By Grace Balint

I taught Grace when she was a senior in high school. I’ve known her for a very long time. I asked her to write this article to give you some idea what it’s like for a Christian to work in Hollywood and not lose your faith. – Gary DeMar

“Hey, guys, thanks for coming out. Sides are here by the door, and we’ll be taking you in one by one in about five minutes. Oh, and if you’re a Christian, there’s the door.”

Believe it or not, I live in a place where hearing something like this is typical. You might be thinking I must live in a country that’s hostile to Christianity, like North Korea, Saudi Arabia, deepest darkest Africa, or some undiscovered part of the Amazon rain forest. Well, you’d be right on the first assumption (I do live in a nation that tends to be quite hostile to those of us who call Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior), but you’d be wrong on all other guesses, because I live in the United States, in the state of California, in Los Angeles County, to be exact.  And I couldn’t love it more.

Now you’re probably thinking I’m nuts. Well, I invite you to keep reading, and I will share with you what God has laid on my heart for Hollywood.

When I was in high school, I was often frustrated by the depraved state of our society. For example, when did things like violence, profanity, adultery, and bestiality become normal? These days, you can hear an x-rated conversation while waiting in line to get movie tickets! I grew up watching “old school” films and TV shows like Charlie Chaplin, the Marx Brothers, the Andy Griffith show; movies with actors like Jimmy Stewart, Cary Grant, and Gary Cooper, so I know that life in the US wasn’t always like it is now. Waiting for sex until marriage used to be a good thing. Respecting your parents used to be a good thing. Being nice to strangers used to be a good thing! Men being gentlemen and treating women as ladies used to be a good thing. What has happened to us? Fortunately, I came up with the answer!

I realized that a great deal of negative and worldview shaping in our society comes from Hollywood. Think about the popular magazines, music, video games, TV shows, and movies that compete for our attention. The majority of them are packed with horrible negative messages. And a lot of the messages Hollywood is sending are lies! There are many product advertisements that promise things like “longer, fuller lashes” or “younger looking skin.” If you look at the fine print, there’s usually a disclaimer like “model is wearing lash inserts,” or “results not typical.” The folks behind these ads are selling a lie! And people across the country are falling for it. Hollywood media tell us over and over and over again: If it feels good, DO IT! Forget about the consequences, live in the moment! And mainstream Americans are doing it!

I came to the conclusion that if we could change the trash that Hollywood is mass producing, then we could change the horribly negative impact it is having on our society. Put simply, if you change Hollywood, you can change a big part of the world. I felt God calling me to move there and see what I can do to make a difference. Big job for one person, you say? If you’ve read the Bible, you know that there’s nothing God can’t do, and I know that His heart hurts for Hollywood (and the rest of the world), too!

Imagine my surprise and delight to move to LA County, without knowing a single person (well, I know Jim Carrey and Johnny Depp, but they don’t know me, so that doesn’t count…) and find out that there are many people who believe the same way I do! There’s an actual organization called the Hollywood Prayer Network, which consists of people who pray for Hollywood and the people who live and work there. What a blessing this group has been to me! They are prayer warriors, on fire for the Lord, with hearts aching to see Hollywood redeemed in the Name of Jesus.

Living in this area has been one adventure after another. I’ve met some of the biggest names in the business, like Robert Downey, Jr., Chris Rock, and Steven Soderbergh. I even met a Hollywood legend, Jerry Mathers! I’ve worked on TV and film sets, done live theatre performances, and worked on “reality” TV.

One of the most memorable experiences I had was to appear on a “reality” show. In general, I despise “reality” TV (there’s nothing real about it, you know!), and I don’t even own a TV, so I knew less than nothing about the show. But I’m an entertainer. I love to be on camera, and I believe God has called me to be here to shine His light into darkness. Plus, I love trying new things, so after I “passed” the interview, I accepted the offer. In retrospect, I really should have watched the show first.

The instructions were to come to set dressed “sexy-cute.” I have a somewhat eclectic style. I like to say that I “dress for fun!” I happen to think life is too short not to have fun. God wants us to enjoy life! And I often get compliments on how I look. So, I chose one of my signature “fun” outfits. When I arrived at the location, I immediately realized that my choice of wardrobe had been a huge mistake. Every other girl was wearing the type of thing you’d wear to a club. Many of them wore unflattering, tight, revealing outfits. I reminded myself that I find my value in who I am in Jesus Christ and not what others think of me. I believe that if God is for me, no one can be against me. I walked into the room, sat down, and started talking to the other girls who were also going to be on the show.

If you’ve never seen the show, congratulations. You’re not missing out. It is a pathetic excuse for entertainment, and I think it is an embarrassing testament to just how low our country’s standards have sunk. The purpose of the show is to make people look as stupid as possible. The lady who runs the show is quite possibly the most unhappy woman I’ve ever met. I was on her set for almost two days and never once saw her smile. She stomped around, cursed at people, and was incredibly angry and rude to almost everyone she talked to. When it was my turn to get evaluated by her and her henchmen (pardon me, assistants!), I walked in the room with two other girls and we stood in front of our three judges to get…umm…judged! Because that’s exactly what they did. I’ve been living out here for years and have developed some thick skin, but even I was surprised by the level of hideous things that were said to me. I tried to laugh them off, which wasn’t hard because I was so surprised, but I think my jaw did drop a few times.

When that mess was over, we went back to where the other girls were, and we all compared notes as to how we had been judged. One girl had been told she was “too pale” and “needed a spray tan.” Another had been told her hair needed to be dyed. One girl said to me, “Oh, I bet she had a LOT to say to you!”

I was then offered the mercy of a post-interview which was done by one cameraman and one very friendly, personable producer. I was allowed to react to the horrible things that had just been said to my face, and I said something like, “I find it interesting that those people — who I have never met — felt that they could judge me like that, and say all those horrible things about me on national television, when they don’t know one single thing about me, except that they can see the clothes I chose to wear today. They know nothing about my personality, my heart for serving others, my hobbies, nothing! They were happy to criticize and ridicule me, even though they don’t know me at all, just to get their ratings up! I don’t understand that.”

After I left the set, I called my mother to tell her what happened. Being the caring mother that she is, she was horrified and gasped, “Are you going back tomorrow?” To which I replied, “Sure, I already committed to it. Plus, what could they possibly say or do to me that was worse than what they already did?”

Unfortunately, some of the other girls on the show didn’t share my sentiments. Remember the girl who supposedly needed a spray tan? She went out, late that night, and got one! The girl who supposedly needed her hair dyed did just that! I was heartbroken when I saw those girls the next morning, because like most of mainstream Americans, they had fallen for the lies that Hollywood fed them. Just because one cranky person — who you had never met — tells you to alter your appearance (and you have to pay for it) does not mean you should do it!

After hearing about that experience (and I’ve had many others similar to it), you’re probably wondering why I’ve stayed as long as I have. The reason is simple: I believe God has called me to live here. He’s burdened my heart for Hollywood. He’s opened and closed doors, allowing me to have some incredible, unforgettable experiences, and undoubtedly protecting me from other potentially harmful ones. He’s blessed me in ways I had never imagined. He’s led me to a great church fellowship, the Hollywood Prayer Network, and given me numerous opportunities to serve others and share His light. Until He calls me to go elsewhere, I’m going to stay, pray daily for salvation and redemption for LA County, and enjoy every day I’m given here, because it really is a blessing. You’re invited to join me and pray for Hollywood.

Soli Deo Gloria!