"God has given us a much bigger stage than 40 feet by 50 feet. We are thinking too small. We have to think beyond the stage."
"God, meet me at the mic..."
At ten years old, Julian Silva began living the dream. After SHINE, he was immediately cast as Gavroche in the Les Miserables 25th Anniversary National Tour. Traveling from city to city, Julian prayed his opportunity would not merely be career advancement, but would allow him to make an impact for God. Each time he is about to step on stage, Julian pauses and prays, “Jesus, meet me at the mic.” Fresh off the tour, Julian and his mother Maria Silva sat down with us to reflect on the journey so far. (UPDATE: Julian also performed as Young Simba in the Lion King on Broadway, in addition to TV and films, as he is now in his teen years.)
Maria (Julian's mother), what is Julian up to now that Les Mis has finished?
Maria: He’s sharpening his skills: taking dance lessons, voice lessons and learning the guitar.
Does he have anything happening in the near future?
Maria: He is singing the National Anthem for Tampa Bay Lightning and we just heard that The Lion King is going to open again and he’s on their radar to audition. (btw: he booked)
So The national tour of Les Mis is a pretty huge deal for a young kid to take on as his first job! What was that like?
Maria: It was the most impactful thing Julian’s gone through, for a few reasons, and especially spiritually. He’s more mature because of it. It’s really what God has called him to do—reach out to his generation. It’s easy to be a Christian with other like-minded Christians. He recently said to me, “Mom being a Christian is not an easy walk.” But we are called to be the light in the darkness.
What exciting or unusual events happened with Les Mis?
Maria: He brought the “other Gavroche” to Christ! Even though Julian wanted to give up at times, he remembered that God sent him for something. And now he knows why. He recognized that. He also went to some hospitals to visit sick kids. We thought he was ministering to the kids, but Julian was ministered to. God opened doors for encouragement for Julian not to give up. He saw kids not giving up who were really sick.
Where else did you see God working? What were the challenges?
Maria: There were good points and not so good points. It’s so competitive backstage. Julian is not afraid to share his faith so he talked about his beliefs—but some were not so receptive, but he was not going to quit. And he got compliments about his role. The cast started saying things like: “You’re going to go far with your talent” and “You own the role.”
Tell me about SHINE. What was that experience like? How did SHINE help his career?
Maria: When I read SHINE's mission I knew that’s what Julian should be doing. At first I was rocked by the price tag, but it almost separates those who will go for God and those who won’t. It’s like God was saying “My price was higher by giving my Son.” And it felt right. So we signed up and left it in God’s hands.
The following week I got a $5,000 bonus from my company that I was taking a leave of absence from. It was God saying that He will be faithful to His faithful servants. It is God working when He provides! SHINE also helped when we needed to lean on them for prayers. It was the biggest thing because of what we were going through. Now when Julian goes to auditions, SHINE is recognized by casting directors in other places. They know where we’re from.
What was the SHINE conference like?
Maria: Julian did well at SHINE, and SHINE prepared us for the journey of a lifetime. Julian got to be around the people and ‘the movement’ doing the same thing that he loves to do. He was actually sick there. His throat was red and swollen and sore. But God reminded him by the cross. He said, “I didn’t give up,” and it showed Julian the big picture.
How has God been working in your life lately?
Maria: We realize it is God’s steps, for His purpose and not Julian’s steps. We lean on the Bible. It became a bullet proof armor and we know the bullets hit the person who is not protected! We need to be in His presence long enough so that our lives can speak loud enough.
Young people might look at Julian’s success and think, how do I get that? What do you tell them, especially if it doesn’t happen right away?
Maria: Don’t struggle with “I didn’t get any call backs, or an agent”, or “I’m not getting any assignments or jobs.” We already have an assignment! We already have our callback—God has called you. Don’t look at getting 18 callbacks from the world to decide your identity. Your identity is in Christ. You have a character in Christ. The world is your stage and God has given us a much bigger stage than the 40 foot by 50 foot physical stage. We are thinking too small. We have to think beyond the stage.
Also I would say to future performers, don’t ask if you are not willing to go. Be ready to go as soon as you ask God. He will send you.
We stepped out in faith at registration and God can move mountains. God is serious if you say it. He will open small doors first to see if you go through them, then big doors. You have to be willing to go. God is determining your heart, so go and do it! Get out of your comfort zone. Maybe we don’t see it, but God is orchestrating it all.