Butterflies threatened to overwhelm Brooke White’s stomach when she first stepped onto the stage of American Idol during its seventh season. After conquering them and making it all the way to the Top 5, one might think that butterflies would be a thing of the past for the charming 27-year old singer-songwriter. But the pesky, fluttery creatures came roaring back last September when White stepped in front of film cameras to make her feature-film debut. Change of Plans, the fourth film in Walmart and Procter & Gamble’s “Family Movie Night” series, stars White as Sally Danville, an ambitious, life-loving singer-songwriter who has to readjust her plans when her best friend dies in a plane crash, leaving behind four children in need of a home (guess who’s?). Sally and her husband (played by Stargate: Atlantis star Joe Flanigan) invite the children, three of whom were adopted from third world countries, into their home. Chaos, culture clashes, and comedy ensue, but the film also contains some thoughtful moments and surprising warmth. White, who has contributed to the soundtracks for previous “Family Movie Night” films, was taken aback when she was offered one of the lead roles in Change of Plans. “As a singer-songwriter, I never expected that I would be acting; talk about a ‘Change of Plans!’” said White. “I love this story, because it is emotionally-driven, yet light-hearted and fun. It also shows us that the family comes in all shapes and sizes, and reminds us that sometimes life doesn’t turn out the way we planned, but it can be even better. It’s a great lesson that I learned firsthand!”Beliefnet sat down with White to discuss the film, her struggles with confidence, and what it’s like to act opposite a tree. Were the butterflies as strong when you stepped in front of the cameras as they were when you stepped onto the Idol stage?Oh absolutely. But I had no expectations for this because I had never done it before. The thing about filming is that you don’t film scenes in order – you film them out of order. So we started in the middle of the movie on my very first day which was something I really didn’t know. And it was actually a fairly intense scene where I had to comfort one of the children who had just found out the tragic news about her parents. She had already done her 6 hours that day and for kids they’re very strict about that. They can only be on set for 6 hours. So we had done our scene together and then we did my closeup, and because she had to leave, they just put a big pink X on a tree and I had to talk to the tree as if I was comforting a child. But after that it was fine. They didn’t make you act with any more trees?No, no more acting with trees. You’ve publicly talked about how confidence was a real challenge for you during Idol. But having made it to the top 5, released two albums, and now making your feature film debut… well, that doesn’t sound like someone with confidence issues.Well that just means I’m a good actress. During Idol all of your insecurities are brought to the surface; you feel very vulnerable. You’re really putting yourself out there and you’re seeking approval by trying to entertain people and give a very personal part of yourself, whether it’s your voice or the songs that you write. So the tendency to deal with confidence issues is just there. I’d like to say that as time has gone on I have gained more confidence but I have my days that are rough where I’m really not sure what I’m doing. I have my off days just like everyone else, but I also have my days where I feel really good about what I’m doing. So on the whole I think I’m improving but its still something that I deal with. What’s helped you the most in overcoming that lack of confidence?Letting go of what other people think. I needed to know that my worth wasn’t dependent on how popular I was or how people responded to me. I put my focus on the things that mattered most, my relationship with my family and the people around me. And I learned not to take myself so seriously, to just enjoy things and have fun. There’s a moment in the film when you’re sitting down to dinner with the children for the first time and they make you say grace before you eat. You don’t see moments like that often in movies. Did your own personal beliefs influence your decision to make this your film debut?Absolutely. The truth is that other roles came my way and I really didn’t consider them because I didn’t feel they were right for me as a person; they didn’t reflect my values or my lifestyle. But when this came along there was really a focus on family; it’s about sacrificing for the greater good of your family. Those things really led me to choosing this project. Not only that but I really wanted to support something where the whole family could be in the same room together and you wouldn’t have to worry [about what would be on the TV].
What would you like families to take away from this film?First off, I really just like the idea that they’re together. I love that Family Movie Night gives the family more of an opportunity to be together. Second, I want them to be entertained. I want them to feel happy when they watch it. I’d love for kids to see what parents sacrifice for them and for parents can see how worthwhile those sacrifices really are. Sometimes it’s the stuff that you don’t anticipate and plan for that turns out the best and I can say that of this movie experience for me. Change of Plans airs this Saturday at 8/7c on FOX.