The Hillsong Channel is now airing a new six-part series featuring celebrities who talk about their faith and how they're using it to make a lasting impact on the culture.
Hosted by wardrobe stylist Natalie Manuel Lee, who's a member of Hillsong Church and sister of popular fashion and sneaker designer Jerry Lorenzo, the series, “Now With Natalie,” shows Lee interviewing Hailey Bieber, Tyson Chandler, Kelly Rowland, Jerry Lorenzo and Elaine Welteroth, among others who speak about their faith.
Lee said she wanted to host the show because she saw the “need for purposeful content.”
Episode one featured supermodel Hailey Bieber, filmmaker Elliot Rausch, and cognitive neuroscientist Dr. Caroline Leaf. Bieber was the main focus of the episode which centered around identity and comparison.
"The guests this season, those are my friends and my family, it's my community. I'm blessed to have them in my life. Not only do I learn from each and every one of them, but we have these conversations all the time,” Lee told The Christian Post in a recent interview.
“It could be very daunting and scary to really tell your story and really be able to tell the [real] truth,” Lee said, adding that she believed it was imperative to gather her influential friends and family to encourage a generation.
“The greatest way to serve is to tell your story. And for them, I just needed them to tell their story, and be honest, be transparent. I knew that they would have an impact that they probably didn't even realize how big the impact would be, and it has so far,” she added.
Lee emphasized that everyone she interviews for the series shares something about their faith.
"One-hundred percent, everybody that's on the show is a believer and that was the point," she told CP. "I think the common thread from everybody from episode one to episode six, the common thread is their faith.
"It's that consistent pillar in their life, which is their faith and their relationship with Jesus and their relationship with God. And they're able to talk about it, they're able to display it, they're able to say how it helped them navigate through this industry. So yeah, Kelly Rowland, Tyson Chandler, Angela Davis and then Jerry Lorenzo, they all definitely give it to us about the man above, for sure.”
Hillsong Church is known for its influence in young Hollywood and its churches are frequently attended by Justin and Hailey Bieber, and Selena Gomez, among others. Lee, who's also a member of Hillsong, believes the influence Christian celebrities have can be useful in spreading the Gospel.
"We are in a generation where we glorify the position that one has, as opposed to glorifying the purpose of the position,” she explained. “So for this, obviously, people and viewers are going to watch because they see these people that had these huge positions and huge influence. But they're here to tell you that it's not just about that, it's bigger than the platform and the position that God has given them. Kelly Rowland always says, 'it is bigger than the number one.'”
Lee said her strategy behind the show came as a result of understanding the influence that her guests “will have on our generation and on our culture.”
"I think, for me, the mandate and the mantra and the goal was to infiltrate the Kingdom in the culture as opposed to the other way around. So these people that are influencers of the culture are able to now infiltrate Kingdom mind, thoughts and Kingdom mind characteristics in the culture and it's a need,” she declared.
Hillsong Church is often criticized for linking arms with different people in Hollywood, but Lee says she believes all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God.
"The unfortunate thing is that these people [celebrities] with status ... they have a microscope on them more so than we do. We all sin, but for us, we just see it. Unfortunately, the people that are on my show, we see it because of the access and the visibility that they have. So who are you to judge? I sin, you sin, we all sin,” Lee maintained.
Throughout the six episodes of “Now With Natalie,” Lee talks mental health, self-worth and the pursuit of status. She believes that many people are fans of these celebrities because of what they stand for.
"The whole purpose of it, you look at these people, and you admire them. But the bigger thing is, why do you admire them? You admire them because of their characteristics, and where is their character coming from? It's rooted in faith, and it's rooted in God," she added.
"So the whole purpose of this is also to pull back the veil of, this is why you really like that person. You might not know why you like them, but this is why you like them, because they're rooted in Christ and they're rooted in God. And that's where their great character, if you will, comes from,” Lee affirmed.
When asked why she wanted to create “Now With Natalie” for the Hillsong Channel, Lee said the age we are living in calls for a show like this.
"Where we are as a humanity, the plight of humanity and where we are as a culture, we are just not in the best. The purpose of this show is to really dismantle and nullify and pull back the veil of the counterfeits that are being sold for identity as well as purpose,” she said.
Lee identified those "counterfeits" as anything other than God that's used to identify one's worth or value.
“Our Creator, who has created us, is the one that should be putting labels on us. Myles Munroe always says, 'if you see a problem become the solution that can be a part of your purpose.’ So for me, I just felt the call and I knew that we needed it as a generation," Lee said.
"I know that if we can have people sit down, people like the Kelly's and the Haley's and the Jerry's sit down and have a conversation — a very vulnerable, transparent conversation — that in my opinion was the most impactful way that we needed to do it. I think vocally hearing their story as opposed to maybe reading it, to me, it's more impactful,” she added.
For more information on “Now With Natalie” or to watch the show, visit the Hillsong Channel.