Some thoughts on being a “Christian” actor…
I bill myself as an actor. I have been acting, and acting up, all my life. Just ask my mom… on second thought don’t… some of my stories I don’t want you to hear.
But I admit… I love to tell people I am an actor… up to a point.
Guy: So what do you do for a living?
Me: I am an actor.
This is where he stares at me. Looking for that “A-ha” moment of recognition. It never comes.
Guy: Have I seen you in anything?
This is where the fun ends.
Me: Probably not.
Guy: Movies? On stage?
If I weren’t a Christian this is where I would love to make stuff up. Talk about the films I did with Robert DeNiro and being on stage with Meryl Streep. But my brushes with stage and screen stars I suspect are about the same as the rest of you guys. So I tell the truth.
Me: You go to church?
Me: I do one-man stage shows that deal with the Christian faith and belief. I do most of my performing in churches and Christian colleges and conferences.
And that usually ends the conversation. Yep, I am one of “those.” I am a “Christian” actor. Translation: “you must not be very good…or good enough to make it.”
Truth is I am a working actor, have made my living as an actor for over 36 years. In a profession that has something like a 95% unemployment rate, that puts me in the top 5% of my profession. But I don’t say this to the guy. I am a Christian. I must be humble. I have learned a long time ago that when you put the word Christian in front of anything to do with the arts (Christian actor, Christian singer, Christian author) you better be ready to be treated like a second-class citizen by the rest of the world.
On the other hand Christian in front of other occupations carries a whole other connotation: Christian mechanic, Christian plumber, Christian lawyer… Add Christian to those professions and as a Christian you think fair, honest, ethical… as a Christian… ever wonder what the rest of the world thinks? I want my mechanic to be good at fixing my car, my plumber to be good at stopping leaks and my lawyer to give good legal advice. It is nice if they are also fair, honest and ethical, but you don’t have to be a Christian to be those things. I go to these people for their skills not their faith. All three of my sons have worked in the food service industry and they will tell you the worst customers are often the after-church crowd. It turns out that the Christian customers are often the rudest and the worst tippers. Perhaps the word Christian works better as a noun than an adjective. I would prefer to be known as an actor who is a Christian rather than a Christian actor.Posted by Chuck Neighbors | 10 comments