…Well, I hate to give the obvious answer, but I think movies and entertainment can really accomplish that. First of all, it’s actually something lots of people can be a part of it — I always say “whatever your talent there is a job for you on a movie set”. You cook? Catering. Do you love fashion? Wardrobe. Good at math? Production Accountant! You’re a good driver? We need those too! THEN the real bonus is that if the type of content you are making inspires others or makes them think about the world differently, it’s like all those gifts and talents came together to create a ripple effect of positivity. Boy, do we need that nowadays…
I had the pleasure of interviewing Erin Bethea , an actress and producer best recognized from her starring role in the hit faith-based film Fireproof. She has appeared in over 20 feature films and television series including Amazing Love (opposite Sean Astin), and The Heart of Christmas (with Candace Cameron Bure), and A Life Connected (with Kenton Duty), as well as hosting the Emmy® Winning Series On Mission Xtra. Her film New Life is the flagship feature of her production company, Argentum Entertainment, which focuses on bringing impactful and inspiring stories to life.
Thank you so much for joining us! Can you tell us a story about what brought you to this specific career path?
I’ve really always loved performing, even before I knew it could be a career path. I used to stand up on our fireplace and belt out “Tomorrow” from Annie. Luckily, I have an amazing and supportive family who encouraged me to pursue a career that I loved!
Can you share the most interesting story that happened to you since you started this career?
Fireproof really changed everything for me. It was my first real role in a film and I was the lead actress. Not only that, the film went on to become the #1 Independent film of the year and my name was suddenly everywhere — Yahoo Crossword puzzles, Google Search lists alongside actresses like Reese Witherspoon and Megan Fox. It all exploded overnight. Considering we really didn’t think Fireproof was going to be this huge hit, and I was so brand new to the film world, that was a wild ride!
Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?
It was probably my first ever audition. I had no clue what I was doing. I was all over the place, moving around like I was doing the whole blocking of the scene instead of just focusing on the acting. I was so green, it was ridiculous. Needless to say, that didn’t work out. Funnily enough, I now teach audition technique to other actors — so I definitely learned from that experience!
What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?
My film New Life, which recently released was really special to me because I also wrote and produced it. I’m also very excited about a film that is currently in post-production and will be released in 2019 called A Life Connected. I was very keen on being involved in this film because it focuses on the foster care system. I play a social worker, which was a nice change for me since I’m usually just “the wife” or “the love interest”. I have family members who are foster parents, and my dad was adopted, so to be able to bring those familiar stories to life and represent the unsung heroes who help these children was a real honor.
Who are some of the most interesting people you have interacted with? What was that like? Do you have any stories?
I’ve been lucky to work alongside some of the really great people in this business. Folks like Sean Astin, Candace Cameron Bure, Terry O’Quinn, Bill Cobbs, Graham Greene — they’re just very real and they’ve been in the business a long time and not lost their sense of self. It’s inspiring.
Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?
I’ll pass along a tip from “Samwise Gamgee” himself… when I first moved to Hollywood, Sean Astin advised me to go down around town to some of the classic “Hollywood” spots and just dream a little. It wasn’t about being famous, but it was an amazing reminder that I get to be even the tiniest part of this massive story that is the history of entertainment. It’s a great reminder that your accomplishments, no matter how small, are worth celebrating and your goals are valuable. I’d say, do whatever you have to do to remind yourself why it’s not a job. Keep dreaming and KEEP LEARNING. Remind yourself why you fell in love in the first place or learn something new about it and you’ll find that energy accelerated all over again.
You are a person of great influence. If you could start a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. 🙂
Well, I hate to give the obvious answer, but I think movies and entertainment can really accomplish that. First of all, it’s actually something lots of people can be a part of it — I always say “whatever your talent there is a job for you on a movie set”. You cook? Catering. Do you love fashion? Wardrobe. Good at math? Production Accountant! You’re a good driver? We need those too! THEN the real bonus is that if the type of content you are making inspires others or makes them think about the world differently, it’s like all those gifts and talents came together to create a ripple effect of positivity. Boy, do we need that nowadays…
What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why? Please share a story or example for each.
Surround yourself with the right people. By this I mean, focus on relationships both inside and outside your field of work. Human relationships are the most valuable thing we have. I’m so lucky to have the family and friends that I have and there are times in this industry where I have felt the need to isolate and “focus on my art” but the truth is that most times, the best ideas and inspiration have come from the people you have interaction with.
Don’t be afraid of the word “no”. And by this I mean, don’t be afraid to hear it or to say it. Those who tell you “no” are probably doing you a favor. And when you need to say “no” to something, consider it a sign of strength. This is probably even more meaningful now in the face of the #TimesUp movement. For example, I had an agent who wanted to sign me for a while and my manager at the time was really pushing for it. By all “industry” standards it made sense to do the deal, but I just felt wrong in my gut. My manager then threatened to drop me when I took on a role that required me to shave my head. It seemed like my professional opportunities in my career were unraveling. When I said “no” to signing with the agent and then the manager dropped me for taking the role, it turned out to be the best situation possible since both of them ended up engaged in some nasty battles later on… I’m so grateful I said “no” and was told “no”. It gave me the gift of freedom from dealing with people I did not want to be associated with later on.
Learn the “business” of your art. I see so many artists focusing only on developing their talent — which is wonderful! But at the end of the day, the industry is a business and it is those who approach it that way who find the most longevity. Becoming a producer has taught me that more than anything. Not only do I appreciate each and person and moment responsible for making a film possible, but I also approach my own career with fresh eyes.
Find something other than your career to love. Whether it’s your family, a hobby, a charity. Get outside of your bubble and do something new that inspires you. Do something that challenges you, scares you, gets you out of bed on hard days. For example, I love interior design. I love refinishing furniture. I don’t get to do it as often as I would like, but there are days when I just can’t bear to think about work for one more minute and if I can just go out into the garage and sand down an old chest of drawers, I get such delight from that! It gives my brain a break from too much circular thinking on one subject.
Prepare for success! I struggle sometimes with regret about how I handled my career after Fireproof. I was the #4 searched for an actress on Yahoo.com. I was the lead in a movie that made more money than Meryl Streep, Ryan Reynolds or George Clooney movies that came out that same year and most of you reading this have never heard my name. I was so green and knew ZERO about how Hollywood worked — I never hired a publicist, never went to meet with an agent during that time, I never did anything to capitalize on that opportunity. I just thought, “Well I’m in a hit movie, so surely someone will come knocking on my door and tell me what to do next!” That didn’t happen. Now hopefully, one day I will get an opportunity like that again, but ten years ago I was handed a gift that I was not prepared for. I’m afraid we spend so much time worrying about failing that we forget to prepare for success!
Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?
I have a sign in my office that says “Throw Kindness Around Like Confetti”. The kindness of others to me has made the greatest impact on my life. Grace when I didn’t deserve, kindness when I was unkind, a helping hand when I needed it. Those are the moments I look back in my life and are the most vivid. I just want to pay that forward. I know that’s maybe not a super deep thought or brilliant life lesson quote. But I do believe that it’s what the world really needs — more kindness. And I hope to have it in spades, not kindness I have to reserve for times when I need it, but an abundance of it that I can throw around in the world wherever I go with the attitude of “There’s more where that came from!”
None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?
My parents, for sure. They never questioned my desire to become an actress. Never pushed me in a “safer” direction. They have always cheered me to shoot for the stars while also helping hold my feet on the ground. They are the reason I have the confidence to pursue what I am passionate about.
Some of the biggest names in Business, VC funding, Sports, and Entertainment read this column. Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might see this. 🙂
If I could have a private meal with a living person… at this moment in my life, it would probably be Lin-Manuel Miranda. First off, because Hamilton is one of the greatest pieces of work I have ever seen or heard in my life and I am literally on the edge of my seat for Mary Poppins Returns. But also, I just have so much admiration for his outlook on life. His work ethic is beyond comprehension, his creativity is the likes of which I don’t know that anyone of this generation can match. But his positivity and his love for his family, his friends, and people, in general, is what I most so admirable. How a person keeps that mindset while skyrocketing to fame is something rare and special. That or JK Rowling — I’m a total HP nerd ☺
How can our readers follow you on social media?
@erinbethea on Twitter and Instagram @erinbetheactress on FB and please follow A Life Connected Feature Film: https://alcmovie.com/