Actress Nicole Abisinio is the first to acknowledge she shouldn’t even be alive.
Before she was born, her father attempted to kill her pregnant mother because she refused to get an abortion. And after she was born, her mother was forced to go into hiding to protect her infant daughter’s life.
“I like to say I kind of came out fighting,” Abisinio told The Christian Post.
Throughout her young life and even to adulthood, Abisinio experienced shocking and unlikely events. She helped capture a predator who was targeting her and her friends, and later, survived being stalked and an attempted kidnapping and sex trafficking.
“It began this journey of really understanding that there was a lot of evil out there, and what was I going to do for protection,” she said. “I didn't understand that the Lord was going to protect me and He was really the only One that could take care of me. I thought He was this far-off God. I definitely believed in Jesus, I believe that there was a God, I just thought He didn't care about me.”
It wasn’t until Abisinio launched a successful career in Hollywood that she began to sense the deep emptiness in her life and need for a Savior, a feeling fueled by the deep darkness she saw around her.
“All these years that I fought to be in the industry, and I'm on the red carpet, in 2009 or 2010, and I had this out-of-body experience,” she recalled. “It was supposed to be this amazing, ‘you've arrived’ moment. The world told you, get success, get these things and you'll have everything and you'll be fulfilled and happy. And it was the opposite. It was actually the most empty [I’ve felt]. I just knew that I needed to find God. And I didn't even know what that meant. I just knew I needed to find a church.”
“I literally ran out of Cannes Film Festival in France from a Woody Allen premiere in this big handmade gown, like, ‘I need to find a church.’ I didn't even know what it meant, which is what's so funny about how the Holy Spirit works — I didn't even think I could find a church in France; I felt that I needed to get back to the U.S. to find a church.”
And find a church she did: “I remember the exact moment that I got saved, and the Holy Spirit — it was incredible.
After embracing Christianity, Abisinio’s life looks drastically different from what she once knew.
She committed to using her talents to promote uplifting and faith-based content, and today, she stars in PureFlix’s "The Advocate." The five-part series is a family-friendly yet informative story of one child protective service agent on a mission to use her God-given gifts to help children in danger. Abisinio both directed the series and stars in it as Amber, the child protective service agent.
She sees “The Advocate” as both a way to uplift and inform viewers; every episode includes safety tips to teach viewers how to protect themselves in precarious situations. The actress sees every difficult experience she’s endured as a way for God to empower others to protect themselves.
“I’ve prayed, ‘Lord, why would you even allow this; these were terrifying experiences,’” she said. “And first, the Lord was like, ‘Are you safe?’ And I said, ‘Yes, I am, technically.’ And He said, ‘Think about all the girls, the women, the families that don't have the background that you have. They didn't grow up with that constant ability to know what to look for.’”
“And that was when I realized how many people would have never been seen again in those same circumstances,” she continued. “And I thought, how could I tell them in an entertaining, positive, uplifting, edifying way how to protect their families?”
The show also touches on unseen evil. Abisinio emphasized the importance of understanding the reality of spiritual warfare, warning that “the best thing the enemy ever did was make people believe that he didn't exist, or he's not doing that much.”
"Jesus says that [Satan] is constantly prowling. He's constantly looking for someone to devour, and not to go to sleep, not to let our guard down.”
Reflecting on her time in Hollywood, Abisinio said that she, like many others, had no idea that the content she was producing was “evil.”
“I literally just thought I was entertaining people,” she said. “I was kind of a product of my environment when my stuff had a lot of violence in it or cursing or these types of things because I was just a reflection of the world. I had no idea that my gifts belong to God, and that they should be used for Him. The enemy always wants to use whatever our gifts are; he wants to twist them and use them for him instead.”
She stressed the importance of excellence when it comes to faith-based film and movies and challenged Christian filmmakers to take the charge. She pointed out that several decades ago, the church was heavily involved in filmmaking and influenced what kind of projects were successful — but that is no longer the case.
“God wants excellence; He wants our films to be high quality,” she said. “They should be the best. … What happens a lot in faith films is we try to look like [Hollywood] as opposed to just being our own unique thing and letting them look like us. They're not leading; we need to lead.”
Abisinio said she’s excited to have a small part of bringing that excellence to the big screen. Her next film, “R.A.D.A.R. Adventures of the Bionic Dog" with Dean Cain, will be released in May.
Through the power of the Holy Spirit, Abisinio said, she’s recovered from the trauma of her past experiences. She said believes God is calling her to fight sex trafficking and bring healing to others through her work and platform.
“Every year I look in the mirror and I'm a new creation, another new creation that's not recognizable from the year before because I keep going to Him to transform me, to transform my soul,” she said. “It’s all Him, and I’m just forever grateful.”
“The Advocate” is now streaming on PureFlix.
Leah M. Klett is a reporter for The Christian Post. She can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org