Matthew 5:16: “Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”
“I always wanted to make people either laugh or smile,” says Brittany Polzella (’17) of her childhood. Be it dance or theatre, Polzella pursued a platform that would impact people. At age 13, she suffered a setback in the form of a rare blood disorder that nearly took her life, but it only made her desire stronger. She felt God calling her “to be a light in the media.” In her youthful zeal, she thought that meant becoming a star.
Polzella joined an acting agency and attended a talent convention in Orlando. There she met a high school graduate named Rebecca who was looking forward to attending Liberty University. Her interest piqued, Polzella visited Liberty and its brand-new Cinematic Arts faculty and facilities. Her attraction to the program confused her: her goal was to be an actress, not a filmmaker. She applied to Liberty University anyway and was accepted.
Polzella followed God’s lead to film school. By the time she entered a cohort in her junior year, she felt excited to “finally be with my people.” Her classmates noticed her attention to detail and encouraged her to become a script supervisor. She believed God wanted her in that profession. It was discouraging then not to be recruited as a script supervisor for her class’s participation in the movie Extraordinary. Instead, she began working in the film’s Art Department, where she was asked to break down the film script to identify set decoration for every scene. Her talent quickly became apparent, and the department key (head position) relied on her problem-solving ability.
In 2017, Polzella’s reputation earned her a spot in the Art Department of Provident Films’ feature, Indivisible. She exceeded expectations and was asked to make a special piece, an entry-filled war journal intended to impact the lead characters’ relationship. Later, the director personally showed her shots featuring the journal and thanked her for her fine work. The lead actress cut a scene short to tell Polzella that she was inspired by the journal writings to get into character at a more personal level. “You have a gift,” she said, “Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise.” Polzella’s co-workers congratulated her, and she realized God had placed her where she needed to be.
After personal achievement, discouragement can naturally follow, especially in the between-gigs phase of film work. Polzella first experienced a low when she went back home after Indivisible, but she also discovered opportunities for meaningful ministry. Change is a pattern she has since learned to take in stride, accruing multiple productions on her resume. She says she’s still tempted to question her calling while awaiting the next film job, but the wait proves its worth every time. She’s been awarded by LU’s Cinematic Arts for her production design work, applauded by producers, directors, and keys for her talent, promoted to higher positions, and privately praised by crew members grateful for her unique ability to bring joy—and light—on film sets.
Now a Production Designer for an upcoming feature film, Polzella is amazed by how God has been fulfilling her on a platform she never envisioned as a child. She has learned to follow His lead and not resist if He denies, delays, or changes her direction because she knows He will bring blessing to and through her wherever she goes, which is her heart’s desire. In a time of pandemic uncertainty, this is the message we all need to hear.