I Love To Tell The Story...A Trio Of Actors Speak



Charles White






Want to make a summer blockbuster? It doesn’t really seem that hard. You simply need a good recipe.  The first ingredient you need is a genre. Probably the two most popular would be action or horror. Next you need a script. It has to be good. You’ve got to have tons of blood and guts whether caused by a madman stalking kids at the lake or the terrorist villain mowing his way through civilians. It also helps if your script has some gratuitous sex scenes, so long as you don’t get that dreaded NC-17 rating. Then you need actors to sell your story. Without actors, it is rather hard to bring the story to the screen.


What happens when you’re an actor and you want to help tell an exciting story but you don’t think that a well-written, heart-pounding movie needs mindless violence, gratuitous sex scenes and graphic language? Three actors in the new horror film from Cross Shadow Productions entitled, Paranormal (currently in production), have wrestled with this very fact. Maureen MacDonald, Nick Errato and Daniel Gray all have faced this challenge to one degree or another as actors.


Daniel Gray, who plays the character of Doug in the film, started out in modeling and eventually moved into acting. However, what he found in Hollywood really disturbed him.


“I went to Hollywood and worked on some scenes and immediately you could feel that the atmosphere was kind of gross morally,” Daniel explained. “I had scenes to do that I didn’t feel comfortable with and I had monologues that I had to give back to directors and say that I just couldn’t do it.”


Each of trio felt called to be an actor, but not just as a means to pay the bills. For each of these talented thespians, acting is a passion. As Nick Erato, who plays Chris in Paranormal, puts it, “I like to inspire people. It is fun to get into a different type of character and in different ways positively impact people through entertainment.”


But, what do you do when you want to act in films yet much of what Hollywood is producing doesn’t fit in to your value system? You really have two choices: throw away your values and adopt new ones or look for alternatives. This is exactly what all three did. Maureen, Nick and Daniel clung to their values and sought out an alternative. They each looked for a production company that produced good, quality films and held to a high moral standard. With films like Fireproof being produced, each of them knew that success and morality didn’t have to be mutually exclusive. Eventually, they found a production company that mirrored their own principals: Cross Shadow Productions.


For Nick, Cross Shadow Productions, like many other Christian production companies in the US, offered him a venue to pursue his career as an actor while still respecting his values. “I like that they [Cross Shadow Productions] are a Christian-based production company and that they have values,” Nick proudly shared. “They value family first and I like how they are blazing the trail in the movie industry. You really don’t see a lot of Christian horror movies or horror movies in general where there is no blood, guts, sex, gore or anything like that.”


Maureen MacDonald, who plays Karen in the film and who in real life is the current Mrs. America, echoed this thought. For her, it was very important to be in a movie that she could be proudly share with her family and friends. “I think it is great to support companies that are local, especially this company because of their values. I knew making this film that I wouldn’t ever be asked to do something that I was uncomfortable with and I would be able to bring my family to see it. It is something that I could be proud to show everyone.”


Each of them realize that this is not an easy road that they have chosen to travel, but it is even harder to surrender your values for fame and popularity. “It is extremely tough,” Daniel stated of his mainstream work in Hollywood. “It is just so hard when all of this material that I was given was negative and grimy and had to do with things that I didn’t want to promote. It is so tough.”


So what advice would these actors give young people struggling with issues of morality and faith? The first thing is not to give up just because things are hard.


I think that it is important to follow your dreams even if they seem crazy,” Maureen offered.  “I think it is important to have big dreams and do what you can to achieve them and have your priorities in the right place. If you have your priorities in the right place and you act on them you won’t be led astray.” She went on to explain she lives this sentiment. “It’s not about getting another part or being in the spotlight, it is about what is going to inspire my kids and honor my family and if it doesn’t, then I don’t do it.”


Nick offered a similar piece of advice. “I can be caught up in worldly things so easily but sometimes you have to re-ground yourself and re-focus. Live for God and everything else will fall into place.”


Seizing on this thought, Daniel added, “If you can just live God-based, so many questions will be answered. If I just live God-based all of the time then it will work itself out whether it is relationships or films”


What you do and say is a strong measure of who you are. For Maureen, Nick and Daniel this realization is one that they have each learned and taken to heart. Not willing to sacrifice either their dreams or their values, they have proved that one can be successful simply by doing what you love and preserving your beliefs. If you stick to your principals and pursue your dreams, then you are successful. Whatever comes after that is just gravy.