Priscilla Shirer: Ministering Through Acting in Overcomer
Jo-Carolyn Goode | 9/20/2019, 3:45 a.m.
Call her an author. Call her an actress. Ask Priscilla Shirer what she is and she will say a minister, a teacher, someone trying to bring souls to know Jesus Christ. That is who she is at her core. Everything she does centers around that sole purpose. Connecting ministry to acting seems like a stretch when thinking of it in the mainstream of pure entertainment. However, changing your perspective to focus on the content of material rather than the entertainment factor and connecting the dots between the two is easy.
Shirer said no when first approached about acting. She has too much respect for the craft and those who are do it professionally. No way was she doing that. But the Kendrick Brothers weren't guys who took no for an answer. With lots of prodding and patience, Shirer came around and said yes. And she found out that she did enjoy the process.
“Acting allows me to exercise some creative muscles that I don’t normally get to use. That’s fun!” exclaimed the 20-year minister. “Gratefully, this generation is steeped with brilliant and bold Christian filmmakers.”
The Christian filmmakers of whom she speaks are Alex, Stephen and Shannon Kendrick who have chosen to honor Jesus Christ and make His truth and love known nationwide. Through various speaking engagements, books, and films, the brothers are living out their purpose. Like minds generally, flock together so their gravitation towards Shirer is natural. The brothers produced her first film War Room, a film about the power of prayer. It was a great success the four have linked up again for the new release of Overcomer, a film about finding yourself.
In the newly released film, Shirer plays high school principal Olivia Brooks who takes a special interest in one of her students, Hannah, to bring her to know God and discover who she is. The character is not far what Shirer does through her own ministry.
“Olivia is a professional and polished administrator who cares very deeply about doing her job well and encouraging those around her to do the same. Yet, she always seems to make time and find opportunities to be personal and relational with her students and colleagues." Shirer continued, "I loved the image of an older woman, like Olivia, making time for a younger woman – Hannah. The beautiful ripple effect that can happen in a young woman’s life when someone takes the time to really see her – to read between the lines and dive into the worries, concerns, and interests of her soul – is breathtaking. Olivia and Hannah’s relationship demonstrates this beautifully."
Although this is a Christian film and does have a spiritual message, one does not need to have a religious background to enjoy this film. Shirer said viewers may not connect to the spiritual elements of the film but they can latch on to the “ebbs and flows of the main characters’ lives.” Expressing their desire for audiences Shirer shared, “Our prayer, in making this film, was that the emotional experience created by the movie will serve as a catalyst for someone to begin a relationship with the Lord.”
The student, Hannah, finds her true self once she discovers God. Shirer believes this is crucial for all children in their self-identity journey to give emotional stability and balance. God is solid and unchanging. Attaching oneself to elements that constantly change will lead to a road filled with disappointments.
What is not disappointing is Shirer’s career. The international speaker and New York Times best selling author has written 12 books and plenty of Bible studies. Acting has opened a new avenue for her to where she is contemplating turning her The Prince Warrior Series into an episode series or a movie. "I’d love to be a part of the creative processes behind the camera. Whether or not that will happen, remains to be seen. But I’m certainly open to it and excited about the possibility,” commented Shirer.
While the above is still just an idea, the reality is her two newly released books, Radiant and Defined. Radiant is a book on identity for young women. Defined is a Bible study that explores our identity in Christ and dives deeply into scripture to help women understand who God says that we are and how we can live from that place of truth.
Despite all this success as a writer, speaker, and now actress, Shirer said it is still hard for her to believe that she is both. She revealed that neither craft comes easy to her but with practice, she has gotten better and better. “With writing, for example, I was never a good grammar student in school. I wasn’t one of those people who found joy in writing for hours on end and who found it cathartic to string words together in a poetic and expressive cadence,” said Shirer who thinks writing is a painstaking process. “I’m grateful to God for helping me to push past my self-imposed boundaries and limitations.”
Using God as her guide, Shirer is following His direction to fulfill his purpose for her life of bringing souls to Christ.