Seventh Day Adventist preacher and vice president of production at Columbia Pictures, a division of Sony Pictures Entertainment. Those are two positions you don’t often see next to each other, but DeVon Franklin uses his experiences in both roles to produce faith-based films, like The Pursuit of Happyness and Jumping the Broom.
The 33-year-old Northern California native started out as an intern for actor Will Smith and his business partner James Lassiter. He worked as a studio executive at Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer (MGM) before moving on to Columbia Pictures, a division of Sony and part of the so-called Big Six, the most prestigious movie studios in the world.
Franklin said his motivation in creating films with religious undertones came from his goal of inspiring others. “I have always wanted to create movies that really allow people to see themselves on screen. Movies that give people a sense of hope and purpose,” he told theGrio last year.
DeVon Franklin is making history … as a leader in the genre of faith-based films. The Hollywood Reporter named him one of the top 35 executives under 35, and the NAACP lists him as one of the top 10 industry impact players.
What’s next for DeVon?
Franklin continues to help create faith-based films, and has recently become an author. Last year, he released his first book, Produced By Faith: Enjoy Real Success Without Losing Your True Self. The book uses the moviemaking process as a parallel to encourage readers to fight for their dreams.
In his own words …
“I feel like we all go through struggles. My hope is that audiences will be able to see films like these and that they will be encouraged to keep going on and keep fighting,” he told theGrio, referring to the movie Jumping The Broom.” I hope they will definitely see a change in their circumstances.”
A little-known fact about African-American films
In 1915, George and Noble Johnson founded the Lincoln Motion Picture Company, the first film studio owned by African Americans. It was the first company to produce “race movies,” featuring all-black casts for an all-black audience.
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THE GRIO’S Q & A WITH DEVON FRANKLIN
Q: What’s next in this chapter of your life?
A: The next chapter of my life focuses on continuing to promote the message of my book. I am committed to promote the message of the book to help people change their lives and their careers. I feel like I am just getting started. I also hope to continue to make movies that inspire people to live a better version of their lives.
Q: What’s a fact about you that many people don’t know?
A: I used to direct the youth choir of my church.
Q: Where do you get your inspiration?
A: I get my inspiration from the Bible primarily. It is definitely a huge inspiration for me. I also get inspiration from reading books outside of the Bible. I find that having a moment to get to read something outside of work is really inspiring.
Q: Who are/were your mentors?
A: My mentors are Will Smith and Bishop T.D Jakes. Will helps me with films and Bishop Jakes helps me with my ministry. I also consider a number of executives who I work for at Sony and my aunt to be my mentors.
Q: What advice would you give to anyone who wants to achieve their dreams?
A: I think the first thing is to understand that it’s a process and that you don’t patience is required, because there are some things that you want, but if you don’t commit to the process you could disrupt your ability to achieve those things. You are more talented than you think. Believe in yourself. You are equipped. You have the ability to do more than you think. Challenges are delays that are presented to bring out what is already in you. Persevering and believing that you actually have what it takes to succeed. For me, you have to have faith you have to have faith. I don’t believe that you can have true success without faith.