A Passion for Life
Rebecca St. James is best known as an award-winning musician, but her stage presence made her want to try acting some day. Now, in her first lead role in a feature film, St. James portrays a woman facing an unplanned pregnancy in Sarah's Choice (Pure Flix), recently released on DVD.
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In the film, Sarah—unmarried, pregnant, disdainful of her religious upbringing, and seeking a job promotion—struggles whether or not to have an abortion. Her family, friend, and co-workers voice different opinions, but Sarah is most strongly affected by a mysterious woman and three visions of Sarah's life with a child.
In addition to Sarah's Choice, Pure Flix also recently releases In the Blink of An Eye and Birdie and Bogey. The Christian film company aims to provide "high quality redeeming movie entertainment … with a unified vision of being purpose and profit driven to change culture for good and for God."
St. James recently talked to CT about her career in the entertainment industry as well as the importance of films like Sarah's Choice.
What are some of the joys and challenges in acting?
I knew there were certain elements to music that would translate over into film, but I also knew it was a very, very different medium. So I went to an acting class for about six months before I filmed Sarah's Choice. The main things that translated over for me from music was what a friend said: "You've got to bring your own life experiences, your own heart to that set of circumstances playing another character."
The crying scene in the film was kind of challenging. But God really allowed me to bring my own pain from my life to the situation. When I watch that scene now, I cry because it's real. It's very fulfilling when you emotionally go there and feel it and then you can watch it on screen.
The Mission: Pre-Born website says you are transitioning from music to films. What does that mean for your future?
I'm very much doing both. My ministry has been very multi-faceted. When I've done a book, focusing on that for a while will help me appreciate music or recording or doing live shows in a different way. It's like that change is as good as a holiday. I come back from a film and I'm like, "Oh, songwriting, that feels fresh" because I have a different perspective on it. I was just with a writer yesterday, and we're about probably half way on writing songs for the new album. We're looking at recording it probably early next year.
You talked about it as a ministry. Does that mean you would ever do a mainstream movie?
The last one I shot was a mainstream film (Rising Stars, releasing late 2010). But it was written by a Christian writer and director. So the film is just very God-honoring even though it's not a Christian film. I enjoyed that experience too, but mostly my focus is on faith and family films. That's largely my passion because from day one, my reason for doing music has been because of my relationship with God. I don't want to just entertain people, I want to lead people with his hope and truth that are going to impact their lives positively. So whether it's directly a Christian film or a film that's got God-honoring values in it, I believe both are important.
There are often low expectations for Christian movies because they may feel too preachy or cheesy. But Sarah's Choice didn't fall into that stereotype. What made it different?
One of the things I loved about the script was there was a lot of humanity. My character is struggling with the biggest decision of her life. She's not a Christian for a majority of the film; she's antagonistic toward Christianity because she's been hurt. I think the humanity, the pain of my character's situation, makes it feel very real.