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This story first appeared in the April 18 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine.
DeVon Franklin was 15 when he delivered his first sermon, at Youth Day at his uncle’s church in Oakland, Calif. It went so well that the congregation was shocked and dismayed when the budding teenage preacher announced he had eyes not for the pulpit but for Hollywood.
Today, the 35-year-old has figured out a way to fit both into his life. He speaks throughout the country three weekends a month, always returning by Monday to his post as senior vp production at Columbia Pictures, where he has overseen Sparkle, The Karate Kid and Heaven Is for Real.
“The more I started embracing the ministry side, the more it actually added to my career in Hollywood,” says Franklin, who was ordained 10 years ago at his uncle’s church, Wings of Love Maranatha Ministries. “Knowing what challenges people are facing and then working on movies that can address those real-life issues gave me a path in this business.”
Franklin — whose extracurriculars also include the 2011 motivational book Produced by Faith and appearances on multiple OWN shows, including Super Soul Sunday, Lifeclass and the upcoming Help Desk — juggles his schedule by rising early and, perhaps counterintuitively, observing the Sabbath. It’s almost unheard of for a studio executive to abstain from work-related emails, phone calls and even going to the movies from sundown Friday night to Saturday night, but Franklin says the discipline re-energizes him for the rest of the week.
“I believe that God put me in this business,” says Franklin, who married actress Meagan Good in 2012. “I don’t preach in the halls, but a sermon can be in how I answer the phone. Ministry is how you live.”
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