question of, “is your dream bigger than you?” So often we have these dreams growing up, and by the time we reach adulthood, we’ve cut them into very manageable pieces, so we don’t get disappointed. I think that is the opposite of what we should do. We should set higher goals, as our God is the author of bigness not littleness 🙂 If the dream is bigger than you can achieve on your own, then there is a good chance that it’s from the Lord.

What’s the role of faith in chasing our God-given dreams?

I think it always centers around God’s will for your life and the freedom that he also gives us in pursuit of those dreams he puts inside of us. You have to be in tune with God to know His plans for your life as the plans may change over time but also faith allows you to stay inspired and keeps your dream alive but also helps you stay accountable to the person that ultimately holds your future.

Copyright 2016 David A.R. White
Copyright 2016 David A.R. White

Let’s talk about your own personal journey. You have met with quite a few obstacles. What were a few of them?

In life, there’s always a lot of challenges along the way, from health…to family…to career setbacks. But the key to remember is that through those setbacks and challenges, for every hardship and failure you endure, they could very well be the stepping stones of success and the realization of God’s dream for you.

How are we to view obstacles? How can you differentiate between an obstacle and a closed door?

So often we are riddled by fear and self-doubt. But I think we need to remember, that our courage is not the absence of that fear, but the triumph over it. As you go through those hardships and obstacles, often time you’ll discover God’s real plan for you.

What do you say to someone who questions their purpose?

This is a primary reason why I wrote my book “Between Heaven and Hollywood” because I wanted to lend some insight, knowledge and understanding into the issue of what is inside of someone, their God-given dreams and desires and how they can utilize them.

Some people need some soul searching time. They need time to figure it out. Sometimes we force our kids at twelve, seventeen or eighteen to know exactly what they should be doing, and oftentimes we don’t. I think that it’s okay. The number one thing should be to stay in the Word of God than on your own, and to pursue God first and foremost.

It will unveil itself. You will learn why you were created. I truly believe that each and every one of us are called here to have a dream, a goal, or a specific reason for living. Romans 12 talks about different measures of gifts that were given to each one of us. We all have a reason and a purpose for being here. It’s a matter of uncovering it, and finding out what that is.

What do you say to a middle­-aged person who is just not satisfied and doesn’t feel like they belong where they are? How do you speak truth into the excuse that they are too old to follow a dream?

It goes along with the someday myth. If you look at the calendar, you are never going to find that day. *laughing* There is no someday. It starts today, right where you are at. You need to take that fear and self-doubt, and you need to embrace it and move forward as opposed to pulling back. You are never too old! Colonel Sanders was sixty years old before he started KFC. He had failed at a lot of businesses before he stumbled upon something that worked.

What led you to become a found­ing partner” of Pure Flix Entertainment?

I had been producing Christian films for man years. I think that my first one was in 1999. Myself, three other actors raised eighty-seven thousand dollars. We made a little movie called, “The Moment”.

In the process, we as producers were learning how to feel our way through the marketplace. I think, at the time, I had produced about four or five different Christian films along the way. None of the original guys were PureFlix, but I had a good relationship with Michael Scott and Russell Wolfe. The three of us had the same vision about having this content on a consistent basis, and knew that we wanted to make more of it.

However, we needed a way to put it out there because studios were just shutting down evangelistic movies. They would start a faith label, and then shut it down. Then the cycle would repeat. So, that’s why we really felt the need to start PureFlix production-distribution company.

You seemed to have a bit of an entrepreneurial spirit early on in life. How do you think that you ended up cultivating it?

I think that it was something the Lord put in me. One of the giftings that He had given me at an early age was connecting with people. I guess the entrepreneurial spirit came in as I didn’t want to do what I had been tasked to do. The entrepreneurial spirit came out of how do I do what I want to do, not what I have to do.

It’s an interesting thing, as oftentimes we see ourselves as stuck doing what we don’t want to do, and yet those times turn out to be the best times in our lives because it gives us an opportunity to think about what we really want to do. So, it makes us get out of our comfort zone to chase what it is that we are really desiring.

Conversely, some inventions were born out of a desire not to do certain tasks. There’s a great catapult for going into God’s plan and calling in your life. By simply designing something to get you out of doing a chore that you absolutely hate!

In Between Heaven & Hollywood, you talked about your touching last conversation with your dad. What was the conversation about? And what did he say?

My father, the night before he passed, had just randomly called me to say hi, and to tell me that he was proud of me and what I was doing. I didn’t realize that would be my last conversation with him. But, I’m so thankful that the Lord allowed me to have it. It meant the world to me.

For more information on David A.R. White and his book “Between Heaven and Hollywood” please visit http://DavidARwhite.com

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Interview: David A.R. White of Pure Flix and “God’s Not Dead”

Posted on March 19, 2014 at 8:00 am

David A.R. White (“Evening Shade”) is the founder/writer/director of Pure Flix, which makes films that “uplift and inspire the human spirit.”  He graciously took time to answer my questions about making faith-based films and what he has learned.  New films from Pure Flix include “God’s Not Dead” with Kevin Sorbo and “Mom’s Night Out,” an uproarious comedy starring Sarah Drew, Trace Adkins, and Patricia Heaton.

Why did you create Pure Flix?  What is your goal?  Who is your intended audience?

We created Pure Flix to make uplifting and inspiring content on a consistent, ongoing basis, so audiences would truly have an alternative to what Hollywood puts out.  Pure Flix produces faith and family films, so the audience is the entire family.

What are the most important lessons you learned from the writers and directors you worked with on television series like “Evening Shade?”

Evening Shade was such an eye-opening experience. I was 19 when I went on that show.  I had barely had an acting class.  So as Burt Reynolds continued to bring me back for the next three years, I learned so much from him and all the other legends that were on the show. People like Hal Holbrook, Charles Durning, Michael Jeter, Marilou Henner, etc.  One of the biggest things I walked away with was how Burt loved to work with his friends.  Most of these people he had done movies with for 20+ years, and I wanted to do the same.  Which is why in a lot of our films you see a lot of recognizable faces, good friends of mine from the last 20 years.

In the 50’s and 60’s, Hollywood studios were making films like “The Greatest Story Ever Told” and “King of Kings” and “A Man Called Peter.”  Why is it hard to get films like that made now?

Well this year would probably be the year to do that, as they are calling this the “Year of the Bible”.  I think there is always an ebb and flow in Hollywood about what is current.  And as people are responding to more and more life-affirming content, I think we will see more and more of those type of movies.

“Noah” has not opened yet and it is already controversial as some Christian groups say it departs from the Bible.  Is it hard to reach Christian audiences with big-budget movies directed at the mainstream?

I think it’s hard because the filmmakers don’t really believe in what they are making.  So for them, accuracy is not a priority in the movie and it becomes something else.

Can mainstream films deliver a spiritual message?  Can Pure Flix films reach an audience that is not church-going?

Yes, on both questions.  Pure Flix makes evangelistic films, but we also make family films. I think the viewer wants to see quality entertainment that the whole family can watch, and many nonbelievers watch our films because they can watch with their family and young kids.

Your films often have a refreshing sense of humor.  Why is that important?

I love comedy. Which is why I keep trying to bring comedies out like “Me Again”, “Marriage Retreat”, “Holyman Undercover”. I think it’s important we don’t take ourselves too seriously. We need to be able to laugh at ourselves; it’s very disarming and works wonders in relationships.

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