The Church is made up of Christians from a myriad of different professions, and yet ‘ordinary’ tales of God at work rarely get told. In this series, we bring you stories of faith on the frontline
My name is Cathy Sara and I work as an actor, singer and voice-over artist in theatre, radio, television and film. I’ve appeared on-screen in Downton Abbey, The Woman in Black, Breathless and Emmerdale, and on-air in Rumpole of the Bailey and The Archers.
I had a brilliant teacher who encouraged me at school. Ironically, playing other people allowed me to express my own identity and built my self-confidence. I joined a youth theatre and then went to drama school. The culture there was challenging, and I didn’t know any other Christians, but I kept going and came to see my work as something that produced joy and glorified God.
The green room (basically a waiting room) is where I’m able to be my true self. Actors are inherently curious, and there are often fantastic opportunities to reframe people’s perceptions of Christianity. In acting, you don’t need to fear being a minority, because minorities are celebrated and welcomed.
The majority of actors I’ve come across have their own story or connection to faith. I’ve been able to pray for people – I was once asked to pray for a director who was incredibly unwell and he returned to work and we finished the film! I’ve also had to make some tough decisions. I’ve been offered roles that I’ve turned down because of my faith – I’m not against playing the baddies, but if a piece has no sense of redemption, or no connection to God’s big story, I’m out.
I can make a difference by doing good work and reflecting God’s character. I once worked on a film that was psychologically very demanding, and there was something distinctive in forgiving a particular director who caused others to explode. It doesn’t always win you prizes: sometimes those who screamed and shouted the loudest have got further. But I’m never going to trample on others.
As an actor, if your identity is entirely bound up in what you do, you’ve had it. There will be moments when it’s glorious, but next month, when you’re not working, who are you and what defines you? As a Christian, I am defined by a creative God, and all I do is in service and worship of him. In the words of that Wesleyan covenant prayer: “Put me to what you will, place me with whom you will.”
Cathy was speaking to Paul Woolley