Actress Madeline Carroll has always loved the Lord. So when Hollywood was only offering her roles where she had to act as a promiscuous teen or strip down to nothing, she couldn’t take it anymore.
“I can’t do this anymore,” she recalled telling God, as she spoke to attendees at the National Religious Broadcasters International Christian Media Convention in Southern California on Tuesday. She planned to quit acting the next day.
Carroll, 23, got her acting start at only 3-and-a-half years old. After being discovered by an agent at a nail salon, she began doing commercials and had minor roles in a few films.
“God just moved for me very quickly,” she said at the NRB event.
Her first lead role was in the 2008 film “Swing Vote” with actor Kevin Costner. That ended up opening many doors for her, including the opportunity to play a superhero — which she wouldn’t have to audition for — for a “ridiculous amount of money.”
After reading the script, she turned it down.
“It just wasn’t something that I knew God wanted me to do,” said Carroll, who spends a lot of time reading Scripture.
“My mom told me, it’s better, Madeline, to err on the ways of righteousness than err on the ways of the world.”
She went on to act in several more movies but when she hit 15 years old, everything changed.
Instead of being offered roles where she plays the young daughter, she was now being offered teen roles that compromised her values (i.e. the teenage girl who wanted to sleep with everybody in school).
Carroll was devastated.
From that point on, she had to turn down all the opportunities that came her way because of the nature of the roles.
“I went from so much happening to literally nothing happening and me saying no to all these opportunities,” she described.
After a year of this, she “came to a broken place.” But inspired by Isaiah 43 in the Bible, she accepted that she was going to go through a difficult season in her life and decided to keep going.
Her breaking point came after a phone call with her agent at the age of 19. By now, she had gone through three more years of turning down roles and changing agencies as they were frustrated with her choices.
On the phone, her agent described a role where she had to be nude. When Carroll passed on it, her agent told her, “You’re crazy … If you don’t want to do nudity, I don’t know what to tell you because that’s all there is in this industry.”
That’s when Carroll crawled into her bathroom and told God she couldn’t do this anymore.
“God, I can’t hang on to this dream that you’ve given me anymore. I feel like I missed you somewhere and you wanted me to do something else and I didn’t hear you,” the actress described emotionally through tears.
She laid it all down before God and let her dream die.
“I said I’m going to call my agent and I’m going to quit. And literally, I don’t know, the Holy Spirit, I guess, pulled me back down to my knees and I said ‘but God, if you still called me here and this is what you want from me, then you have to send me something and better yet, send me something that would edify you and that’s how I’ll know that I’m still called to be here.’”
God answered her prayer the next day. She was contacted to be a part of the film “God Bless the Broken Road.”
Carroll soon went on to act as Shannon in the box office hit “I Can Only Imagine,” based on the life of Christian artist Bart Millard.
The Erwin Brothers, who directed the film, were “the first people I had ever come in contact with that … wanted to do what I wanted to do,” she noted. “It is so rare.”
“It’s time for Hollywood to wake up!” Carroll said Tuesday. “There are people out there like me, like you that want to do something for His glory.”