The last thing higher-ups from major studios want from their creative executives is for them to go public with their experiences in the trenches. The notable exception is DeVon Franklin, a Sony Pictures Entertainment exec who is writing a book about his journey that will be published next year by Simon & Schuster’s Howard Books. The title, Produced By Faith: Navigating the Road to Success Without Compromising Your True Self, reveals that Franklin isn’t your average Hollywood executive. He’s leading a double life. Aside from his work as Sony overseeing such movies as The Pursuit of Happyness, the remake of The Karate Kid and Hancock, the 32-year old Franklin is also a Christian minister and motivational speaker who has been preaching the word of God since he was 16 years old. His book is designed to show readers how to honor their faith and still succeed in their careers.
Franklin is doing just that in Hollywood. It’s not a coincidence that he gravitates to spiritually uplifting movie projects. Had he been given the script to an R-rated movie like The Hangover, he would likely have passed it to a colleague even though he thought the movie was quite funny. He also has managed to succeed in Hollywood while preaching at least one weekend a month at Wings of Love Maranatha Ministries in Oakland, where he’s an ordained Elder. He also observes the Sabbath — it’s in the 10 Commandments and Jesus did it — meaning that from sundown Friday to sundown Saturday, Franklin shuts off his phone.
“The beautiful thing about working here is the things you have a natural affinity for, they want you to work on,” Franklin told me. “The idea of the book is, you don’t have to compromise your faith to pursue your career dreams.” Spirituality isn’t often associated with the major studio machine, but Franklin thinks that is an unfortunate stereotype. “In my experience, it’s a very unfair rap,” he said. “I’m where I am because of my faith, and I’m in an environment where I have been allowed to flourish, and be who I am. They not only tolerate it, they embrace it.” There is also a potential benefit: “If there is a big faith-based marketing push to be made on a movie, it is a world I understand, and there is an organic opportunity for me to add value.”
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