Red Letter Awards unites ethnicities to celebrate Christians’ achievements in faith, film & TV, books, music and sports event this Saturday in Thousand Oaks
By: Tiffany Salerno
Most award shows lack ethnic diversity.
That’s why we hear of #OscarsSoWhite and other sayings.
This ethnic homogeneity has creeped into Christian awards shows as well. Most Christian award events have traditionally either been vastly white or almost 100 percent black, according to Carla Jackson.
Carla, who identifies as Christian, black and Indian. She said, this lack of diversity in the church and in Christian awards shows is a problem. That’s why she founded the Red Letter Awards.
Carla Jackson (Founder of the Red Letter Awards), says,“We need to show the world that our faith defines us, not our color or ethnicities,. The church has suffered from division, but we truly are one family through the blood of Christ.”
MINISTRY OF RECONCILIATION
Carla has a ministry of reconciliation — helping people turn from racism and hatred of God and people, to having love for God and carrying His heart for people of other ethnicities and groups.
For example, she helped a former white supremacy member recognize why he joined that group and help him decide to leave it. She also helped a former Nazi soldier recognize his wrongs, and she led him in a prayer of repentance.
In both situations, she simply asked questions and gently led them toward the truth of Christ.
“Just have an open heart to hear people,” she said. “Sometimes we get so focused on (the symptoms of) their pain that we don’t see who they are.”—-Carla Jackson (Founder Red Letter Awards)
To Carla, it’s about getting to the heart of their misunderstandings and helping lead them out from their misconceptions and pain and into the reality of a loving God who forgives and accepts all who will come to Him.
ANTHONY & TIFFANY SALERNO TO PERFORM AT SHOW
At the second annual show, which will be held this Saturday September 18, 2021 in Thousand Oaks, Anthony and I get to perform a song or two, which is such an honor. Last year’s event was held over Zoom due to the pandemic, so this year’s event is the first one to be held in person.
Saturday’s event will recognize Christians who have accomplished great things in music, film, sports, books, ministry and more — with an emphasis on including those of various ethnicities, from black and white to hispanic, Asian and beyond. I am honored that Carla selected us to share our music and perform at the Red Letter Awards 2021.
Diversity-wise, I am clearly white (mostly German, Irish and Scottish, as well as 1/16thJewish), while Anthony is Sicilian, meaning he has both Italian and Middle Eastern descent. He also is partly Jewish and German, though many people recognize his Middle Eastern heritage in his appearance. One of the “frequently asked questions” I receive about Anthony is his ethnicity. In fact, Middle Easterners often comment that he looks Lebanese! But Anthony simply identifies as Italian.
Other performers slated to entertain at the event are white, black and hispanic, while award nominees run the spectrum of ethnic diversity.
“When the people of God come together, we’re supposed to look like the rainbow,” Carla said.
BEYOND HERITAGE, IT’S WHERE YOU’RE HEADING
But even more important than where their heritage hails from is what they have chosen to do with their lives.
In addition to honoring people who have achieved great things in the entertainment industry and in the public ministry sphere, the Red Letter Awards honors those who have made great strides in overcoming personal obstacles and taking steps of faith. Sometimes the biggest stage is your own life, and your journey of faith could speak louder than any song or movie.
Carla Jackson said,“God gave me the vision that He wanted to include all of his family. That means music, books, comedies, documentaries, the children, athletes, and especially the categories of faith, because faith is what moves us; it’s what drives us…You have to live it out. And we have to give the young people something to look forward to.”
In one of the faith categories, I am happy to see that Mike Lindell, who I interviewed for the Holywood Network and who supports Overcomers TV, a Christian production company for which Anthony and I work, is nominated for the overcomer award, due to leaving cocaine and becoming a CEO through Christ.
Another individual who I met and interviewed at the National Religious Broadcasters convention — the comedian Michael Junior — is featured on the front cover of one of the movies nominated for “best picture.” It is exciting to me to see these two great men who I have met and talked with featured on the award show site.
I would encourage anyone who is curious about the event to click through the site and see who they might recognize! Even if you’ve never met the person, maybe they are in your favorite movie or they sing a song you like. Most people who are familiar with the Christian entertainment sphere will find at least one person or production they recognize.
HELPING PEOPLE SHINE
As she prepares for this weekend’s event, Carla said she hopes to see people’s hearts change and for them to turn toward God. She wants it to be a transformational experience.
“I am looking for the participants and the audience to really feel the Holy Spirit working within each other,” she said. “It’s all about leaving different than the way you came.”
She also said she hopes to inspire people to go after the dreams God has put in their heart and to realize what they can achieve for Him.
“It’s to take the diamond that’s in them that they didn’t know was there,” she said. “And purify it, make it clean, and make it sparkle.”
For more information, visit RedLetterAwards.com.
Red Letter Awards
3 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 18
Bank of America Performing Arts Center
2100 E. Thousand Oaks Boulevard
Thousand Oaks, CA 91362
Ticket price: To get a better price than what is shown on Ticketmaster, call the box office at 805-449-2100. Tickets are $60-90 at the box office. For groups of 10 or more, call Carla at 312-392-1990 for a discount of 20-25 percent off. Proceeds go to next year’s event, which Carla hopes to turn into a two- or three-day festival.