Interview with Rising Christian Movie Star Joseph Gray

{By Ellery Sadler}

In the world of Christian film, it isn’t often you find an actor who is talented, attractive, and dedicated to his craft, but when I first saw Joseph Gray in Princess Cut, I knew I had found one.

There is something authentic about Joseph when he is acting. He’s relatable and seems like a guy you could actually know in real life. After watching him brilliantly handle lines that could have been cheesy had anyone else been saying them, I knew I wanted to hear more about him and his passion for film. His sense of humor, wit, and love for Jesus make him a fascinating person to talk to.

So I had the pleasure of speaking with him about faith, finding your calling, and the future of Christian’s in the film industry.

 

Me: What is your favorite part about being an actor? 

Joseph: Hmm, it’s hard to narrow it down. I enjoy the entire creative process. From the conceptualization, the brainstorming, to the research, to the self-reflection. And the analyzing you have to do to connect with characters and script and theme. Connection with people you’re working with, the connection with the audience. 

Me: Is it hard acting since movies aren’t filmed in sequential order?  

Joseph: You get used to it pretty quickly. But yeah, it would be ideal to do it chronologically. You can feed on the emotions easier. But you get used to it.

christian actor joseph gray
Me: Is your calling also your work? Or is your calling something else?

Joseph: One in the same. That’s reason I started pursuing acting. Wasn’t even on my radar in college or early twenties. I read The Purpose Driven Life like four times, I think.

Me: What advice would you give for finding your calling?

Joseph: Read the Purpose Driven Life. You have to have the whole outlook, you need to be honest with yourself & get feedback from other people & get life counsel. Listen to their advice. You do all of that & I think it points you in a direction. Other people word it as a “not just a one lane street, but more like a multilane highway”. Unfortunately people a lot of time want to look at the glamorous side of things. Actors/creatives especially. It may be that you’re geared to storytelling but you may not be the one in front of the camera. So do what you’re passionate about but don’t be closed-minded.

 

Me: Do you think of yourself as an actor, who is also a Christian, or a Christian actor? (Would you play in movies that are not explicitly faith-based?)

Joseph: Definitely the former. You don’t have Christian doctors or plumbers or mechanics. You do it in a manner that you serve God and serve others. Not condemning or judging anyone who does, but I think it is a disservice to label yourself as a ‘Christian – blank’. You’re cutting off a lot of people you could work with and/or impact. Biblically I don’t see an example of anyone doing that either.

I’m in a new movie called Shooting the Prodigal. Christian people made it and they have a firm understanding of biblical principles. It’s a movie about a church making a movie. It kind of makes fun of the subculture we’ve created. My character was one of the main characters and I kind of got to make fun of that, not in a mean or malicious way, but here’s what you sound like to people outside the church. Hard to have an honest conversation with people outside the church when we speak basically a different language.

Of course, there are challenges. It can be hard to find a market for films that kind of walk the line between faith and secular movies, ones that are not so heavy-handed are often are harder to sell. There’s no “proven” market for that. My goal is to make those kind of films that walk the line that point to truth and have redemptive themes – forgiveness grace sacrifice, hope – but do so in a way that’s fantastic story telling. Not slapping people in the face with it.

joseph gray rising christian movie star

Me: What is the craziest/coolest thing you’ve done? 

Joseph: Hmm … well, I got married when I was 20. So I’ve been married for 15 years. I try to have fun in everything I do. I think it was last year, I did a photo shoot, a print shoot for marketing and advertising for Snow Shoe resort. Mountain biking, paddle boarding, zip lining, everything that you could think of that’s fun and outdoorsy we were doing. It was awesome.

Me: Who inspires you? What motivates you? 

Joseph: I find inspiration all over the place, anybody who works hard inspires me. I feel really grateful to do what I do and get paid. I’m still a struggling artist but I’m inspired to be the best that I can be. People who don’t settle inspire me. People who don’t just settle for good enough. My wife is a phenomenal teacher – she was nominated for national teacher of the year a couple years ago. And she always signs her emails with “Good is not enough if better is possible.” Who am I to do any less?

Me: You mentioned that you’ve been married for 15 years. How did you meet her?  

Joseph: I met wife right after high school. Moved out to Greensboro NC – we met waiting tables at the same restaurant. I decided to stop dating, I was kind of jaded with the whole experience at the time, and get my life right with God first. Of course, as soon as I made that decision, I met Courtney. We were just friends at first. We took it really slow, spent time together, and then obviously it turned into a whole lot more than just friends.

Me: If you could give one piece of advice to your younger self (college age), what would it be?

Joseph: Pray more. That’s my advice for myself now too, actually. Also are we talking to myself like 5 years ago or 10?

Me: Let’s say college age, what would you tell a college-age you?

Joseph: Well, I kind of dropped out of college. So I’d say get a degree you idiot. You may not use it, but at least you have it.

Me: How do you see the progression of film in the future, are you excited about the direction it’s going? 

Joseph: I am excited — I think it’s headed in a good direction. Over the last fifteen years, Christian media has come a long way – music, film etc. I honestly do think that as we go forward, these faith based films that are heavy-handed, preaching to the choir – well, audiences are going to demand more. (And I’m not trashing those: they have a place. Families definitely need movies they can watch together.) But that formula can only last so long before people get tired of it. So they are going to have to get more creative. And that’s good.

And you know with Hollywood, the movie industry has changed in general in the last fifteen years – the availability to make a Hollywood-style film is more accessible than it ever has been before.

One problem I think we have with Christian film is how spread out we are. It’s hard to get the best of the best together and collaborate on a film. But we need to. Hollywood does this. Hot spots of passionate Christian artists are popping up all over the country. One or two people in each place. So you have this dynamic of two or three professionals and than 97 volunteers. And volunteers are wonderful but like a mechanic, if you want it to run properly you need a professional. With film, we act like volunteers/inexperience is ok. We need a better networking system. Great writers, producers, cinematographers — on a professional level. So that we don’t have a “It was ok acting, but I loved the message”, reputation.

The industry has come a long way and it’s getting better and better. There is a market for it – audiences want it. Overall, great stuff.

Me: What’s your latest project?

Joseph: A couple of cool mini-series. A sci-fi film set in the 80’s dealing with aliens, that’s supposed to be coming out next year. The Shooting the Prodigal comedy is coming out next year. Oh, and Find a Way – helped produce and write and was in. Sacred Kind of Love – that’s in post-production, not finalized distribution deals yet. So a lot of stuff in the works.

Me: What is your favorite movie?

Joseph: That is a really hard question … Ok, these are three of my favorite, but they are not my three favorite movies. In no particular order – I feel like, I’m gonna say Brave Heart. Last of the Mohicans. Shawshank Demption. Oh and Gladiator.

My favorite are dramatic movies that are done well and have lots of elements to them. Some sort of love story, an element of struggle, sacrifice, and redemptive value, like forgiveness or hope. Good storytelling is intrinsic to human beings. That’s what the Bible is full of – real accounts and parables. It’s how we relate and learn and know our heritage. That’s why I love storytelling and acting.

 

You can learn more about Joseph Grey and his work at his website, or by checking out the Princess Cut website and following them on Facebook

 

 

 

 

 

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