Actress Karen Abercrombie stunned audiences across the world when she starred in the 2015 hit film "War Room," portraying Miss Clara, an octogenarian with a deep passion and desire for the Lord.
Billy Hallowell Well, thanks for joining us. I am excited about this interview today. I'm here with Karen Abercrombie. How are you?
Karen Abercrombie I am wonderful. Absolutely wonderful. And happy to be here with you, Billy.
Billy Hallowell Well, I'm excited to talk with you for a while. I've wanted to connect because I'm a huge fan of your work. And one of the things about you and your career, especially these last few years, watching the projects that you're in, the deep meaning behind each of them and every role you play, you do such a beautiful job. And there's there's this deep message, you know, in each and each film. And so obviously. But I'm going to start with War Room because I think that's the one everybody fell in love with Miss Clara. Right. What was that like?
Karen Abercrombie It was amazing on on so many levels. It was the first time I had worked with the Kendrick brothers. And just from an actresses standpoint, to be able to dive into a character that is different from you in respect of her age. I'm a believer. I've been a believer for a long time, but an 80 year old woman coming, bringing what she had to pour out. So I had to go deep, get deep, get out of God's way and allow him to use me as he wanted to. And it was one of the most amazing experiences I have had in my life and certainly as an actress.
Billy Hallowell Well, and it's that's it's an honor. I mean, of course. And when I watch it, though, it's amazed me 'cause you're young. And so you're playing this role of this one and you do such an amazing job. How difficult did you just kind of spoke to that a little bit, but how difficult was it to jump in? I mean, not many people can do that. Decades and decades ahead of where they are and pull that off. So how did you do that part of it?
Karen Abercrombie Prayerfully, and as an actress, it was so delicious for me to have the opportunity so that I could go dig deep and do research to make Miss Clara a believable, three dimensional character. But see God had his own plan for the whole thing. And that he would use it the way he used it. And I'm just like still blown away that he would choose me to do what He allowed me the opportunity to do, take the message of prayer around the world.
Billy Hallowell Yeah. And that film, I mean, obviously becoming the number one movie at the box office at the time and shocking everybody, you know, out especially outside of the church. I think the rest of Hollywood looking at it and they can't deny or ignore it because they have this beautiful, amazing opportunity of seeing it at number one. But what was that like for you to see the response? Because I know as an actress in a film like that, you're hearing from people you're getting a response. What was that like after the film was out?
Karen Abercrombie Again, I say an. An absolute honor and just blown away. Just blew me away and that it would be a peace that offers at the end of prayer, you know, that intimate relationship with God, but an eternal an eternal blessing, eternal gifting, your your your a part of offering people with a relationship, encouraging them to have an intimate, deep and prayerful relationship with them. God. So just I'm still blown away today.
Billy Hallowell Well, so I want to I want to learn a little more about you, because I think I think anybody who first all youre a phenomenal actress. I know I said that before, but I have to say again, because you are. I mean, I know it's always probably awkward to hear that, but it's true. It's always when people compliment me I'm always like. But it's so true. And you made that role so believable. Every role you've been in so powerfully believable. What was your journey into Hollywood? When did you first realize? And feel free to take as much time as I'm just curious how you ended up here.
Karen Abercrombie I had always enjoyed acting as a child. I had an imaginary friend. So I was always putting on plays and things of that sort. I started to get more serious right after I graduated from high school and I went to University of Pittsburgh. And then I ended up leaving here because I realized it was acting that I wanted to do so I auditioned, got into a school there, and I've just been following that desire since then and ended up in New York for a while and then out to L.A.. Yeah.
Karen Abercrombie Yeah. And it's amazing because, you know, Hollywood is an industry like any other every industry has its difficulties. I think for people outside of Hollywood, you know, they look in and they say, how does a Christian, do it. I mean, how does a Christian operate in that environment? And so I wanted to ask you that, because I always love hearing responses from Christians in Hollywood. What that's like, because there are values that might differ. There are. It's a different kind of scenario. And so I was just curious what your experience was on that front.
Karen Abercrombie It's interesting. A large. Bit of my time there was just trying to break in. And not surprisingly, it would be a lot of the yucky stuff that would open the door first. So then you you you you turn it down, you turn it down, you turn it down. And you've got to be real careful because it'll start to beat you down. And you say, well, I want to use my gift. Yeah. Yeah. Yeah. It's a God given gift. I want to use it. But when the doors are shut so many times on some of the things. You, you. You get tempted to take some roles that you wouldn't take but see you as hard as it is, you know, turning things down or walking away and trusting. But I'm gonna be honest with you, I was like, you know, tempted to take some of this stuff to to to get a leg up in. You know, not to use the gifts I've been given, you know, so so, yeah.
Billy Hallowell Well, you start to think, too, I would imagine, if I do this now, you know, maybe later on I can make a bigger impact 'cause I finally made it in. And I can do the things I want to do.
Karen Abercrombie Absolutely. Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. But it is you've got to be careful. It does become quite the slippery slope left and right. Always on your tail.
Billy Hallowell Now, where are you, a lifelong Christian? What was your faith journey? Because that I'm also interested in knowing that.
Karen Abercrombie No, I gave my life to Christ at seven. My Aunt Vine, who I patterned Ms. Clara after, was on fire. She just passed away two Octobers ago. She was on fire. Miss Clara. And so it was under her that I gave my life to Christ the first time. But when I turned into a teenager, I walked away. My parents neither were saved until actually both were deathbed confessions. So now. Yeah, yeah, yeah, yeah. So we didn't have that in our house as we grew up. But, you know, with my aunt and some uncles that were on fire for the Lord and continuously praying my grandmothers and whatnot. But yeah, I laughed. I walked away as a teenager and there was a party on Friday night. You might see me there.
Billy Hallowell What made you come back? What made you you know, say...
Karen Abercrombie Even all of the time that I was out there, Billy, I could feel the presence of God there because I had left. Didn't mean He had. He never does. He's the same. Yesterday. Today, forever. You know, he never leaves us. Nor forsakes us. All I had to do was turn back around in His direction or actually he was always surrounding me. And all I had to do was just hold my arms and say, yes, I'm coming back. Father, the prodigal daughter is coming home. And so in my twenties. I started walking back. Yeah. Late twenties.
Billy Hallowell See, it's never too late. I mean, you mentioned your parents and your deathbed confession sort of. It's never too late. And I think we think it is.
Karen Abercrombie My mother was an alcoholic, drug addict, drug abuser. Father was an alcoholic. My brother. Younger brother and. Yeah, yeah.
Billy Hallowell Yeah. I mean, I think it's so easy to write people off too right and to say that person's never going to they're never going to come around their never gonna find Jesus. They're never gonna get saved. And there are so many examples that prove that we're wrong and it's so easy to think that in life. And yet, I mean, even career wise, you're looking at you've had this great career and so many people, they think, well, if I don't if I don't land this amazing role, by the time I'm 30 or 35 or 40, I'm done. And it's like, that's not none of that is true. God, does amazing things.
Karen Abercrombie It is not true. But, Billy, I was there. I was like, okay, uhm, I'm 29. I'm thirty-two. I'm thirty-five, you know? But see, God, he's got a sense of humor. So then He He He gives me the opportunity to play a much older woman later in life. And my career now is it's on fire more than it has ever been. But see these are His plans. Yeah, so some of those doors I that I could have played these roles with my eyes closed open, you know, just walk right into the roles. But see, He kept closing those doors for me so that I would eventually come into the right door and be in the right place at the right time for His purpose. And I am beyond grateful. Mm.
Billy Hallowell I love that. And so let's talk about Discarded Things because this film I have heard amazing things about and I'm actually gonna be watching it this weekend, which I'm excited about. But what. So tell me about the film. You play a music professor. Right. Who falls on some hard times.
Karen Abercrombie Yes. Yes. Yes. Upscale. You know, have had the best of the best. And I do fall on hard times. I have one incident, too many that and my life just spins out of control. I don't want to give too much of it away, but there is a lot of pain and such that my character held tucked away deep, deep, deep, deep inside. And then one tragedy came and it opened up the the Pandora's box. I guess you could say everything started pouring out and then. Yeah, she starts. Drinking, popping pills, all of those things. Oh, yes.
Billy Hallowell So many people can relate to that storyline, too. I think especially now, you know, we know where things are culturally and there's so many people struggling. And if you're not struggling, you know somebody who is right. And so...
Karen Abercrombie Absolutely.
Billy Hallowell Those stories are powerful. What what is the big without giving too much away? What is the big lesson in that in that film that viewers will take away?
Karen Abercrombie That there is forgiveness and that there is healing and God's grace never ends.
Billy Hallowell Mm hmm. That is a great message, too. Yes, that's what we need. That's what we all. That's what our culture needs. That's what we need. It's so, we're so desperate for that truth. And we and I feel like everyone is seeking. They're looking for truth. They're going everywhere to try to find it. And so many people are there just a little bit off the're, they're not. And that's where we come in.
Karen Abercrombie Absolutely. Absolutely. And one of the reasons I wrote the story is because I know that even on the church pews before Covid, when when the church pews would be stacked and filled with people, there were always people there who were embarrassed to let the truth out, thinking that they would be judged, thinking that they would be cast aside and in church. So it was important for me to write about the people that sit on the pews and just are, they come get the message. But they. That that is it. They don't connect, they don't open up completely because they're feeling like they would be they can't compete compare to the elite of the church or what not. So, God called...
Billy Hallowell You don't feel good enough. You don't get enough.
Karen Abercrombie God calls us to minister to the least of these to love the least of these. All of it. And quite the skept we are all the least of these. We may have pumped up things in our minds when we're looking at ourselves. But compared to Jesus, come on.
Billy Hallowell Exactly. And we all have our struggles. Everybody has more than one generally.
Karen Abercrombie Yes. Everybody Does. So we are all the least of these, truth be told. Yeah.
Billy Hallowell Absolutely. And so now one thing and you mentioned writing the story that I wanted to address that I love is that you are not just in front of the camera. You are also behind the camera. You have a production company, Earth Mother Entertainment. So talk about that a little bit, because I'm I'm very intrigued by that. That's a whole other. It's the other side of the business. Right. I'm so interested
Karen Abercrombie It's just interesting. And it's a God thing, too, like the whole Miss Clara thing. After I played Miss Clara, everybody. They were reaching out to me to play their version of Miss Clower in whatever project they were writing or they would even write the character in when they had an intent to do this. And I was like, well, you know, God, I do everything from classical Shakespearean to whatever classically trained in New York City. And I was like, God, I know you didn't open this door for me to just play. Older women and people want me to play that same character, so I kept pray about it, and He kept giving me stories. And it is God again who led me to open up my own production company. So therefore, not only could I play challenging roles, different kinds of roles, telling other people's stories, casting a wider net. You know, out to the people who are hurting and such. But it also allowed me to use those different gifts that he had given me, you know, to really stretch and grow and use the other parts of me to build believable three dimensional characters. Because to me, all of that is a form of worship. I may be using someone else's words or a different situation, but when I go before a camera on the stage, I'm worshiping the One who gave me the gift.
Billy Hallowell Mm hmm. Yeah. And, you know, we're in this world in which we're attached to devices all the time. There's so much media coming at us. The fact that we don't have more of them. We need even more of this kind of content to be present, right? I mean, here you are doing it.
Karen Abercrombie There is enough of that bad stuff. Oh, my goodness.
Billy Hallowell It's crazy, it doesn't end. I mean, it's an influx of stuff, and I'm afraid that my kids are going to see it. You know, I'm always trying to. Absolutely. Yeah.
Karen Abercrombie But one thing is to put some stuff out there. Speak the truth. Speak love. But where parents, the whole family could sit down and the mom or dad, they don't have to have their hand on the remote control because they don't know what's going to come out of somebody's his mouth or what the next scene, the situation will be. So, you know. Yeah.
Billy Hallowell Yeah, we need it more. We need more of this. And with the quality that you deliver, which is what I love and which really helps, you know. And you know, I mean I mean that I mean, I think we need we need good artists to come forward and it's happening and it's going to happen more and more as time goes on and as we get better at it. Right. I mean, that's the thing. Yeah. Getting better. So what would you say is because we've talked a lot about, you know, Hollywood, the ins, the outs and your and your fascinating sort of path there. What has been the big biggest, the most difficult, but maybe on the other side enriching lesson that you've learned throughout your career.
Karen Abercrombie Is that I have always been more than enough. All I had to do was link up to the Creator and clearly hear what He said about me. You're more than enough. You're the apple of my eye, you know. And so to take that in deeply and then to know that you don't have to be necessarily in Hollywood or Atlanta or New York City. He will use you wherever you are, whether it's a gas station, whether it's a school cafeteria, whether it is a hospital lobby. But he will use you and those gifts. He will fire them up that he's given you for such a time as right now. Right now. Just get out of this way. Get into his move.
Billy Hallowell You know how many hurting people are hearing that that that resonates with. I love that you said that. And I so appreciate you taking the time. I would love to do this again and have you back again.
Karen Abercrombie I would love that. Nice to meet you.
Billy Hallowell Nice to meet you, too. And everybody watching make sure you head over to Pureflix.com and insider.pureflix.com for more daily inspiring content.