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Welcoming ‘The Chosen’

By Ryan Klinker, April 21, 2022

Filmmaker and cast members spend day on campus

The stories of Jesus Christ and those who walked the earth with Him are the most powerful stories to ever make it on screen. Now, “The Chosen,” the first multi-season TV series about the life of Jesus, is taking the Gospel around the world like no other show has, with superb storytelling and filmmaking that rivals anything out of Hollywood today.

But the success hasn’t come in the usual way. Supported entirely through generous donations from viewers, the show has become the top crowd-funded TV series of all time. Since its debut in 2017, its two seasons and a Christmas special have been viewed by over 400 million people around the world.

On Feb. 18, Liberty University students and College For A Weekend (CFAW) guests had the unique opportunity during the morning’s Convocation to get a behind-the-scenes look at the show and hear directly from the show’s creator and cast members. Later in the day, “The Chosen” guests held special sessions with digital media and cinematic arts students where they shared more about the making of the show and insights from the filmmaking industry.

“The Chosen” was created and is directed by Dallas Jenkins, a parent of two Liberty students. Jenkins joined three actors from the show, Elizabeth Tabish (Mary Magdalene), Noah James (Andrew), and Lara Silva (Eden, wife of Simon Peter), who all shared inspirational stories of how God is using “The Chosen” to reach audiences and, in turn, is leading them deeper in their own faith journeys.

Dallas Jenkins and the three cast members spent time meeting students in the concourse of the Vines Center after Convocation. (Photos by KJ Jugar)

Jenkins said “The Chosen” came after a major disappointment in his career, but one that would ultimately change his perspective on how God would use him in his craft. He recalled his previous visit to Liberty, in 2017, when he spoke to a Convocation crowd about a promising new feature film. But three days after that visit, Jenkins watched as the box office returns came in and his budding career plummeted. His prospective partners in future projects pulled out, and he “went from being a director with a very bright future to a director with no future.”

That same night, in the midst of his discouragement, God spoke to Dallas through his wife and a Facebook friend, both of whom pointed him to the miracle of Jesus feeding 5,000 people with five loaves of bread and two fish.

“In that moment, my life changed, I changed, because for the first time in my life … I realized the multiplication is up to (God). I cannot put myself in God’s place. As dumb as it would have been for the boy who provided the five loaves and two fish to go home to his parents and say, ‘I fed 5,000 people today,’ that is how dumb it would be to stand in front of you today and say, ‘I made “The Chosen” and here’s how.’ I don’t know how; I just provided the loaves and fish.”

Through a video message to the Convocation crowd, Jonathan Roumie, the actor who portrays Jesus, shared a similar story of surrendering his work to God. Before he was cast in the show, he said he was struggling in his career.

“I had to look at everything that I had achieved and not achieved at this point in my life, at the tender age of 44, and realize that unless I invited God into my career, no matter what I did or how hard I tried, my career wasn’t going to move forward because He did not want that to happen without Him,” Roumie said. Three months later, Roumie was contacted about working on “The Chosen.”

Tabish told the students that her role was an opportunity for her “to take a breath of fresh air and see the love and goodness in life, the hope in life, and start over.”

“I’ve experienced that in my life from this show, working with these wonderful people and telling stories about love and hope that Hollywood doesn’t always offer,” she said.

The guests from ‘The Chosen’ spoke with students from Liberty’s cinematic arts and digital media programs in the afternoon.

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