Here’s the latest from the crossroads of faith, media & culture: 04/17/24

Programming Alert: After premiering on the Great American Family linear channel last month, Candace Cameron Bure Presents: Just in Time is now streaming on Great American Pure Flix. Starring the popular Drama Desk Award-winning musical theater performer (for Broadway’s Cinderalla) and rising TV romcom star Laura Osnes, the dramatic film tells the story of a couple questioning their marriage amid difficulty conceiving a child.

JWK: What drew you to the story of Just in Time?

Laura Osnes: I loved the script to this movie the first time I read it. I think the thing I was most surprised by was that, literally on Page 6, a husband-and-wife team is dealing a struggle that they’ve been going through (with) infertility – so much so that it has caused a near breaking point in their relationship and they decide to kind of take a break for Easter weekend. Alone (they both) go to their respective families and figure their life and their relationship out a little bit. That really surprised me. Listen, it’s not the typical two people falling in love at Christmastime that a lot of these movies center around. That’s beautiful. There’s a time a time for that and I love making those movies as well but this script is rich. It’s complex. It deals with difficult issues. These characters go on huge journeys. I really loved that Hannah, my character, has to learn all of these lessons and hit rock bottom before she can give up control, learn to surrender and, at the end of the day, find faith and be able to trust God with her future and her marriage.

JWK: What do you hope people take from the story, particularly about marriage?

LO: I hope people are inspired and challenged to not be afraid of the challenges they’re facing in their own life but to trust in God’s timing; That’s a big message in the movie.  To develop perseverance and endurance to get through difficult seasons; It’s not worth throwing in the towel just because something is hard. Learning forgiveness. Learning how to communicate and just the redemption in surrendering to the Lord – especially when you’re walking in a valley, when you feel like you’re being refined in the fire. Hopefully, audiences leave feeling hopeful but also challenged to have discussions and potentially do some self-reflection and work on things in their own life. 

JWK: You, yourself, have been married to TV producer Nathan Johnson since 2007. What thoughts do you have on what makes a successful marriage? What did you bring to the film on that subject?

My husband is amazing. He is my better half. I am so grateful every day I get to wake up and do life with him. He has been such a wonderful caretaker, rock and companion through every season of life – the highs and the lows.Now, God has us in a season of getting to create together – which is so great! Nate had a photography studio in New York for fourteen years while we were there. I was doing musical theater and Broadway. We’ve both always been creative. We got to work together on a few things. He’s done photo shoots for me – which is great!

We moved to Nashville, Tennessee a couple of years ago. We’re now being called to get to create things together. I would say the thing that has helped us (stay) on the same page is intentionality, first and foremost. Especially in the entertainment industry, it’s very easy to let the job, career, schedules or busyness take the number-one place in life. That is just so not what we wanted to do. Both of our parents got divorced so when we got married we just were super intentional. We said we’re not getting a divorce – ever. That’s not an option – not that any couple ever thinks they’re going to get divorced when they get married but we’ve just been extra intentional to continue to put our marriage first. We’ve definitely gone through rocky seasons but we’ve always both been in it to win it, from Moment One, since we said “I do.”

I think communication and knowing each other’s love languages is so important. I’ll just share an anecdote (from) earlier on in our marriage. I don’t really like conflict at all. So, I would just kind of avoid talking about things but then like once a year we would have this like blowout fight. Now, we have learned – seventeen years in – to talk about small offenses the moment they happen, or the day that they happen, so that we don’t go to bed on anger and store up offenses against each other. That has just been really wonderful because you don’t ever have to hold onto grudges or any type of bitterness. You just deal with it in the moment, you forgive and you move on. That, for the last several years of our marriage, has been a really beautiful thing for us. We had to learn kind of the hard way. You don’t know when you get married – especially so young. I got married when I was 21. I had such peace about it. I knew that it was the right thing but we still had a lot of growth and learning.

JWK: A while back I did a post on a children’s show called A Wonderful Day with Mabel Maclay for which your husband has been a producer.  You did an episode of that show, right?

LO: Yes. There’s a kid show called A Wonderful Day with Mabel Maclay that my husband worked on and produced twenty episodes. I got to be a guest star in one of the episodes playing myself and teaching Miss Mabel, the lead character, how to do a tap dance and about performing. The episode was on the virtue of courage so we were talking about having courage to get up on stage and share your gifts in front of people. It’s a very sweet and wonderful show. You can find it on an app called Bentkey. They have tons of kid show content that is family friendly, good, clean, positive (and) agenda free.

JWK: What was it like working with your husband on the episode?

LO: It was great! It was lovely! I mean that was one little day. I was on set for one day for that but we started a production company last year. We have like eighteen projects that we’re developing together – (including) scripts that friends have written that we’re trying to get off the ground, pitch and produce. We are making a documentary about a local theater here in Franklin, Tennessee that works with adults that have intellectual and developmental disabilities. We filmed nineteen days of content and self-produced that project and are currently trying to pitch that to various platforms and networks. I just wrote a romcom Christmas movie script that I hope to pitch to Great American, Hallmark, Lifetime or some other network and, hopefully, make some day. There are all kinds of creative irons in the fire. We’re developing a concert series together. It’s really fun to get to sit at our computers here next to each other and work together every day.

JWK: You’ve had great success on stage – including Tony nominations and a Drama Desk Award. How is working on television different than doing a stage production?

LO: That’s a great question. As you said, I came from a theater background. Musical theater and the stage have always felt like home to me. I only just started dipping my toe into the TV film world like six years ago. I have learned so much! I think I was afraid of acting in front of a camera for a long time. Then I was finally given an opportunity and kind of forced into it.

I have to say I love it and find such joy and fulfillment in it – but it is a different art from. The thing that, to me, is the most different is that in theater you get like a month of rehearsal in a room, developing relationships, talking about backstories, getting the lines and the music and all of that in your body and in your voice before anyone ever sees it.

With film, you show up Day One and Moment One the cameras are basically rolling. You have to do a lot of that pre-homework yourself. The director’s job on a TV film set is to set up a shot. Maybe, if you have a great director, they’ll be able to give you some acting notes or give you an idea of a different take on a scene artistically. In theater, the director’s job is to talk about backstory and really work on the acting and meat of the scene – and you get the time in rehearsal.

So, I’ve had to learn to kind of trust my instincts and not be afraid to develop relationships with my co-stars like immediately and develop that trust because…a lot of times it’s like “Hi, nice to meet you. We’re falling in love!” or “Oh, we’re having a fight!” I mean everybody just has to dive in and go there. I’ve been very fortunate to work with a lot of great directors, co-stars and crews that have always made me feel very safe and taken care of on a film set.

JWK: That’s interesting. I’d tend to think of it the other way around – that stage acting would involve more pressure – but you talk about certain unique pressures to acting in a film, such as having to get to know your character almost immediately.

LO: That is so true! At least in a TV film you do get a few takes. You know what I mean? If you make a mistake you can stop and do it again. In theater, you can’t do that but you do get to tell the whole story from beginning to end…I really like going on a character’s journey in order. In TV you’re plucking scenes in random order and you kind of know the character’s journey so well that you know where she is on her journey that day or in that scene that you’re filming. It is quite a different process but it’s been very exciting. It keeps things exhilarating. It keeps me on my toes, for sure.

JWK: I know you happen to be a Christian. You’ve worked on several television shows, including episodes of Dynasty for The CW, The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel for Amazon and Elementary for CBS. When you work for those networks – which produce good programming, of course – how is it different than working for Great American Media where the actual mission of the company is to inspire? These other networks might like to do that once in a while but it’s not necessarily their chief mission.

LO: Yes, I’m so glad you brought that up. I have loved becoming part of the Great American family and working with so many like-minded and like-spirited individuals – not that everybody has to be a Christian. Some people weren’t on this film. To know that that is the mission of the company and know that I’m working for people that value my values and, you’re right, have the mission to support God, support country, support family and create content that honors all of that – especially in a world and in an entertainment industry that can be very dark sometimes and very divisive – has been rewarding and very fulfilling for me. I hope I get to do many, many more movies like this that have a very faith-forward, hopeful, redemptive message.

That’s really what we’re here for, right? Acting is acting. I try to be a light wherever I go. I know that God opens doors for me to love people in any scenario or job I happen to be doing but this one was special because I literally felt God’s presence in scenes. There was so much prayer surrounding this specific project. The writers were believers.The director is a believer. Candace Cameron Bure was on set. She is such a strong believer. To have that really at the forefront of this movie was different for me – and so beautiful! I was very, very grateful to get to be a part of it and do a project like this.

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

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