Why a missionary in Africa became a Hollywood actor

In Industry Insights, Uncategorized by

(Pictured: Eddie Kaulukukui in the film 40 Nights, which tells the story of the pre-ministry life of Jesus and the time He spent in the wilderness for 40 nights after being baptized by John the Baptist.)

The following article is part of a reflection from the “Hollywood Mentor Series.” Through the Hollywood Mentor Series students in JPCatholic’s MBA in Film Producing program get the opportunity to meet and network with a variety of top executives and professionals in all sectors of the film industry in Los Angeles. MBA graduate Tyler Carlos shares the lessons he learned from these meetings:

Eddie Kaulukukui is a young and talented Christian actor, singer, and songwriter. But Kaulukukui’s story starts well before he became an actor. Kaulukukui went to school to study electrical engineering, but engineering didn’t fulfill him the way he thought it would. Kaulukukui ended up becoming a missionary in Africa, and it was there that he realized just how powerful the film industry is. Even in the bush of Africa, he was hearing news about the events of Hollywood. When he returned to America, he decided that he wanted to become an actor, not only to fulfill his call, but because he knew that he could make a difference.

His first big gig was as an understudy as Aladdin, in a musical at Disney California Adventure Park, where he felt he was in completely over his head. But before long, he was promoted and leading the show. He then moved on to commercials and on-camera hosting gigs, and eventually started doing television shows and small films. Today, he is still employed by Disney and works regularly in the industry. He recently completed filming on his latest feature film The Devil’s Tree, a horror film inspired by true events.

Apart from his success as an actor, Kaulukukui is a practicing Christian. As his faith is a huge part of his life and career, he believes that we must know who we are IN GOD apart from successes or failures. Knowing yourself in God creates a kind of sobriety, allowing us to know that we are not defined by our careers. If we are defined by the God that created us, then we always have Him to lean back on. It’s the little choices that add up to finding or losing one’s self.

As people of faith, we have to push our convictions. According to Kaulukukui, there is no black and white to it. We have to know what we are and are not willing to do in our work, and stick to it. When we have those tough decisions, we have God as a resource. He can give us his grace in the hard moments. He can help us make those small decisions that keep us close to Him instead of leading us away from him. And Kaulukukui believes that it shouldn’t always be easy. If it were easy, we would never grow.

Kaulukukui also explained we should think of ourselves as missionaries in the film industry. The small decisions we make can have big repercussions on people or the industry in general. And we are not always going to see our effect right away, as we must be in it for the long haul. That is how we change people and impact the culture for Christ. When the right opportunity comes along, we must be ready.

Kaulukukui’s last bit of advice was simple: keep active and enjoy it. Sitting still does nothing. If we want to work, we have to go out there and work. To change lives, we must go out there and meet people. If we want to impact the culture for Christ, we must be out in the world, living as Christ desires us to do. And even in the hard times, we must find ways to enjoy the work we are doing. For it is in that enjoyment that we can find Christ.

— By Tyler Carlos, 2016 JPCatholic Graduate —