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Hollywood Christian Community 'Is Growing,' Kathleen Cooke Says: 'Stars Are Getting Bolder'

  Michael Foust | Contributor | Wednesday, April 13, 2022
Hollywood Christian Community 'Is Growing,' Kathleen Cooke Says: 'Stars Are Getting Bolder'

Media executive and author Kathleen Cooke says the decades of prayer by Christians for Hollywood are showing fruit, with a growing number of believers speaking boldly for their faith.

Cooke, who moved to Los Angeles with her husband Phil in 1991 and co-founded Cooke Media Group, made the comments Tuesday during a session of the Evangelical Press Association's annual meeting, which was held this year in Colorado Springs, Colorado.

Cooke and her husband lead The Influence Lab, which helps Christians use the media more effectively.

"Hollywood Christians are getting very serious about their faith," she said. "… Christians are expanding and growing, and I'm excited about that. … Stars are getting bolder."

Cooke referenced Denzel Washington's Scripture-inspired words to Will Smith during the Oscars. She also mentioned other well-known people of faith, including Carrie Underwood, Viola Davis, M.C. Hammer, Chip and Joanna Gaines, Nick Jonas, Tim Tebow, Chance the Rapper, David Oyelowo, Jessica Oyelowo, Roma Downey, Mark Burnett and Chris Pratt, among them.

Significantly, she said, actors and influencers are no longer headquartered solely in Hollywood.

"The remnant is moving out," she said. "... Many of the people in Hollywood that we have been working with over the years are moving out now from Hollywood. There's been this huge departure of those Christians moving into Nashville. They're calling Atlanta now the Hollywood South. They're moving into Dallas. They're moving out of New York into these smaller areas because production can be done from there."

Hollywood will "still be the nucleolus," she said, but many Christians in the entertainment industry will be living elsewhere.

"What I've seen is, over the years, as we've grounded Christians in Hollywood and fed into them, prayed with them, had events, encouraged their walk in their personal engagement – they become strong rocks. They become strong pillars. And I see this crowd now moving out," she said.

Hollywood desperately needs prayer, she said. Cooke encourages believers not to view movie studios and movie actors and actresses as the enemy.

"Look at Hollywood as a mission field," she said. "You don't go to a mission field – South America, Africa, Asia – you don't go there and say, 'You know, I don't like the way they dress. I don't like what's coming out of their mouth. I don't like the people they associate with. I don't like their heathen ways.' You don't say that – do you? No. Is that how you reach them? No. You don't do that in Hollywood, either. ... And that's what we've learned … how to love. Use those fruits of the Spirit.

Hollywood, she said, needs Christians, noting that she and her husband moved to California to bridge the gap between the church and Hollywood. From 2007 to 2011, Cooke served as an adjunct professor at Biola University's Cinema and Media Arts department. She co-founded the Biola Media Conference and the Christian Women in Media Association's Hollywood chapter, the latter of which she directed from 2011 to 2016.

"I believe that we've seen a change over the years. I believe that the Hollywood community has been built up," she said. "It's growing. And we've been united, and we've shown how we could be united in a very, very negative culture. … The remnant of God's people is existing in Hollywood today. Is Hollywood anti-Christian? No, they're not. They just need Jesus, and they just need our influence there. They need Christians there who are willing to sacrifice and suffer and be the light and lamb of God's hope."


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Photo courtesy: ©Unsplash/de’andrebush

Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chroniclethe Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.