Here’s the latest from the crossroads of faith, media & culture: 03/24/23
Now that’s range. After nearly 40 years on screen (appearing in several classic 80s-90s episodic TV shows such as Miami Vice, The Equalizer, China Beach, Star Trek: The Next Generation, Doogie Howser M.D., My So-Called Life and Tyler Perry’s Meet the Browns), Cameron Arnett is devoting most of his performing energy these days to faith-themed projects. Currently, he’s playing the wise angel Jeremiah in the Pure Flix series Saved by Grace and can also be seen on the same streamer playing the devil himself in the film (and potential series) Angels Unaware.
JWK: You’re giving Dean Cain and Kevin Sorbo a run for their money for the title of busiest screen actor – especially in the area of faith-themed films. You’re in three projects – that I’m aware of – on Pure Flix right now. The first one I’d like to ask you about is the TV series you’re in with Jennifer Taylor where you play an angel named Jeremiah. Can you tell me about that show and your role in it?
Cameron Arnett: Sure. Saved by Grace (reflects) a Christian understanding that God has a system that’s around us all the time. Angels are ministers of spirit that are here for our good and for our salvation. As Christians we need to know that they are available and that they are here to help us. That show gives you a visual perspective of what that looks like and how it works.
It’s great to be paired with Jennifer because we’re so different in not only ourselves but also in the characters that we play (who) bring help to people that have called out to God. It’s a wonderful piece, wonderful material, to be able to be involved in but also be able to watch and see exactly how that works.
JWK: The show, of course, fits into the angels-on-Earth genre of very successful shows like Highway to Heaven and Touched by an Angel. I recently spoke with Roma Downey and she said she doesn’t think Touched by an Angel would air on a broadcast network today because she thinks they have a different agenda now. Do you agree with that – and is that why a streaming service like Pure Flix is so important?
CA: It is important without a doubt. I do agree there is quite an agenda to actually ram (certain things) down our throats but I don’t think that (such shows) can’t make it on network television. I think that network television now demands that we have Christians who show the broad spectrum because life has more grit than sometimes we have shown in the past as far as how we depict certain things…We have to be willing to show the grit of Scripture.
JWK: Do you expect to see more episodes of Saved by Grace?
CA: Without a doubt. I totally expect to see that. It’s doing extremely well on Pure Flix. I would be extremely surprised if there wasn’t a Season 2 and a Season 3.
JWK: On the other end of the spectrum, you play Lucifer in Angels Unaware. Tell me a little bit about that project.
CA: Yes – and that’s what I mean by the grit. There is a loose ungodly spirit in the world…That’s the other side of the reality that’s going on. I get an opportunity to play Lucifer who is a fallen angel, the adversary of our souls, the accuser of the brethren. What I love about this is that through this series I will have the opportunity to unmask him because, unfortunately, I think in errant theology people are taught that Satan is a formidable opponent to God, if you would, and that he has a power that he really does not have any longer. Jesus came…and so there is a relationship that we as born-again believers have…that is so far above and so much greater (than Satan). I think I will have the opportunity within this piece to show what that relationship is so that the viewers can get an understanding of how they are to live a life that is beyond what I think they’ve learned in a religious perspective.
JWK: So, this is also a series?
CA: It is a pilot that is, I guess, positioned to be a series. We do have other episodes that are written. So, the expectation is that it will continue.
JWK: So, that’s a change in the industry, isn’t it? I mean that people can star in more than one series at the same time. I guess that’s because fewer episodes are being ordered per season in the streaming era.
CA: Yeah, I think things have been deregulated quite a bit whereas it’s not like back in the day when we were growing up (when) it had to have a certain order (to comply with broadcast network scheduling). I mean shows are being written and shot every day. So, there’s really no longer a “season” for shows. It come and goes and so it allows a lot of opportunity for a lot of actors.
JWK: The pilot for Angels Unaware has a lot to say about issues like racism and police brutality. I know that you’re a Haitian immigrant.
CA: I am.
JWK: As someone who’s an immigrant to this country, what’s your take on the racial issues in America today?
CA: Wow! It’s funny because when I first came to this country, I was a young kid. My first introduction to America was, you know, not speaking English – I’m only speaking French and Creole – and I’m watching television and I’m watching this guy give all these speeches and a lot of people following him and masses of people and everything else. I thought he was the president of the United States because I come from a country that, you know, 90% of the people look like me! It wasn’t until later that I realized that it was Martin Luther King!
So, it shows you the difference in perspective. I had to learn about racism. I had to go through things – as I went to school and everything else – (to learn) that we weren’t looked at as (the same as) everybody else. So, yeah, it’s a different feel, a different perspective.
As a Christian, I thank God for Jesus Christ because the ability to live an equal life has come out of that relationship with Him. Regardless of what people feel or don’t feel or think or don’t think, it allows me as a man to be a man, to be a Christian, and not to think of myself as a “black” man. That’s never been part of my reality growing up and, because of Christ, it still is not part of my reality. So, that’s how I see it.
JWK: You’re also in a movie called Running the Bases. Can you tell me a little about that film?
CA: Running the Bases is a very fun film but, at the same time, has such an important message (about) sticking to your convictions, sticking to the Word of God (and) understanding that whatever field that you’re in – and I don’t mean that as a pun – you are called to be a Christian in that field and bring the Light of Christ to that field. When you do that there is a wall that you sometimes run into but, as you are faithful to God, God is the one leading, guiding and orchestrating. He’s the one that is the avenger of it all. He’s the one that goes before you and makes the way straight. He calls you to be a disruptor of society by bringing Heaven to Earth by acting like Christ in your skin. I think that, through this film, people will see what that looks like and, though they may go through persecution for being a Christ-minded person, they’ll also see the Power of God in the process.
JWK: These days you’re choosing a lot of faith-themed project but, along the way, you’ve appeared in many mainstream broadcast series – everything from Miami Vice to Star Trek: The Next Generation. How is it different working on those kinds of shows as compared to the faith-based stuff?
CA: It’s quite different in that the agenda is different. It’s different in that the tensions that is on the sets are totally opposite of each other. I had the opportunity, of course, to work with the Kendricks, which is to me the epitome of any set that I’ve been on from a Christian perspective (in terms of) how they operate in the Atmosphere of God in such a beautiful, wonderful way. So, in those aspects, of course, it’s very different.
Even from the perspective of being an actor, God has taught me how to be an actor from a Christian perspective, how to use the principles of the Word of God and not to fall prey to the spirits of the world that actors in the world have to allow themselves to take on in order to portray certain characters. I mean think about it. With me having to portray Lucifer, had I not known how to do that from a Christian perspective what damage that could have done to my personal life. That’s what you see happening in Hollywood. I’m grateful to God that He took me out of that atmosphere and waited for a certain amount of time to go by to put me back into one that is conducive to His image and likeness. I’m extremely grateful that I get to do it on this side.
JWK: Getting back your role as Lucifer in Angels Unaware, I guess part of the message of the story – which you alluded to – is that people often tend to believe that evil is more powerful than it actually is.
CA: Correct. Very much so. And it’s something that needs to change because the entire intent of Christ is to be the firstborn among many brethren. So, we’re all supposed to look like that Savior that we see in the Gospel. Even more so because now we live on the other side of Resurrection and we live on the other side of Him dismantling the principalities and powers. So, we are seated with him in heavenly places. We are far above (Lucifer). He’s not even Lucifer anymore. He’s Satan. He’s a devil. He’s a fallen angel…There’s an authority and a power that we have over him by the Holy Spirit that people need to understand. We’re suppose to be those that transact Kingdom business on the Earth (while) bringing salvation to the rest of the world. Until we see him for who he really is – and us where we really are – then we won’t be able to do that. We won’t be fulfilling our true selves. So, the opportunity to unmask him is something that I really look forward to in the series.
JWK: As I mentioned, you’re a busy actor. You’ve appeared in at least 35 films in the last ten years alone. What do you look for in a project?
CA: The main thing is the message. It doesn’t really matter as much what character I play – but what is the message of the movie? Where are we leading people to? It’s very important, at the end of the day, that what we do glorifies God, that it points to Christ, it points to who He is and what He did for us, that He is Lord, He is Savior, He is King and that He’s coming back. So, those are the things that I look for.
I get an opportunity sometimes to play characters within a message film that shows you the opposite of what a person of God looks like but, at the same time, knowing once you finish watching that – regardless of how crazy my character may be – you’re going to see Jesus in the process – who He is, what He’s done for you and His intentions for you.
JWK: Besides being an in-demand actor, you’re also an author, a public speaker, a film director, producer and voice-over artist. Which of those do you enjoy the most?
CA: Wow! My favorite role is son of God to be honest with you. It has nothing to do with the arts or accomplishments whatsoever. I enjoy being His. I enjoy him being my Father, my Lord, my a Savior, my King. I enjoy the relationship. I enjoy being free…I enjoy being a husband and a father. Those are the things that are the top of the rungs for me. The rest of all of it is where I get an opportunity to go be Him in the marketplace and accomplish those things that He set forth for me to do.
I wouldn’t even be doing this if I didn’t know for sure that this is what He wanted me to do. My wife and I were pastoring for two decades in the four walls of the church. It was Jesus Christ Himself who told me to go an reenter the arts. He has shown undeniably that this is what He wants me to do by what He’s done for me through it. I’m extremely grateful for it all.
JWK: Is your wife your manager?
CA: Yes, my wife is now my manager, I think for maybe the last year or so. We’ve been married for 25 years, together for 26 years. We’ve always enjoyed working together but now it’s even more intricate and it continues to grow in that arena. It’s funny because so many things that we do we didn’t “choose” to do. It was just that God led us into it. The life has been a life of discovery. Man, it’s pretty exciting.
JWK: How many children do you have?
CA: We have five children (and) five phenomenal, exceptional grandchildren.
JWK: Oh, wow! Congratulations! I guess that also plays a role in what you choose to do.
CA: Oh, of course! I mean there’s nothing like being able to know that what you write, what you act, what you direct, what you produce, the business that you’re in, all of it is with your your grandchildren and your children in mind – that they can be around it, that they can see it and that none of it will lead them astray. I’m very appreciative of that.
JWK: So, what’s next for you? You seem to have a lot on your plate. I’ve been to you IMDB page and there are like 15 things. Any of those projects you’d like to talk about?
CA: You brought up the whole point of being an author. The very first book that I wrote is A Good Man: A Child’s I Coulda, Woulda, Shoulda Story. The whole point of that is legacy. The whole point of that is making sure that as young children – and as young people – that they get an opportunity to make decisions right as they come up as opposed to having to do the wrong thing and then learn about Christ. You know, one of my sons asked what would I do differently? So, I wrote a book with several principles. I’m, of course, going on to different volumes of that, of things that I would have done (differently) and things that I would tell my younger self…so that they can, at a younger age, make the right choices, do the right things and have a better life than I have.
JWK: Care to share just one of those?
CA: Sure! I’ll give you a composite of three of them. There are three decisions that people will make in life that will make them or break them.
One is who is your lord? Because you’re gonna have one whether you’re gonna have Christ as your Lord or you’re gonna have Satan as your lord or your gonna have the world as your lord or your gonna have yourself as your lord. But somebody will actually be governing who you are. So, the first decision – and the most important decision – that you’ll ever make in life is who is lord of your life?
The second one will be where do you go to church? Because where you go to church will be where you get your theology from, where you get your doctrine from, where you learn about the God of The Bible or the God of religion. So, it’s very important that you make that choice wisely.
The third choice, also as important, is who you marry because who you marry will make you or break you. You have to be equally yoked. You have to have some who is more in love with God than they are with you so that they can make choices that God would make and not fall sway to pleasing you but pleasing God. I am not called to agree with my wife. I am not called to follow my wife. I’m called to love my wife through Christ. My job is to follow Him and for us to learn how to follow Him together. Her job is to follow Him and learn for us to walk together.
So, those three decisions, I think if we will make them right in the first place, will keep us from a whole lot of error and chaos in our lives.
JWK: Okay, fantastic! Anything you’d like to say as we wrap up?
CA: God is in love with you! God is not angry with you! He’s not trying to keep things away from you. He’s trying to give you what He intended before the foundation of the world. Jesus Christ came so that He could get us back to Genesis 1 and 2 – and that’s walking with Him in the cool of the day. If you receive Him as your Lord and Savior and learn to obey Him, you will be able to taste now on Earth what Heaven is like and you’ll be able to bring Heaven to Earth until you see Him eye to eye.
John W. Kennedy is a writer, producer and media development consultant specializing in television and movie projects that uphold positive timeless values, including trust in God.
Encourage one another and build each other up – 1 Thessalonians 5:11