October Baby Actress Finds Healing Through Her Role
By Chris Carpenter
CBN.com Program Director
CBN.com - The surprise hit October Baby —an independent film that topped $5.3 million at the box office, sparked debate in national media and touched audiences nationwide with its entertaining love story and compelling message about the sanctity of life—debuts this week on DVD with more than two hours of bonus features.
Actress Shari Rigby plays Cindy, a business executive who is confronted with a biological daughter she thought she had aborted nearly 20 years earlier. Rigby’s time on screen is brief but she delivers a compelling performance as someone unexpectedly coming to grips with her past.
The same can be said of Rigby in real life for she too is someone who has unexpectedly come to grips with her past because of October Baby. Roughly 20 years ago, Rigby also had an abortion.
I recently sat down with Rigby to discuss why she was willing to take this role, the profound effect it had on her faith, and God’s mighty power of healing and forgiveness.
In October Baby, you play the biological mother of a teenage abortion survivor. Tell me about how this role came about for you. I understand there is an interesting twist to having you in this role.
This is such a wonderful film. First of all, I believe in divine appointments. I just think God is weaving a tapestry in all points and times in our lives. Just working with the Erwins was an example of God-weaving to me, and then to get the script … Jon (Erwin) called me and said he wanted to send me this script. And I had read something earlier on that they were working on something so I’m thinking it’s going to be a light, comedic, fun film. I had no idea what was in store for me. They asked me to read it and to let them know what I thought. I was very excited about it. So, I sat down and started reading it and if you can imagine reading a story that parallels your life from 20 years prior this was it. And then at the same time to have the script so precise as to where I worked, what I was doing for a profession in my life, going through the abortion, to then how many years later in my life needing to share with my husband that I had had this abortion. I just sat there and was truly blown away and amazed because that’s God’s ultimate connection – that He decides to take this thing (abortion), this part of my history, and I’m going to show you how we are going to use it for your future. It was just overwhelming for me to sit there and read the script and know my Savior and to read something that was written by people who didn’t know anything about my past … as a believer in Christ you just sit there and go, ‘Wow!’
How hard was it for you to be willing to take this role in light of your past? Did you really want to take this part knowing this sensitive area of your past was now going to be in the public domain?
I think when I took the film on I’m not sure I necessarily thought at that point that this was the way it was going to end up. If we look at my part, it is relatively small without a lot of screen time. In sharing about my testimony, I just thought it was a beautiful story. I love the line in the movie that says, “Being human is being beautifully flawed.” That was who I was and still am. I think it was more of the fact that I wanted to do this. It was just another great opportunity to do this story. Then, when I actually got on the set we talked a little more about how much this film paralleled my life. I think Andy (Erwin) asked me if I would just share a little about that as the movie released.
Did your past make for a more difficult acting experience for you? Or, was it more of a “I know this part. It is part of who I am.”?
Yes and no. It was definitely my story but at the same time as an actress it’s bringing that to life on screen. These are really big, pivotal moments in the film. The most amazing thing for me as I was preparing for this film was my time with the Lord. Literally, He met me at the well, so to speak because I was in the bathtub when I first read the script. I really prayed about it. God just really showed me what was going to happen by doing this. He really met me and showed me this beautiful child and it was this positive, beautiful moment that was very healing. I had never gone through a healing process from my abortion. I had just taken that experience and filed it away and moved on with my life. I had decided that I wasn’t going to talk about it. So, this was a very healing time for me. I think the actual final point to rest on was when I looked at the note (what is given Shari’s character by her biological daughter) on set and it was a vision. It was literally written out, ‘I Forgive You.’ There was something about that moment in my mind that said, ‘this is it”. I felt like it was almost written by the Lord, “I Forgive You.” It was His and my time together.
It seems like this role has had a profound effect on your faith. Was this the case?
Absolutely. The Lord has been so faithful to me. As human beings we question so often whether we are having a good day or a bad day. We are fluctuating constantly back and forth. We know He is there but this was something for me that really showed that timeline of my life and the promises of what God really does in our lives. He promises to take those things if we do seek forgiveness. He really grounds that. It was this turning point for me knowing that I can look at my timeline and the things I have done in my life and I can see how He has preserved and kept me. I almost died in 2008 after I appeared in the Casting Crowns video “Slow Fade”. I had eight months of recovery. You look at that and go, ‘I now know why He has kept me alive. I now know what my purpose is.’ We really have to rest on that as believers. It just took me to a whole new level of knowing that the Lord has got such a heart for me. He loves me so much and He has just shown me His promises.
October Baby is obviously a pro-life movie. But as I was watching it I thought to myself that in many ways it is also a pro-choice movie in the sense that people have a choice to heal and ask for forgiveness as the result of an abortion. Your thoughts?
I think it is the awareness that there has been so much taken and the forgiveness that is needed. We are not seeing healing and forgiveness in many church settings. I was so blessed to go to a church that my pastor taught on love, grace, and mercy. We never seem to have an open discussion about topics like this. This has happened in so many people’s lives. How can we show forgiveness? My hope is that this film opens the door for forgiveness and awareness in the Church on a Christian level and also on a secular level of people being able to talk about it openly and freely.
After people see your performance in October Baby what is your greatest hope for this movie?
First and foremost I would like to see all the men and women who are suffering with this secret to be able to share that captivity that they have felt for so many years. I want them to be able to talk about. I hope they would be released from this. I hope they would really feel that forgiveness. I’m really concerned about this generation coming up. When we are given an opportunity to have knowledge it is power to really understand what life is all about. I don’t know that we have done a real good job with sharing with the next generation about what life really means. That is my prayer – I really would like to get people talking and seeking knowledge on the healing that God can provide.
Learn More about October Baby
Lovell-Fairchild Communications contributed to this story.
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