I was first introduced to Carol Anderson as a result of a mutual friend who had worked with us on Flowers for Fannie. I was instantly fascinated by what she does – touring around the world with her husband performing theatrical shows for retreats, conferences, cruises, and other events. She made her film debut with Gramps Goes to College and now I’m looking forward to working with her on Providence, our newest movie.
When did you first develop a love for acting?
Second grade, I was the shoemaker’s wife in the Shoemaker and the Elves. I remember sitting in the red chair in the living room memorizing lines for the first time and loving the rehearsals, the process of creating a play together. And then surprise, surprise — there was an audience and they responded and it was like this amazing living dialogue and it was joy. That joy experience of the process and the performance has never left me.
What is your educational background?
I have an MFA in Acting from UNC Chapel Hill Professional Actors Training Program, two years of conservatory training at Trinity Rep Conservatory and a BA in American Studies and Biblical Studies.
How did your one woman show on eating disorders end up on PBS?
I was a year into full recovery from a 12 year struggle with anorexia and bulimia. I was grateful. I wanted to help others. I wrote a magazine article about addiction and recovery. I met with a secular support group in Houston where I was living at the time. I read it aloud to them to see how it connected. The feedback was great. The leader asked me to write a show they could perform at a city wide conference. I was too new in my own recovery to really see myself directing 10 anorectics successfully, so I offered to write something I could do instead. So I created a funny, powerful show playing 7 different women who were either spiraling down into the illness or moving up and out toward recovery. It was my first opportunity to use my brokenness and healing to communicate hope.
Ken Baily of Baily Productions saw the show and was so moved by it, he said he wanted to film it. So we revised the stage play into a film version. Ken shopped it around and PBS in Texas picked it up and interspersed the segments with a panel of experts who discussed the psychological and emotional realities that I portrayed with each character.
Tell us about Acts of Renewal.
From the beginning, Jim and my goals have been to create and produce excellent theatre and film that glorifies God, leading audiences toward hope, goodness and hunger for God in Christ. Jim and I performed together at our first national conference a week before our wedding (not recommended) It was for the National Association of Christians in Recovery. We performed material that was close to the bone, very funny at times, but very real. We wanted the quality of the art to match the quality of the message and honestly weave so well together that you couldn’t separate one from the other. We wanted it to be really good and connect. We tried that idea first with a contemporary adaptation of the Prodigal set in Texas in LA. And it worked.
We have created and performed material about emotional healing, relationships, spiritual formation and more at colleges and universities across the country. We’ve performed at conferences and events of all sizes. Our biggest audience was 40,000 our smallest, was 8. We do a lot of comedy, finding that a powerful means to speak to the heart. We now weave theatre together with speaking at marriage events nation wide. We continue to work with Familylife at many of their events, having filmed a number of our pieces for them that they continue to use in their ministry around the world. On last year’s Familylife cruise we performed our piece on Corrie ten Boom forgiving the prison guard to illustrate Alex Kendrick’s talk on forgiveness. Great to have moments when theatre, actors and filmmakers come together.The Lord has opened some pretty remarkable doors through Acts of Renewal to perform, teach, serve and, to our gratefulness, make a difference in people’s lives.
Ha, that was a good one. I just finished grad school, I’m driving down the highway changing radio stations. I hear this really well produced radio drama show and listen. At the end it says it’s Adventures in Odyssey and Chuck Boltke was one of the producers. I scribble down the address. I write to him and tell him the truth that I saw him at age 14 at my church in Burlington, Mass when he was with the Jeremiah People. It was what planted the seed, well more than that, the evergreen tree, that what I wanted to do was professional Christian theatre and film. I’d just finished my MFA, here’s a tape of my one woman show etc., how did they audition their actors?
He connected me to his producer who wrote and said I had an interesting voice that would work, but they only record once every six weeks, so if I was ever in LA on that one day and the moon was over my left shoulder as I was crossing Hollywood BVLD to let him know and he could use me. And lo and behold that came to pass (well, except for the moon part) and I recorded as a guest artist on the episodes of “The Mysterious Stranger Parts 1 &2”.
On entering the recording studio, I was a bit like a deer in the headlights; but Hal Smith, the original Mr. Whittaker was sitting next to me. I immediately recognized him as Otis, from the Andy Griffith series and when he found out I was from North Carolina. He exclaimed, “Oh, a North Carolina girl!” and caused one eye to go in cross eyed. It made me laugh and put me at ease and I dove in.
I was delighted when Donald James Parker offered me the role of Dr. Turner, the atheist biology professor who locks horns with a senior citizen returning to college so he can teach students a thing or two about thinking for themselves. It was with Rosetti Productions, directed by Chip Rosetti and was a really good experience. The film is very forthright in it’s Christian statement. So after it was entered into a secular Eastern Carolina Film Festival this past fall, I was totally surprised when I won the Best Supporting Actress award for this role. In this day and age, Christian films are not the award winners. I’m still not sure how that even managed to happen. I’ll call it grace.
Which do you prefer – performing in front of a live audience or performing in front of a camera?
They are so very different for me. With a live audience, you are acting and engaging truthfully, moment by moment, but all these people are engaging in the experience with you which is crazy and wonderful and you create an experience together. But it is also an experience that is there and gone and you only get one take.
Film is tougher to do but more permanent. The camera and the director are really your audience. The camera is more critical of catching every nuance, so it is more intimate, the acting is more contained and more challenging. It is also more permanent and really in the hands of the editor as to what will be communicated to a larger audience. I like the freedom of the stage and I like the challenge of the camera.
We have a full winter spring national tour doing marriage events just about every weekend till mid April. In May I’ll be in part of the filming of Main Street Production’s new film Providence which I’m looking foreword to. We move from NC to Kentucky in the summer for Jim to be Co-Chair of the booming Communications/Film Dept at Asbury University .
As an actor I am looking forward to moving into more film opportunities with commercial and faith based productions. Since I teach acting on a college level and at film conferences, it was an easy segway to move into acting coaching for films which I would like to do more of as well.
Contact info: http://www.actsofrenewal.com (828) 301-8562 Follow us on Facebook at Acts of Renewal
Tell me about your family.
I have a great husband and partner, Jim Shores talented guy, great dad who makes me laugh a lot. We have two teenagers, Zach and Zander. High school senior and junior respectively. They make life fun and dramatic. I’m grateful for the journey, the present and eagerly look forward to the next adventure.