Interview with Jenn Gotzon from Alone Yet Not Alone

{By Ellery Sadler}

 

There is a beautiful authenticity to Jenn Gotzon, a sort of deep, raw emotion that spills over into her work and shows itself in a soft empathetic voice. I first saw Jenn in Alone Yet Not Alone’s sneak preview at an independent Christian film festival about a year ago and knew that I had stumbled on someone I needed to know.

jenn gotzon interview

Me: What is your favorite part of being an actress?

Jenn: I love sharing the journey. I’m an actress and the roles I play are the kind I have prayed for, asking God to allow me to portray.

My calling is to use the roles I star in to be a platform to help bring positive values to culture through media – playing characters (lead roles with emotional arcs) that show life choices and consequences like in the movie we are filming now “Sinking Sand” hopefully relates to people where they can connect and identify with the struggle, pain, challenge and ultimately find hope for themselves after seeing the character make it through the other end with healing and restoration

 

Me: What was it like playing Lydia in Alone Yet Not Alone?

Jenn: Lydia’s journey is unique, and historically accurate. She came from England with her husband and a baby (who were both killed by the Indians), and when she was captured she was given the unique opportunity to take care of the captive children. Her story is unique because she wasn’t instantly killed even though she was older.

There was so much research done for the movie, and we kept coming across Lydia in Barbara and Regina’s story. She was really a spiritual encourager and a constant reminder to the sisters that God will never leave us, even in the face of incredible trials. And even after Barbara and Regina were separated, afterwards when they were having nightmares, they would scream out for Lydia. She was the angel in their lives.

alone yet not alone jenn gotzon interview

Me: Lydia is a very emotionally exhausting part (being burned at the stake doesn’t happen every day), what was it like playing that?

Lydia: It was an amazing experience. I physically, as Jenn, wanted to get out of the way so that the Holy Spirit could move and work through me. Lydia really transcended the situation and still encouraged the children as she was burning to death. And she even forgave her killer. Lydia is an example of how we can be strong even in the darkest of time.

I just remember being tied to the tree, and the director came over and prayed with me before we started filming. I could really feel God’s serenity in that moment.

But then they pulled the camera back for a master shot, and had to increase the fire and flames for the scene. And all of the sudden it was real. I couldn’t stop crying, and I was genuinely scared. Somehow I had lost focus and disconnected from that peaceful place. But then I moved back and I went back into actor mode.

Of all the movies I’ve done, that scene in Alone Yet Not Alone was one of the most memorable moments on a spiritual level.

 

Me: How did you get started?

Jenn: I was 15 when I really started getting interested in acting and film. I grew up in Pennsylvania, and we had this little tiny old movie theater – you know the kind with velvet curtains? – and I just remember seeing films there and walking out so stimulated with a passion, a thirst, a drive to do that for other people.

jenn gotzon sinking sand

Me: What would you like to be remembered for as an actress?

Jenn: That I breathed hope and uplifting values and dynamically impacted people’s lives. I want to be part of movies that inspire and help and change people, like Doonby. I hope that the movies I do, the art that I portray on the screen, inspires and impacts people. On or off the screen, I want to be a role model of love and forgiveness and grace. [You can see the trailer for Doonby here.]

Jenn Gotzon Doonby

 

Me: Do you think media directs or reflects the culture?

Jenn: Media definitely directs the culture. What we see and hear – what we take in – is what comes out of us. Like if you eat cheeseburgers and fries all day every day, guess what is coming out of your pores? What you take in really matters. And I think the media is largely responsible for the detriment we see in our society – the drugs, the killing, the low morals.

Jenn Gotzon God's Country

Like in God’s Country (where I play this hot shot investment banker, who is solely focused on her career) I needed a difference cadence to my personality, so I listened to Lady Gaga. And I could really feel the difference! I created a shift by listening to her music. The music truly does effect your body and your thoughts subconsciously. And listening to Lady Gaga, I was able to capture that gritty, edgy aspect.

 

Me: Ok, I always like to know this about people in the business, what is your favorite movie?

Jenn: Oh goodness … The Help and I love The Blind Side. (Quentin Aaron is a friend of mine and such a good guy.) I also love Top Gun and Drew Barrymore’s 50 First Dates.

 

Me: Where do you think Christian film is headed?

Jenn: I think we have a wonderfully bright future. I’m really honored – privileged – blessed – that the Lord has aligned me with a lot of the top people in the faith and family film movement. They’ve become friends, peers, and mentors and I am so blessed. I think that Christian film needs to be a work of art. So that audiences from whatever religion can enjoy the artwork (and not feel judged) and enjoy a great story.

jenn gotzon sinking sand new movie

Me: Where is your dream vacation?

Jenn: Oooh! I cruise to somewhere tropical, piña colada and dancing by tiki torches. Or maybe a horseback riding adventure or skiing in the Swiss Alps.

 

Me: What is one thing you’d like to cross off your bucket list?

Jenn: Well I actually just did one! I’ve always wanted to walk to Universal Studios from my house and I just did!

I also think it would be really cool to snow ski and water ski in the same day. And I really want to do a western movie where I get to ride the whole time.

 

Me: Who inspires you?

Jenn: Walt Disney has always been a huge inspiration to me, his imagination and pursuit of excellence in spite of obstacles, just blows me away. So I love Disney World in Florida – everywhere I look I see creativity.

jenn gotzon sinking sand movie

Me: I know the song from Alone Yet Not Alone has created quite a stir with the whole Oscar Nomination, what are your thoughts on that song?

Jenn: Well, Ken Wales (we go to the same church and he is the producer of Amazing Grace, he was also mentored as a young man by Walt Disney) actually came down and showed us the song. That song really is the foundation of the film – it is the heart of the movie. We filmed that scene and song back in 2010.

Come 2012, I was in a really dark period of life. Tow of my close friends had died within a few short months, and my husband almost died. And I just felt surrounded by death. And knowing that heaven was waiting for me, I just wondered why do we even need to live?

And it was at that time the Lord brought back the words of Alone Yet Not Alone. He sang the song to me in my spirit when that was the only food I was able to receive in that darkness. And it became the source of my hope. That song really touched my heart. Anyone who is struggling with fear or depression or loneliness – just download that song and listen to it and let it touch speak life into your spirit.

Of course it would have been wonderful for the Oscar Nomination to have not been rescinded, just so that all the people who worked so hard could have been recognized.

But even this has been used for incredible good and so many more people have heard about the film because of it.

jenn gotzon

Jenn Gotzon would love to invite you to her upcoming movie premieres, releases, screenings and fun by clicking here. You can also follow her on Twitter here or find her on Facebook here. 

Special thanks to Kelsie Bates for these wonderful photographs.

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