Beliefnet
Faith, Media & Culture

Here’s today’s dispatch from the crossroads of faith, media and culture.

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Shining Star. In my praise yesterday of the faith-based historical epic Alone Yet Not Alone (opening in select theater tonight – 9/27), I mentioned that the role of Barbara Leininger — one of the two sisters abducted and forced to live among the Delaware Indians in the mid 18th century — is played by Kelly Greyson, a talented and, yes, beautiful young actress you’ve probably never heard of but likely will be hearing about in the near future.

I recently spoke with her about her role in the film and was very impressed by both her lack of self absorption and the altruistic wisdom with which she views her current opportunities.

JWK: You’re great in Alone Yet Not Alone. It’s quite a strong and demanding role, particularly considering that it’s only your second movie. Can you tell me a little about your background and how and why you got into acting?

KELLY GREYSON: I think, personally, I want to use my life to make a difference. I want to inspire people and to encourage people to make good choices in their lives (and), you know, avoid things that are going to bring pain in the end…I think part of it for me is just seeing the influence of media on culture and wanting to be a positive influence.

JWK: That’s interesting to me — because you’re kind of young to have such a perspective on things. What brings you to that point of view?

KG: For me, it’s my relationship with God but I think (it’s also) my upbringing. I was very, very shy growing up. So, I really observed a lot. I was watching people. It’s kind of funny that it came full circle because I was so shy that I would rather have been invisible than have anybody look in my direction. So, to be in an industry now where everything you do is micro-analyzed by hundreds of people (is weird). I think though, in watching and observing, in sitting kind of on the sidelines and taking in the environment and seeing what makes people hurt (affected me). I’ve always been very, very empathetic — just watching people and their reactions and (seeing) how situations influence them and those kinds of things. And then having a bigger picture.  I think my parents really instilled that in me too — just looking beyond yourself and your immediate needs and desires. What is someone else feeling? What are they going through? What are their needs and hurts and challenges?

JWK:  Do you come from a large family or are you an only child?

KG: There are four children in our family.

JWK:  Where do you fit in?

KG: I am the second.

JWK:  Has being part of a larger family has helped you develop empathy?

KG: I think so. I think you’re encouraged…to work through things…You can’t really escape your family — especially at a young age. I think that it kind of helps you learn to adapt and figure out how to get along with people and see what people’s needs are and how you can meet those needs, to give of yourself and be “other”-centered as well.

JWK:  The role of Barbara Leininger in the movie is quite demanding — emotionally and physically.  And you’re very good in the part. How did the role come about for you?

KG: It was actually my second film. I’ve been in four so far…that (are in various stages of production) right now…I think (Barbara) was one of those roles that was just very me.

The first movie I was on was Return to the Hiding Place. I actually filmed this one shortly after that. The production company had seen my work in that film…(so) it was contacts as well. (Return to the Hiding Place) just won the Audience Choice Award and Best Feature Film at one film festival. It also one Best Feature Film at another film festival recently. That was an exciting one to be a part of.

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KG: (Alone Yet Not Alone) has not been in any film festival. They’re just going to release it. But, as far as prepping for that role, I think there’s an element of being able to relate in every person’s life and the concept of being along but not alone. I think when you need to draw on something deeper in life (and) that’s part of that. Many people have that aspect of their life…When you are acting you want to be able to draw from something. I think that everyone can relate to feeling alone. I mean you can be alone in a crowded room. So, for me, having been in some very, very challenging situations and needing to draw on something deeper was a really good place for me to be for that role. I think being anchored in something that you believe in is so critical.

JWK:  The film has a very important and direct message about the importance and value of having a strong faith in God. You come from a family that also emphasizes the value of faith. And, from what I gather, you embrace that value as well.

KG: Yes — but, I mean, that’s a personal decision for everybody. But, yeah, for me, personally, I have a relationship with God. I think, no matter who you are, to be anchored in something that you believe in is critical.

JWK:  I found that portrayal of the Native Americans in the film to be very textured and layered. It clearly showed why they had every reason to be angry with the European settlers but it also showed that they were capable of unjust brutality and intolerance too. It shows the good and the bad on both sides.

KG: I think that’s what I really liked about the film…I think as a whole the film did a great job at what you’re saying. I think it’s very balanced in giving the perspective as to why there was a conflict and (that there was) reason behind both sides. There’s a reason why the Native Americans reacted the way they did and you kind of see that — as opposed to “Oh, they’re crazy savages killing people.” No. On both sides of the conflict you have people who at the very core of them had really great values. They had family and honor and respect. They’re protecting their families and things that they believe in. So, it’s kind of neat to see how the film portrays that — where you can see both sides of the coin, both sides of the conflict…They just ended up in this complicated situation and, sadly, sometimes even with governments and world leaders today we end up with people making bad decisions and the fallout of that affects so many people in so many ways. So, that’s kind of depicted very well in this film. I thought that was very well done.

JWK:  You’re also credited as an associate producer on the movie Max Rose starring Jerry Lewis.

KG: Mm-hmm.

JWK:  Are you interested in working behind the camera as well.

KG: Actually, I really love acting. I’m working in either post or pre-production…on a bunch of different productions on various levels. So, I have started to do quite a bit of producing but mainly just for the purpose of (working on) projects that I believe in, that I think can make a difference. A lot of times you gotta kind of work from the ground up. It’s hard to find those (projects) sometimes and so I think working from the ground up and having a project that you believe or a message that you want to convey and being a part of that is also beneficial because it’s not about me being in front of the camera. It’s about just giving people a bigger picture of life.

JWK:  Tell me a little bit about what you did on Max Rose.

KG: Well, I was able to have some influence with content and the script and some of those kinds of things, as well as be on set and sit in Jerry Lewis’ chair. When he was on camera I got a picture of me sitting his chair.

JWK:  What was it like to work with Jerry Lewis?

KG: He actually is such a sweet man. He really was great to work with. I think in the past there’s been a lot of (reports of him) being hard to work with. I don’t know. I mean my interaction with him was very enjoyable. He really did an amazing job. All the actors did such an incredible job. I thought it turned out really great. And he was able accompany that film to Cannes. They did kind of an homage to Jerry Lewis and I think to be there for that time in his life when he was honored…was neat.

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JWK:  I’ve heard a lot about Max Rose. Has it been released yet?

KG: It has not been released. The first time it was shown was at Cannes.

JWK:  Getting back to Alone Yet Not Alone, what do you hope audiences take from the film?

KG: There are so many things that you can take away from this film. One would be…how each decision that (you) make and the statements that come out of your mouth, especially when you’re in a position of authority — the flippant comment or the non-thinking remark –…can affect so many people. Beware of the consequences of your actions and how they affect other people. And then…believing in something and letting that be what inspires you (and not) what angers you. I think (that’s) just so critical for everyone. (For too many people) what angers them is their faith and it’s so beautiful to see (the characters’ faith)…helping them to endure incredible hardship…

…Then there’s another key thing for me. I hope parents walk away realizing the impact they can have on their children…Nowadays there is just so much media and entertainment and games etcetera that there’s not a lot of interaction verbally in families. I think it’s really important — whatever it is you believe — just have that interaction with your children. What you are telling them with your interaction and your words really impacts them and can last a lifetime. That was very much depicted in this story.

JWK:  You’re blonde but, to live among the tribe, your character becomes brunette for part of the movie. What was that like?

KG: I think everybody likes me better as a brunette.

JWK:  You’re very pretty either way but, if I may say, you are quite stunning as a brunette. Did the change in hair color affect your personality at all?

KG: I don’t know. I did really enjoy it. I actually thought about dying it for my everyday life but I keep ending up with roles where (they’re) like “Oh, we want you to be a blonde!” So, I haven’t dyed it…but soon, maybe. But then, of course, I could also just get a wig — because I did actually do that (for the film).  I’d put it on now and then — and go out to dinner with my wig on…As far as attitude, I think the attitude was different in that I was in a different stage of my life in that film — or in the character’s life. She was in a different stage in her life so there were differences just based on the character.

JWK:  Can you tell me about the others movies you’re appearing in?

KG:  The other three that I’ve been — and I’m not sure when they’ll be released — are Return to the Hiding Place, To Have and to Hold and Little Boy. They’re all just such fun, beautiful and inspiring and really incredible stories.

JWK:  And those are the kind of stories you’re drawn to.

KG: Yes. I love to be a part of those ones that make you think. I think so much in our society people are trying not to think. They’re trying to just listen and to respond to what they hear or adapt or just kind of blindly follow. I think anything that inspires people to use their minds and think on their own and have their own thoughts and make logical decisions is a really good thing.

JWK:  Where would you like your life and career to be ten years from now?

KG: To me, the best part of being an actress or being in front of the camera and any kind of notoriety that you get from that (is the ability)  to use that to affect others and to help people and to be a voice for those who can’t speak for themselves…If I could be a voice for those people and make their lives better, I think that would be amazing to me — if I had a platform.

JWK:  So you hope to use whatever success you have in the media to create positive change.

KG: Right. That would be my desire.

JWK: What films or TV shows have inspired you?

KG: I love true stories. One that came to mind because I actually just got asked this question last night…is the story of Eric Liddel which is Chariots of Fire. That was one that we watched growing up that was a very inspiring story. Eric Liddel was willing to sacrifice for what he believed in and, at the end of the day, was honored for that. So, those kinds of stories…Any story where people overcome amazing obstacles and push through things that are hard (when) other people would give up — but they don’t give up and then you see, at the end of the day, their lives turning around or them turning other people’s lives around.

JWK: Which kind of sums up the themes of Alone Yet Not Alone.

KG: Exactly. Very true.

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Alone Yet Not Alone website here
Alone Yet Not Alone Twitter page here.
Kelly Greyson’s website here.
Kelly Greyson’s Twitter page here.

Encourage one another and build each other up – 1 Thessalonians 5:11

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