HOLLYWOOD — Filmmaker Dallas Jenkins and the star of his new series “The Chosen,” Jonathan Roumie, spoke about the power behind their multi-season hit series at the 28th annual Movieguide Awards.
The first-ever multiseason show about the life of Jesus' followers, "The Chosen: Season One," is now available to stream worldwide. The series became the No. 1 crowdfunded media project in history, raising over $11 million from more than 16,000 investors at the top of 2019. It has now superseded those numbers and Jenkins says he believes it’s because “The Chosen” is resonating with audiences.
"It's really been amazing to see the response over the last few months. I think what people are responding to is that it's a show about Christ that actually feels authentic,” Jenkins told The Christian Post in an interview last month at the awards show that honors faith and family content.
Jenkins, the son of Christian novelist Jerry Jenkins of the Left Behind series, said he and his team worked really hard to make sure the series drew viewers into the stories told.
"I think the style of the show is such that it doesn't feel like it's formal or staged, or emotionally distant. So I think people who aren't even necessarily believers can still appreciate it, because I think they're interested to see stories about these people who lived 2000 years ago,” Jenkins continued. “I don't think you necessarily have to believe Jesus is the Son of God to actually still enjoy the show. However, we're seeing so many people who watch the show, and then are compelled to find out more from the Gospels.”
Jonathan Roumie, who plays Jesus in the series, told CP that he believes people enjoy the series because of the quality of the content.
"Most people's experience with faith-based media is a little like, 'It was a great idea but it just kind of falls flat for a number of reasons,'” Roumie said. “I think what makes us different is that we have time to explore the lives of these people that lived with Christ. And we're not coming from a specifically denominational point of view, which is what I think has been one of the biggest draws is that people from all over, even agnostics and atheists, it's the story first.”
He added, "If you don't tell a story well, it doesn't matter what the message is. So luckily, Dallas and his team are brilliant at what they do. And we get to be a part of it.”
Roumie was baptized as an infant and raised in the faith but said his faith grew even more after playing the role of the Messiah in “The Chosen.”
“[My faith] has only gotten stronger over the years. Especially playing Christ, it sort of changes you from the inside,” the New York native said. “As an actor, if you want to do any role justice, you got to come at whatever your truth is, and bring that to the role and then if you're trying to bring the truth of Christ to life, well, it can't help but affect who you are.”
He also credited the “Holy Spirit” for inspiring the content for “The Chosen.”
"I think that's what most of us, especially as believers, attribute to why it's been so profoundly impactful on people. It's just the Spirit and obedience to wanting to get the story right and make it accessible to people,” Roumie maintained.
Jenkins agreed, adding, "I think that the heartbeat of Christ is present in the show because the heartbeat of Christ is present in me when I'm writing and creating the show.
"I think that a lot of times when people are doing shows about the Bible, and they're doing things that are extra-biblical, a lot of times they have some agenda. Their agenda is to maybe rewrite something, or to try to say something new,” Jenkins explained.
He continued: “I'm not trying to say something new. I'm not trying to recreate anything. I'm just trying to provide some backstory and some context that can take the stories of the Gospels and maybe even enhance your experience with them. I think that because I love the Bible and because the ultimate goal of the show is to bring people even close to the Bible, I think the viewers can sense that."
Released by VidAngel, a streaming company that allows users to filter language, nudity and other content from mainstream entertainment, season one of “The Chosen” is available to stream simultaneously in every country on The Chosen app and their site, Vidangel.com. The series has already been downloaded and streamed in 142 countries.
“Season two, we are writing it now,” Jenkins announced at the Movieguide Awards.
“Over 19,000 of you invested in season one and now we got to get people to keep paying it forward when they watch it, buying the DVDs and merchandise,” Jenkins added.
Jenkins and his team do not have a big studio financially backing them, so they rely on their audience, who have become investors of the series.