SCH Contributor Raschelle Loudenslager had the blessing of talking with accomplished actress Francine Locke recently about her leading role as Jackie Carpenter in the soon to be released major motion picture, Stand Your Ground. Adjectives such as engaging, intelligent, kind, talented, and authentic come to mind when describing her, both personally and professionally.
Francine received the best-actress Gideon Awards in both 2010 and 2011 for her roles in True Tale Monsters and Family Law. The 168 Project named her Best-Lead and Best-Supporting Actress for her roles in Breaking and Stealing Home. Francine is no stranger to the big screen and recognizes the importance of releasing well produced and directed faith-based films, such as Stand Your Ground.
The movie’s title is taken from the “Stand your ground” law. This law provides that a person has the right to meet force with force, including deadly force, in defense of one’s self, one’s home, or other property. In this film Jackie Carpenter’s (Francine Locke) son finds himself in a situation he did not anticipate and is accused of murder. She fights a war only a Mother could wage when the prosecution seeks a life sentence. Jason and Jackie’s world is tested as they are thrown into turmoil. Suddenly they find themselves traveling a road steeped in faith and paved by hope.
A true story, Stand Your Ground is not just a pursuit for justice – it is a story of tragedy, and trusting in God – and a story which ends in triumph. Through the experiences of Jackie Carpenter this film forces you to ask yourself the tough questions, re-evaluate your faith, and believe in modern day miracles. Francine Locke’s portrayal of Jackie Carpenter is absolutely brilliant.
SCH: You did such a great job capturing Jackie Carpenter’s southern Georgia accent, which is no easy task from what I understand.
FL: It was fun and interesting because my director Michael McClendon had said “Francine I don’t want you to go and deal with a dialect coach up there in Chicago because they are just going to mess it up for you.” So, I explained to him I would not be able to do a good southern accent without the help of a coach. And I found a great dialect coach who just happened to be from Georgia. So he already knew some of the idiosyncrasies of Georgia speech as well as he watched some of Jackie’s clips on YouTube and he was really able to help me nail it. Ironically, his name is Jason too. How wonderful is that little connection.
SCH: After experiencing many years of success in your career as a model, actress, and producer you took ten years off to focus on raising your son. What made you decide to return to acting?
FL: I realized there were some good faith-based films when I watched TV with my son such as Facing the Giants and Remember the Titans. These were sports movie themes. I started watching them and thought about how much I had enjoyed working in this industry. But I acted for different reasons previously. So, I started looking into who was making what good films. After I remarried I worked with my husband but we reached the point where he no longer needed me to work with him and I had the time to get back into the industry.
When I found out there were good quality, moral, faith-based films available that I could be in, it became my new goal and desire. It was no longer about just being in films, but it was about doing something that had impact on others. I was able to do it and I hit the ground running. I found out about the 168 out in Los Angeles and I signed up for that and was nominated a couple of times, and through the contacts and networking opportunities in this industry I was able to reconnect. It has just been a gift.
SCH: You play the role of Mom Jackie Carpenter, what compelled you to take on this particular role?
FL: A friend of mine had told me about the audition he had seen posted on Facebook. So I went to this website and saw the breakdown. I thought, gee, this seems like the perfect spot for me, 50-ish woman, with all these different concerns and conflicts. So, I put a note on their Facebook page and attached my demo reel, which really isn’t the nicest thing to do (to put my advertising on someone else’s page), but I really felt it was something I needed to do. I would never ordinarily do this but I felt strongly I should.
Well, Jackie and the producers had been praying the night before that God would bring the right person to play this role to them. They already knew many of the cast members they were going to offer roles to, but they wanted the perfect Jackie. They needed to cast someone who, when they saw them everyone would see as the perfect Jackie. So the next day she looked on her Facebook page and saw my post. She clicked on my link and thought ‘she is a pretty girl but we can’t possibly use her, we are doing auditions this weekend.’ So she clicked it off.
Later on that afternoon she was looking at her Facebook page again and thought ‘she is a pretty good actor but we are doing auditions this weekend.’ So she closed it a second time. Then, Jackie went back on her Facebook page for a third time and she said God told her to click on my post and go to my video and watch it and not to click it off! So she watched my two minute video and saw the very last scene where I am out in the rain with a man and he is on his knees crying and I am reaching out to him.
She says in her thick Southern drawl, “Francine that was my Jason, and you were me.” So after seeing my demo she contacted me and asked me to contact the director, which I did. After speaking with Michael, the director, he sent me the script and there was no way I could not just jump at it because it is such a wonderful role. But also because there is so much of my own experiences played out in it, I have not had anyone go to prison, yet have dealt with some of the same frustrations she dealt with as well – fear, anger, and sometimes not knowing which way to go and trying so hard to fix everything on my own. That’s who I am as well.
I was a single parent, and had no one to do anything for me to help me. I knew I was going to fix everything on my own. I can honestly say this mentality did not make my life better. In fact it wasn’t until I stopped trying to fix everything on my own and gave it up to God that my life changed dramatically and for good. So, when I read the script it really resonated within me and I knew it was a role I had to play. There was no way I could not take the role God provided.
SCH: What similarities are there between you and the real Jackie Carpenter?
FL: We are both vivacious and outgoing. We talk a mile a minute. One difference is Jackie is always beautifully put together and I am not. (Laughter) She likes to get things done and consequently may not always think things through from point A to point Z and I tend to do the same thing. I am going to jump in to whatever it may be, get involved, and I will figure it out as I go along. We are both generous. We like doing things for other people. We both have wonderful parents. I just lost my Mom and she just lost her Dad. Her Jason reminds me of my only son Clay, and they are both very special boys.
SCH: Why do you feel faith –based films are so important for the film industry to release in this day and age?
FL: People are so tied into media whether on their phone, iPad, or television. Entertainment and visually stimulating images become a part of a person. Right now the faith-based film industry is growing by leaps and bounds because they are raising the bar and making quality TV that reaches out and talks to people and resonates with them. Because we now have quality in production and skill in acting we have the opportunity to reach out and impart some good positive images in people’s lives instead of focusing on the dark and negative and the worst of humankind. There is an open door to impact this culture with all that is positive and hopeful, especially when it is created with quality.
SCH: When you look at this story and George Zimmerman, both involved the Stand Your Ground Law in court, yet their outcomes are much different. Jason is doing well while George seems to be struggling. Why do you think this is?
FL: George Zimmerman was put on trial by the liberal media. None of us were there, however, from what I have read George Zimmerman has struggled within himself and some of this struggle may have been brought on by the incredible amount of pressure the media coverage brought to his case. Speaking of Jason, his faith is well grounded and has been for most of his life. His foundation for life is God’s word. Jason now has his own ministry. I personally think the difference comes down to faith. With regard to the law, there is good justification for it when it is used properly and when the circumstances fall under what it was written to protect.
SCH: What encouragement can you give to parents who are going through difficulties with their teenaged and /or adult children?
FL: Pray about your need and give it up to God. My mother had a saying, “God gives every bird its food but he doesn’t keep it in the nest. So, whatever the struggle may be whether it’s in our marriages, with our children, at work, etc. God gives us the ability to try and work it out through his guidance. We need to surrender the problems to God and then be willing to follow the steps and actions to find resolution as he directs us.
SCH: Jackie Carpenter says it was Psalm 91 which became her saving grace. Psalm 91:1 says those who live in the shadow of the most high will find rest in the shadow of the almighty. How does this scripture resonate with you and the challenges you have personally faced?
FL: There is such peace found in God’s Psalms. It reminds us no matter what happens God is our shelter and the source of all peace and strength. It is a book found in God’s word that reminds us God is present and able to meet our needs.
SCH: Why should people see Stand Your Ground?
FL: It is a wonderful story. It has all the elements of a great film. It is engaging, engrossing, and entertaining. It will reach into every single person and resonate with them. A person can take unchurched people to the film and they will see real faith, a real story and the real troubles and tragedies a family went through. It will touch you on every level. You will laugh, cry, and be completely engaged in this film. It gives you the opportunity to engage in conversation with others.
Francine Locke is a talented actress and an amazing person. Stand Your Ground opened in theaters Jan. 2014 and will soon be available on DVD!
Interested in Francine’s new film? Don’t miss Stand Your Ground (A Cry For Justice) – Movie Review
You can also learn more about Stand Your Ground by visiting the ChristianFilmDatabase
For more great Christian entertainment news, please check out Stand Your Ground Film Shows the Flip Side of The Law