My name is Wendy and I am a Christian. I am also an actress. From the time I was a little girl I knew two things. I knew Jesus loved me, and I knew that he made me a performer. There wasn’t an "ah-ha moment," just a simple sense of who I was at a young age.
When I was a child my mom used to let me stand on the hearth of our fireplace and perform for our dinner guests singing, “I am a P, I am a possibility, I am a promise with a capital P. I am a great big bundle of potentiality… And if you listen you can hear God’s voice. And if you’re trying, He’ll help you make the right choice. Cause I’m a’promised to be everything God wants me to be.” I guess that that’s my childhood testimony. I believed God lived in my heart before I knew what a heart was. And I knew He made me a performer with a whole lot’a potentiality.
But the heart of my testimony is the way God knit together my faith in Him with the talents that He gave me.
Growing up my utmost goal was to get to High School so that I could be in the school play. Everything made sense; this was who I was, how God made me, and what I was going to do. My faith continued to grow in a similar way.
When I was 9 years old I went to church camp at Forest Home and was told that we could pray to ask Jesus into our hearts… I remember thinking, “oh, I must have missed that step, cause He already lives there.” So that day I actually accepted His gift of salvation and forgiveness and through my youth leaders at church began a very natural maturing process. By Middle school I knew Faith in God was the most important part of my life. And by High School I wondered what that meant in terms of what I was supposed to do.
Because I ended up going to a performing arts high school, I came in contact with a wealth of Dramatic literature, and by 16 I realized that there was a lot of stuff out there I wouldn’t be able to do. For example, on of my teachers was putting on a production of The Bacchai, a Greek tragedy about the God of fertility. This woman happened to be a Christian, so I felt safe telling her my fears about the role she wanted me to audition for. I told her that at our school there were a lot of impressionable teenagers, trying to find what they believed in and that there was a lot of sexual promiscuity in the student body. This play introduced the ideas of not only worshiping a false God, but it introduced the concept of orgies and infidelity. She chose to disagree with my reasoning, but I still didn’t audition. It was my first time making a hard choice like that, and it was a defining moment in my life and a difficult one.
Shortly after I went to college, in my very first acting class my Freshman year, I was assigned the project of writing and performing a monologue telling the absolute most important moment in my life. Before I tell you what I shared, let me tell you a few of the stories that others around me shared. There was a vivid retelling of an 18 year olds abortion, one young man told about the first time he killed someone from his years on the streets of NY, another shared about finding his father dead in a pool of blood, along with a suicide note. The stories ranged from losing one’s virginity to losing loved ones. And then there was mine. This is the story I shared:
A couple of weeks before I left home for College I went to Hawaii for a week with my best friend. Since we were both Christians it was more like a Spiritual retreat than a Senior trip. We read our Bibles, prayed, sang a lot of worship songs together. And then on one of the last days of our trip I woke up before dawn. I woke my friend up and we threw some clothes on and walked down to the beach to watch the sun rise. There was a Catamaran near by that was about to push out for a sunrise cruise and so we paid 10 dollars each and climbed aboard. We sat at the very edge of the netting at the front of the boat and away we went. As the sun started to rise over the volcano behind us, we lifted our voices and sang, “Our God is an awesome God, He reigns from heaven above, with wisdom, power, and love… our God is an awesome God.” We sang it over and over and just as the sun broke above the ridge, Kacy broke into harmony. As though on cue, four dolphins lept out of the water right in front of us. If I had leaned out over the bow of the boat I could have touched them.
I knew in my heart at that moment, that God’s creation INSTINCTIVELY responds to Him. They do it instinctively because He is God, the Lord who created and sustains us all. And I realized as those dolphins danced to the praises sung to their creator, that only humans have the gift of free will. Only you and I can choose if we are going to lay down our self-seeking ways, step out in faith, and Praise Him. I decided then and there that I would… Praise Him… for my whole life.
That was my story. That was the monologue I shared. I remember the silence that followed. I can still feel it. I didn’t receive the applause that the others had. But I did get a lot of questions afterwards. And many of the actress’ who lived in my dorm ended up coming to the first Bible Study I ever led.
Choosing to tell the story I did was another defining moment in my life as a Christian Actress.
When I graduated from College I returned to my hometown of LA. I got an agent, booked a job, joined the Screen Actor’s Guild, and started working. After about five years I was auditioning for bigger roles, and getting some of them. My manager and agents all said that this was going to be my year, but it was also the year that every script I received was way below my standard. Try telling an agent, “I know you worked hard to get me in for an audition, but I just read the script and I can’t do it.” You see the more I surrendered my life to God, the more things of the world I just couldn’t portray. Quickly, my professional relationships became strained. Even my agent, who is a professed Christian, told me (with great frustration) “don’t you think it’s possible that this role could thrust you into the lime-light so that you can testify to God in front of everybody?” Yeah, good point, but the vehicle she wanted me to use was a TV show where the first scene had me straddling some guy in bed (not the character’s husband, mind you) with a tattoo of a serpent coming up out of the bed-sheets from my rear-end.
This was my first time having a big name director and television creator request me, and my last time receiving a script from that agent. In an instant, my agent and manager both discontinued their representation, which meant I couldn’t audition for jobs, book jobs, work on jobs. I went suddenly from “this is your year, Wendy,” to not having a year at all!
Or so I thought… because, it was also the year I met my husband. We married 7 months later and I moved to Texas to be his bride. The first 18 months of our marriage was very healing for me. While I had a local agent and did some commercial work, all I really focused on was learning how to be a wife and spend time in the Word of God. It was that year that I read through the entire Bible from beginning to end for the first time.
Ah, the story.
My whole world changed as an actress when I read through the Old Testament for the first time. "Now these are stories worth telling!" I realized aloud. "Every bit of the Old Testament points us toward Jesus!" In my reading, by the time Jesus finally came on the scene in Matthew, I could hardly wait for the story of His birth! The stories I'd read had all lead me to Him!
You see, story telling is a powerful tool; it leads peoples minds, hearts, and beings in a direction. It's up to the storyteller which direction they're going to take their audience.
I've chosen to tell stories that stir hearts, challenge souls, and Move Women closer to Jesus.