DeVon Franklin is a best-selling author, motivational speaker, preacher, and Hollywood powerhouse; but, at his core, he is passionate about telling stories of hope and inspiration.
As President and CEO of Franklin Entertainment, DeVon uses his gifts, talents, platform, and success on projects that encourage and change people. Named, by BeliefNet.com, as one of the most influential Christians under 40, Franklin reminds us that God is real, faith works, and, as Believers, we have the hope of heaven. Franklin’s current projects include: his new book, which he co-wrote with his wife, The Wait: A Powerful Practice for Finding the Love of Your Life and the Life you Love; his new company, Franklin Entertainment; and his new movie, Miracles from Heaven, based on a true story.
Sonoma Christian Home had the privilege of sitting down with DeVon to discuss his current projects, his heart behind his book and movie, and how God continues to ask him to walk by faith, not by sight.
SCH: Can you tell our readers a little about your new book titled, THE WAIT: A Powerful Practice for Finding the Love of Your Life and the Life You Love. What inspired you to write this book?
DF: My wife and I, we just really wanted to help people. We started dating in 2011 and married in 2012, and as the news broke of our relationship we got so many questions from singles and people in relationships.
How do you find success in love, and happiness? When we started sharing our story, people were really moved by it. It was helping them in their love life. So why not share that with even more people?
I think that dating is one of the areas where, at times, we don’t put a lot of thought into our habits, and those are the things that really impact the overall course of our lives, because whoever we end up with has such an effect on the direction that our life goes.
We waited until marriage, and we know in this day and age that seems very old fashioned. But just because it may be old – doesn’t mean it’s bad. In waiting until marriage we really felt like we had peace. We really got a chance to know each other, and it was amazing!
So we are just grateful to be able to share this story. The book came out on February 2nd, and it is selling out all across the country. Barnes and Noble can’t keep it in the store, Amazon is out of books, and we’re just grateful that the message is finding such traction. We are praying that it will help heal people from dating hurts, and also give them a new inspiration and strategy on how to find love.
SCH: What was it like co-writing this book with your wife?
DF: [Laughter] I have a writing partner Tim Vanday – he also helped us with The Wait – but when Tim and I write, it’s like, “Hey, we’re in it and we go.” Involving my wife is fantastic, but it takes a little bit longer. We have to make sure our voices are right; that we’re saying the things we want to say.
She was writing the book while simultaneously doing a number of TV shows. She did a TV Pilot, then went on to do Minority Report for Fox, and meanwhile I’m writing the book and I’m transitioning from Sony and starting my own company. So, there is life happening while we’re writing, but it was actually great. Being able to have something we can pour our hearts into. We have such alignment about it, and we’re so in sync about the message, it was great. It just adds a whole other dimension to the marriage.
SCH: And there is something really romantic and charming about reliving your story together right?
DF: Yes, there is! Of course, I lived it, but sometimes you’re like, “Oh right, that did happen. Wow! I didn’t realize when I did that how it impacted you.” And she felt the same. So it was really wonderful to jot our memories out and put it down on paper.
SCH: Last year you had your first big on-camera role as an actor in the the Erwin Brother’s movie Woodlawn – tell us what it was like working on that film with that incredible cast?
DF: Yes, it was an honor and truly a blessing. I’m sitting in my office and I get an email saying, “Hey have you ever thought about acting?” I’m like, “Not since high school, no.” So they say, we have this movie Woodlawn, we want you to play the preacher, and we think you would be amazing. And I read the script and immediately I said I’m in!
I’ve never acted before and my wife was supportive – she’s the actress in the family – and it felt like it was the right movie with the right message. I was just so grateful to be able to do it and to be a part of the movie, especially in a world where we are dealing with so much racial tension on the public stage.
The movie is all about the power of racial reconciliation, if we can look at each other as God’s children. People who have seen it have been incredibly moved by it and i’m just grateful to be a part of that.
SCH: Tell us a little about why you left a VP position at Sony Pictures to start your own company Franklin Entertainment. What’s your vision?
DF: We walk by faith and not by sight, and the Lord didn’t give us the spirit of fear, but the power of love and a sound mind. And I knew there was more that I needed to do. I needed the freedom of my own situation to be able to do it. It took a lot of faith to step out, and even after Heaven is for Real opened was successful… That same week I went into Sony and said “Its time for me to quit.”
Now the caveat was that I said, “I want you guys to fund it.” They were like, “Yes, yes, we’ll do it!”
But the goal was to follow where God is leading. Because as an executive there were phenomenal things I was able to do, yet, once you get to a certain point, you’re always looking for the next plateau. For me that plateau was starting my own company.
To see God bring a boy’s dreams into manifestation, and then to have a film like Miracles from Heaven to be the first film that would come out of my new company is beyond an answer to prayer!
SCH: Do you believe that God has called you for such a time as this, to be an evangelist through film, impacting the world on a global scale with the message of the gospel?
DF: Yes, absolutely, I do believe that that is one of the things that I am uniquely suited to do, having worked on films like Pursuit of Happyness, Seven Pounds, Karate Kid, and a number of other films like Pink Panther 2, Heaven is For Real, and Jumping the Room. I have been trained on how to tell great stories that have commercial appeal.
So to be able to have that training, and combine that with the intimate knowledge of faith, and what people are needing – I think that combination is what I am here to do. You know, there may be some explosions in my films, there may be some action, but the real action I hope is people getting their faith back. Getting their life back, reaffirming their belief in family, and reaffirming their faith in love and in God.
My hope and prayer is that these things will happen. My hope is that anything I produce will have the undertones of faith and foundation of peace and power.
SCH: Can you tell us a little about Miracles From Heaven and why out of all the scripts available in Hollywood, you have chosen to produce incredible stories about heaven?
DF: Well first I think it’s really God. These stories don’t grow on trees, let me put it that way! And when you find them, they are revealed in only a way that God could.
And when you look at Heaven is For Real: that was a book, that I bought for Joe Roth and T.D. Jakes. Now I’m able to produce alongside of them for the follow up in Miracles From Heaven.
Heaven gives the ultimate hope that within the day to day lives we lead, the pain that sometimes we go through, the struggles, the fights, the depression, the frustration…God has a plan for our lives. I think it gives such reassurance and peace and helps us deal with the difficulties.
So, the story of Miracles From Heaven which is based upon the book by Christy Beam, is another true story. It’s about Anabelle Beam, Christy’s daughter. At a very young age she got this disease that prevented her from being able to digest solid food, and her mom really became the champion for her healing. Long story short, when they needed a miracle most, God showed up and through an incredible event, Anabelle was healed. One of the mysteries of the film is “How did she get healed?” She says, “He told me I would be alright.”
Films like this can bring hope and they can bring inspiration. Frank Capra – Hollywood Legend said, “Audiences are looking for moral and spiritual reassurance, and if films cannot provide this then they will serve no good.” I really do believe in that. I think a movie like Miracles From Heaven will provide the same reassurance that we are all looking for – that God is real, faith works, and that heaven does exist.
SCH: Tell us what it was like to work with actress Jennifer Garner on this film.
DF: Amazing. Jen is awesome. One of the nicest, most genuine souls I have ever met, let alone worked with. From day one, she was just so kind, so in touch with the character, so considerate, so loving, so giving. This was truly one of the most dynamic experiences I’ve ever had making a film with someone of her stature.
She brings such heart and warmth in the role of Christy Beam. I think audiences will be shocked in a great way, to see how incredible she is on screen playing this part. Off camera, she’s just as genuine and nice as anyone you would hope to meet.
SCH: You have a gift for casting great talent – incredible actors. Your casting is just superb, just brilliant.
DF: Well it’s a blessing to be in a place where I can get like people like a Jennifer Garner or a Greg Kinnear in these films.
SCH: It is exciting to note that in a world where men dominate the field, you hired a female Director – Patricia Higgen to direct this film. What was it about Patricia and her work that caused you to hire her for this film?
DF: Yes, she did a film called Under the Same Moon, which was her first film, years and years ago, and that movie was so powerful. Along with The 33, and these moves were able to capture the essence of the human spirit, they were emotional they were powerful. I knew that she had the right tone to bring Miracles From Heaven to life. The story is about a mom is fighting for the healing of her daughter, and Patricia has a daughter herself. She understood this character in a way that I don’t think many directors, male or female, could’ve.
Patricia brings so much passion to her work. The filmmaking is so top-notch because Patricia had a vision on how she wanted to tell this story, and I think that vision is what makes the movie so powerful.
SCH: Any last thoughts you’d like to share with our readers about the message of Miracles From Heaven?
DF: Miracles are God’s way of communicating to us. We are not alone, and there is hope. I think sometimes we can get beaten down in life, but if we will just look up, we will see that he is sending communications everyday through acts of kindness, acts of love, acts of peace and joy. Those are the real miracles that are all around us. They’re here, if we would just take a minute to look at them and to see them, we would be amazed at how many there really are.
Click here to order your copy of THE WAIT: A Powerful Practice for Finding the Love of Your Life and the Life You Love
Featured Image Courtesy of Hasan of Facet Studio.