“To get where you want to go, you first have to become who God wants you to be.”
I have done many amazing interviews in the past year, from our fabulous first lady Michelle Obama (eating apples and honey with her in the White House Kitchen Garden), to first lady Serita Jakes of The Potter’s House — a gentle woman of faith who is devoted to her famous spouse, Bishop T.D. Jakes. Most recently, I spoke to ABC’s Scandal star, the beautiful and brilliant Kerry Washington, in an exciting interview for theGrio. But none — and I mean none – has touched me, enlightened me or intrigued me more than the time I spent talking on the phone last week with a young man on the move who is in a word: Inspiring.
DeVon Franklin is young, handsome, intelligent, dynamic, and about to be married — to none other than the beautiful actress from Jumping the Broom, Meagan Good. He is a God-fearing Hollywood executive who is Vice President of Production for Columbia pictures, a division of Sony. His faith is very personal to him and he walks the talk. He and his fiancée Meagan took a vow of celibacy prior to their wedding this June, because they wanted to honor the timeless scriptural teaching of not engaging in pre-marital sex.
But what makes DeVon especially unique is that he also “moonlights” as a preacher. That’s right. I said “Hollywood” and “preacher” in the same sentence. Franklin has produced hits such as Jumping the Broom, the Karate Kid remake starring Jaden Smith, and The Pursuit of Happyness starring Will Smith and his movie star son. Yet, while working with the world’s most glamorous thespians, he remains a man of deep faith.
Franklin, who is 34-years-young, was raised a Seventh-day Adventist. As part of his faith, he honors the Sabbath from sunset on Friday to sunset on Saturday. To do this, he disconnects from his blackberry and his phone, and spends one-on-one time with the Lord.
Franklin’s new book, Produced by Faith, shares advice gained through his faith on how people of our time can achieve enormous success without losing themselves and their spirituality to the fleeting cares and material things of this world. To gain more insight into his message, you can catch DeVon this Sunday, June 17, at 11 am with none other than Oprah Winfrey on her Emmy-nominated series Super Soul Sunday. He will talk with her about his fascinating life story to date, as well as his faith and how it plays out in his life every day.
I had a chance to ask DeVon a series of questions that give us a glimpse into why this young man is so successful. But more importantly, his answers reveal the wisdom of someone well beyond the age of 34. Franklin uses his calling as a man of faith to provide us with a roadmap worth considering as we take our own journey called life.
Sophia Nelson: My first question is, tell us — who is DeVon Franklin?
Devon Franklin (chuckles, then becomes quiet): I am a child of God; a living breathing example of the divine power of faith. I hope I am a living example of a life that is committed to God, not subject to what I see, or want in life, nor ruled by those things. I want to be an example of how we can live a life that is Godly and yet still succeed in this world.
I am 34-years-old, and grew up in the San Francisco Bay-Oakland region. I have an older and younger brother. I am in the middle. We are about three years apart on each side. My dad passed away when I was nine years of age, so I was raised by my mom, grand-mom and seven of my aunts. It was great growing up with all of these strong black women.
I learned so much from them. To be a single mom raising three boys on your own is not easy, so being around these women allowed me to learn from their wisdom and life lessons; lessons about character, how to live, how to treat people, and how to honor your faith. These lessons had a great impact on me and still do to this day.
I also had some great male influences in my life. In addition to my grandfather who passed away just a few years ago, my uncle Doctor DJ Williams (who was also a Seventh-day Adventist) was probably the transformative positive male influence in my life. He pastored the church I grew up in, then he left there and started an independent ministry—Wings of Love — over 25 years ago. My uncle also kept us disciplined as boys; and he encouraged us to read. He saw that I had a calling to minister. And I wanted no part of it. I wanted to go to Hollywood. My uncle used to say, “You can run but you can’t hide.” He was right.