On August 4, 2015, PURE FLIX released 'Do You Believe?' to DVD and VOD. BREATHEcast chatted with actor Senyo Amoaku about his powerful role in the film.
'Do You Believe?', which debuted in the top 10 at the box office, is the follow up film from the creators of 'God's Not Dead', and is being compared to a faith version of 'Crash'.
The movie exposes a dozen souls all moving in different directions, longing for something more. As their lives unexpectedly intersect in a catastrophic way, they each have the opportunity to believe in the power of the cross of Christ... but what will they do with it?
Amoaku plays the character named Kriminal, a gang member in film. A former gang member in real life, Amoaku transparently shared with us his journey, his role in 'Do You Believe?', and the power of the cross.
BREATHEcast: Before we get into your role in the film. What made you want to be involved in 'Do You Believe?'
Amoaku: The storyline was intriguing and the director Jon Gunn had a vision, I'd worked with PureFlix on Brother white in 2011 which was great so I know David AR White and was thrilled to reconnect with the PureFlix family.
BC: Can you briefly give us your testimony?
Amoaku: I was raised in church, went twice a week as a preteen but when we moved from Ohio to California everything changed and I struggled to fit in. I temporarily gravitated towards a gang life that had me living a reckless life, graffiti, petty theft. I was called out by another student in class for being a gangster and it felt more like a curse than an honor. I knew there was only one way out so in arts class I got into a fight with the leader of the crew and was jumped out. I consider myself fortunate to have ever been able to leave that life behind and that God has been watching over me before and since. Its been a long road to get here and it still feels like the beginning of an amazing journey.
BC: We loved that so many different cultures were represented in this film. Would you say it was authentically portrayed?
Amoaku: Very much so yes. These stories combine flawlessly which is impressive given the amount of content involved. There's no easy answers, homelessness, gang life, teen pregnancy, loss of child, cancer, ptsd, faith on trial these are real world issues that this film tackles with accuracy, compassion and honesty.
BC: In the film you play a gang member named Kriminal, how did this role identify with your own experiences?
Amoaku: As I mentioned previous I was involved in gang life as a teenager so when this character became a reality to me I fell back on the experience of not only my own exploits but those of people I've known that remain true to that lifestyle daily. I wanted them to be able to see the film and relate on many levels moreover I wanted those that aren't involved in that life to see its more about faith in family than any blood oath, the real blood oath is with He who shed innocent blood on the cross, and the actions of faith that accompany such self-sacrifice.
BC: What advice can you give to someone wrapped up in that gang banging drug slinging life style?
Amoaku: Everything is temporary in this life, no matter how strong those ties may seem your relationship with God is paramount to reaching your goals. I would encourage them to dream bigger than their environment it helps to not become victim to the world most gang members come from. To use a cliche it ends in two ways, the morgue or lockup, see Do You Believe for proof of how real it gets.
BC: What do you think is an affective way for a family member to reach someone involved in that life style?
Amoaku: Be aware of the choices they make. Be someone they enjoy spending time with and would have a hard time letting down. Dont force feed them the Bible, present a lifestyle that directs them that direction by your actions, in my experience the best leaders do so by example and good living.
BC: In your definition what would you say is the power of the cross?
Amoaku: The blood at Calvary. The lamb slain. Even in the end Jesus asked for forgiveness, not for Himself but for mankind. That's true sacrifice and living a life filled by faith through ones actions. The Cross represents His understanding and undying love for humanity.
BC: Prayer is a theme not so popular in this day but it seems as though prayer is why many now have come to know Christ. I loved that in the film you and your brother had a praying grandmother. Can you touch on the power of prayer?
Amoaku: Where two or more are in agreement there He is. Prayer is paramount to individual accountability in a relationship with God. Not just prayer for ones self but for others as well. Its orange juice for the soul, it enlightens a persons spirit when prayer is involved. Prayer saves lives it's that real. And it takes practice without ever perfecting. That's authentic faith.
BC: Why should people watch 'Do You Believe'?
Amoaku: Simply put its one of the most impressive and impactful films of ever producer particularly in this genre, its too important to miss in a world where souls are on the line everyday. When you die God will ask who you brought to his table, well watching this film, and paying it forward is certainly one way to make sure he knows you had faith in Him and did something about it. Get tissues is,my advice because it will touch your soul in a way that most rarely experience.
BC: Is there anything else you'd like to add?
Amoaku: Just that it was great working with the cast and crew, PureFlix is changing the faith-based film genre with movies like Do You Believe and I think it will be a film that endures the test of time and will be considered a Hollywood (not only faith-based) film classic for years to come. Though mainstream critics may tend to disagree.
The film features an ensemble cast of Mira Sorvino, Cybill Shepherd, Ted McGinley, former NFL athlete Brian Bosworth, Andrea Logan White ('Mom's Night Out'), Tracy Melchior, rap artist Shwayze who plays Amoaku's brother and Liam Matthews.
Audiences will experience the struggles and transformations of these lives as they encounter the redemptive power of the cross. Visit the official web site www.doyoubelieve.com for more information, and VOD is available at www.pureflix.com.