Vice President, Colombia Pictures
Former Studio Executive at MGM
Graduate, University of Southern California
Board member, Film Independent and the Amberican Black Film Festival
Preacher and motivational speaker
DeVon Franklin: Living a Vibrant Christian Faith
The 700 Club
CBN.com - FINDING AN OUTLET
DeVon didn’t have the constant positive presence of his father growing up in California. His parents were married young and, after quickly climbing the corporate ladder, the social aspects of the job started taking their toll on his father, Donald.
Donald’s drinking got out of control, he lost his job and left the family. His mom, Paula, got a job working at a day care and started going to school to earn her degree. Donald floated in and out of his children’s lives and soon began to get his life on track. Slowly Paula allowed Donald to visit the family more often.
One night in 1988, Paula received a phone call: Donald had a heart attack and was in the hospital. The next day, Donald suffered another massive heart attack and passed away. DeVon, 9, struggled with this. How could God take my father away from me just as he was getting his life together?” “To see your father alive one day, and the next day he’s laid out in the morgue, and you don’t get to say goodbye, no words can describe this type of hurt,” says DeVon. “It was a difficult experience that made me extremely self-reliant.” Even today, DeVon struggles with the fallout of his fatherlessness.
The entertainment field became an outlet for DeVon. He became obsessed with learning everything he could about how the entertainment industry worked, particularly movies. In 1996, DeVon became an intern at Handprint Entertainment. In 1998, he joined Overbrook Entertainment where he learned more about the business and got to know Will Smith and James Lassiter, founders of the company.
In 2000, DeVon became James’ second assistant where he attended meetings, read scripts and earned good money. DeVon was hoping to make the jump from assistant to executive but by fall 2001, he was frustrated and depressed. In 2002, DeVon dropped an ultimatum on God. He got up from his cubicle and went to the bathroom and prayed. Later that day, James called DeVon into his office. He told DeVon that Will and he knew DeVon had hit a wall career-wise. James offered to help him find a new job with no time limits so DeVon could still work at Overbrook.
THE BIG PICTURE
After several months of searching, DeVon gave 2 weeks notice on faith. He prayed and he fasted. “I had faith and believed God was in control,” says DeVon. “…but sometimes the only way to reach a goal is to surrender to God.” On his first day of unemployment, DeVon got a job offer from Edmonds Entertainment to become a junior executive in Development. He was faithful in his job, but one morning out of the blue in 2003, DeVon got a call for a job offer as a studio executive at MGM. Six months into the new job, word got around that MGM was trying to sell the company. Soon, Sony Corporation closed the deal and asked DeVon to say with them.
For DeVon, the temptations are never what people traditionally think. “When you’re in a high stakes/high pressure business, your ambition gets the best of you,” says DeVon. “So I stayed prayed up and kept people around me to focus.” On production sets, DeVon, a 7th Day Adventist, is adamant about unplugging his life at sunset every Friday until Saturday at sunset to study his Bible, attend church, etc. “I have put my faith front and center for everyone to see…..not only has relying on my faith not harmed my career prospects, it has actually enhanced them,” says DeVon. His latest production, Jumping the Broom, released in theaters May 6, is a comedy about a wedding ceremony that forces two families to get along. The movie, distributed by Sony, was produced by T.D. Jakes, drew in $15.3 million, and landed as the weekend’s number 3 movie and its number 1 comedy.
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