“God is a creative God. If I am created in His image, I must be creative too.” I quickly jotted this quote down as the vespers speaker, a friend I had met through a sketch comedy show I started during my time at Southern Adventist University, continued to share his testimony. It got me thinking. Why do I have a drive to be a creative? Is that what God is calling me to do?
Growing up Adventist, my SDA community supported my creative outlets like doing drama for church or writing a creative story for school, but it was always with the caveat of it being a hobby – never a career. It was conveyed that jobs like being an actor, an inventor, a musician, etc., were never things an SDA could achieve on a grand scale; it either will not pay or you will have to sell your soul somewhere along the way. It is best to stick to the holy employment trinity of healthcare, church employment, or Adventist education – in other words, a job where it is approved to work on Sabbath. So when I found myself branching out into the entertainment industry and entrepreneurship, I had no choice but to rely on God.
Knowing no one, I started from the bottom, taking whatever work I could get. I showed up in the background of Pitch Perfect 3, got a few seconds of face time in Vampire Diaries, and even got to attend Peggy Carter’s (Captain America’s girlfriend) funeral in Civil War. While new and exciting, it did not satisfy. Yes, I was in a creative environment, but I was not in places where I could really steer the creativity. One day, I hit a wall. I had tried to get more opportunities, reached out to every contact I knew and had no luck. Directionless, I got on my knees and prayed: “God. I’m not giving up for lack of trying, but I’ve exhausted all my efforts. I’m giving it up to you.” Nothing happened. Then, about 20 minutes later, I got a call. It was someone I had helped out six months before on a passion project of theirs who could not take a job because they were already booked.
“You available?” They asked.
I resisted the urge to confess just how available I was. I quickly prayed a thank You and responded with a Yes. …By the end of the week I had an office in Tyler Perry Studios, seeing how all the pieces come together to make a TV show. Over time, my career journey took me into management roles on projects for Netflix, ABC, etc., and I learned the skills I would eventually use to launch my own company, as well as create projects for my local conference, the NAD, and even the GC.
Throughout my experiences, God has shown me just how much our world needs creatives. Playing Ashpenaz in the 2014 Oshkosh play, Daniel, I saw 50,000 lives impacted firsthand by actors, writers, and musicians. I met people from around the world who were impacted by the culmination of years of creatives’ time leading to that moment in the fiery furnace. I cannot put into words what it feels like to experience God’s presence with a sea of worshippers when Jesus showed up in the furnace. Working on jobs for film, tech, and car companies, I have had conversations on faith that I never had in my Adventist bubble. Talking with people so far outside the bubble, I realized the importance of simply being present and loving others in a time when many Christians display an attitude that is neither loving nor accepting. You do not know the real depth of your beliefs or strength of your abilities if you are never in an environment that exercises them.
In conclusion, God created creators. I will never forget that inspirational quote from that vespers speaker…a triple Grammy, worldwide popstar who also happened to be an Adventist creative. “If you’re created in His image; you must be creative too.”