A Christian Actor’s Perspective on Hollywood

Dear Readers,

My last post was God, the Golden Globes, and Me.  It was inspired by the Golden Globes award show, which aired last Sunday evening.  I was thrilled to receive an extraordinary written response to that post from a real, honest-to-goodness Hollywood actor whose name just happens to be…are you ready for this?  Mark Atteberry.

No, this is not a joke.  Here he is:

MarkAtteberryActor

Mark and I ran across each other online a few years ago and have become good friends, though we have never met face to face.  I have watched him on TV and in the movies numerous times.  Recently, I blew my granddaughter’s mind when some TV credits were rolling on the screen and I pointed out the name “Mark Atteberry” as a special guest star.  For just a moment, until she learned the truth, I rose in her estimation.

The west coast Mark Atteberry went to Biola University with the intention of going into the preaching ministry, but eventually felt called to a different kind of ministry: working as an actor and sharing his faith on the Hollywood mission field.

Mark will be in the upcoming blockbuster, “Gone Girl,” starring Ben Affleck.  He’s also been on The Newsroom, House MD, Drop Dead Diva, Criminal Minds, Justified, The Closer, The Mentalist, and many other top flight shows.  As you can see, he’s well qualified to comment on the Hollywood culture.

And so I present to you his response to my last post.  I felt it was so outstanding that I wanted to feature it for your edification:

I’m a missionary in Hollywood first, and an artist second. That perspective keeps everything in check for me. But clearly, that isn’t the common perspective here in Tinseltown. Nonetheless, the people the world sees on these award shows are my peers. I know and have worked with many of them. And, because I have, I can safely say that as a whole actors are by nature in deep need of attention. No surprise there, right? But, that’s what makes them great at entertaining. They’ll do anything for a laugh or a tear or cheer. But what most people don’t know is that that need for attention generally comes from some very deep wounds, things like abuse as a child, neglect as a child or something else equally as horrible. Artists are usually wounded people. We jokingly, yet somewhat ironically, call Hollywood the land of broken toys. But broken toys are often the ones we turned to most to entertain us.

As you appropriately mentioned, when all is finished the first will be last and the last will be first. Sadly, most artists ignore that truth. Like you, I wish we didn’t give out awards like the Globes or the Oscars. It would be well enough to have an evening or two when we simply celebrate all the great films made that prior year, like “Gravity,” etc. And, to keep my wife happy, it would be fantastic if everyone would still dress up all fancy. She, like many other women, love to see the fashions. But when awards are given to people who are hurting for attention it tends to give them the illusion that they have made it! They are the “number one attention-getter.” Don’t get me wrong, acting is incredibly difficult (you try to cry on cue and be so entertaining the world can’t take it’s eyes off of you) and it is a brutal career with no stability whatsoever and incredible rejection. But, it saddens me that getting the world’s attention is now a desirable goal, thanks to the accolades we give to ourselves. I know of very few actors who have not already written out their first Oscar speech. It’s the goal most people who come to Hollywood shoot for.

My purpose in Hollywood has always been to tell people there is something far better than winning an Oscar. What’s better than that? Finding our true purpose in Christ and holding that trophy of salvation for all of eternity. Actors will often claim what they really want is to make films and TV shows that change people’s lives, and I believe somewhere deep down that is probably true, but only when they give their lives to God can that happen consistently with all the right motives.

I mentioned the Golden Globes on my Facebook wall and asked people to tell me what feelings it invoked. Most of my industry friends said it was fun, it inspired them and it gave them hope. Quite a few of my non-industry friends said it was nothing more than a bunch of egotists celebrating themselves. It’s always interesting to me that people who didn’t do anything about their dreams bash those who do. Not that artists are any better than anyone else, they are not, but there is something to be said about someone who takes the hard road for something they love. Artists are special people. But, they’re also a lot more sensitive to the criticisms than people think. Take assessment and ask yourself how you really feel about actors and their ilk. Is it in line with how would Christ feel about us?

Sadly, Hollywood types love to rebel (but doesn’t most of the world?). They love to be different and push boundaries. And they even love to bash Christianity from time to time. But, that’s what rebels do. They fall into the patterns of a rebellious nature. But, I see their hearts. I understand their pain. I see them as real people, as co-workers, as friends, so my heart aches for them the same way your heart aches for that friend or family member who avoids God at all costs. Like any missionary, I long to see my people saved and changed. Sadly, the message most teachers and gurus in this town give young actors is that they will only be successful if they put acting first and give their lives over to it. Give into rebellion, press your boundaries, etc. As a result the handful of Christians here fight an uphill battle.

Why God allows a certain few people to become celebrities, win awards and gain the envy of the world (and not others) is beyond me. Only God knows that. He, in His infinite wisdom, does what He does and chooses who He chooses for reasons that are way beyond us. But that’s a whole other conversation for a whole other time (blog topic?). My point is this, the next time you watch a show like the Golden Globes or the Oscars, say a prayer for those involved, especially the winners. Although they look like kings and queens of the world in that moment, they are actually just broken toys. They are deceived even though in that moment everyone thinks they’ve succeeded. They’ve bought into the Hollywood hype. They think they can do it on their own, without God. That person is now set up for a huge fall and ultimate letdown. Pray for them. And, pray for the people who watch and admire them. Pray they aren’t deceived to think that an Oscar win is the ultimate key to happiness and fulfillment. And, pray for those of us out here in Hollywood who work hard to bring truth to people who need it most. Hollywood is an influential town. Pray for those of us trying to redeemed it from the inside out.

Those are some profound insights and a great prayer request.  I, for one, will never think about Hollywood or a Hollywood award show the same way again.

Thank you, Mark Atteberry.

Boy, it seems weird saying that.

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2 Responses to A Christian Actor’s Perspective on Hollywood

  1. Peggy Greenwood says:

    Interesting insight from an “insider.” I don’t watch award shows. I watch the excerpts the next day on line to see who won and look at the fashion slide show. of the Golden Globes and Oscar nominations, the only movie I have seen is “Gravity.” Every year I can’t relate because I haven’t seen those nominated. I do understand the angst that brings people to live out another life in fantasy so I divorce their political or worldly views from them or I’d never watch a movie. Thank goodness for Mark Atteberry, the actor, who is trying to show that there is a higher power for all, including those wrapped up in a fake world and a fake personna in order to validate themselves. If everyone understood how easy it is to validate themselves through Christ, it would be a different world.

  2. I know. I know. I’m late to the water fountain, but I just read this. I too will never watch the awards the same. We live in the land of cliff dwellers and some live a little more on the edge than others.

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