When autocomplete options are available, use up and down arrows to review and enter to select.
Apply Give

Master storyteller Karen Kingsbury visits Liberty University ahead of her film debut, ‘Someone Like You’

Karen Kingsbury addressed students during Friday’s Convocation. (Photo by Aziz Ibrahim)

New York Times bestselling novelist Karen Kingsbury is a favorite guest at Liberty University. She has visited campus many times, often to share her expertise from the publishing world and spend time with her children when they were students. But last weekend was the first time Kingsbury stepped on campus as a movie producer.

On Friday, Kingsbury was the featured guest at Convocation, where she was joined on stage by members of the cast and crew of “Someone Like You,” the first movie from Karen Kingsbury Productions scheduled to hit 1,800 theaters nationwide and in Canada on April 2. The film, based on Kingsbury’s 2020 novel of the same name, is a redemptive love story about a man who loses his best friend but sets out on an impossible search for her secret twin sister. Students and members of the Liberty community were invited to a special screening at Thomas Road Baptist Church on Friday night.

For Kingsbury, seeing her characters make a grand entrance on the big screen came as no surprise — many of her books have been made into movies and TV series. But it was a leap of faith to make a movie herself, a massive undertaking like no other in her professional life.

She recalled the moment the idea struck her. In late 2018, as she was writing the last page of her book, God told her, “This is going to be your first movie.”

But she shoved the notion away for a while, hesitant of embarking on such a large venture.

“For me, when I write a book, I cast it. I get to control the weather, the sets, the locations. But when you’re making a movie, everything is on the line.”

The thought wouldn’t go away, and after talking with her husband, Don Russell, they decided to follow the constant prompting of the Holy Spirit and use their savings to make it all happen.

“We said, let’s commit to two things: let’s ask God every day for wisdom, because we don’t know what we’re doing, and let’s ask Him for favor, because making a movie is a difficult thing to do — it’s like it doesn’t even want to be made. Everything can come against you, from COVID to illness, set issues, legal issues.”

Right, Tyler Russell, the film’s director and Kingsbury’s son, with (left to right) actors Austin Robert Russell (his brother), Sarah Fisher, and Scott Reeves (Photo by Aziz Ibrahim)

With no Hollywood support and no investors behind the film, Kingsbury set to work writing the script with her son, Tyler Russell, the film’s director. The movie became a true family affair, as her youngest son, Austin Robert Russell, a Liberty graduate and actor, was asked to join the cast. Pre-production was done in their home in Nashville, Tenn., and they filmed the movie in 25 days in the fall of 2022. The set became a ministry for the family, as they led off each day in prayer and devotions.

“We said first we’re going to need to love people, feed them well, just love them,” Kingsbury said. “Because not everyone was going to be a believer who came on our team, but if they could see Jesus in us then maybe, even if the movie never made it to the big screen, it would be worth it.”

The movie itself has become a ministry. Kingsbury took up the pen again when she wrote a 20-page, seven-part Bible study that hits on themes in the film, like the feeling that God has abandoned you or the need to forgive. The study works well for individuals or groups and families. Kingsbury’s family also started the Share the Hope campaign, allowing individuals to purchase tickets for others who aren’t able to afford them.

“It’s a love story and people are going to enjoy the entertainment value of it, but there is such a deep message of hope that whatever you are going through, if you will lift your eyes to God, it’s going to be OK — and that’s a message I don’t want anyone to miss,” Kingsbury said. (Learn more about the Bible study and Share the Hope at someonelikeyou.movie.)

Many Liberty students were among the first to view the film at Friday’s screening. They said seeing Kingsbury’s masterful storytelling on the big screen was a special treat, leaving them encouraged in their faith.

“It was very moving and very emotional,” said psychology student Sylvia Growden. “I cried like four times, and there was a lot of laughing too. It was a good mix of making sure they hit all the emotions. It was very heartfelt and wholesome.”

Kingsbury and members of the cast and crew for “Someone Like You,” met with students after the screening on Friday night. (Photo by Matt Reynolds)

Following the screening, Cinematic Arts Professor Scotty Curlee moderated a Q&A session with Kingsbury and actors Austin Robert Russell, Sarah Fisher, and Scott Reeves. Audience members were invited to meet the guests for photos and additional questions.

“It was an amazing experience,” sophomore Leah Howard said. “A lot of times we watch a movie and have this emotional experience, but then to hear the story behind it afterwards and how God moved throughout the process of this movie was absolutely tremendous.”

Freshman film student Mason Westcott said he appreciated the opportunity to not only watch the movie but also talk with cast members.

“I genuinely liked the movie, and it was very inspiring for me as a film major,” he said. “I have started to think of ways I can incorporate this (what they said) for a future film that I am already starting to make as a student. It’s very interesting to get insight from people in the industry.”

In an interview after Convocation, Kingsbury said Liberty University has meant so much to her family, and she has continued to share her journey with students because she believes in the university’s mission of Training Champions for Christ who will impact culture.

Kingsbury has been living out that mission throughout her entire writing career and now as the maker of a faith-based movie that goes against the grain of Hollywood.

“The last couple of years, and even leading up to the decision to make the movie, I felt God was calling me to be an Esther to this culture,” she said. “The idea that this is a culture where believers are a shrinking number and at risk of being ostracized or eliminated from society — I mean, that’s not impossible as you look ahead. I felt like God was wanting me to step into that role and the way to prepare, I knew, was to spend time with Him. It wasn’t to watch 10 movies that might be like mine or to compare lenses or figure out who would be the best talent. That would come, and God would provide it. But I needed to lean into Him and be close to Him and let Him prepare my heart for that time.”

The movie has already been making headlines. “It’s got a big buzz around it,” Kingsbury said after Convocation. “Forbes today had three articles on their homepage — a new season of “Stranger Things,” something about Taylor Swift, and me. It was like, ‘Oh Lord, you really are going to let me be Esther. That’s amazing.’”

She said the New York Times is releasing a feature soon that was supposed to be on “The Baxters” (a TV series based on Kingsbury’s Baxter Family book series that will hit Amazon Prime on April 28), but the interview ended up being mostly about her.

“I thought again, ‘There you go, Lord.’ The reporter flew to my house, and I got to share about the Lord to them so beautifully, and when the harder questions came, I was ready for those and was able to just say, ‘You know, I write what God’s putting on my heart.’”


Tickets can be purchased online at someonelikeyou.movie.



Chat Live Chat Live Request Info Request Info Apply Now Apply Now Visit Liberty Visit Liberty