She may be best known as an award-winning singer, but in the last few years, Rebecca St. James has been slowly making her way into acting. After testing the water with several supporting roles, she plunged into the deep end as the star of Sarah's Choice, where she plays a young woman whose life is derailed by an unplanned pregnancy.
Why did you decide to make the transition into acting, and why this film? God ignited my heart for faith and family films a couple of years ago, and I really felt that there should be more Christians active in the movie-making business helping shape content. So I'd been taking quite a few meetings and a few doors opened to get involved in several film projects. But it was because of my work with a crisis pregnancy center in Los Angeles that I decided to take this part. After seeing the amazing things they were doing at the center, I prayed, "God, show me what else I can do to help because I see such a great need." A couple of months later I was asked to audition for Sarah's Choice, and I thought it was an answer to prayer.
Working with crisis pregnancy centers must have given you some great tools in preparing for this part. It really did. They were able to load me up with books and materials that describe the emotions that girls in a crisis pregnancy situation go through. I drowned myself in the stories these women told. And I have two friends who had abortions who have told me of the wounding they suffered from that experience with tears streaming down their faces. What came back to me again and again from their stories was the tremendous amount of pain and fear they felt. So even though I haven't been unmarried and pregnant, I have had moments of pain and fear that I was able to bring to the set.
Your performance comes across remarkably authentic for someone who's just started acting. How did you manage that? When you grow up in the spotlight like I did-I was 13 when I went on my first concert tour, 15 when I signed my first record deal-you can feel pressure to live up to a certain image. So I went into this movie telling myself, "If I'm self-conscious, people will know. If I worry about how camera angles are making my face look on screen, it will show and it will detract from people's experience of the story." So I tried to forget about myself as much as I could and immerse myself in a character in a desperate situation who needs the love of God.
In the last few years mainstream Hollywood has put out films like the R-rated Knocked Up and PG-13 Juno that are quite different in tone from Sarah's Choice, yet embrace pro-life themes in their own way. Do you see the tide of opinion turning in the industry? I have noticed that and I think it's really encouraging to see mainstream movies affirming God-honoring, life-giving principles, but I don't think we can expect Hollywood to do that all the time-especially if there aren't believers in Hollywood helping to influence it. Believers can't be afraid of movies and television, because they are powerful, powerful mediums that can change lives for good or for evil. If you're called to a life in acting or directing or producing, you need to move towards it with courage and faith.