“God’s Not Dead” actor and Pure Flix founder David A.R. White has
shared tips for those seeking to discover their God-given dreams and
discussed his journey of growing up in a small Mennonite community in
Kansas to becoming a successful Hollywood filmmaker in an interview
about his book, “Between Heaven & Hollywood.”
46, is one of the most recognizable faces in the faith-based film
industry, starring in more than 25 films and producing over 40 films,
including God’s Not Dead, God’s Not Dead 2, Revelation Road and The Moment After. He is also a founding partner of Pure Flix, the largest indie-faith film studio in the world, and has written several books.
the actor’s story of success is anything but common. Raised in a small
Mennonite community in Kansas as a preacher’s son, White traveled to
Los Angeles in the late 1980s. He got his big break in 1990, when he was
an extra on the Burt Reynolds show “Evening Shade.” There followed
several years of success on TV and in movies, and eventually, God placed
it on his heart to begin a studio specializing in faith-films.
following is an edited transcript of GH’s interview with White in which
he talks about his new book and shares his thoughts on how, based on
his own experiences, one can discover, pursue, and advance their
I’ve been in the Christian film industry since the early 90’s,
originally as an actor. I came to LA when I was 19 and jumped right into
the entertainment industry, first working with Burt Reynolds on a hit
show. In the middle of that, someone asked me to do a Christian movie. I
had grown up in the Mennonite Church; my dad was a pastor, and every
now and then a Christian movie would play in the church, like Corrie Ten
Boom’s story of the Joni Eareckson story. We rarely got to see the
endings because the projector always failed or the sound wouldn’t work
(laughs). So, I grew up seeing those movies, and I had a passion for the
industry, but I was engrained in what I was doing in the mainstream.
I did that first faith-based movie, and I did really well, and people
started hiring me as an actor in faith films in different organizations.
I think it’s interesting how the Lord puts desires in your heart. A lot
of times, the dreams we think we have aren’t the ones that we truly
have, and it takes time to find that out. For me, while acting in
faith-based movies, I saw that I really had a passion for the genre, and
I wanted to make films that lift and inspire the human spirit.That’s
what led me to producing faith-based movies and starting Pure Flix.
What were the biggest surprises or obstacles you encountered when
entering a completely different world than the one you grew up in?
I didn’t know much about Hollywood growing up; it was kind of a distant
place that I romanticized. Growing up as a Mennonite I saw one movie in
the theater; I was ultra conservative. I never told anyone I wanted to
go to Hollywood except for one person, because it didn’t make any sense.
I think I mentioned it once to my dad when I was 14, and he said,
“David you don’t know how to sing or dance so you can’t be an actor.”
However, my librarian told me to follow my dreams. We didn’t have a
theater or drama program in my school, but again, it was something that I
couldn’t shake. In my book, I talk about how you can know if a dream
inside of you is from God, or it’s something you’re fabricating and
shouldn’t chase. One of the things I always come back to is asking, “Is
that dream bigger than you? Can you let the dream go?” If you can’t,
then there’s a good chance it’s from the Lord. That’s what going into
the entertainment industry was for me.
I think I have a good beat on how to make movies that will resonate
with the faith audience. There were three starters to Pure Flix; Russell
Wolfe, Michael Scott, and myself, and we grew up in the church, so we
have a pretty good awareness of what the church expects in a faith film.
We also have a heart for it, so it just makes it easier. It’s not like
we’re trying to fabricate some Christian message so we can make a movie
in this space. We’re coming from a passion and a belief of what it is
what we’re making, and who we’re making it for.
You found your calling despite overwhelming obstacles. What are some
steps you would encourage people to take to help them discover their
your dream is actually from God. A God-given dream is always going to be
bigger than you. If you can accomplish it in your own strength, then I
don’t know if that’s all God call you to be. I think He wants to depend
on Him – that’s where it all starts. God wants the prayer of Jabez:
“Expand my territory for Your Kingdom.” Ultimately, it’s all for God’s
this dream go?” If you can’t let it go, a God-given dream is a
bothersome thing, it will clamor for our mind’s attention. If your dream
is that way, there’s a good chance it’s from God and you should pursue
it. Finally, does your dream bring glory to God? If it’s
self-motivating, if it isn’t serving others in the process and honoring
God, then we shouldn’t be pursuing it.
narrow view, but be open to see where God takes you. Life happens, a lot
of things are hard in life, marriage are tough, our whole country is
moving around, but God is faithful and He has a specific purpose and
plan for each one of our lives. You were created for a specific purpose
and designed for something great. Start believing in your God-given
ability, and then watch it come to life, and you’ll be amazed to see
what God will do through you.
you talk about “The Someday Myth.” What is that about? Why do you think
so many never pursue their God-given dreams?
I think it’s funny, cuz it’s a little cliche, but if you look on your
calendar, “someday” doesn’t exist. We don’t accomplish something by
continually putting things off. We need to take that and do it today.
Even if it’s uncomfortable – there’s a chapter in my book about being
comfortable in the uncomfortable. Right where you’re at is okay. When we
find ourselves doing things we don’t want to do, that’s where we think
most about what we want to do. We allow ourselves to dream. My mid 20’s
slowed down as an actor, and when that happens, it’s easy to become
discouraged and think God has given up on you. Those are the times that
we find ourselves. Allow yourself to dream; think about what it is you
really love to do, and then start taking steps. Don’t put it off. Start
taking those baby steps toward the goal, and you’ll be amazed to see how
all the sudden, those barriers will start coming down and you’ll start
accomplishing great things.