"This has to be told. People need to know..."
Philipa Booyens is a model, writer and activist. She is also a full-time wife and mom devoted to her family and career. We sat down with Philipa to discuss her role at AMTC, and what exactly God has called her to this season in life.
How did you first get involved with Actors, Models and Talent for Christ?
Well, it’s been a long time. My mother is an agent and started going to AMTC in 1992. So we’ve known the family for that long. Both my brothers and I have actually gone through AMTC and my brother Ben (Davies) and I work with AMTC, so it’s almost all my life.
You co-wrote the screenplay for I’m Not Ashamed (in production now), about the Columbine Massacre, and one high school student’s unbending faith in particular. Tell us about that project.
Absolutely. I was approached with this project right before we shot 8 Days. My mother, Nise Davies, is the producer on the film and at the time they didn’t have a script; they didn’t have financing. She said, “I want you to look at this, and maybe you can give it a shot, because we don’t have anything right now.” So I worked with another writer in Nashville, and I knew the story, and I just fell in love with the girl (Rachel Joy Scott), her family, what God did through her, and is continuing to do. That’s really important to me in writing, being passionate about stories that have to be told. It was a long process; there are two other writers involved beside myself, so it’s been a very collaborative group project, and it’s coming out April 20th of next year.
So the story is told through the eyes of Rachel Joy Scott?
Yes. We researched her journals. The words that she wrote are so prophetic and powerful, and I love this girl because she has a heart after Jesus. She wanted to reach the lost. She wasn’t perfect, but she loved people. Her whole heart was about compassion and random acts of kindness that would change the world. Her message needs to be told; it’s so important.
As a writer, what were some of the difficulties and triumphs you faced researching such an infamous event?
Well, true stories are very hard. We have the rights from the mother for Rachel Joy Scott’s story, but trying to fit someone’s whole life into a movie is difficult. Being sensitive to the family and the families involved and being accurate is challenging, but very worthwhile. The collaborative process is also fun. God’s gifts in other people, working together, makes things better. We had to research a lot into the killers, because they were the antagonists; and the stuff that they wrote and they believed, it was really sad and from a dark place. Rachel had dark places as well, but she triumphed over that, and God used her in so many mighty ways.
Together with your husband Jaco, you run After Eden Pictures where you write, direct and produce feature films. Your last movie, 8 Days, explored both the tragedy and reality of sex trafficking. What is the purpose of the film, and as a writer, do you find yourself attracted to projects that promote social justice?
I absolutely do. When I was approached with the issue of sex-trafficking five years ago, I was shocked and horrified, and had no idea what to do about it. I am an introverted writer; I can’t run a safe home, I’ve never thought of myself as a lobbyist or anything like that, but it was, “What can I do about this?” And God just said, “This has to be told. People need to know. And I’ve given you this gift; use it.” It was terrifying and intimidating, because I don’t have first hand experience with this issue. But it became very personal to our group. And that’s what we did with 8 Days. God has surrounded us through AMTC with so many talented people in arts and entertainment. And we realized, this is what we can do about this issue. We can style clothes, we can do makeup, we can write stories, we can act, we can sing, write songs- and that’s what we did. It was such an amazing effort from so many talented people that volunteered their time to raise awareness to this issue and to fight crime. And the proceeds from the film go to anti-trafficking organizations, safe homes and ministries that are boots on the ground.
How does relationship with Christ affect your work as a writer?
Great question. I don’t consider myself a Christian writer; I am a writer that is in love with God and a Christian. I think anything I write that is not God inspired is just mehh_(laughs). When He speaks and when He moves, you can tell and you notice. He’s the life source of everything we do. So I very much pray through everything I do and seek God as far as what project’s next, or what line to write.
Along with fellow actresses/models Kim Baldwin and Austen Williams, you are the creator/co-host of INsight, a web-based show. Tell us more about INsight, what it is you ladies do.
Right now we are doing a lot on our website insightscene.com. We have videos and blogs; we also do a lot on Facebook and social media. We are gearing up for more web shows which we are filming this month, and we’re also touring. So they can request tour dates and definitely watch our shows and come visit us when we have these conferences.
You have been a talent scout, model, coach, web designer, and so much more with Actors, Models and Talent for Christ. What do you enjoy most about working with AMTC?
I love seeing performer’s talent and exhorting that, exhorting them into who God’s called them to be. I think beauty is more than skin deep. Seeing what God has put inside of them and leading them into that confidence, that they are children of God, it’s great watching them walk tall and just to be who God is calling them to be.