290 From Georgia Girl to Los Angeles Producer – Actress Erin Bethea

What You will Hear in Actress Erin Bethea's Story:

  • From Unknown to Fame – Actress Story
  • An Actress’ Emotional and Professional Roller Coaster
  • “You are Not What You Do”  and “You are Not How People Know You”
  • Fame, Value and Your Identity – Actress story

Watch the Movie Fireproof

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More about our featured guest Erin Bethea

Erin Bethea is a professional actress born and raised in South Georgia.  Born with a love of performing, she began her career after graduating from the University of Mobile with a Bachelor of Arts in Theatre.  She made her screen debut in a small role as sportscaster Alicia Houston in the surprisingly successful Christian film Facing the Giants.

Currently, Erin is busy with more feature films preparing to be released, including Atlar Egos, a comedy starring Robert Amaya (Courageous).  She has also added a new role to her resumé as a producer with her new production company, Argentum Entertainment.  Through producing her own content, Erin hopes to bring quality movies to a broader audience and inspire seekers of entertainment everywhere!

Full Transcript

[00:02] Joel: Welcome to ReLaunch, your daily dose of inspiring stories, fresh ideas, and practical solutions to help you build a business and a life that you love. And if you are a daily listener, welcome back to the show. Thank you for tuning in, and thank you for being involved in the before and the after show online conversation. And if you are new here, just know that you are among friends. And this what you can expect: Unique insights, aha moments, and actionable information from self-made successes as they share their trials, tribulations and their come-from-behind victories. Hey Pei, remember how much fun we had when we interviewed “Facing the Giants” leading lady, Shannen Fields, remember that?

[00:51] Pei: Oh, yeah, absolutely. We love that movie too.

[00:54] Joel: Oh, my gosh. Yes, we do.

[00:56] Pei: Watched it over and over.

[00:57] Joel: We did as well. Well, our guest today actually got her screen debut playing a small role as a sportscaster in that movie. After that brief appearance in “Facing the Giants,” she went onto Disney to work in live theater for a few years. And then her entire world and career was turned upside down because she was cast to play opposite Kirk Camaron… Kirk Cameron. Kirk Cameron as his onscreen wife, Kathleen Holt in the tremendous movie, “Fireproof,” and I know you remember that movie. That was one of our favorites as well like “Facing the Giants.” Of course I'm talking about the amazing Erin Bethea. She is here with us on ReLaunch today. Erin, welcome to today's show.

[01:48] Erin Bethea: Thank you. So glad to be with you guys.

[01:51] Joel: This is gonna be so much fun. Thank you for making time to be on the schedule. You're a busy lady; you're shooting, you're in front of camera, you're behind the camera as a producer. And we just got a last minute almost availability in our calendar, and you were able to literally pull off the side of the road and get on your cell and make this interview happen. So, thank you for that.

[02:18] Erin Bethea: Oh, absolutely. This will be fun.

[02:19] Joel: Oh, indeed, it will. Erin, we've all experienced numerous launches and relaunches throughout our life, and I generally ask our guests to zero in on the launch or the relaunch that has been the most significant for them or it's been the most transformational, and then we just kind of unfold the story from there. We'll do that with you here in just a few minutes if that's okay, but before we get into that, let's talk “Fireproof.” Now just real quick, we're not spending a lot of time on this but if you can remember one of the funniest or one of the most memorable things that happened to you on that set, I would love to hear it. It'd be a great way to start today's show too.

[03:03] Erin Bethea: [chuckle] Oh, gosh. I'm so full of “Fireproof” stories that everybody always wants to hear those fun stories, but one that we really love to share because we love… There are so many times on Sherwood Pictures that when God just shows up in such a cool way that he just proves that he has such a great sense of humor, while also proving that he has total authority and control over the situation on our movie set. And one of those stories that I particularly love is not especially about a scene that I was in, but that I was there for on that day. And that was the scene in the film where we're shooting the car wreck on the train track.

[03:47] Joel: Okay.

[03:48] Erin Bethea: And really intense scene. A lot of moving parts where there's a train and a wrecked car and firetrucks and all this kind of stuff. So we got the car onto the track, and then we needed to nudge it just a little bit for the train to actually be able to pass by on the scene, because obviously in movie magic, we have these men who are able to lift and push the car. But that's just not what happened in real life. So we needed the car to nudge over a little bit and no matter what we did, we couldn't get it to nudge over. And we're out in the middle of this country road, in the middle of no where in South Georgia, a couple of people are sort of wandering out of their houses in the neighborhood wondering what's happening on their local train track. And this one guy kind of walks around and he sees I was struggling with the car and all of a sudden he just goes, “You guys need a forklift?”

[04:46] Pei: Wow.

[04:47] Erin Bethea: And we said, “Well, sure, I mean, [chuckle] that would be helpful.” And he kind of walks back into his house, and a minute later, he drives around from his backyard a forklift.

[05:00] Joel: Wow.

[05:00] Erin Bethea: And it's just… Who has a forklift in their backyard?

[05:03] Pei: Yeah, I was just thinking…

[05:07] Erin Bethea: It's just the craziest.

[05:08] Joel: Just for that, that precise moment and that's exactly what you needed.

[05:12] Erin Bethea: Yeah. Exactly, exactly. I just thought that the lord provides, sometimes there's a forklift. [chuckle]

[05:21] Joel: Exactly, when you needed one.

[05:23] Erin Bethea: Exactly, exactly.

[05:25] Joel: Didn't need one up until that moment, and then all of a sudden God showed up on the Sherwood set, and he said, “Oh, yeah, here you go.”

[05:33] Erin Bethea: That's right. We just… Yeah, there you go. So we just say we have a billion stories like that. And fun pranks that were pulled on set and things like that, but that one's just one of our favorite as a cast and crew of that film.

[05:45] Joel: That is a powerful…

[05:46] Erin Bethea: Seeing how the Lord answers prayers with his sense of humor sometimes.

[05:50] Joel: Indeed. That's a powerful story. We really appreciate you sharing that with us today. Okay. Getting into Erin's relaunch, now we all have experiencing numerous personal and professional relaunches. Which one really was transformational for you that we need to start on today and go from there?

[06:13] Erin Bethea: Sure, well, speaking of “Fireproof”, what's funny is that “Fireproof” sort of, for me, signified… I sort of have a two-wave relaunch because of that movie in my life personally. Obviously, because of doing that movie, it completely altered the course of my career. I was so focused on stage and live performance, and that was always my background, and never really thought about doing films. And then “Fireproof” sort of shifted the entire focus of that for me. So, that was a big professional relaunch, obviously. But then really, the sort of… I don't know what better word to say, but the fallout after “Fireproof” was what really altered a lot of my walk, personally, with the Lord, what altered a lot of my perspective as my view of myself and how the Lord would use me and what this meant. It was a crazy time, because all of a sudden I went from being completely an unknown person to now being sort of one of the most known, yet still unknown, people in the Christian entertainment space. And that was a really crazy time because I was like the number four actress searched for on yahoo.com, on like a list with people like Renee Zellweger and Nicole Kidman and Reese Witherspoon. It was stupid, how people were sort of searching for me and trying to figure out, “Who is this chick in this movie that's the number four movie in the nation, and she's not done squat? Who is… ”

[08:09] Pei: How did that make you feel?

[08:11] Erin Bethea: Oh, it was crazy. It was like I kind of went into panic mode. I kind of went into like “I need to move to LA tomorrow. I need to get an agent. I need to… ” I was just completely unprepared, 'cause here I was… By the time the movie came out, I was back working at Disney doing a show at the Magic Kingdom, and all of a sudden, there I am doing my show at the Magic Kingdom, and I've got people showing up at Disney wanting my personal autograph instead of my character's autograph.

[08:43] Joel: Oh, okay.

[08:45] Erin Bethea: So, it was just nuts.

[08:48] Joel: So, you used the word “fallout” earlier. So, obviously, you're starting to introduce some of the things that happened. What was the fallout that took you by surprise? Obviously, this did, so I can appreciate that. But was there some other fallout that you didn't see comin' and kind of added to this? “Okay, well, what do I do now and how do I handle this now?”

[09:17] Erin Bethea: Right. And that was really… That was what was interesting about it was for the first year I guess, for 2008 into 2009 after “Fireproof” had come out, my whole life was “Fireproof”. I was doing interviews, I was traveling around the country, I was talking about the film. And then, just like with everything, it was just sort of over. And people still… They still love the movie, they still recognize the movie, they still wanna talk to me about it. But all of a sudden, that just sort of ended and there was suddenly no trajectory for me going forward. And I was getting no other movie offers, and so I wasn't working, really. And so then I went back to my show at Disney ended. And I ended up working a part-time job at a Godiva Chocolate Shop in the mall in Orlando, Florida.

[10:20] Pei: And how long was that after the release of “Fireproof”?

10:27 Erin Bethea: So, that was in 2010. My show ended, and I had no other… Nobody was calling me to do movies, which kind of took me by surprise 'cause I had… Quite frankly, I had gotten a little proud of myself. You know what I mean? I was like “Hey, I am the ‘Fireproof' girl! My movie is so successful and my movie is helping a lot of people, and my phone's gonna be ringing off the hook of other Christian filmmakers wanting to cash in on that.” And what was interesting was that kind of didn't happen. And so then after a couple of years, I was kind of left with almost having to figure out who I was and what my career was gonna be. Because while people recognized that I was “Yes, okay, you were the girl from ‘Fireproof'”, for some reason, the way the film was promoted, nobody knew that I was a professional actress. They all thought that I was a church member who had never acted before and randomly got selected to play Kirk Cameron's wife. And so then I was battling this stereotype that “No, no. I have an education in this. It's what I do for a living and I want to keep doing it.” And people just thought “Isn't that cute? The little Southern church girl from Georgia wants to do movies now.” And I thought, “No, no. I'm an actress. That's what I do!”

[11:54] Erin Bethea: So, it was very… It was a really strange time where I think the Lord taught me a lot about our… My own pride and my own idea of myself and entrusting him to present me with the right opportunity. Because there I was sort of felling really at the bottom again just going “Here I am, I've had this huge movie that has made so much money and changed so many lives and now here I am again, I'm struggling to pay my bills and I'm selling people chocolate for eight something an hour in a mall in Orlando.” [laughter] It was really humbling and I feel like the Lord put me in that position to say, “Erin, what I give you is not because you deserve it. It's because I wanna bless you and give you an opportunity. And that you've done nothing to earn the position of privilege that you were given in “Fireproof”. You were given that as a gift and it's not your right. You don't own that… What that movie has done. I own what that movie has done. I am the reason that lives have been changed. Not you because you were the actress.”

[13:19] Pei: Wow. So Erin, I'm hearing the story, you used to be the Disney character. People ask for autograph for that character and then they recognize you as this actress appeared on “Fireproof” and then you went through this emotional and professional roller coaster. So at this point, hindsight, what did you find out? What did you learn about Erin? Who is Erin, who's not the Disney character.

[13:51] Joel: That's a great question.

[13:52] Pei: Who's not Catherine Holt. [chuckle]

[13:56] Erin Bethea: Yeah. That's so true because that was really… I kind of did have a crisis of identity for a little while because I thought “Okay, if I'm not this Disney character that children love and adore and wanna meet, and I'm not the ‘Fireproof' girl, who am I?” Because really… It really did lead to an interesting crisis because nobody really knew my name. Nobody knew even though my name was Erin Bethea, even though it was on the poster and on the DVD cover, I was sort of “the wife from” and that became my identity was the wife from. I used to joke that I should change my name legally. First name should be the wife from and last name should be “Fireproof” because that's how everyone knew me. So I did have a little bit of a crisis of identity and that really is when the Lord kind of showed me that you are not what you do and you are not how people know you. That's not your identity. My identity… The value in my identity is in Him alone and it's not how many people know my name or how many people know my movie or how many people want to hire me or how many people want my autograph.

[15:20] Erin Bethea: It's strictly in, is my identity rooted in that first and foremost, I'm a follower of Jesus Christ because everything after that is just fluff when you have that security of knowing who you are. And I think that was where I had kind of gone adrift for a little while because then when people didn't really care who I am or care to go the next step to even learn my name, I felt kind of low on myself. No one cares who I am even though I'm the wife. I'm the wife from “Fireproof”. So you do, you do kind of put… And that's one of those unfortunate things that any level of fame does to a person is it puts these unrealistic expectations that “I am valued only because people know who I am and care who I am, that's where my value comes from”.

[16:22] Erin Bethea: And that's that lie that fame teaches you is that once people don't know your name or don't really care who you are, that you no longer have value. And that was a big learning thing for me is that that… I had never thought that before but once you get any level of notoriety, your entire way of thinking changes and you start valuing yourself based on your IMDB score. [laughter] It's really sad and something that the Lord really had to kind of… I feel like he had to walk me through a valley and a season of doubt to teach me what my real value was and what my real identity was and that was not in… My value was not in being the wife from “Fireproof” that if that completely went away and the movie disappeared off the planet tomorrow, it doesn't matter.

[17:23] Joel: So let me ask you this. We've got about five minutes left. Kind of if we fast forward a little bit, Erin. By the way, thank you. That is a moving…

[17:33] Pei: Yes.

[17:33] Joel: And very, very powerful story. Okay. Fast forwarding. Once you came into yourself and you realized all of these truths that you just shared and you put things into the proper perspective and then you were ready to relaunch Erin Bethea as the business owner, the producer, the actress again, the… Not the actress who's a Christian, but the Christian who's an actress. What were you able to really grab onto besides God's love? That I understand, but what were you able to grab onto within yourself so that you could begin to build this up again? You.

[18:21] Erin Bethea: I had kind of claimed for myself first Corinthians 2:9 that says, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, and no mind can conceive the plans that God has for those who love him.” And so I had kind of been able to plant my flag on that scripture and say, “Okay, Lord, whatever it is that you have for me whether it's acting. Whether it's not associated with the entertainment field at all. Whatever it is, I know that if I just focus on my love for you and your love for me instead of my love for acting and my love for this business and all that kinda stuff. If I focus on my love for you, you have plans for me that I've never even imagined and that's what your scripture promises.”

[19:12] Erin Bethea: And so I know that I can lean on that, and I can own that and know that, that is what's true. And, sure enough, I saw it to be incredibly true as soon as I started claiming that scripture and owning that scripture… And it's not a prosperity gospel kind of thing. It's not that wealth and all that will come your way, but it's that He has plans you can't imagine. So, whatever that looks like is what's going to fulfill you because He knows my heart better than I know it. And He knows my desires better than I know it. And, sure enough, as soon as I started to claim that for myself and know that, that was true, I've gotten movie offers started coming in. The opportunity to move out to Los Angeles opened up. The opportunity to partner with my business partner Drew Waters and open a production company opened up. I ended up writing a script which I never thought that I would do.


[20:14] Erin Bethea: It's just all these things started to be… All these passions I didn't even realize I had. I didn't know I wanted to produce, and now here I am doing it and having a passion for it and thriving in it. We have two movies going into production in the next year.

[20:30] Joel: Oh, wow. Congratulations.

[20:31] Erin Bethea: And so I've just seen the Lord… Thank you. I've just seen the Lord play these plans out before me that I could never have conceived. If you had told me four years ago I would have written a script and it would be being produced this year, I would tell you you were insane. I would say “I am not a writer, I am not a producer. I'm an actress, and I show up, and I say what they tell me to say, and I wear what they tell me to wear.” So, I've just really seen Him deliver on that and open up passion for things and skill at things that I could never have conceived or imagined. But it's because my focus has shifted because I'm not focused on me anymore because when I'm focusing on myself, I'm too busy. I get too bogged down, I just spin in circles. But when I'm focused on Him, it keeps my eyes forward, and that's what helps me move forward.

[21:28] Joel: And tell us one more time what was the scripture that you were claiming?

[21:34] Erin Bethea: First Corinthians 2:9.

[21:36] Joel: First Corinthians 2:9. Awesome. Erin…

[21:39] Erin Bethea: That's the one.

[21:40] Joel: Talking with Erin Bethea today. Definitely catch her in the movie “Fireproof.” Her screen debut was in the movie that came just a few years before that, “Facing the Giants,” and those two movies are two of my all time favorites. Pei, last words?

[21:56] Pei: And we actually gonna place Erin's website and contact information in our broadcast show notes as well.

[22:04] Joel: Fantastic. All of the hotspots, the go to places in the blog article that accompanies this episode. Erin, this has been a delight. I am so excited and glad that you were able to make time for us, and be on the ReLaunch Show, and we just are excited for what's going on in your life and we wish you all the very best. And when those movies are just about ready to be released, if you would come back on and let us be one of your first radio interviews when you're getting ready to release both of those movies in time.

[22:41] Erin Bethea: Definitely.

[22:42] Joel: We would be honored to have you on again.

[22:46] Erin Bethea: Yeah, I would be thrilled to. Thank you guys so much. I think this show's great. I love that you guys are willing to talk and be so open and so transparent, and I think it's much needed. So, thank you.

[22:59] Pei: Well, we appreciate you being so open and willing to share. Thank you.

[23:03] Joel: Absolutely. Have a wonderful rest of your day. Thank you, Erin.

[23:07] Erin Bethea: Thank you. Thanks, guys. Bye-bye.

[23:10] Joel: Thanks so much for tuning in. You can also access our show from any mobile apps and by visiting our website, just go to joelboggess.com/290. You'll also find show transcripts and additional resources to support your relaunch into the life and business that you love. Thanks so much for tuning in. You can also access our show from any mobile apps and by visiting our website, just go to joelboggess.com/273. You'll also find show transcripts and additional resources to support your relaunch into the life and business that you love.

Connect with Erin on Twitter, Facebook and her website.

Joel Boggess

Keynote Speaker | Corporate Trainer | Award-winning podcaster I help teams ignite their courage, take bolder steps, and get greater results. Together, we create possibilities that bring empowerment, meaning, and financial impact.


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