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"God's Not Dead" Actor's Journey of Faith

Pure Flix founder David A.R. White shares his journey from Kansas to California, and the role of his faith as an actor. Read Transcript

Well, David AR White's first big break in Hollywood

came when he was cast in the hit TV show "Evening Shade."

He was punched and then later fired

by his Hollywood dad, Burt Reynolds,

but that didn't stop him from chasing his God-given dream.

Take a look.

NARRATOR: David AR White is one of the most recognizable actors

in faith-based films.

He's best known for his role in the "God's Not Dead" series.

As a kid, David always wanted to be in the movies,

but those goals didn't quite line up

with his religious upbringing.

DAVID A. R. WHITE: I was raised as a Mennonite

in a small town outside of Dodge City, Kansas.

And if you don't know what a Mennonite is,

the Mennonites make the Mormons look

like a pack of Hell's Angels.

In his book "Between Heaven and Hollywood,"

David shares how he made it from Kansas to California,

and how he overcame the roadblocks to success

without giving up on his faith.

Please welcome back to "The 700 Club" David A. R. White.

It's great to have you here.

Thanks for having me.

Listen, the weird thing to me isn't

just that you went from the Mennonite upbringing

to the Hollywood scene, it's that as the Mennonite child who

hardly ever watched TV, you even had a desire to act.

I mean, that's just a little strange, isn't it?

It is a little strange.

You know, I'm a firm believer that God

puts these kernels of an idea, these seeds, inside

of our hearts, and it's amazing to see

what he will do with them.

And I think I'm, like, the least likely guy who

should have left the farm and moved to Hollywood, you know,

and gone into the entertainment industry.

You really spend a lot of time in your book-- it's called,

by the way, "Between Heaven and Hollywood"--

evaluating that whole process of God speaking to your heart,

the desire being there, the choices right, wrong,

and indifferent that you made along the pathway.

Why do you think so many people missed the mark

on what God created them for?

I think, ultimately, we allow so much fear,

we allow so much self-doubt to come into our worlds.

Life is not easy.

And when we wrote the book, I didn't

want it to be just a hey, you have a simple dream.

Great, you'll go out and you'll accomplish the world

and there won't be any hardships or trials or tribulations

along the way.

If anything, I just want to encourage

people that take a look of what's inside of you.

And there's all kinds of different ways

about how do you know if a dream is truly from God,

or is it something just self-motivating?

I want to talk to you about that after we talk

about a couple of other things.

I mean, it wasn't like you had your parents' support.

You were a PK, preacher's kid, and I

mean, everybody in your family kind of was saying,

Dave, what are you doing?


Yeah, they did.

I mean, I really only told my parents

once that I wanted to go be an actor,

go on in the entertainment industry.

They probably went, nice boy, David.

That's exactly it.

I was 14, and my father was born in '36.

And then being a Mennonite pastor,

he didn't really understand that.

And he said, well, you don't know how to sing

and you don't know how to dance, so how are you

going to be an actor?

I love that.

And you went, oh yeah.

I was like, yeah, you're right.

Well, I'm Mennonite, Dad.

How am I supposed to dance?

No thanks to you.

And then I told a librarian one time,

and she actually spoke life into me.

I love that.

I mean, she wasn't even somebody who really knew you, knew you.


And she affirmed you.

Mrs. Thomas.

I got to say thank you, Mrs. Thomas.

Yeah, go Mrs. Thomas, wherever you are.

She was like, the only who I really opened up once,

and I said, I desire this.

And she said, I think you should follow your dreams

and you should go for it.

And let's talk about that a minute because, you know,

it was a far-fetched dream.

I mean, I think lots of people have far-fetched dreams.

You also quote a friend one who had a dream in here

and you said, you know, what happened along the way?

And he said, well, I grew up.

That was kind of poignant and sad as I read that.

But you hung on.

How did you do that?

I mean, Hollywood-- if you have to talk about the place that's

going to slap you into reality, I'm going to say Hollywood.

How did you hang on through all of that?

My parents instilled in me at an early age

a love for the Lord and a foundation.

And I think people always say--

Yeah, it stuck with you.

Yeah, and people say, is it hard to be

a Christian in Hollywood?

I actually find the opposite.

I think it's easier to be a Christian or a person of faith

in Hollywood because you have a foundation

to which your life is built on.

And it allows you-- when those things

come at you-- Hollywood certainly

is-- the title between heaven and hell normally

is what you say, but Hollywood, you just rotate those out.

It comes at you with a lot of things.

But if you are built on that foundation and you

have somewhere to go.

And that's when I asked my parents

to leave Bible school at 19-- and actually, it

was 18-- to go to Hollywood.

My dad said, David, as long as you serve the Lord

and keep him first in whatever you do, then we support you.

And you really hung onto your faith

in an amazingly tenacious way.

And yet, after so much discouragement,

it's almost like the author who just gets rejection

after rejection after rejection.

You had a little time where you sort of strayed off

into the wilderness.

What was the turning point for you,

both spiritually and career-wise?

To come back?



Yeah, yeah.

I was like, what brought you-- you

wouldn't do that way though.

No, not there.

It was interesting.

I was doing a movie called "Mercy Streets" at the time.

And "Mercy Streets," if you haven't seen it,

it's actually a great movie.

I play twins-- a preacher and a con man.

How fun.

And they were separated-- yeah.

And it was before its time.

But during that film, I was really

coming back out of my dry spell, basically,

you know, my desert of, like, did I believe, what I believed.

It's either real or it's not.

Yeah, was it real?

Or was it just instilled in me at an early age?

And in that film-- they always say life imitates

art in so many different ways, and for me, I

made a choice at that point.

Was I going to be a con man, or was I

going to be a preacher, so to speak?


And that's where my life turned around.

And really, I was like, Lord, I'm sorry for doubting,

I'm sorry for going through all of this stuff,

and I humble myself.

I bend my knee before you, which I try to do every day now

and say, Lord, you take my life.

You do with it what you will.


And if you do that, I believe if you

follow God's dream for your life, then you will not fail.

So let's get to that.

How do you know if a dream is from God or not?

Some people have dreams that are so far-fetched you are thinking

don't do that to yourself.


But you hung with it.

How do you know if it's from God?

First thing I always say is, is your dream bigger than you?

Because as kids, we have all these dreams growing up.

What happens?

We chop them down into very manageable, small portions,

ultimately, so we don't get disappointed.

And then we tell our kids, our own kids,

and we do it to them because we don't want them

to be disappointed as parents.

But it's like the reverse of what we should do.

Our God is the author of bigness, not littleness.

We should set higher goals, not lower goals,

and you'll be amazed to see what he does.

And I think if your dream is that way,

God doesn't want you to accomplish things

in your own strength.

He wants you to accomplish them with his strength.

And that's the first order.

He's got to kill us first.

He's got to kill-- yeah.

There's no doubt about it.

You got to go up on that--

Get up on that cross, that's exactly right.

--that sacrificial-- yeah.

And then if you can't let it go, that's the other side.

It's like, can you let that thing go?

And people come up to me all the time and say,

should I be an actor?

Should I go into the entertainment industry?

And I always say, well, if you can think of anything else

to do and be happy, you should do that,

because that's not an easy path to go.

But if you can't let that thing go that's inside of you,

then there's a good chance that it's from the Lord.

Keep him first.

The book is a fascinating account

of your own personal journey, but woven

throughout it, great nuggets of wisdom for all of us.

And we're all on a journey.

It's all a God adventure, and how we get to where we get to.

It's much more than we've talked about here,

and so I want to encourage you to get a hold of it.

The new book is called heaven and Hollywood--

"In Between Heaven and Hollywood"--

and it's available now in bookstores.

Plus, you can hear more from David

in our web-exclusive behind-the-scenes interview.

All you have to do is go to and check

it out.

Great to have you here again.

Thank you.

God bless you.

We didn't even get to "God's Not Dead."

We did that last time.



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