“Pursuing excellence with integrity for His glory.”
That’s the perfect motto for actress Candace Kirkpatrick, one of the featured artists in this third installment of the CNJ series “Excellent Artists.”
For Candace was class valedictorian, earned a Masters in Fine Arts, worked off-Broadway, then walked away from it all when forced to choose between faith and fame. Candace has a fascinating story which she shares on Episode 3 of Acting On Faith, which premiered on Valentine’s Day, 2020, and is on the free Creative Motion Network Roku channel Creative Motion Online – Front Page.
In this CNJ exclusive, she shares a bit more of her insights.
Can you tell readers a bit about your educational background?
I began acting before I entered First grade and continued doing so throughout all my schooling. After graduating as valedictorian, I acquired a full ride to college, where I earned a BFA in performance, studying Stanislavski and Adler. Again I graduated Summa Cum Laude, obtaining
a full ride to FSU/Asolo Conservatory, studying Meisner. While there, I earned an MFA along with my professional Equity card. For all of the above, I am humbly grateful and thank the Lord for His provision. Upon graduation, I moved to NYC to hit the ground with 30,000 others who looked just like me! That meant continued training while working off-Broadway, across the United States, and in several countries.
Do all actors need a higher education in the arts?
People have asked me if I believe that you need a Bachelor’s and Master’s in order to get work as an actor, and my answer is, “NO!” However, you need solid extensive professional training! I would encourage seeking out a reputable program, then asking if you can audit classes to see if the program is suited to you. My own classes met every single day for hours: hours of acting, dialect, voice training, singing, stage combat, and dance movement each day, Monday through Saturday. That is not easily duplicated outside of school unless you are deliberate in wanting to grow in your craft. Also, I would encourage all artists to continually look for opportunities to serve behind-the-scenes on film projects. Then, soak in everything that will prove beneficial.
Does it really matter if Christians excel in the arts?
The reason I stress solid reputable training so much is because we have to earn the right to be in the room if we wish to be heard. To reach outside “the choir,” we must enter the cultural conversation through excellence. As Christians, we are told to pursue excellence because we are working for the Lord, and not for men. This holds especially true in this industry. If we honestly seek to influence the world for Christ, we must excel in our craft. The people we hope to reach will not excuse inferior acting, writing, lighting, sound, editing, and production. I honestly don’t believe it is enough to create films that are simply well-meaning. Excellence gives us a platform to engage with the culture, rather than be dismissed.
Why should investors, big and small, back believers gifted in the arts?
Creatives have incredible gifts, and we need others with strong business backgrounds to use their gifts to invest in caliber Christian movies! Every day, I pray for more than 30 writers and directors who are desperately seeking financial producers. Their scripts have won multiple awards, and yet they remain on a shelf, waiting for those with funds to back their projects. Just as we need to pursue excellence on the entertainment side, we hope the same thing for those on the business side. Investors are called to use their resources to glorify Jesus by backing those He Himself has gifted in the arts.
How did you give up your dream for Jesus?
I left the business for more than two decades after being continually asked to separate my “religion” from my work. During that time, I raised a family, taught Bible studies, and wrote and directed for schools and churches. I told the Lord that, if He ever brought me back to this industry, I would fearlessly do everything for His honor and glory. Daily I pray that He will open and close doors as He sees best. Trusting His goodness and His timing.
What are some projects you’ve done recently?
During this pandemic, I shot a TV pilot with the amazingly talented Karen Abecrombie and Cameron Arnett, which is presently being pitched. In addition, I have a recurring role in the faith-based crime drama Vindication, which has given me the opportunity to work with many wonderful artists led by gifted writer/director Jarod O’Flaherty. I recently worked with Brett Varvel and Genesis Apologetics on a short film, as well as Wise King Media on the dynamic audio drama, The Adventum.
What can you share about any upcoming projects?
Although COVID has disrupted many projects, it is my prayer to begin shooting soon a Christmas movie, a feature on racism, a film on prayer, and God’s perspective on winning, as well as an exciting animated sitcom. My heart’s desire is to collaborate with passionate artists telling powerfully compelling stories with the message of His redemption.
Any last thoughts regarding excellence?
Creative Director Louis Henry Mitchell said, “The label of ‘Christian’ is not an excuse for poor workmanship – in fact, it is the exact opposite. Because we report to a higher Authority, we seek to serve Him with the highest quality work possible. God asks us for our best work, not the best ‘Christian’ version of our work.” By that same token, we want to encourage investors to seek out excellent scripts, directors, and artists and support THEIR work. Only then – when we are jointly creating high-quality entertainment – will we attract a wide audience and see Gospel transformation in our world. May the Lord make it so.
Read the first installment of the CNJ “Excellent Artist” series: Excellent Artists, Diligent Investors | A Match Made in Film Heaven (christiannewsjournal.com)
Read the second installment in the series: Excellent Artist: SAG Military Advisor, “Green Zone” Actor, Jerry Della Salla (christiannewsjournal.com)
Please pray for believers who excel in the arts, and others who will be in this “Excellent Artist” series.
Kristen Collier has a BA in English Literature and is co-founder with her husband, and Roku developer, of Creative Motion Network, a cutting-edge, free indie Christian Roku channel. She is also co-founder and animator of Collier Animation Studio, producer of Benny the Barnacle (2021).