Growing up, when it came to preaching, I never wanted to do it. At age 15, my church in Oakland had a youth day and I was chosen to give the word because I was the most outspoken. I preached and it went well. Then everyone told me that I had to go into ministry and I was like, “No, no, no. I’m going to Hollywood.” My pastor, who is also my uncle, told me, “DeVon, you can run but you can’t hide.” So I went to USC and interned for Will Smith and started my career. Then, my uncle Bishop D.J. Williams, who was getting older, called me to ask me to come preach once a month. I couldn’t tell him no. So while I was an assistant for Will Smith’s producing partner, James Lassiter, I flew up to Oakland once a month to preach.
Once I started using that gift, my whole world opened up. I realized it wasn’t about making a choice between production or preaching, it was really about not being afraid to become the person God intended for me to be. As I fulfilled the gift of preaching as well as working on films (and ultimately writing a book), all of it began to coincide more seamlessly than I ever thought possible. I had to get over my preconceived notions about who I was and really listen to the call that was on my life to be who God wanted me to be and not worry about what box it fit in.
God is the master director of my life and I have to know, trust and remind myself of that every single day. The plan will not come to fruition without my hard work. That requires me to wake up at 5:30 a.m. I’m in the gym by 6 a.m. I try to be in the office by 8 a.m. I’m taking calls, working on emails, staying focused, and I don’t get home until after 7 p.m. Then I’m spending time with my wife, going to bed and doing it again the next day. I go from business meetings to travel across the country to speak, come back and do it again. To be me, it requires me being passionate and obsessive about what I’m called to do and endeavor always to find the fulfillment of my purpose.
(Photo: Earl Gibson III)
One of the things that drives me is that one never knows how much time we have on this earth, and what I don’t want to have happen is that I had something that I could have done that was in my power to do, and I didn’t do it. I don’t want any gas left in this tank.
From working on movies like Pursuit of Happiness, Karate Kid, Sparkle and the upcoming film Heaven Is for Real, to writing my book, Produced By Faith, to speaking to thousands across the country to hosting TV shows — my goal is to inspire, bring hope and motivate as many people as humanly possible to have the faith to live the life that is destined and available for them.
In addition to being an ordained preacher, motivational speaker and author, DeVon Franklin is the senior vice president of production for Columbia Tristar Pictures, a division of Sony Pictures Entertainment. His films include Pursuit of Happiness, Sparkle and Jumping the Broom. His book, Produced By Faith, parallels each step of the film-making process with the faith-making process of turning your life into a success.
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