Staying Grounded In the Entertainment Business: One Young Artist’s Perspective

In an entertainment world where pop sensations like Jessica Simpson and Katy Perry grew up as pastor’s kids, young performers today continue to face the challenge of keeping their faith while working in mainstream entertainment. It’s a familiar tale in Hollywood; one that’s usually about achieving success and rarely about faith. In Grace Unplugged, the upcoming film due in theaters October 4th, Grace Trey (played by Christian music’s AJ Michalka) struggles with the transition from being a worship leader in her small local church, to becoming a fast-rising recording artist.

The Perfect Role
Michalka herself is no stranger to the difficulties of balancing faith and fame. As a Disney teen pop sensation, along with her sister Ally, she has faced many of the same challenges her character does in the movie. However, her perspective on her role in the music business is quite different than Grace’s.

“I feel like there is a group of God’s little soldier warriors who are a light in this industry who are really, really important,” Michalka shares with “I don’t think that as a young artist or a young actor you have to compromise. I think you can be really wise about the decisions you make. It might take a little longer to get to a point you want to get to in your career, but it’s worth it because as a person inside you feel better later… I feel like my sister and I just having a really good team around us, having each other, having really grounded parents, we’ve been able to make some great decisions that have shaped and molded us, which I think is so important.”

Unfortunately that’s not always the case for young stars. Some have had to mature to adulthood in the spotlight, and as a result make provocative career choices to create shock value and shed the squeaky-clean image they’re branded with.

But Michalka sees things differently.

“I think it’s important to mature naturally and gracefully. For some reason people feel like it’s exciting or powerful or shocking to grow up super fast. ‘Look at me. I’ve changed so much.’ I feel like we were intended to naturally form into the women we are supposed to be instead of shoving and pushing that along. I hope that I have a young soul my whole life but also have the wisdom and discernment that an adult can bring with knowledge and time and years lived. It’s this important balance of still enjoying being a kid, especially in this business, but also making decisions that are adult-like. I don’t think it should ever be a rush. I think we were meant to grow and mature at a pace that is the Lord’s, not ours.”

Critics Say…
The value of positive movies like Grace Unplugged is the ability to open up discussion about the challenges faced by young people in the entertainment industry. The film illustrates the choice most every young person of faith must make at some point, with the added hardship of choosing under the intense scrutiny of the public eye.

As Michalka reminds us, our dreams and talents don’t originate from us. “We don’t just create these goals or dreams. They’re put in us by the Lord. And I really feel like people selfishly put what they want to do ahead of other things, instead of asking themselves ‘Is this something God wants me to do?'”

Grace Unplugged presents circumstantial challenges in a positive and entertaining way. In a world where young people in the spotlight often appear misguided, it’s a nice change of pace to see characters – and the actors playing them – who are staying grounded.