Chit Chatting with Play Writer Elizabeth G Honaker

 

By Jill Sheets

I have never gotten the chance to interview anyone who wrote plays before until now. I am absolutely thrilled I got to interview Elizabeth G. Honaker. She started writing plays when she was very young and is still going. Read on and learn more about her, her plays, and her advice for anyone who is interested in becoming a playwright themselves.

 

R: Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got your start writing plays.

E: I have always been “dramatic.” I bugged my first-grade teacher (a nun) to let me participate in Saint Gabriel’s annual Christmas show – and I was allowed! In 8th grade, I wrote science fiction scripts and tried to persuade my friends to rehearse them during recess (it didn’t work!). As a young adult living in England with my husband Allen and children James and Christine, I started becoming interested in Christian drama – especially writing three-minute skits; so I wrote them for our church’s family service. When our family moved back to the United States, I was asked to take over our church’s Easter presentation of The Living Last Supper. It was interesting, but it was a static presentation, so I asked if I could add Mary’s testimony regarding the Resurrection of the Lord. The next year, I added more of the Holy Week events, and in 1994, I wrote my first play that focused on one character. I have written somewhere around twenty different full-length Easter scripts, half of which are in print. I intend to publish them all eventually.

 

R: Tell us about some of your plays and how you got the idea for them.

E: I have long recognized that the ultimate ideas for all of my scripts come from divine inspiration – the work of the Holy Spirit. And I say that in the sense that He gets all the glory for touching lives, and I get all the blame if there are defects in the script. In any case, I most often get ideas that inspire me and get me wanting to write during communion or during a sermon. The Pascal Lamb came from a communion service, as did The Bread of the Servant. I’ll admit, though, that I got the idea for Journey to Life while vacuuming the living room! Behind every single script, though, is my own struggle with a particular issue; I think that’s why strangers walk up to me after performances and say, “You wrote that play just for me.” I share my life problems, and the Lord, in the person of Jesus Christ, provides answers.

 

R: I found this book and I couldn’t help but buy it! Tell us about Mizz Liz’s Five Steps to Good Writing.

E: I have been teaching students how to write good papers for decades now. It started when I taught high school English, and continued when I began to tutor students at my home. I boiled down everything I knew about writing into five steps that are not difficult to understand, but they take explaining (for instance, I used to integrate these steps into my high school curriculum over the period of five months). At one point, I wrote them down with bullets for my college classes, and then I started to develop handouts for students who had been absent from one or another lecture. Finally, I decided that a book written at the 8th-grade level would help me to teach my at-home tutees more efficiently. I now use that book with everyone – even my college students.

 

R: What is your writing process for your plays? How do you come up with the ideas?

E: Well, as I’ve mentioned before, I attribute all the good ideas to the work of the Holy Spirit. It is funny, though – it’s as if the Spirit and I have an annual “appointment” during the Christmas break (which is something all teachers look forward to for relaxation, not for producing a script!). It all starts with a story from a Gospel. I will contemplate a person or group of people and how they might have encountered Jesus – what He would have done for them, how He would have drawn them from the suffering, etc. The concept will “simmer on the back burner” for months, until the day after Christmas. (That is pretty much the “last minute” for producing a workable script for the Disciples to perform for the following Easter.)

When I was teaching high school, I would close the door to the study where the family computer resided and type away all day every day until the play was done. Sometimes, it would reveal itself in three days; sometimes it took a week or ten days. Once I had worked out a story, it seemed that I would see the action of the play, hear the dialog, etc. I would just type it as I saw it. Occasionally, I would write an entire scene and then realize it didn’t fit the story. I would just set it aside and move on. I never obsess over “now where did THAT come from?” because the ways of the Spirit are much bigger and more complex than I am. Who knows? Nathaniel Hawthorne’s great classic The Scarlet Letter came to him from a short story he had written years before – which didn’t even focus on a woman pregnant with an illegitimate child.

Nowadays, my main computer is in my study upstairs. Instead of locking myself away – which doesn’t really work because my study is our balcony, not an enclosed room – I now ensconce myself in the family room, and Number One Husband (Allen) pretty much leaves me to do my thing however long it takes. Of course, he stills feeds and waters me, and nags me about going to bed when it gets to be one a.m. But without little ones running around, it is easier to “rule the roost” this way. I still get the script ready for the Wesley Grove Disciples (in Maryland – they still present my plays each year at Easter) by their first scheduled read-through in January.

 

R: Do you have a favorite play or book?

E:  Gosh, that one’s tough! I love Dorothy Sayer’s The Man Born to be King, which started as radio plays about the life of Christ over the BBC during WWII. I love all of C.S. Lewis’ works, especially The Chronicles of Narnia. I have read Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings trilogy in its entirety at least three separate times in my life. I love teaching T.S. Eliot, especially the works he produced after he became a Christian. I am a fan of Calvin Miller and Ravi Zacharias. I love well-written biographies of the founding fathers (and I have David Barton to thank for getting me hooked on those). I…now how long do you want me to go on?

 

R: What is your favorite Bible verse?

E: My favorite verse is whatever connects me to the mind of the Lord each time I read the Bible. When I read with a willing mind and an open heart, the Holy Spirit makes the Word live to me. I have to say, though, that the very first verse I memorized when I became a real Christian at the age of twenty-one was Romans 8:28. And I remind all my students that Philippians 4:8 does not mention God or Jesus, and yet it is the best advice for anyone seeking reality.

 

R: What advice would you give someone who wants to write plays?

E: Study how to tell a story with actions, and as few words as possible (a la Saint Francis of Assisi: “Preach the Gospel, and – if necessary – use words”). Study Shakespeare and how he packaged his messages, including comedy in the middle of his tragedies, to focus the groundlings’ attention on what was to come next. Reflect on modern plays or episodes that move you and ask yourself, why do they move you? How have the characters impacted you? Then write your action and dialog down and have someone else read them aloud. Make your characters speak like normal human beings; don’t give them sermons to preach. Make sure you have a beginning, a middle, and an end to your story. And – of course – you can always email me for advice: efghonaker@gmail.com . I promise I’ll respond.

 

R: Where can people get your plays and other books?

E: Right now, all of my plays and books (beside my book on how to write, I also have an historical novel on the martyrdom of Saint Paul and a thesis on the medieval mystery plays) are all available through Amazon.com.

 

R: Do you have an official website? What about social media?

E: My husband recently took down our website because of software issues – the software was no longer supported and we found that we couldn’t update our site. We are working with a third person to design a better site. The domain will be bolb.org and it will have an online store for our new ebooks on how to start drama groups in your church, make affordable costumes and props, and use inexpensive sound and lighting.

I have a page on Facebook – Bread of Life Books – where I’ve posted pictures and video excerpts from my last three plays. The plays are all presented by amateur actors (by that, I mean they are not professionals) but they really put their hearts into the production each year. I am humbled just to watch how they bring each script to life!

I also have a Linkedin page under Elizabeth Golibart Honaker.

 

R: Is there anything else you would like to add?

E: Once upon a time, a gentleman whose opinion I valued very much told me that drama was sinful – no matter whether it had a Christian motive or not, the actors were sinning in pretending to be their characters. I respectfully disagreed with him, but then felt I had to study the Bible more closely in order to affirm the truth of what I already believed. I discovered that God had commanded several of the Old Testament prophets to depict His messages in dramatic form – and the drama was not at all “warm and fuzzy;” it depicted real judgment and real consequences for Israel. In the New Testament, Christ told parables, which reproduced vivid pictures of heavenly truths in the minds of His listeners. When a pastor preaches from the pulpit, does he not present illustrations from real life? People watch Christian plays and dramas knowing full well that the people who play the parts of characters are not trying to pass themselves off as people they are not. The actors help the audience members “lose” themselves in the story so that the power of the Spirit can have an opening into their hearts. And knowing the impact that Christ-centered drama has had on both audience members, stagecrew, and actors, I cannot help but believe that this is a God-sanctioned phenomenon.

Christian drama is not just for the talented; it is for the taught. We learn the message of the Gospel, and we present it via drama to others. People like me write the words, so that the story flows and engages the audience, but Christian actors can come from every walk of life, and from any age level. I have had police officers and homemakers and school children and babies and retired teachers and Boy Scout members and pastors and – well, you get the picture.

Lastly, I just want to leave people with a reflection: What could be more dramatic than the crucifixion and resurrection of the Lord Jesus Christ? He didn’t merely talk about the Plan of Salvation; He enacted it in the flesh! He didn’t come to save well-polished “actors” – He came to save those people who find themselves lost, with no Director in their lives. Voila!

 

Meet Up and Coming Teen Singer Hannah Richardson

 

Who says you need to be an adult to change the world? Hannah Richardson is only sixteen and already she is the face of a successful company and on the verge of releasing an album. Find out more about her music, her company and its inspiring mission, and how you can connect with her on social media.

(Psst! Go follow the company’s Instagram page — it already has over 10,000 followers!)

 

R: Tell us about yourself. How long have you been singing? What made you fall in love with it?

H: Well, hey there! My name is Hannah Richardson, I’m sixteen years old, and I’m a singer and songwriter, as well as the face of an incredible girl power company called Gomee Girl. Looking back, I think I fell in love with music when my parents started playing it in the house! I was extremely blessed that my parents exposed me to all of these incredible artists at such a young age, such as Fleetwood Mac, Allison Krauss, Led Zeppelin, etc. I was definitely influenced by them when I started writing my own music years later. I officially started singing at six years old in my church choir, but got my first solo when I was seven. My pastor was nice enough to offer that the girl singing obnoxiously over all the other kids (that girl being me) get her own song. Quite frankly, I think that it was the solo in particular that really got me fascinated with being in front of people, as it was when I realized that I could force a group of adults to listen to me who otherwise wouldn’t have. Ironically, that’s kind of still true today.

 

R: I heard you are about to release an album. That’s so exciting! What’s your favorite song on it?

H: Totally! The album is called Chasing Rainbows and is set to be released on September 18th, 2017. It has a very pop and country feel with a lil’ Irish flair, and showcases all of my favorite instruments, like mandolins, fiddles, and vintage guitars. My favorite songs on the album are generally the musically joyous ones that are tinged with darker lyrics. I’m really obsessed with having that awesome conflict of lyrics and music in my songs, just because it makes people second guess that whole concept of “oh, this is upbeat so it’s obviously totally happy!” Spoiler alert, but that’s why “Rich Kids” and “Just A Friend” were personally so wonderful for me to write, and why I think people will really connect with those. This probably sounds cliche, but picking your favorite song is liking picking your favorite child. All of the songs are so unique and come from such different places emotionally. However, I will say that “Chasing Rainbows” was definitely my most therapeutic song. What I mean by that is, after writing it, I realized I had finally unlocked this thing that had been hurting me for a long time, and could let all of my feelings out every time I sang the song. For me, that’s the whole beauty of songwriting. It’s taking incredibly complex emotions and situations that nobody but you understands and somehow translating them into something our actual language hasn’t yet figured out how to communicate.

 

R: Tell us about Gomee Girl. How can we raise awareness?

H: Gomee Girl’s main mission is to improve the self-esteem of young girls. Through positive social media campaigns, school assembly events, and their patches with positive images, the organization is focused on letting every woman know that she can love herself exactly the way she is. As the face of the company, some of my jobs include representing the company in a good light, designing exclusive products, and writing epic, girl-power music. However, the most important responsibility I have taken on is giving advice to girls who are followers of myself and/or the company. Despite the time commitment and rather emotional nature of the job, this has become one of the most rewarding experiences in my life. I mean, nothing is more fulfilling than a girl who at one point felt she was “useless,” and now messages me pictures of herself at a school dance. Nothing can beat that! One way to raise awareness is simply by following Gomee Girl’s social media sites (@gomeegirl). Another way is to let any girl who might need some help know that she can check out http://www.gommegirl.com/getinspiredwithhannah for advice on everything from basketball to boy trouble and also just to connect with other girls who’ve had similar struggles in life!

 

R: What do you like to do besides singing?

H: I’m a Music & Diversions division writer for Metiza Magazine, so I am super obsessed with interviewing artists. I also read a lot (shoutout to Harry Potter), and love watching TV shows like Stranger Things, Game of Thrones, and Gilmore Girls.

 

R: What advice do you have for young girls who want to pursue a career as a singer or anything in the music industry?

H: NEVER let people say that you can’t pursue your dreams due to circumstances beyond your control. There will always be people who are more “gifted” than you, who have prettier hair than you, who have more money than you do, etc. That being said, it’s the people who work day and night and totally dedicate themselves to their passion that actually make a mark on the world. No excuses. You can do this!

 

R: What are your social media addresses?

H: Website – http://www.hannahrichardson.com

Facebook – https://www.facebook.com/hannahrsings1

Twitter – https://www.twitter.com/hannahrsings1

Instagram – https://www.instagram.com/hannahrsings1

YouTube – https://www.youtube.com/user/mlpgrow123

R: Is there anything else you would like to add?

H: This sounds a lot like an Academy Award speech, but I just have to thank my family, friends, and fans for helping me so much on this journey. I also want to personally thank all the people who have ever caused any conflict in my life: hey ya’ll, you guys are the ones who inspire the best songs and are part of what motivate me to be better than I was yesterday, so thanks for being you…kind of.

 

Photo credits: Hannah Richardson

Chit Chatting with Author B. Kristin McMichael

 

Written by Jill Sheets

In my opinion, author B. Kristin McMichael is one of the greatest young adult authors out there. Her books are so hard to put down! When I got the chance to interview her, I was so excited. Read on and learn more about her books, including a new one which will be coming out this fall. Also, find out where her ideas come from and hear what advice she has about writing.

 

R: Tell us a little bit about yourself. How did you get your start writing and what was your first book about?

B: I think I’ve been writing since I figured out how to write words on paper. I’ve loved reading from a very young age and it just continued as I grew older. The first novel I wrote is the second one I published. It was a vampire novel that came from a dream I had. A few months later, Twilight hit the bookstores and the vampire craze began. I figured no one would want to read my book and just left it on my computer for years. In 2013, my hubby asked if he could take it and publish it. I wasn’t sure about it, but I let him anyway. Seventeen novels later and he is still publishing them! Right now we have twelve books in the same vampire world, which I call the Night Human World.

I spent ten years as a molecular biologist, so it is hard to believe that I have five completed series and one stand-alone book right now. One common thing in my books is that they are clean teen books. There is no sex and very little violence, and the violence in the books isn’t super graphic. I write books that I won’t be worried about my children reading when they are teens.


R: Tell us about the Blue Eyes Trilogy?

B: The Legend of the Blue Eyes is a coming-of-age novel where instead of facing normal teen issues, Arianna has to face the fact that she turns into a monster on her sixteenth birthday. She has to learn how not only to grow up, but to grow up in a world filled with monsters that drink blood. In the trilogy, we meet many of the people who will show up in later books, and when I finished Arianna’s story, I couldn’t help but continue their stories.

A cool side note on this book was that it was recently translated into Italian, so I have my first foreign edition published now.

 

R: You also wrote the Day Human Trilogy. Please tell us about those books.

B: The Day Human Trilogy is a spin-off from the Blue Eyes Trilogy. Sometimes when you finish a novel, you wonder what happens to other people. This series focuses on one of the main characters from the Blue Eyes Trilogy as he goes into the Appalachian Mountains to return a sidhe, a fairy-like blood-drinking night human, home to be rid of her. Instead, he finds that maybe his place isn’t where he thought it should be and there is a whole different life waiting for him. I love the idea of fate and people meeting that should be together, even if they don’t agree because they don’t see it like they should. It is so fun to see characters grow and change.

 

R: Tell our readers about the Skinwalkers Witchling Trilogy.

B: The Skinwalkers Witchling Trilogy is a whole new trilogy set in the same night human world as the Blue Eyes and Day Human trilogies. The main character, Cassie, is introduced in the third book of the Day Human Trilogy, but there isn’t much told of her. This trilogy focuses on her adventure and place in the night human world. She is a witch but never knew about the night humans that live beside the witches, and she certainly doesn’t know about the war going on with the night humans in her town. She is quickly caught in the middle of it.

 

R: Tell us about the Chalcedony Chronicles. How many books will be in this series?

B: The Chalcedony Chronicles is a four part series. I’ve had fans asking me to write more, but right now I’ve been focusing on the night human world series. This is a college time travel romance series that reads like a contemporary for the first half the novel before things take a turn to the bizarre for the main character. Mari is set to have freedom and be a normal college freshman, until she meets a guy that is from the past. He, along with his friends, take her on an adventure to ancient times where she finds there is much more to her story and life than she ever knew was possible.

 

R: Tell us about the Merworld Trilogy.

B: The Merworld Trilogy is the latest series in the night human world. Whitney was a night human, but had that part of her taken from her. As a normal person that knows about the blood sucking monsters in the world, she was not prepared to meet Sam, since merpeople were supposed to be eradicated over a hundred years earlier. The Merworld Trilogy follows Whitney as she finds a new place in the night human world and a life that she didn’t even know she could have.

 

R: If they were going to make movies out of your books, who would your dream cast be?

B: I think my Night Human World series could make a great TV show. As to casting, I’d have no idea. The main character of Arianna is only fifteen going on sixteen. I would almost think with such a young cast, you’d have to have unknowns because by the time the show was made, they would be too old! The only book I could see as a movie is my stand alone novel, To Stand Beside Her, but even that I wouldn’t know who to cast.

 

R: What is your writing process? How do you come up with the ideas for your books?

B: I know where the book starts and where it is going, but in between I tend to just write. I have discovered more than one character I grew to love as the story progressed and even a few more that I didn’t even know would be involved. I can remember talking to my husband after writing one of the Chalcedony Chronicle books and telling him, “Crap, I think I just made a really important person. He’s going to have to fit into the whole story now!”

As for ideas, I have a ten page document that keeps growing with ideas. My ideas come mostly from my dreams. For as long as I can remember, I’ve had very long and vivid dreams that I remember the next day or week or longer. This works great for story ideas, but not so great when you have one of those really terrifying dreams.

 

R: You book covers are beautiful. Do you get to pick them out or have any say on them?

B: I’ve worked with a few different designers that I’ve liked the art work of before I even hire them to make the covers. I give them a basic idea of what the story is about and who I want on the cover, but I let them do the rest. I found them because they do great art, so I don’t want to put too many restrictions on them. I’ve been lucky to get some really great ones from them and feel so fortunate to work with the artists I have.

 

R: Where can people get your books?

B: Amazon, Barnes and Noble, Kobo, iTunes, Smashwords, and Audible.

 

R: What are you currently working on?

B: I have a new book that will be out on September 4th called The Night Human Hunter. It is set in my Night Human world and follows a hunter that leaves a matriarchal hunter society to find his dad and discover the secrets that come with him. I’m also writing a prequel to the Merworld Trilogy that will be in a box set called Sirens and Scales in January. Twenty authors are coming together to write an anthology all about mermaids and dragons.

 

R: What advice would you give someone who wants to be a writer, but who always second guesses themselves?

B: Just forget everything and write. Half the battle of being an author is getting the book done. There are always doubts when you write. Is this the right direction for the book? Will people like this? Will anyone want to read this? Will it be good enough? You will never get the answers if you don’t try. And surprisingly you will find that there are people out there always looking for a new book. You just have to have the confidence (and thick enough skin) to put yourself out there. Don’t worry about reviews or people who don’t like your work. You will get people that love your books and make up for every person that doesn’t.

 

R: Other than this one, what is the strangest question you have ever been asked?

B: I once did a blog post about the characters from The Legend of the Blue Eyes favorite foods. That was a hard one. I know many of my characters well, but to decide if they were a cherry or apple pie type of person was hard.

 

R: Are you on any social networking sites? If so, which ones and what are their addresses? Do you have an official website and/or YouTube page?

B: Website: www.bkristinmcmichael.com

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/bkristinmcmichael

Twitter: https://twitter.com/bkmcmichael

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/bkristinmcmichael/

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/user/BKristinMcMichael

 

R: Is there anything else you would like to add or say to your readers?

B: Thanks so much for having me! For the book lovers and fans of my books, it’s been fun writing all these different stories and even more fun to share it with everyone. Thank you for giving a new author a chance. For the aspiring writers, keep at it. Don’t get discouraged and be brave enough to put yourself out there.

 

 

Picture sources: Her husband (first picture), Jessica Allain (book covers)

 

Chit Chatting with Actress Isabella Alexander

 

Written by Jill Sheets

Many of you may have seen actress Isabella Alexander on the show Fresh off the Boat. Her character, Alison, is the girlfriend of Eddie, played by Hudson Yang. Read on and find out more about her, her character Alison and five things people may not know about her. Also, be on the lookout for her upcoming projects! You won’t want to miss them.

 

R: Tell our readers a little bit about yourself and how you got your start in acting.

I: I am 14 years old, and I am pretty much a normal teenager who happens to get to work on television shows and in commercials. My start in acting came from what I thought was a devastating setback. I have always loved any type of performing arts, but I used to concentrate on competitive dancing. A few years ago, I had a really bad injury that put me in a full length leg cast. My inability to dance led me to focus on acting, and I found out that I loved it more than anything.

 

R: Tell us about your show Fresh Off the Boat and your character, Alison.

I: Fresh Off the Boat is a very funny comedy (on ABC) about a Taiwanese family who comes to live in Orlando in the 1990s. I play the girlfriend of the eldest son, Eddie. Alison is a smart, sweet student, but she bonds with Eddie through their love of rap music. She can even play “Ain’t Nothin but a G Thang” on the piccolo!

 

R: What was the audition process for the show?

I: It was a very quick audition process for the role. I think I had one audition and boom, the role was mine! It usually doesn’t happen that fast.

 

R: What is it like working with the cast and what has been your favorite memory so far?

I: The cast has become like my family and working with them is so much fun! Some days I shoot with the characters in Eddie’s family, and other days the story is more about school and Eddie’s posse of friends. I have also learned so much as an actress from Randall Park and Constance Wu, who play his parents.

I have lots of great memories, but the episode about the Janet Jackson concert was my favorite. I got to dress up like Janet Jackson from her Rhythm Nation tour and work with some of her backup dancers.

 

R: You also played May in Gortimer Gibbon’s Life on Normal Street. Tell us about the show and your character.

I: Gortimer Gibbons is a great show about two best friends who live on Normal Street, expect Normal Street has something a little magical going on. May is a fun character because she is a bubbly cheerleader who gets into funny situations with the other characters.

 

R: Do you have any other upcoming projects?

I: There are a couple of projects in the works, but like most things in Hollywood, I can’t say much just yet.

 

R: How do you balance school and your career?

I: I make sure that every day I count my many blessings and remind myself that in difficult and stressful times, I am a very, very fortunate girl. I try to stay very organized and prioritize my time. It isn’t always easy, and sometimes I have to give up time with friends or certain activities, but it is totally worth it!

 

R: I read that you sing. Do you have any plans in the future or near future to record music?

I: I love to both sing and dance, and would love to record music if ever given the chance, but right now I am focusing mostly on my acting projects.

 

R: Who has been your biggest influence?

I: In acting, Jennifer Garner and Angelina Jolie. They both are terrific actors but are also known for “giving back.” I think that is really important. In life, my brother is my biggest influence. He is a little older, and the complete opposite of me, but I love him so much.

 

R: What are five things people may not know about you?

I:

1) I love dogs!

2) I love “old” musicians and almost all types of music

3) I would love to have my own clothing line

4) I really like science and hope to someday be a neurosurgeon

5) I love to travel and hope to study abroad for a year during college

 

R: It is not easy being a teenager. What advice would you give them?

I: Accept yourself and all of your flaws, and accept them in others as well. Once I did, I became happier than ever before. Also, jealousy will get you nowhere. Be happy for the success of others. There is room for everyone.

 

R: Tell us about some of the charities that are close to your heart.

I: There are so many great charities and I feel it’s important for teens to get involved and give back. Read Across America is an organization that promotes reading for children. This organization has impacted me greatly because all kids should have books and be encouraged to read. I also support Wounded Warrior Project, because I feel we should honor and help those veterans who were injured protecting our freedom.

 

R: Other than this one, what is the strangest question you have ever been asked?

I: “Do you and Hudson date in real life?’

 

R: Are you on any social networking sites? If so, which ones and what are their addresses? Do you have an official site and/or YouTube page?

I: Of course, I love keeping in touch with my fans!

Instagram: @isabellaalexander

Twitter/Musical.ly: @itsisabellaalexander

 

R: Is there anything else you would like to add or say to your fans?

I: I really do love and appreciate my fans so much. They remind me every day how lucky I am!

 

R: Isabella, thank you for the interview. Have a great day.

I: It was so much fun talking to Relate!

 

Picture credit: Fresh off the Boat ABC, Sarah Dunlap

 

Chit Chatting with the Singers of New Hope Club

 

Written by Jill Sheets

Recently, I got to interview up and coming band, New Hope Club. If you have not heard anything about them, you will soon! They are currently on tour with singer-songwriter and actress Sabrina Carpenter, and their brand new single “Fixed” is climbing the charts. Read on and find out how they got their group name and where you can find their music.

 

R: Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got your start singing.

George: When I was around eleven years old, my dad was watching the “Concert For George” on TV and the song “My Sweet Lord” started playing. I immediately fell in love and, until like 1 am that morning, we stayed up trying to learn all the guitar parts for the song. From then I started learning guitar and started singing a few years later.

Blake: I had a very musical upbringing. At the age of six, I started learning guitar. From that moment, I never stopped playing–it became my main passion. I can remember always bringing in new songs for my guitar teacher to teach me and then going home and spending hours and hours practicing. I loved the feeling of mastering a song and being able to play it for all my family. I started watching videos of the Beatles online, and saw a band called McFly in concert, and it made me really start to want to be in a band.

Reece: Well, my dad was a drummer, which meant there was a drum kit in my house, so I started playing them at the age of three. After playing them for around seven years, I started playing guitar because I wanted to be more out front instead of being at the back. That’s also when I started singing. I got told by a few people that I was good, so I kept going and started busking and doing pub gigs. Now I’m here.

 

R: How did you all meet?

N: George was posting covers and original songs on YouTube when a potential manager messaged him. He put George in touch with a few people, but they never really clicked. That’s when he met Blake and they hit it off really well. They were writing for a few months, and then saw Reece on X Factor: UK and thought he had a really cool voice and would be a really good fit for the band. We tried out Reece and had the best weekend ever at George’s house, writing songs and jamming to bands we all love such as Oasis, The Beatles, and Catfish and the Bottlemen.

 

R: How did you come up with the name New Hope Club?

N: We had a longs list of names, such as The Trees and Shaker Bay, which thinking back on it now would have been an interesting choice. On this long list of names was New Hope. and something ending with Club, so one of our friends was looking through the list and thought it would be cool if we joined them together. Also, we love the idea of a club and that everyone can join together and be a part of something!

 

R: Tell us about Welcome to the Club EP and your single “Fixed.”

N: Our Welcome To The Club EP is our first release of music. It’s a different side to us that you wouldn’t have heard before. We had a lot of fun making this EP, and we hope it comes across in the final product. Our single “Fixed” is all about being fixed on someone that you can’t get enough of, and all you want is to spend every day with them.

 

R: Where can people hear or get your music?

N: You can hear our music on Spotify if you just type in “New Hope Club.” You will be able to listen to our EP Welcome To The Club. Same with iTunes and any music stream app. You can also watch the “Fixed” music video over on YouTube or on our VEVO channel if you just type in “New Hope Club, Fixed.”

 

R: You get to tour with Sabrina Carpenter. Have you met her? If so, tell us about it.

N: Yes, we are very excited to go on tour with Sabrina. We met her couple of months ago because she supported The Vamps on their UK tour with us. She is really lovely, very kind, and funny. It was her birthday during The Vamps tour, and for her birthday we got her a penny board and we all went skating around the arenas in the UK. We can’t wait to see her again and get started on this tour.

 

R: Tell us a few of the upcoming tour dates.

N: The Sabrina tour just started. The first date was in Vancouver on the 6th of July! We were super excited because we have never been to Canada before. On July 21st we are playing at The Wiltern in Los Angeles, and The Arthur Ash Stadium in New York City on August 26!

 

R: What is the best thing about touring and performing on stage?

N: The best part of touring for us would have to be meeting new fans and seeing loads of new places. We really love to go around the places we are playing and learn more about them. Also, we love performing in front the crowd every night, because it’s always different and it’s a lot of fun on stage.

 

R: How would you describe your bandmates?

N: I’d say we are very supportive bandmates. We are always here for each other, and we have a lot of fun as well. We are always joking around and having a good time–we are just three normal lads living their dream. For us to be able to do what we do is very rare, and we are loving every moment.

 

R: What are your future goals?

N: In the future, we would love to be able to do our own tour both here in the US and back home in the UK. That would be awesome! We would also love to bring out an album of music that we all love and had great fun making. Also, meeting all of our fans around the world would have to be one of our goals in the future.

 

R: Do any of you have a girlfriend? What do you like in one?

N: No, none of us have girlfriends–we are all single. I’d say we all like girls that are kind and polite, have good manners, a good taste in music, and have the confidence to talk to us because, unfortunately, we are too shy to go up and talk to girls.

 

R: What are five things people may not know about you?

N:

  • We were going to be called The Tress instead of New Hope Club
  • We all share one hotel room wherever we go–we all hate being alone.
  • We are more night people than morning people (but isn’t everyone?)
  • We like to put on songs that our Uber drivers know and sing with them. You can watch this on our Instagram stories.
  • Blake can speak ten different languages

 

R: Other than this one, what is the strangest question you have ever been asked?

N: The weirdest question we have ever been asked would probably have to be, “If you could teleport, where would you go?” I guess it’s not really that weird, but we don’t get asked many weird questions.

 

R: Are you on any social networking sites? If so, which ones and what are their addresses? Do you have an official website and/or YouTube page?

N: You can check us out on all social media sites by just searching @NewHopeClub. In Musical.ly, however, we are @NewHopeClubBand. We also have VIP tickets on sale for the Sabrina tour at www.newhopeclubvip.com, so you can check that out if you want to come and meet us on tour.

 

R: Is there anything else you would like to add or say to your fans?

N: We would just like to say a massive thanks to all of our fans for the amazing support you have given us and the great response from our EP Welcome To The Club. There will be more new music soon! We love you all.

 

R: New Hope Club, thank you for the interview. Have a great day.

N: Thank you for letting us answer your questions! It was a lot of fun.

 

Picture credit: Dean Sherwood

 

Chit Chatting with Actress Jessica Green

 

Written by Jill Sheets

I remember about two years ago sitting down and binge-watching Jessica’s debut TV show Lightning Point. Jessica played one of the two teens that came to Earth from another galaxy. Read on and learn more about her, her upcoming projects, and who she would like to work with in the future.

 

R: Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got your start in the acting business.

J: I was born and raised in Tasmania with my brother Tyler, but I now live in Queensland Australia. I grew up always performing or doing sports; dancing, singing, rugby, surf lifesaving, and surfing. I kept my parents busy! I am an animal lover and was going to be a vet nurse, but I started modeling at the age of fourteen and from that I also did a few acting classes. It led to an audition for a lead role in the TV show Lightning Point, where I was lucky to land the role of Kiki. That was the beginning of my acting career.

 

R: Tell us about your film Red Billabong and the role of Rebecca.

J: Red Billabong is an action thriller filmed in the Australian outback. It’s the story of two brothers that, when they discover an old secret, their family lies and their friends start to go missing. I played the role of Rebecca, one of those friends that disappeared, only to reappear in a different form. It is a bit of an on-the-edge-of-your-seat thriller! There are great special VFX effects and it was so much fun to film.

 

R: What was the audition like for this movie?

J: I was living in the United States when the role was offered to me, so I self-taped my audition and then skyped with the director Luke Sparke.

 

R: You have also worked on TV shows. What are the major differences when filming?

J: There is not a lot of difference except time. Our filming was done over a couple of months for the movie, but a series like Lightning Point we were on set nearly every day for six months. I even had to do schoolwork on set, since I was in my final year of school.

 

R: Speaking of TV shows, you played Kiki on Lightning Point. Tell us about the show and your character.

J: I had to learn how to ride a horse for the role of Kiki. It was so much fun! I went riding every morning for a month before we started filming. I also had to practice surfing every day.


R: Do you have any tricks on how to remember your lines?

J: Practice, practice! The more you practice, the easier it becomes.

 

R: Do you have any other projects that you want to tell us about?

J: I have just had a busy few months filming a great short film called Cino with a talented film crew. It will be released in the next few months. I also have done another music film clip as the lead actress. The film clip releases in July. It’s called “The Weekend” by Jesse Porsches. I also have two new super exciting TV series which I am currently filming in New Zealand. Both are USA productions; one is a Netflix production, but you will have to keep an eye out as I cannot yet say what they are. Stay tuned!

 

R: If you could work with any five actors and actresses, who would they be?

J: I would love to work with Leonardo DiCaprio, Ryan Gosling, Jennifer Lawrence, Margot Robbie, and Rachel McAdams.

 

R: What advice would you give someone who wanted to become an actress?

J: Never give up on your dream. Take as many acting courses as you can. You can always improve on your craft.

 

R: Who has been the biggest influence in your life?

J: My mum. She is there for me every step of the way, supporting me and encouraging me.

 

R: What are five things people may not know about you?

J:

  1. 1. I am a bit of a tomboy

2. I am terrified of cockroaches

3. I train MMA fighting for fitness

4. I have a Green Cheek Conure Parrot named Pepeeto

5. I have a tattoo that says “thug” on the inside of my bottom lip where no one can see it! I had it done with my best friend when we left school. Since we were massive fans of Tupac, hers says “life.”

 

R: It is not easy being a teenager. What advice would you give them?

J: Be respectful and kind, and try to lead a fit and healthy lifestyle.

 

R: Are you on any social networking sites? If so, which ones and what are their addresses? Do you have an official website and/or YouTube page?

J: Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/Jessica.Green.Actress.Model

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/jessicalaurengreen/

YouTube: https://www.youtube.com/channel/UCxZIBHNorEx8u3yHAdcls9g

 

R: Is there anything else you would like to add or say to your fans?

J: Thank you for the support.

 

Picture credit: Neil Dixon Picture, Ocean Road Magazine

 

Chit Chatting with Actress Nicola Posener

 

Written by Jill Sheets

Actress Nicola Posener has an impressive resume that dates back to about 2005. Besides what she mentions in this interview, she has also made guest appearances on Lab Rats and House of Anubis. Read on about this London native and find out about her upcoming projects and discover five things you may not know about her.

 

R: Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got your start in acting.

N: Hey, Relate Mag readers! My name is Nicola, I am a London-born actress and voice-over artist, and I have been living in Los Angeles for the past two years. I have been pursuing acting my whole life, and began training at an early age. It began mostly as a hobby, but naturally turned into a career. I’ve been passionate about pursuing it ever since–it was when I was seventeen or eighteen years old, after I left school, that I began to work professionally, gaining representation. My first television role was in the children’s BBC show Mysti, followed by a series regular role in the UK Disney Channel Sketch Show Life Bites.

 

R: Tell us about your TV show Age of the Living Dead and about your character, Yvonne.

N: Age of The Living Dead is a 6-part mini-series set in the near future, where America has been quarantined by the rest of the world and divided into two halves – vampires on the East Coast and humans on the West. A “no man’s land” keeps the two sides apart and a fragile peace exists, but both sides have plans to break the truce and destroy the other. While the other world superpowers debate intervening, a small group of humans grant refuge to Yvonne (my character), who may be the key to their survival…or their destruction. Yvonne is the 17-year-old daughter and heir to the highest family in the vampire hierarchy. She is not like the others, and expresses herself in a more human-like manner. The vampires fear the potential chaos of her human tendencies and the humans fear her birthright and vampire species. She is very much alone, but with the intention of a better existence and creating peace between the two warring enemies.

 

R: Is your movie Living Dead connected to your show? Tell us about the movie.

N: It certainly is! The movie Living Dead is, in fact, the television series formatted into a feature-length film to reach a larger audience who may not have access to the series. We are expected to begin principle photography for Season 2 within the coming months.

 

R: Tell us about the movie End of Term and about your character. What was the audition process like?

N: End of Term is a movie where art meets horror at the renowned Ford Barrington Art School, as a group of graduates are tormented by the lingering menace of Garth Stroman, an artist who had a disturbing vision fifty years prior. Myself and the fellow students discover that true art can only be achieved through suffering and pain. The climax of the film sees graduation celebrations turn into a twisted confrontation with medieval torture…all in the name of art. Without giving too much away, I play one of the leading roles, Ashley, who is a villainous character of sorts. I actually auditioned for this film via self-tape whilst in Los Angeles. The film was shooting in Yorkshire, and they were seeing various British actors for the role. I was absolutely delighted to have heard that my audition made an impact. They flew me out the following month to begin filming.

 

R: You have an impressive resume. Tell us about some of your other upcoming projects.

N: Thank you. I’m currently working on a feature film called Angels Fallen. It’s an action/adventure movie where I play the leading role of Hannah, ex-demon hunter. We shot the majority of the film on location in Macedonia, which was a brilliant experience. The film involves fire, water, stunts–a great amount of fun! I can also be seen in the upcoming pilot for Ninjak vs. The Valiant Universe, playing an MI5 spy and potential love interest. It’s rare that I get to use my British accent in films! I worked with the most fantastic team and cannot wait to see how it turns out.

R: You are in the Mythica movies. What was it like working with Kevin Sorbo and Melanie Stone?

N: Mythica has been such a treat. It was a series of five separate feature films that we shot back to back. Kevin Sorbo was fantastic throughout. Most of my scenes were with Melanie Stone, Jake Stormoen, and Adam Johnson. We play a team of four unlikely heroes trying to rid the land of an undead plague, fighting a multitude of creatures in the process. We’re all great friends, having worked together over the past three years. It was such a fun adventure shooting a fantasy series, and I had so much fun everyday on set. They became like family to me.

 

R: What is the best thing about acting? What are some of the hardest parts about it?

N: I’d say the best thing has to be when you receive the phone call from your agent finding out you’ve booked the role! I remember I was in London handing out flyers about Disney’s High School Musical Tour when I got the phone call from my agent saying that I landed the series regular role in Disney Channel’s brand new television series Life Bites. It was my biggest break yet and I could not get over the irony of what I was doing at that exact moment in time. Definitely a moment to treasure. The hardest part is to not allow yourself to be a perfectionist, to trust in your performance and not be hard on yourself once the scene is complete. It’s always so difficult watching it, but you must remain confident that the character choices and decisions on set were right at that moment in time. There is no place for insecurity in the industry.

 

R: Do you have any charities or causes that are close to your heart?  s so, tell us about them.

N: A relative of mine suffers from Crohn’s disease. It doesn’t have great awareness, but it’s an incredibly debilitating disease and with no cure yet, it’s a case of managing day to day life. Both my sister and I have been involved in the 10K charity run through London for Crohn’s. There are many wonderful charities out there searching for cures that would all be worthy of small donations. Even the tiniest amount can make a big difference.

 

R: What are five things people may not know about you?

N: Good question. I’m being super honest in revealing this one, but I’m actually really terrified of fish, an unusual phobia but a real phobia nonetheless. Another thing is that I love to sing–I originally trained in musical theatre and have a strong soprano belt (which I tend to keep to myself). My favorite animals switch between dolphins and pigs, because they’re both incredibly smart! I used to train in martial arts and I’m extremely rusty, but hey, I can defend myself if need be. The last thing is that I used to play electric guitar and play in a band when I was fifteen and sixteen years old. Great memories from my more musical days!

 

R: It is not easy being a teenager. What advice would you give them?

N: Ah yes, definitely not easy. The most important thing is to remain confident in yourself–no doubts. Teenage years are tricky, and there are so many comparisons to others and insecurities that can pop up along the way. The most important thing to remember is that YOU are wonderful, smart, talented, and not to let anything make you believe otherwise.

 

R: Other than this one, what is the strangest question you have ever been asked?

N: Oh gosh, I’ve been asked many and none of them are coming to mind. We have a fantastic fan group created by the Mythica fans themselves, the Mythies in which I regularly tune in to the online Q&A’s with rather unusual questions. Pop by the Facebook page Mythica Musings…no doubt you’ll spot a few unusual (but fun) questions!

 

R: Are you on any social networking sites? If so, which ones and what are their addresses? Do you have an official website?

N: Absolutely. I can be found on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. I love to hear from fans so don’t be shy! Reach out and I’ll be sure to say hello!

www.twitter.com/NicolaPosener

www.instagram.com/NicolaPosener

www.facebook.com/ActressNicolaPosener

www.nicolaposener.com

 

R: Is there anything else you would like to add or say to your fans?

N: Yes, a great big thank you for all the support! It always makes my day when I’m sent a link to a fan video or a piece of artwork, even poetry. It amazes me how creative the gestures are and I truly love to hear from everyone.

 

R: Nicola, thank you for the interview. Have a great day.

N: It’s been a pleasure, thank you.

 

Picture credit: Age of The Living, Nightmare Wedding Lifetime Network, Life Bites Disney Channel, Mythica

 

Chit Chatting with Actress Holly Earl

 

Written by Jill Sheets

The first time I saw the brilliant actress Holly Earl, she was on the hilarious show Cuckoo, where she played the character Zoe Chance. Cuckoo was one of the shows that I would try to binge-watch whenever I had the chance. So, when I found out that she was going to be in the movie Once Upon a Time in London, I was very excited! I can’t wait to see it. Read on and learn more about her new film, her other upcoming projects, and what her favorite part of filming this movie was.

 

R: Tell us a little bit about yourself and how you got your start in acting.

H: I started out as a child actor at the tiny age of three alongside my sister. At twelve, I took some time out to finish my schooling and be a regular teenager before deciding to return to acting at eighteen. I haven’t stopped since!

 

R: Tell us about Loving Vincent and about your character La Mousmé.

H: Loving Vincent was a fantastic experience. The film is about the life of Vincent Van Gogh, and the majority of characters are based on actual people he painted. It was captured in live action with actors, and then later hand-painted over by more than a hundred real artists in his distinctive style. Dorotea Kobiela and Hugh Welshman, who directed the film, were really clever about how they gave character and life to these portraits. I play La Mousme, who was an actual girl who sat for Van Gogh and, in the film, is a boisterous and nosey courtesan. I’m so grateful that I got asked to do this cameo in such a unique and inspiring project.

 

R: Tell our listeners about Once Upon a Time in London and about your character Aggie Vaux.

H: Once Upon a Time in London is the true story of notorious criminals Jack Spot and Bill Hill, who were the kings of the organized crime world from the 1930s to the 1950s. I play Aggie Vaux, an innocent but headstrong young woman who finds herself getting wrapped up with Billy and his antics. She was interesting to play, as she not only had to have the strength to stand with these men, but she also had to be vulnerable at the same time. She was a real person that lived this life and not much is known about her, so I wanted to do justice to the character.

 

R: How did you prepare for this character?

H: I started by researching into the real-life woman and finding out whatever I could about her. As I said, there’s not much to be found, as women didn’t have a lot of say at that time. Also, as a woman associated with criminals, you’d most likely want to keep some anonymity. What I did find out, however, is that she apparently had something very special about her. Other research I did was into the era, especially how women held and conducted themselves, which helped me get into the body and mind-set of a woman from that time.

 

R: What was your favorite part about filming this movie?

H: As someone who is slightly obsessed with the glamour of the 1940s and 50s, one my favourite things about filming was definitely the costumes. Every day was a new, stunning outfit. Michelle May, the costume designer, did a fabulous job of finding unique and authentic pieces from that time. There were a lot of outfits I wish I could’ve kept!

 

R: You got to work with an amazing cast. What was it like to work with Geoff Bell, Dominic Keating, Andy Beckwith, and the rest of the cast?

H: Unfortunately, I didn’t get to work with everyone in the cast, as in the film they’re all off being gangsters and getting up to no good. I did, however, work closely with Leo Gregory, who plays Billy Hill. He is a fantastic actor and a real gentleman. We were lucky to get some rehearsal, which is quite a luxury when working on a film, and that allowed us to really develop our characters and their relationship.

 

R: Speaking about working with a wonderful cast, tell us about the show Cuckoo and about your character Zoe. What is your favorite episode from this show?

H: Cuckoo is perhaps one of my favourite shows to have worked on. It’s like one big family. Zoe’s fun, as she’s the complete opposite to me as a person. She’s stony-faced and a real tease to Tyger Drew-Honey’s character, Dylan. My favourite episode is Potato Party in the second series. When I read the script I laughed out loud! Let’s just say there are a lot of shenanigans going on, involving some questionable jacket potatoes and a bath…

 

R: Who has been your biggest influence and why?

H: My mum. She got me into acting when I was younger, and if it wasn’t for her I probably wouldn’t be doing what I love so much today. She’s my rock.

 

R: I know you like to draw. Tell us about it!

H: Art (drawing and painting) is my second passion after acting. They’re not dissimilar, as I love how I can create vibrant and different characters within a portrait. At the moment, it’s still a hobby, but I hope that one day I can share it more with the world.

 

R: Do you have any charities or causes that are close to your heart? If so, tell us about them.

H: The charity that is closest to my heart is Mind. I feel that mental health issues, whether mild or not, is something that everyone goes through at some point or another. It’s just not talked about enough, which makes people feel like they’re the only ones going through these things. There needs to be more open discussions about it that take the fear out of opening up. It shouldn’t be a taboo topic.

 

R: It is not easy being a teenager. What advice would you give them in?

H: Be easy on yourself. Being a teenager is hard. You’re figuring out about yourself and dealing with a lot of things for the first time. Just know that things get easier and, if you’re going through a hard time, it won’t last forever. It all works towards making you a stronger adult on the other side.

 

R: What are five things people may not know about you?

H: My first crush was Marlon Brando, I have two gorgeous cats, I make a mean Mexican fajita, I adore baby elephants, and I’d love to go to Japan one day.

 

R: Other than this one, what is the strangest question you have ever been asked?

H: It’s not really a strange question, but I get mistaken for Emilia Clarke quite a lot. People ask me what it’s like to be Khaleesi and ride dragons. I wish I knew!

 

R: Are you on any social networking sites? If so, which ones and what are their addresses? Do you have an official website and/or YouTube page?

H: I only use Twitter and Instagram, both under my name.

 

R: Anything else you would like to add or say to your fans?

H: I’m grateful for everyone who is and has supported me so far. Thank you. it means a lot!

 

Picture credit: Jo Mclintok, Julie Edwards

 

Chit Chatting with Dr. Erick Schenkel

 

Written by Jill Sheets

It always amazes me when someone is so dedicated to Jesus that they would spend years in the Muslim world, or any other dangerous place, to preach the Good News, even knowing that they are risking their lives. That is just what Dr. Erick Schenkel and his family did. Read on to learn more about his sixteen years in the Muslim world, the Jesus Film Project, and what his favorite Bible verse is.

 

R: Tell us about yourself and about your book Everyone, Everywhere.  How did you come up with the idea to write the book?

E: Five years ago, my wife and I returned to the USA after sixteen years in the Muslim world to lead the Jesus Film Project. A few months ago, one of our team members at Jesus Film Project asked the question, “What would it take to finish the job of making it possible for everyone, everywhere to know someone who really follows Jesus?” My book is an attempt to answer that question, based on the best thinking of our whole team.

 

R: You went through a lot while spreading the Good News–you and your wife have even been beaten.  Despite this, you never stopped proclaiming the Gospel. How did you do it? 

E: The amazing grace of God! God has been so good to us in so many ways, and we know that eternal life with Him is ahead of us. We want everyone to have a chance to know God personally, for time and eternity. Everything else is so much less important.

 

R: If you could have done something different, what would it have been?

E: One of my regrets is how narrow my focus was as a young man and a new Christian. I wasted time arguing with other followers of Jesus over less important issues than the life and death issue of taking the Good News to everyone. I held my opinions way too strongly.

 

R: You said, “Which is more important, good works or preaching? The answer is always both a and b.Would you mind explaining this and why it is both?

E:  New life in Jesus is something we show as much as it is something we proclaim. Jesus said, “I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.” Knowing Jesus changes us into people who love others and want to serve them. As soon as I met Jesus, I went to visit my family members who hated my side of the family, I started feeding street people…the love of God changed me. No amount of words speak as loudly as a changed life. But only words can explain the change people see in us as we follow Jesus. We must explain: “You are not seeing a good person here, you are seeing a person energized by knowing God, and you can know God too!”

 

R: What was the Reset: Together 2016?

E: Reset: Together 2016 was an amazing meeting of thousands of Christians on the National Mall in July 2016, organized by a coalition of Christian groups led by Nick Hall. It was remarkable, because it included such a broad cross-section of Jesus-followers of all ages from so many backgrounds. The main statement the event made was, “There is a new generation of followers of Jesus in this country who are ready to humbly offer their lives to make Jesus known to people in need.” It was hot that day, but the spiritual atmosphere was hotter! Those who think the church in America is dying with the millennials are going to be surprised by the folks who were in Washington that day.

 

R: What would you like people to take away from your book?

E: There is nothing better than following Jesus and making Him known to others. I hope a lot of people who are casual Christians will catch a vision for real life in Christ and get excited about living a whole new way.

 

R: Where can people get your book?

E: The book can be found at jesusfilm.org/EveryoneEverywhere or at Amazon.com.

 

R: What are you currently working on?

E: I am working on doing what I wrote about in the book: giving everyone, everywhere a chance to know Jesus. I travel around the world learning first-hand how people are using video to share the Good News of Jesus, and then I come back to our office in Orlando, Florida and try to help us do better at making powerful video material available in every country of the world.

 

R: What is the Jesus Film Project?

E: The Jesus Film Project (JFP) was started in 1979 to translate the feature film, JESUS, based on Luke’s Gospel, and to distribute it globally. Over the years, other films were made, and, to date, there have been 7.5 billion views of JFP films in 1,510 different languages! The film JESUS has become the most watched film in history and over 490 million people have indicated decisions to receive Jesus Christ after watching our films. The Jesus Film app makes all the JFP films freely available on Apple and Android devices.

 

R: Tell us about about some of your experiences in the mission field.

E: Some of my most memorable moments took place in official Muslim countries in Central Asia, where my family lived and served for twelve years. In those countries, I became friends with several former Islamist radicals who have become followers of Jesus and who risk their lives to tell others about him. I also suffered the loss of dear brothers in Christ who were killed for their faith. My strongest lasting impression is that, despite deep cultural differences, people are the same everywhere in the world. God can change the hardest heart—just as he did for Saul of Tarsus in the Bible—and make apostles out of persecutors.

 

R: What was your first thought when God told you what he wanted you and your family to do?

E: Excitement! My experience of God’s leading is that He prepares my heart to want to do what he wants me to do. That’s how I understand the Bible verse that says, “Take delight in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart.” When I sensed God’s call to leave America, I knew there were many things I would miss—the Boston Red Sox, Dunkin’ Donuts Coffee, and leaf-peeping in the fall in New England. But I was excited about what I would see and learn, and I have not been disappointed! The awe of experiencing the majesty of thousand-year-old civilizations, the rush of taking aid into a war zone, the thrill of seeing people who have never heard of Jesus before receiving Him and being transformed just as I am being transformed—nothing better!

 

R: What is your favorite verse?

E: Psalm 113:7-8. “He raises the poor from the dust and lifts the needy from the dung pile, to make them sit with princes, with the princes of his people.” That’s what God has done for me—a poor kid from a single parent family–and I am grateful.

 

R: What advice would you give a teenager who has trouble preaching to people, whether they are shy, nervous, etc.?

E: Be yourself. Have a real relationship with Jesus. Find ways to love people that are natural to you. Don’t worry about “preaching” to people. Learn to listen. Find ways to connect with a person, then share your experience of Jesus in the flow of your relationship with the other person. Share early and often what Jesus means to you.

 

R: Are you or your book on any social networking sites? If so, which ones and what are their addresses? Do you have an official website?

E: My official Facebook page is Erick Schenkel Jesus Film. You can read more about my work at the Jesus Film Project at jesusfilm.org.

 

Photo Credit: Jesus Film Project®

 

Meet Young YouTube Fitness Sensation Alivia D’Andrea (a.k.a. Fiercelivy)

 

If you are looking for some inspiration in regards to fitness and/or a healthy lifestyle, go to YouTube, type Fiercelivy in the search bar, and get ready to work hard and feel great while doing it! Alivia D’Andrea has succeeded in making fitness fun, and her videos are full of inspiration for everyone, whether you dance, cheer, do gymnastics, play sports, or just want to get fit. As a dancer myself, I find her workout and stretching routines very helpful, and I love to hear her words of wisdom and encouragement as she guides you to a healthier, happier you! Be sure to check her out at https://www.youtube.com/user/fiercelivy

 

R: How did you get into fitness and when did living a healthy lifestyle become important to you?

A: Growing up I was always relatively thin, but not fit. My sophomore year in high school, I gained some weight and started to feel lethargic. I wanted to lose the weight, but in a healthy way, so I started researching healthier food options and it just kind of took off from there. After studying and exploring the benefits of a healthier lifestyle, I felt so great inside and out, and wanted to share that with my subscribers.

 

R: What made you want to start a YouTube channel?

A: I wanted to do something that allowed me to project my voice, and I thought YouTube would be a great platform. Little did I know how much I would love making videos. I’ve been on YouTube for about three years now, but it wasn’t until last June that my channel started to really gain popularity. I didn’t receive a lot of recognition my first two years, but I kept at it because I loved it so much. Then last year, I decided to alter the content I was producing, and suddenly the acceptance began to soar.

 

R: What are some of the opportunities you’ve had since you became a YouTuber?

A: My presence on YouTube is still fairly new. However, I recently signed with a talent agency, and I’m looking forward to future opportunities like branding, collaborating with companies, and events.

 

R: What advice do you have for someone who wants to start a healthy lifestyle but doesn’t know how to begin?

A: Make small, specific goals, such as making a commitment to drinking five glasses of water a day. You will be more likely to be consistent, and a little progress each day adds up to big results. Also, your mind is a very powerful thing, so you need to make sure you have the right mindset about leading a healthy lifestyle. Get excited about all the healthy recipes you can try, learn the limits of your body, and reach for greater heights through recreational activities. Fall in love with taking care of your body, mind, and spirit.

 

R: It can be hard to stay motivated. What are some tips?

A: I get this question a lot from my subscribers. My top three tips would be:

  1. Take photos and keep a food journal to keep track of your progress and help you see the bigger picture.
  2. Follow social media accounts that post flexibility and fitness inspo and create a playlist of all the songs that motivate you.
  3. Lastly, don’t think of healthy eating as a diet, think of it as a lifestyle.

 

R: I heard that you travel a lot. Where have you gone? Where would you like to go?

A: I’ve been to China, England, Russia, France, the Caribbean, Italy, Spain, Germany, Finland, Denmark, Sweden, and Hawaii. I would love to visit Shanghai and Bora Bora.

 

R: I know that you dance. What else do you do?

A: I enjoy playing the piano and public speaking.

 

R: What are your social media addresses?

A:

Instagram: @fiercelivy

Twitter: @aliviadandrea

Snapchat: @fiercelivy

 

R: Is there anything else you’d like to add?

A: We see so many tragedies on the news today, and it breaks my heart. As youth, sometimes we may feel like we can’t do much because we’re only “kids,” but remember that simple acts of forgiveness and charity, like donating food or clothes, and even just smiling at someone, are things we can do now. Great achievements can come from many small deeds strung together. Nonetheless, the one constant that can change the world from lonely and bitter to beautiful and compassionate is love. In any form, big or small, love can transform us all.

 

Written by Anna Tallarico

Photo credit: Alivia D’Andrea