Stephen Baldwin on 'I'm in Love With A Church Girl,' Ja Rule and Christianity in Hollywood (CP Exclusive)

Credit : (Photo: Reuters)
(Photo: Reuters)

Actor and reality star Stephen Baldwin stars in the new film 'I'm in Love With A Church Girl," which opened in theaters across the country this past weekend.

The youngest of the Baldwin brothers plays the role of FBI agent Jason McDaniels in the film. It also stars hip-hop heavyweight Jeff "Ja Rule" Atkins as Miles Montego, a reformed drug dealer who falls for church girl Vanessa Leon, played by former 3LW and Cheetah Girls member Adrienne Bailon.

The film opened in over 500 theaters last Friday and is Baldwin's first theatrically released film in 10 years.

Baldwin recently sat down with The Christian Post to discuss the new movie and his Christian faith.

The Christian Post: What attracted you to play the role of Jason McDaniels in the film "I'm in Love With a Church Girl"?

Stephen Baldwin: I got a phone call from Galley Molina, who is the writer and executive producer. It's about his life story. I think the thing that was most interesting was for several years being a Christian, I had been looking around for opportunities that in my opinion would be more engaging and more culturally relevant. So, when Galley told me that the legendary hip-hop artist Ja Rule was starring in the film and playing the role of the character [based on Galley] that was the first very positive thought I had about [doing the film].

CP: What was it like working with musical talents such as rapper Ja Rule and worship leader Israel Houghton in the film?

SB: Working on the film with Ja Rule was a little intimidating for me. I've been acting for 25 years but this guy in the '90s had number one hits with Jennifer Lopez. I was a fan. ... I was a little bit taken aback for that reason. Israel Houghton is within the realm of Christian and worship music ... He's won 5 Grammy Awards. He's just legendary. It was exciting.

It was thrilling for me because in addition to those two guys Adrienne Bailon, Vincent Pastore, Michael Madsen, you just have this slate of talent that's just involved with [the film]. That really made you want to champion this thing. But what was amazing for me was the vision of the film was to create one that was unapologetic in its Christian message while at the same time was willing to take a risk as far as being a little bit more edgy.

CP: What is it like to have a major film in theaters after 10 years?

SB: For me, a little bit of my being so excited about that and surprised was by design. I kind of haven't been pursuing the normal Hollywood stuff for quite some time ... [Galley said] "I'm getting this thing out, I'm going to get my story out, God's going to do something very unique here." He wanted to stay true to that throughout the vision.

"I'm in Love With A Church Girl" may be one of a very small handful of totally in your face unapologetic Christian movies that's hitting 500 screens. That's quite unusual in the distribution process in Hollywood. So the fact that the companies that are involved in this [such as] Sony and Vivendi is really encouraging.

CP: How has your Christian faith impacted your actions and behavior when you starred on hit reality series such as "Celebrity Apprentice"?

SB: When you do reality you have to be pretty careful. You have to almost monitor yourself to make sure that you don't get yourself in situations that you shouldn't [be in]. But at the same time I kind of find that exciting because I'm a bit of an adrenaline junkie. I'm a skydiver, I race motorcycles and I enjoy the thrill of life and for me in this walk of faith there really is no greater thrill than the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in your life.

All of the reality TV I've done has usually been simultaneously an opportunity to create awareness or raise funds for my mom's breast cancer organization. I've always competed in those shows. Like I won "Fear Factor," I did "I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here," I did "The Mole," "Celebrity Apprentice" with Donald Trump. I've done a lot of those shows all in the hope of being a blessing to my mom's organization. But at the same time I love unique platforms in order to do your best to stand for your faith as long as it's not something that is hurtful or negative. I welcome that opportunity. It's always fun. But you do have to use as much wisdom and discernment as you can.

CP: Which part of your career has been more enjoyable? Before you came to the faith, or afterwards?

SB: I'm going to answer that honestly. "Enjoyable" is a relative word because I could say something cliché like well the joy of the Lord is yippy yay, praisalluia, you know, it's all good all the time. I definitely think that since I've become born again, if you understand in the supernatural realm the spiritual warfare that goes on everyday, I've had far greater challenges on a personal level than before I became a Christian.

For me, I've never been too concerned of what people think of me, so now as the youngest Baldwin brother in Hollywood making movies while simultaneously being a charismatic evangelical born again Christian who's an evangelist-- that's a pretty crazy combination. But early on in my walk of faith I said a very personal prayer and made a commitment to God. I said if you reveal yourself to me in a way that is more thrilling and powerful and exciting than anything I've experience thus far, then I'll go anywhere and do whatever you want. And that can be very tough.

I know a lot of Christians who have been in ministry and walked away from it because the pressure can be too great. And there's a lot of Christians who at the same time would say like well why does God do [certain things]. What I found is Christians regardless of whatever their experience is who trust God more and learn to go through those moments of challenge and persevere. Usually the end result is an experience and interaction with the Holy Spirit that's greater than it was previously. And for me, there is no pursuit that I desire or enjoy more than that interaction. So, it is challenging.

I think life was kind of easier and my career was what it was prior to being a born again Christian. And that's OK, because I believe God lets us go through all of what we go through for a reason and it's all part of a continued learning curve and journey of revelation and knowledge.

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