Faith & Family Media Blog

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Feb 26, 2020
| by | Kate O'Hare

'The Chosen' Star Jonathan Roumie Wins Movieguide Award for Role as Jesus (And Tries Not to Trip)

Taped in late January, the 28th Annual Movieguide Awards aired Monday, Feb. 24, on the Hallmark Drama channel, and The Chosen star Jonathan Roumie took home the Grace Award for a TV Performance.

What Is The Chosen, and Where Can You See It?

Getting nominated for the Movieguide Awards was a big moment for an unconventional show, that's only a "TV show" in the most tangential sense. Its produced by Dallas Jenkins (The Resurrection of Gavin Stone) and VidAngel Studios (an arm of the Utah-based company that edits or mutes objectional material in movies and TV shows). The series can be watched internationally (and in an increasing variety of languages) on a laptop, smartphone or tablet -- or on a TV connected, by wireless connection or a cord, to any of these -- via TheChosen.TV, through VidAngel.com, or on a Roku, Android TV, Apple TV or Fire TV with a VidAngel subscription), or via the show’s own IOS and Android apps.

Shot on location in Texas, The Chosen is a result of the largest-ever crowdfunding campaign, raising about $11M to date. With advisers from the Evangelical, Jewish and Catholic communities (including FTP’s own Head of Production, Father David Guffey, C.S.C.), The Chosen's  goal is to allow viewers of many faiths and denominations to see Jesus through the eyes of those who knew Him -- whether Apostles or ordinary folk -- and to learn a bit about their lives before they were irrevocably changed.

In this way, Jesus becomes a less remote, more personal figure -- and a lot of that is due to Roumie's warm, very human portrayal. In part one of the interview, in my Pax Culturati blog at Patheos.com, Roumie talked about being nominated. Now, he can reveal what it was like to win.

Jonathan Roumie Takes the Prize

Incidentally, Roumie -- who's of mixed Middle Eastern and Irish descent -- also plays Jesus in The Last Days, a live Passion Play, which he has put on with fellow thespian and singer Maria Vargo, in venues around Los Angeles.

Just being nominated shocked Roumie, who dropped by the Family Theater Productions offices on Sunset Boulevard in Hollywood for an interview.

He said:

[Movieguide] had written an article about the show, and I know they had liked the show. And then next thing I know, I get a text from Dallas, saying, "Hey, you were nominated for an award for the show." I said, "What?" He said, "Yeah, and the show is nominated as well." I said, "Oh, my gosh." He said, "I don't know if we'll get anything, but let's ... Are you available on [January] 24th?" I said, "Yeah, I'm available. I'm going to clear my schedule if I'm not available."

An episode of The Chosen was nominated for the Epiphany Prize for Inspiring TV, but the final winner was the Hallmark Channel movie, Christmas Wishes and Mistletoe Kisses.

But Roumie didn't go home empty-handed, taking the aforementioned Grace Prize.

He said:

Absolutely extraordinary. Like I said, I've never won anything, and I'm glad to win. If I was going to win for anything at all, if I win nothing else for the rest of my life, I'm fine with that. And the fact that I could win for this role, to me that's God's stamp of approval that I'm on the right track.

All performers need validation in some form. ... For me, when I got to the point in my life a few years ago. where I just had to surrender my own will about where I thought my career would go, that's when things started to actually happen -- and happen very specifically. That's when this series came along. It was four months after that point, that this came along.

It just started to become clear to me that this was a mission that God had for me. And I talk about it a little in my speech, about how far back the seeds were planted. And to have a little bit of recognition for it is beautiful, and it's wonderful and exciting.

It's also more than just any role, as Roumie points out:

To me, it's not about [just an award]. I care less about that than I do thinking that now, because of that, more people are going to know who Jesus is. More people will get an opportunity to experience what He may have been like. More people will get an opportunity to connect to the Redeemer of mankind in a way that they may not have been able to if this wasn't what it was, and if I hadn't won for that project.

It furthers the mission and furthers the evangelization process and the evangelization ministry that I feel God has called me to at this point.

Playing Jesus day in and day out is an unusual experience for any actor. But for Roumie, a devout Catholic, it has an extra dimension:

It's given me a deeper compassion for people. It's helped make me a better version of myself. It's also reminded me that I have a long way to go still. But that there's grace in the effort, and it keeps me focused on the ultimate role model for humankind.

Then, of course, there's the actual moment of walking up on stage. Roumie recalls:

Yeah. I was thinking that if I get called, I better not trip, because I'm fairly clumsy. But once it happened I was like, "Yeah, all right. I'm just going to get up." All of a sudden, it felt like slow motion, and I'm just like, "OK, everything's just gone." I see my feet walking up the stairs. I was like, "Thank you. OK. I go to this person here, they give me the little statue and then ..."

It's surreal. It literally feels like time stops. And then just before that, I had scribbled out some stuff on the back of my menu. Like, "OK, if this happens. Make sure not to screw up and forget any of these people." So I did and make sure I put the order that I wanted to remember, and then I got up there.

The speech was in my pocket, but I had memorized it somehow. Everything stuck. So I'm like, "OK, this is who I got to make sure I got thank. God being first priority and then go through the list, family, and the people involved."

So then I get offstage. They immediately take the award, because they're going to engrave it for you. "So just make sure you write in this book exactly what you want your name spelled." I was hoping I get some pictures with it backstage, but we didn't do that. And then I just went around, and people shook my hand

As of the time of the interview, Roumie didn't have his award yet. But when asked where it would go once he got it, he said:

Probably on my shelf. I've got a little area in my apartment where I've got some posters, memorabilia from stuff that I've done, shows or plays or movies that I've done. So probably go a little ... Give it its own shelf right above that.

Will Hallmark Re-Air the Awards?

The award broadcast is now available on the Hallmark Channel Everywhere app. The winners were:

Who Else Won?

Best Movie for Families: The Lego Movie 2: The Second Part

Best Movie for Mature Audiences: A Beautiful Day in the Neighborhood

Faith & Freedom Award for Movies: The Least of These: The Graham Staines Story

Faith & Freedom Award for TV: Dolly Parton's Heartstrings: 'These Old Bones'

Epiphany Prize for Movies: Overcomer

Grace Award for Movie Performance: Aryn Wright-Thompson, for Overcomer

Genesis Award (for a production featuring animals): A Puppy Christmas, from Hallmark Channel

The Visionary Award: Kathie Lee Gifford

 

Image: VidAngel Sudios

Kate O’Hare, a longtime entertainment journalist, is Social Media Manager and blog editor at Family Theater Productions.

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