Devon Franklin is stepping out of his comfort zone to appear in front of the camera for Kingdom Story Studios’ upcoming movie “Jesus Revolution,” set to be released on February 22. As a writer and producer, Franklin has been the driving force behind some of Hollywood’s most successful inspirational movies like “Breakthrough,” “Miracles from Heaven,” and the upcoming “Flamin’ Hot.”
This time, the producer-turned-actor will showcase his talents in front of the camera as he portrays Josiah, a “Time” magazine reporter tasked with covering the expanding Jesus movement, which led to the cover story that served as the basis for the movie.
In an exclusive interview with Baller Alert, Franklin speaks about the role “Jesus Revolution” played in helping him heal, stepping in front of the camera for the first time, and more.
What I love about Jesus Revolution is that it’s not a churchy movie but more like an invitation to know Christ better. How has your relationship with God evolved during this process?
“Y’know, that’s a great question. It evolved in a way where it’s expanded. When the producers came to me and said I want you to play this part, I was about to tell them, ‘Y’all know I’m not an actor, right?’ but I caught myself. Why would I speak something when I don’t actually know the answer? Instead of seeing who I am, why would I declare something that I’m not? And so my relationship with God expanded because I began to realize that I have this other gift within me. It was scary and terrifying, but doing it brought me closer to God.”
You’ve worked on several films before Jesus Revolution — from drama to romance. What was different about this movie for you?
“What’s different is the historical context. I was familiar with the Time magazine cover that came out in 1971 because I knew that it was a cover that resonated historically. So when I read the script, I was blown away because this a piece of history I did not know, and that’s what was so compelling to me. To see this story of Chuck Smith and Greg Laurie starting a movement that was sweeping the 60s of hippies getting off acid and finding Jesus was beautiful. Reading the script made me connect to it, and I just had to be a part of it.”
While being a celebrity, you often have to go through tough things publicly — which is not always easy. Has the movie helped with healing in any way?
“It’s helped so much. We shot this film last year and finding a project I could pour my process into was helpful. Also, being married to an actress for ten years was helpful because I remember helping Meagan with her lines and preparing for movies, so it was weird because I felt like I was actually prepared. So that was a very good part of the healing process. It wasn’t easy at times, but I’m thankful I had this to put all my energy into. I’m hoping my role as Josiah resonates with people.”
Working in entertainment and Hollywood can sometimes challenge your walk with God. What keeps you on track?
“Have the right people in my life to who I can turn. Who helped me and gave me perspective. I’m always reminded when I go back to the Bible that no one had an impact in the world and didn’t go through challenges, trials, and tribulations. Reading the word and knowing that those who have done the greatest things have gone through some dark times and difficult moments. I’m reading the word and staying in the word, and that really helps. Also, I’ve been in this business since I was 18, and I’m now 44, so I’ve seen almost everything. This is truly a marathon business — it’s not a sprint. So any time I find myself getting caught up in the business in a way where I’m like, ‘what’s going on?’ I always remember that this is a marathon. Many people go up fast, but you can go down as quickly as you go up.”
The Jesus Revolution became one of the biggest spiritual awakenings in Ameican History. Can you share a time when you’ve had a spiritual awakening?
“Maybe about 20 years ago. I was an assistant working at Will Smith’s production company. I interned with them for about four years and was an assistant for two years. Long story short, God told me it was time to move on. It was time for me to see what was out there and look for the next opportunity. So I went on this spiritual journey, and I heard TD Jakes’ sermon about “turning the page” when God says, ” you have to get up and go to the promised land.” So I went in to put in my two weeks’ notice, and people thought I was crazy, but I said, ‘I have to find God. If God has a place for me in this business, I believe he will open the right door. Literally I left Will’s company on Friday. That following Monday — by the end of the day — I had a call from Tracy Edmonds’ company offering a developmental position in their film department. All by faith. That, to me, is a spiritual awakening because I was reminded that God has a plan — I have to follow it, have faith, and go through the process step-by-step.”