As a company, Actors, Models and Talent for Christ (AMTC) could easily brag about how it has helped develop some of the world's top talent in movies, television, music and modeling over the years. As AMTC approaches its 30th anniversary in 2012, however, its leaders are boasting mostly about God and how He has used it to impact the entertainment industry for Christ.
"I became a late-in-life and deeply committed Christian, at which point I went from being a burned out 51-year-old CEO to...a 56-year-old girl on a mission,” said Carey Lewis Arban, Chief Serving Officer (CSO) of AMTC, in an interview with The Christian Post on Tuesday.
Formerly, AMTC was a secular company that went by the name of Actors, Models and Talent Competition, but five years ago Arban became a Christian eventually felt God's call to change the company's name and its approach.
One of the company's goals, she says, is to prepare talented Christians for the “mission field of entertainment.”
"Now AMTC serves as a bridge, that connects performers who love God with the world. And on that bridge we prepare them, both in spiritual preparedness – fellowship, daily devotions, connections with Christian ministries and Christian teachers – and we also prepare them from a real world point of view.”
Arban's mother, Millie Lewis, wanted to be an evangelist as a teenage girl living in South Carolina during the 1930s. Her plans changed over time, and she was eventually discovered for her beauty by a fashion photographer in New York. She became a successful model, and later went on to be a modeling coach. Though she died in 2001 due to Parkinson's Disease, her daughter has continued her legacy to this day.
Initially some people were concerned that changing AMTC's name, and becoming open about its Christian practices, would lead to its downfall. Arban says some of the “kings of Hollywood” – talent agency's and casting directors – even checked in on her to make sure she hadn't gone “crazy.” What they soon found, however, was that AMTC was able to provide “hip, cool, well-prepared, positive, talented Christians, who were very diverse.”
Just some of the hundreds examples of talented individuals the company has helped over the years are “Transformers” star Megan Fox, Grammy nominated musical artist Chris Young and “Zoey 101” star Matthew Underwood. AMTC talent has appeared in box office hits like “Green Lantern,” “Legally Blonde” and “Hairspray,” and also in television shows including “Law and Order,” “Burn Notice,” “Mad Men” and “CSI-Miami.”
The company also supplied six actors to this past summer's hit Christian movie, “Courageous,” and is held in high regard by the film's casting director, Teri Catt.
Arban says “spiritually savvy and totally talented” Christians can make a difference in a sometimes notoriously immoral industry.
"I think it's undeniable that bad is bold in the entertainment industry, so good must be bolder,” she said. “God is raising an army of performers to stand up for Him, to represent Him as ambassadors of Jesus Christ in a world that is desperately seeking truth. Not everyone knows that they're seeking Jesus, but they know they're seeking truth, and that's a great opening.”
Many talented individuals are afraid to leave the safety of their homes and faith communities, she says, because they are intimidated by the negative things they hear about the industry. Still, she says, God is preparing some to be used in that mission field.
“I have found...that God is equipping them for this job,” she said. “They are strong in their faith. They are connected in fellowship with strong Christian churches and ministries in these major markets and they're standing strong for God.”
In order to celebrate its 30th anniversary, Alban says the company is making the transition to becoming a nonprofit entity. She says she wants the company to be financially and morally transparent to the public, so they can continue their mission of equipping talented individuals for success.