Anna Beam (Kylie Rogers) lives with a rare, incurable disorder that leaves her unable to digest food. Despite the dire diagnosis, devoted mom Christy (Jennifer Garner) relentlessly searches for a way to save her beloved daughter. Everything changes in an instant when Anna tells an amazing story of a visit to heaven after surviving a headlong tumble into a tree. Her family and doctors become even more baffled when the young girl begins to show signs of recovering from her fatal condition.
Our reporter Chasity Saunders sat down with star Queen Latifah and producer T. D. Jakes exclusively to discuss their new film Miracles From Heaven out Wednesday, March 16.
Q: So, singer, actor, producer, fashion director I mean you’ve done so much and the list goes on and on, but that’s not why I love you most. I love you because if the opportunity doesn’t present itself to you, you go out and you create it. So what was it about Miracles from Heaven that made you say yes I’m going to attach the Queen Latifah brand to this film?
QL: I love the story. I love that it’s a faith-based film. I love that it’s something that can uplift people and really just bring them some hope and some light and some love and make them maybe even look at some of their own situations and how they’re dealing with it and make that adjustment. Use their faith to bring them through you know, and why not? If I can do a movie over here, there and the third why not do this as well?
Q: Your character does bring so much joy and hope to this family who is just experiencing the darkest times of their life, so why do you think it’s important to create films like this, with this kind of narrative and Christian based theme.
QL: I mean honestly it’s no different than any other thing. Supply and demand. There’s a lot of demand so you need to create the supply. There are a lot of folks that want to see faith based films come out so they can take their families to go see it and not worry about what’s going to come flying across the screen. Which is nice, I want my grandma to be able to go to the movies and my mom and not have to worry about what’s going to happen in terms of things that they don’t need to see or want to see. Really kind of positive things that reinforce the family beliefs, that’s fine. So why not create those films? I don’t look as it any different than any other kind of film in demand whether it’s urban content, whether it’s more films for minorities that want to be seen and we need to create more of a supply to meet that demand. It just makes good sense to me.
Q: This morning when after I woke and said my prayers and looked at my vision board there was your face was staring back at me. I mean I’ve only been looking at my vision board for the past two and half months but it made me think about this film and how I walked away from and the quote, “You can live everyday as if everything is a miracle or as if nothing a miracle.” So my question to you is has working on this film helped you pay attention more closely to the small miracles that happen every day? Has it changed you in anyway?
QL: I think I kind of did that anyway. I think that’s something I normally do. I look for the miracles because honestly it keeps me humble, it keeps my feet on solid ground. To really not make myself bigger than I am, not less than what I am, but not too big to not see something simple, and something happening right in front of me. I always want to be able to notice things like that and I always want to have a heart for other people, not get so hard or so protective of myself that I can’t be open to what someone else is feeling.
By the way on your vision board did you happen to have any power ball numbers? Because you are making things pop, you could be the little miracle I’ve been looking for.
Next time I’ll have to put some up. This is why I love you. Such a pleasure sitting down with you on this film. I can’t wait for your next film. I just hope the next person to see the film walks away with as blessed as I was.
Q: You’ve done so much in film over the past couple of years. What was it about Miracles from Heaven that made you want to attach your brand to this particular film?
TJ: Well you know our first experience was with Heaven is for Real that proceeded it and it really shook the nation. When I backed up off of it and really thought about I think what really shook the nation was that it didn’t come from Hollywood. It came through Hollywood but not from Hollywood. It came from America. This is our film. This is us telling our story, parents and moms and dads and workers and check out people and people who work in grocery stores. We took over Hollywood for a minute. I think the film benefited from coming from a very authentic place.
Q: My pastor, who happens to be your son in law, talked to us about how God was going to magnify himself in Hollywood. Could you talk to us a little bit about why we need more faith and Christian based films in Hollywood today?
TJ: I think of Hollywood as I would think of the internet; it’s nebulous. It’s neither good nor evil, it’s a tool to which communication can be derived. So I think rather than to scream in the darkness, we should light a candle and become involved and get in there and tell those kind of stories that mesmerize an audience. We don’t have to have strip-tease acts and car chases or expensive budgets to entertain people. We have to have heartfelt stories, good drama, great actors and great presentation and I think this film does all of that.
Q: It does I’d tell anyone going to see the film to bring a box of tissues. I cried the entire time. We all know that making a film and getting to this level is a miracle in itself. Can you talk about any challenges that happened during the filming that made you have to really dig deep in your faith and say ok we have to make this happen, this is going to get to screen.
TJ: First of all the story’s really amazing. It’s one thing to have a child fall from a tree. It’s another to have a child fall in a tree, head first. The other amazing thing is how do you recreate that? That was the most intimidating thing in the world. First to build a tree that an actor could fall through and then create it with such integrity to what really happened that we didn’t desecrate what was a precious and important moment to the Beam family. I think we were able to do that and that was my big miracle.