by Tiffany Roney Salerno
“The Chosen” is arguably the number-one Christian TV show right now, and it is the largest crowdfunded show of any kind in the history of television, so it was an honor to interview a representative from “The Chosen” for the Holywood Network.
Below is an episode of Holywood TV, where Salerno interviewed the project manager of the famous crowd funded faith based show about the life of Christ, “The Chosen” TV show.
Julie Molina, project manager for “The Chosen” and executive assistant to the show’s creator, took a few minutes to speak with me at the National Religious Broadcasters convention in Dallas in late June. We stood in front of a banner featuring the character of Jesus at “The Chosen’s” booth in the Gaylord Convention Center in Grapevine, Texas.
Julie said she thought what resonates with viewers so much is the show’s authenticity.
“What we hear from our viewers is how refreshing it is to see a Jesus who they can really connect with; a Jesus who, while being fully God, was also fully human,” Julie said. “And not only that but also seeing the relationship of Jesus with the disciples, and how the disciples were just like us. These are all people we can relate to. That’s the key.”
—Molina Project Manager of the CHOSEN Series
Beyond entertainment, the show has the potential to truly impact viewers’ real relationship with the real Jesus. Expressing Jesus’ humanity in a way that allows us to empathize with Him, while revealing to us that He can empathize with us as well, can be powerful in intensifying our connection with Him.
“He gave up a lot to come here and be human just like us, so He could go through the same experiences so that we know He has ‘been there,’” Julie said. “When we face temptation, we know He has been there as well. When we go through pain, we see that He has been there. When we are crying and sad, we see Him crying and sad as well…..
It reminds us that He was literally like us, and He came to become like us, in order to strengthen that relationship,” she said. “That’s a beautiful thing.”
“The Chosen’s” booth at NRB was replete with a boat just like the one used on the show, as well as several special souvenirs reminiscent of the Middle East in the end-of-A.D./beginning-of-B.C. era. Moving forward in the current era, “The Chosen’s” team is using subtitles and dubbing to translate the show into multiple languages. The app is free to download so that viewers can watch it on their smart phones, laptops or almost any device.
My parents in Kansas watch it almost every week with an HDMI cord hooked up to their big screen, and my siblings and their children in Chicago also watch it regularly as a family. Just this week, while on vacation with all of them in Utah, I heard my 11-year-old nephew, Judah, ask if we could watch “The Chosen.” My husband, Anthony Salerno, and I have watched some of the episodes as well.
Not long after my interview with Julie, Anthony had a Chosen-related experience at NRB. A man he came across in a hallway at the convention told him, “Great show!” to which Anthony replied, “Which one?” thinking the man was referring to one of the episodes of “Answering the Call,” a TV show Anthony and I help produce.
After a moment, it came to light that the man thought Anthony was the actor who plays Jesus in “The Chosen!” We got a kick out of that. Apparently, Anthony’s partly Jewish ancestry was getting noticed J. And there is no better character to get recognized as than Jesus.
Journey for Dallas
As I learned in a Charisma Magazine article, Dallas Jenkins’ path to creating “The Chosen” was a rocky one. After a movie he directed called “The Resurrection of Gavin Stone” — featuring one of my favorite comedians, Anjelah Johnson-Reyes, as the leading lady — didn’t do as well as he’d hoped, Dallas was almost ready to call it quits on making a mark in entertainment.
The movie had a great message, and my girl Anjelah did an excellent job as always, but something about the film just didn’t hit the way creators had hoped, and the low box office numbers were discouraging to Mr. Jenkins.
But Dallas’ true life story shows that when God closes a door or causes one project to seemingly fail, sometimes it’s just because he wants us to change direction and He’s trying to tell us, in my words, “Stop pushing so hard in that direction; I have another way for you over here; come follow Me on a path you’d never expect, and I will do more than you could ever expect or imagine” (Ephesians 3:20, Proverbs 3:5-6).
The career-shifting turn led Dallas to create “The Chosen,” and the rest is history — literally. The show has made history as the first multi-season series about the life of Christ, the most successful crowd-funded media project of all time, and plausibly the most popular current TV show that is explicitly Christian.
As Dallas told The Hollywood Reporter, “We started this campaign with no built-in audience and we based it on a short film I made on my friend’s Illinois farm for my church’s Christmas Eve service after my previous film had disappointed at the box office. What’s happened has blown us away, but it’s an indication that there’s tremendous demand for something like this. I love binge-watching original series, so why not one about Jesus and his followers?”
Thank you to Chuck Reich, pastor, television show host and producer of “Answering the Call,” for sharing some of his and Mike Lindell’s booth space at the NRB with the Holywood Network. We were honored to have our poster next to the banners of Horizon Media Studios, Overcomers TV, Higher Life Publishing, and Mike Lindell’s Frank Speech, Lindell Recovery Network, and The Hope Report.