Born in Tanzania, Chipo Chung went on to graduate from Yale with a double major in Theatre Studies and Fine Art, also founding the charity SAFE (Sponsored Arts for Education). Her work both as an actress and a social activist has been inspiring, going between her work in the well-known science fiction film Sunshine to working for peace in Zimbabwe.
For Chipo Chung, who grew up with the Christian faith, and as a artist who has devoted her talents to the Greater Good, it has been important to her that the world see Mary Magdalene as the strong, stable, Christian follower that she was.
In an exclusive interview provided by NBC, Chipo Chung, who plays Mary Magdalene in A.D. The Bible Continues shared profound insights about the value of the series and the importance of portraying Mary. What follows are her significant statements in response Sonoma Christian Home‘s questions. SCH Editor at Large Dr. Diane Howard reports.
SCH: How has this project changed your view of this historical period?
CC: It has given me respect for the violent context of the time but the prevailing power of non-violent resistance. As Margaret Mead has said, “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”
SCH: How has work on A.D. affected your faith?
CC: It has given me confidence that even in the midst of violence Hope and Love can prevail.
SCH: How has this projected affected your knowledge of the Bible?
CC: I understand now Mary Magdalene as a woman of strong character. She was a compassionate, courageous witness of Christ’s horrific crucifixion. She was a bold first witness of Christ’s resurrection, while the other disciples were in hiding. She continued to follow Christ and to support Him from her own means. She has been misrepresented through history as a prostitute and/or love interest of Christ’s, although the Bible shows that she was neither.
SCH: You have performed Mary Magdalene with stability and strength of character. Why is an accurate understanding of Mary Magdalene significant?
CC: I want to redress and counter the mythology about her because I believe that strong women have often been misrepresented as powerful only due to their sexuality or in terms of their relationship with men. Mary was a foundational character who was fully present at Christ’s crucifixion. She was present in His pain and willing to courageously care for Him in His death. She was the first to whom Christ appeared in His resurrection and had the strength of character to go to the hiding disciples to tell them of Christ’s resurrection appearance. Further, she had the strength of character to witness to the life, death, and resurrection of Christ in the violent world of that time.
SCH: How do you see Roma Downey’s and Mark Burnett’s work as serving the world?
CC: Like my work with S.A.F. E. (an NGO/UK Charity), they are using the performing arts to promote ultimate meaning, compassion, and hope around the world. Not only are they producing dramatic productions but educational curricula for the personal enrichment of their viewers.
SCH: Why is serving the world for social good important to you?
CC: I have grown up with privilege and believe it is my social responsibility.
SCH: What do you think is especially significant about this series for the world today?
CC: There are many parallels with our world today. This series has a special resonance related to the conflicts between violent and non-violent efforts to change the world.
In a video on Sonoma Christian Home, Chipo Chung, also addresses the mythology of Mary Magdalene in A.D. The Bible Continues that needs to be corrected. Chung discusses this mysterious, controversial, and incredibly important woman that she as an actor has the privilege to portray in the new hit series A.D. The Bible Continues. In this behind-the-scenes interview, Chipo talks about taking on her character, how she prepares for the part, and why she loves working with producers Roma Downey and Mark Burnett with their epic vision and historical perspective of the birth and growth of Christianity that has been the foundation of Western Civilization.
The Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John speak of Mary Magdalene as a devoted follower of Christ who was at His side at His horrific crucifixion, as one commissioned by Jesus Himself to proclaim to His “brothers” (His disciples hiding at the time) that he had come back to life. This act of Christ of sending Mary as his primary witness to the disciples was unique and unusual because a woman’s testimony was generally not valued by Jews or Romans in the first century.
To the Christian Post, the Chung has suggested that Jesus chose Mary to deliver the good news to the disciples for a particular reason. “I think it’s a testament to the fact that he believed that women were spiritually equal to men and fully capable of the kind of courage and the kind of tenacity that we need to survive in a difficult world,” Chung said. “She was there when the others weren’t, she was there when the others were hiding.” She added, “I think it’s difficult for a woman to work in a man’s world, and I think that’s why we are often slandered. So it’s a great privilege to attempt to redress that story.”‘
Written by Diane Howard, Ph.D. (Performance Studies)