I first met Julie Bell when she was a senior in college. She was a star at Millikin University with the lead in “Brigadoon.” She was a leader in InterVarsity Christian Fellowship leading Bible studies and witnessing to her friends in musical theatre. She has been a professional in the theatre industry for 17 years, and this Christmas season she can be seen in the Clorox Bleachable Moments campaign. I talked with her to learn about how her faith remains strong in the business.
SCH: How did you get involved with the Messy Melodies?
JB: I sing with a group called “partysingers.com” every year around the holidays. Clorox actually found us online and asked us to be a part of this new campaign for “Bleach Away.” It was an unexpected blessing that found me.
SCH: Do you have your own bleachable moment?
JB: Oh my, anytime I wear white pants or am watching little kids, there is always a bleachable moment!
SCH: How and when did you become a Christian?
JB: I became a Christian at the age of 4. We were on a family vacation in Florida, and I had a near death experience at a swimming pool. After tossing and turning all that night, my mother gently explained to me I didn’t have to fear death as long as I had a relationship with Jesus. She explained to me how Jesus stands at my heart’s door and knocks. She explained sin and how that makes our hearts black (4 year old terms) and how Jesus wants to come in and make it white as snow. I told her I no longer wanted a black heart, I wanted my heart to be white. I also wanted to be with Jesus in heaven one day, and I didn’t want to die without him in my life. So that night, in that hotel room, I asked Jesus in my heart.
SCH: How does your faith influence your career and coworkers?
JB: Because I have chosen to put Jesus first in my life, ahead of my career, I have come to understand that I march to the beat of HIS drum, not the worlds. There are certain products I won’t audition for. I have made it clear to my commercial agent that I won’t promote alcohol or tobacco products. People make good money in those particular ads, however I just can’t promote it. Those are my convictions; I don’t want to be responsible for promoting products that could harm or even kill others. When an opportunity or audition presents itself, I have to ask myself a few questions: Does this glorify the flesh or does this glorify God? How will this affect my witness for Him? Is there anything in this script, show, character that will compromise my convictions? How will this look to my young nieces and nephews?
It always delights my heart when I have an opportunity to share the word of God with others in my industry. Over the years, I have had the unique privilege of leading a small group Bible study for my cast mates. It’s easy to feel alone as a Christian in this business, yet I have found that the non-believers can feel even lonelier. Like Esther, God had called me to duty “for such a time as this” to speak out and to encourage and share with them the greatest message they could ever know: the gospel of Jesus Christ. It can be scary to step out in faith, and I can even fear their reactions. I found as I did my part, God did His!! These moments have been the most precious and dear to me: to pray with them backstage, weep with them, and to just to show them the love of Christ.
SCH: What keeps your faith strong in an industry that can lead to rejection and competition?
JB: “No” and “Thanks, that’s all” is more common than “YES” in this business. Many times I have wanted to give up and not look back. When those feelings set in of rejection, not being “enough,” I always have to go back to my identity is IN CHRIST. My identity is not in a career, a role, or a show. If I put my trust in that, it will always fail me. Psalm 118 says “Better to trust in the Lord than to trust in Princes.” Colossians says that “you are COMPLETE in HIM.” So whether they cast me or not, it doesn’t matter, God accepts me and loves me and has a very special plan. It’s easy to feel worth-less when no one is calling you on the phone for a job. It is important for me as a daughter of the king to remember, he bought me at a price. He sought me out and purchased me with his blood. That’s my Lord, and that’s who I belong to, not a career.
SCH: How is God using you to expand His kingdom in the theatre world?
JB: Last Spring, I met another Christian artist at an audition. She was sitting next to me in line, and I noticed she had a Christian fish app on her iPhone. We struck up a conversation and soon after we met up for coffee. Out of this coffee date, a friendship as well as a music therapy program was born called “The King’s Daughters.” Both of us have worked for Disney and have done our share of music theatre. Looking back we realized that the Lord set us up. The Lord has opened doors for us to use our music theatre experience to perform for sick children. Our goal is to give them a taste of heaven as we sing princess ballads and tell them about our father, the King. We just sang at the Ryan Seacrest Studios at the Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia. This is very new venture of faith for us and we would appreciate your prayers!!
SCH: What is the next role/production that people can see you in?
JB: Right now I can be seen as a “Mistletone” caroling about in New York City. I haven’t booked a job yet for 2014, always a walk of faith, but trusting my Lord one step at a time!!
Read more about InterVarsity in Christian in College
To learn more about Julie, visit Julie Bell
To learn more about the author, visit Jenny Klouse. She enjoys helping college students discover who God created them to be and seeing the impact they make on the world.