A few years ago, I met Carlos Espinosa, the founder of Holy Wood Acting Studio in California, and commented on one of his video blogs. I was struck by his wisdom and passion for opening an acting studio in California that is faith-based. I immediately felt if my children decided to be actors; this was certainly the theater school I'd joyfully send them.
Carlos is a Christian and also has family members in the theater. This not only makes it clearer that his background and education in theology led him to found Holy Wood, but also that he knew firsthand how much of an impact movies and the media make on the entire world. Holy Wood teaches by educating the actor's heart and filling it with healthy feelings and abundant messages of love to convey in pictures what make our world a beautiful place of joy to live in. His company also shows that acting is a very important calling when the work is done to act with a purpose.
I understand Carlos's message through living behind scenes in my own life; something that many of us feel every day of our lives; that our starring roles of love and support usually go unnoticed. My greatest passion is to bring light to our unsung heroes that are among us, which is one of the messages Carlos teaches through his film work. And what better way to reach the masses than through movies and the media?
Holy Wood Studio's goal is to help Christian actors bring truth and beauty to the world through the media, something that helps people who have lost our way by following negative examples seen via mass media, which reinforce poor or negative role models.
Carlos tells a true story about the first showing of a war film. He said that during the film, the actors who starred in it sat on one side of the theater, while the actual veterans viewing it sat on the other side of the theater. But when the film ended, the rest of the fans rushed to greet the actors but none of the true heroes -- the real veterans -- who had sacrificed so much for all of us. The fans probably had no idea that the real heroes weren't the actors but some of their fellow film viewers, and it's easy to overlook real heroes in our daily life.
For anyone who questions their own everyday roles, Carlos's film work points out key principles through scripture that speak to everyone, religious or not. For example, for many years, I've been personally 'acting as if' (through reading scriptures), and this miraculous faith base has been my saving Grace through the storms of life. Still, regardless of how powerful the storms we've all gone through and continue to face, too much emphasis is placed on Hollywood stars and their personal lives, or their character's stories on the big screen, rather than on the serious messages in their films.
As a Course in Miracle's student, I've learned that every relationship is a holy encounter. I realize that because she loved me, my mother brought my own holy encounters to my attention to keep me safe. Without knowing it, she had lived the true teachings of A Course in Miracles before I ever knew about it or practiced it. This is something that I aspire to do; to bring attention to acting in ways that move us all to a better place every day in dealing with mundane matters, by gently guiding each other through love, just as God loves all of us. We all need to bring our peak performances to everyday life and be grateful to those role models who help us each work towards reaching heaven on earth.
The following is a piece that I wrote that resonated with Holy Wood Studio through a media connection that brought us together. It is an honor to talk with Carlos and to hear his amazing stories of wisdom, love, and wonder. I'm looking forward to seeing holy encounters depicted in Holy Wood's Studio Productions to come.
Our Best Role Models
I read that the first "Mystery Plays" performed in the early Church, along with the scenes depicted in stained-glass windows, were created for people who could not read or write. The earliest of these plays took place in churches rather than in theaters, with the priests and monks acting out Bible stories. They were performed to allow people to reflect on and be lifted up to a truer understanding of God and how to live.
This is similar to the way we live today, as we emulate our role models and those we look up to. Whether in our own household, in school, or in the Church, our role models are the actors who lead us to a greater life through their performances. We can choose to follow along, or add our own words and interpretations, but eventually we must find someone to lead us home. Ultimately, the only act we need to follow is God's.
The stage is set and our script is waiting. Our role models are those who have gone before us and already accomplished what we seek to do or become. When we study the great ones' lives, we learn how they overcame difficulties and failure, and how they weren't afraid to keep trying. They were not influenced by mistakes, nor did they give in to insults, fear, pain, separation, or sorrow. They are our saints, the givers and the doers of the world we live in, and they provide us with inspiration by serving others in gratitude and love. They have succeeded in fostering the growth and development of all of humanity, and theirs is one of the greatest of all gifts.
It is an honor to take on the roles God intends for us, to become our highest selves as God has revealed to us. Knowing our true nature empowers us to act as God would act. It may not be easy, but it is truly an act of love.
About Catherine Nagle: Catherine grew up in Philadelphia with 16 brothers and sisters, reared by loving, old school Italian parents. Catherine's artist father's
works graced locations from churches to public buildings; her mother was a full-time homemaker. A professional hairdresser, Catherine worked in various salons while studying the Bible and pursuing spiritual growth through courses, seminars, lectures and inspirational books, including A Course in Miracles and the works of Marianne Williamson among many others. The mother of two children and a grandmother, Catherine lives in Pennsylvania with her husband and son. She is the Author of Imprinted Wisdom.