Black News, Entertainment, Style and Culture - HuffPost Black Voices
iOS app Android app More
October 23, 2014

Forensic Expert Urges Caution On Brown Autopsy Analysis

Michael Brown Autopsy
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Bloomberg Businessweek's Obama Cover Is 'Too Cool'

Obama Cover
Bloomberg Businessweek

Get Set For The Solar Eclipse

Partial Solar Eclipse
DETLEV VAN RAVENSWAAY via Getty Images

The Ebola Outbreak And The Void Left By The Absence Of Government

Ebola
Fuse via Getty Images

Giant Settlement Promises 'More Humane Justice System' For The Poor

Cuomo
Spencer Platt via Getty Images

Artist Organizes Community Gun Buyback In New Orleans

Violence

13 Women Have Accused Bill Cosby Of Rape, So Why Has America Forgiven Him?

Bill Cosby
Ethan Miller via Getty Images

Football in America -- How We (Don't) Talk About Race

Nfl Tackle
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Report: Several Black Witnesses Back Up Darren Wilson's Account Of Mike Brown Shooting

Darren Wilson
ASSOCIATED PRESS

UNC Officials Failed To Stop 18-Year Long Student Athlete Academic Fraud

Unc Football
Raleigh News & Observer via Getty Images

Michael Brown Autopsy Released

Michael Brown
AP

These Biased Ideas Are Presented As Fact In Texas Curriculum Standards

Texas Textbooks
ASSOCIATED PRESS

#Muslims4Ferguson Takes To Twitter To Protest Police Brutality

Ferguson Protests
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Cigarette Company Finally Bans Workers From Smoking At Work

Camel Cigarettes
Justin Sullivan via Getty Images

Examining The 'Intolerable Levels Of Violence' Faced By Gay Jamaicans

Jamaica Gay Violence
ASSOCIATED PRESS

How To Make It As A Black Sitcom: Be Careful How You Talk About Race

Blackish
Troy Dunham

Ferguson Protesters Anticipate Bad News In Michael Brown Case

Ferguson
Scott Olson via Getty Images

'Mystery Woman' Involved In Teddy Pendergrass' Paralyzing Accident Speaks Out

Tenika Watson Woman From Pendergrass Accident
OWN

Ebola Survivors Feared, Even Though They're Instrumental In Stopping The Disease

Ebola Survivor
John Moore via Getty Images

Next Time Someone Says 'White Privilege Isn't Real,' Show Them This

Social Mobility
Reeves and Sawhill

The State Of Drug Use In America, In 9 Maps

Beer Pills
Jupiterimages via Getty Images

'Django Unchained' Actress And Boyfriend Charged With Lewd Conduct

Daniele Watts
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Michael Sam Cut From Cowboys' Practice Squad

Michael Sam
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Missouri Gov Forms Commission To Look At Ferguson Unrest

Jay Nixon
ASSOCIATED PRESS

How 'Hip-Hop, As Usual, Is Ahead Of The Game'

Wiz Khalifa
Frazer Harrison via Getty Images

Labor Secretary: Lack Of Paid Parental Leave In U.S. Is Embarrassing

Labor Secretary Tom Perez
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Missouri State Senator Arrested During Ferguson Protests

Jamilah Nasheed
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Boko Haram Clashes Rage On Despite Ceasefire Reports

Boko Haram
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Obama Has Perfect Reaction To Woman's Jealous Boyfriend

Barack Obama
BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI via Getty Images

Ebola Cases Rise Sharply In Western Sierra Leone

Sierra Leone
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Shonda Rhimes Shuts Down Tweeter Who's Upset With Gay Sex Scenes

Shonda Rhimes
Frederick M. Brown via Getty Images

Skip Bayless Made Outrageous Claim About Kobe Bryant

Skip Bayless
Laura Cavanaugh via Getty Images

NYPD Still Arresting Large Number Of Minorities For Minor Marijuana Offenses

De Blasio
Andrew Burton via Getty Images

Wyoming Attorney General Says Gay Marriages Can Begin On Tuesday

Rainbow Flag
Getty

Urgency of Now: Why We Must Vote

Black Voter Turnout 2012
Getty

Cam'ron Is Selling The 'Fashionable' Ebola Masks You Never Asked For

Camron Ebola Mask
Dipsetusa.com

Man On Death Row Because In Texas, Being Black Means You're Dangerous?

Black Man Prison
Erika Kyte via Getty Images

Follow HuffPost

    1. HuffPost
    2. Black Voices
    1. HuffPost
    2. Black Voices
    1. Most Popular on HuffPost
    2. Latest News
    3. Black Voices
    4. View all RSS feeds

Halle Berry Wants You To Take Your Clothes Off

Scandale
Scandale

Comedian's Idea For New Redskins Logo: A Sunburnt White Person

Dan Snyder
Twitter

How To Look Like Gugu Mbatha-Raw's 'Elle' Cover

Gugu Mbatha Raw
Paola Kudacki for ELLE

Marching Band Covers Beyoncé's 'Single Ladies,' Deserves A Ring On It

Fsu Single Ladies
YouTube / Karrissa Wimberley

Kanye West Takes Kim Kardashian On Surprise Birthday Getaway

Kim Kanye
Chelsea Lauren via Getty Images

Zoe Saldana Wants This Word To Disappear

Zoe Saldana
Albert L. Ortega via Getty Images

Alfonso Ribeiro Injured Doing The Carlton Dance

Alfonso Ribeiro Fresh Prince
NBC via Getty Images

CaCee Cobb And Donald Faison Expecting Second Child

Cacee Cobb Donald Faison
Matt Sayles/Invision/AP

Revisit The Grit And Glamour Of '70s and '80s NYC

Angel

'Racism Insurance' Is The Full Coverage Policy A LOT Of People Need

Racism Insurance
YouTube / Dear White People

Exploring The Graffiti Hidden In New York's Abandoned Military Base

Tilden

Hannibal Buress Opens Up About Bill Cosby Rape Jokes

Hannibal Buress
Cindy Ord via Getty Images

13-Year-Old Kim K Answers All Your Questions

Kim K
Youtube

London Richards Is Your New R&B Obsession

London Richards
Jared Thomas

Diddy And Nas Set For Alicia Keys' Annual Black Ball

Diddy And Nas
Richard Bord via Getty Images

WATCH:
Baby Spinach Has Never Sounded More Hardcore

Ice Cube
ABC

'Saturday Night Live' Gets More Diverse

Leslie Jones Nbc
NBC

Wyatt Cenac Describes His 'Physical Altercation' With An 'SNL' Cast Member

Wyatt Cenac
Mike Coppola via Getty Images

Kerry Washington Talks 'Awkward' 'Scandal' Sex Scenes

Allure Photo
Carter Smith

For The Love Of God, People, Do Not Dress Up As Ray Rice For Halloween

Ray Rice
ASSOCIATED PRESS

Macy Gray: 'I Was A Massive A**hole'

Macy Gray On Where Are They Now
OWN

Afroman: 'After Marijuana Is Legalized, I'm Not A Criminal'

Afroman
HuffPost Live

16 Times Floyd Mayweather Jr. Bragged About Having More Money Than You

Floyd Mayweather
Dan Harr/Invision/AP

North West Heads To A Pumpkin Patch In Leather Pants

North West Pumpkin Patch
Instagram

Tyra Banks Proves You Can Be A Feminist And A Runway Model

Tyra Banks
Michael Tran via Getty Images

Beyonce Dons A Floral Romper For Night Out With Adele

Beyonce
Keith Hewitt via Getty Images

Jada Pinkett Smith Brought A Man On A Leash To Her 'Gotham' Audition

Jada Pinkett Smith
Nomi Ellenson via Getty Images

DeVon Franklin's Journey This Far by Faith

Comments (10)


DeVon Franklin
's father, like his father before him, was an alcoholic. His drinking cost him his job as a manager at UPS, the family's home, car and a tidy "All-American" lifestyle in the suburbs of San Francisco. He would go on benders, leaving Franklin's mother, him and his two brothers for long spells at a time, forcing them to fend for themselves.

Donald Franklin, his father, died of a heart attack at the age of 36. Franklin, then 9, was a socially awkward, "bigheaded" boy of good spirit, but who suffered from a chronic case of middle child syndrome.

"At a young age I had a lot of frustrations," said Franklin, now 33 and a Vice President at Columbia Pictures, a division of Sony, in the lobby of a posh hotel in New York City last week. "When you grow up in a family of alcoholics, I think that you can go either one of two ways - you go one way where you may go the same path or you overcompensate and go the other way."

Franklin went the other way.

He used a combination of religious faith, pent up frustrations and an intense feeling of displacement to fuel a rise to lofty spiritual and professional heights. Franklin is an emerging Hollywood powerhouse, a young hit-maker behind such films as 'The Pursuit of Happyness,' 'The Karate Kid (the 2010 version),' 'Hancock' and the recently released hit 'Jumping The Broom.' It's not a coincidence that many of the films he's worked on either star or are co-produced by Will Smith. Franklin got his start as an intern for Smith and partner James Lassiter's Overbrook Entertainment.


Behind his easy laugh, the million-dollar smile and the hundreds of millions of dollars in movie profits to back it up, there is a much greater force at work: faith in God.

More than an executive, Franklin is a Sabbath-observant Seventh Day Adventist preacher whose faith has guided him to the top of an industry often maligned as sleazy and sinful. He is also the author of the recently released book, 'Produced By Faith: Enjoying Real Success Without Losing Your True Self,' published by Howard Books, a division of Simon & Schuster.

"God had given me the whole idea about the filmmaking process as a metaphor for the faith-making process," Franklin said of the book, which is part memoir, part faith-based self-help and part guide to breaking into the movie business. His Hollywood experience has been anything but the stuff of HBO's 'Entourage,' with its full-throttle debauchery.

"There are more people of faith than you'd imagine and more people that are respectful of faith than you'd imagine," he said. "I've experienced a Hollywood that is filled with wonderful people, family-oriented people of integrity - people who want to do right in the world."

Indeed, Franklin is part of a small but growing wave of players in Hollywood who have brought faith-themed films to the big screen, catering mostly to black Christian audiences, including Tyler Perry and friend T.D. Jakes, who produced 'Jumping The Broom' and 'Not Easily Broken.'

Franklin, whose swagger offers a man cut more from the cloth of Ralph Lauren's Purple Label than that of a clergyman, seems as comfortable talking film as faith. He doesn't come off as particularly preachy, though his speech is laced with positive affirmations, the kind used by the perpetually hopeful set. His good looks are more popstar than preacher, but don't let it fool you.

While many young men his age spend their Fridays and Saturdays looking for a party or thumbing through their little black books, he spends his thumbing through the good book. He observes the Sabbath, so from sunset on Friday to sunset on Saturday, he unplugs his cell phone and disconnects from the world, breaking the fourth commandment of the movie business, "Thou shalt never turn off thy BlackBerry," as he says in his book.

The book was a year in the making, but is the culmination of Franklin's professional walk that began during his time interning for Smith and Lassiter and his "spiritual walk" that began as a child.

He and his family were regular churchgoers when his father died, and they continued to attend services every weekend after. When his mother couldn't take the boys, she'd send for someone to take them.

Franklin was baptized at 11, and at 13 he had perhaps the most significant spiritual experience of his life.


A popular evangelist was preaching at a weeklong event at the Oakland convention center. "It was a really big deal," Franklin recalled. His mother and brothers, aunts and cousins were all there.

The preacher's voice filled the center, his words rising higher and higher until they bounced off the ceiling and the walls around them. Something began to rise within young DeVon Franklin, too. He can't explain what exactly, beyond a fire.

"It was just powerful, really powerful," Franklin recalled. "It was very convicting. I remember feeling that urgency and that feeling of, OK, I have to live for God and do what he is calling me to do. It was very, very strong. Very compelling."

The seeds of his faith had been planted years before that moment in the convention center, but it all came together that day: the Saturdays in church, the feelings of wanting to find a "peaceful" place, the preacher's words and the power in which he delivered them.

He said that later, "I became aware that God had a plan for me, that it was a personal relationship and so much of it was my responsibility."

Franklin said that he couldn't pull himself away from his church after that point. He'd be the one sweeping the floors, stacking and un-stacking chairs in the basement fellowship hall. He was an usher, a young deacon and the director of the youth choir.

"I was sort of this rebel in reverse," said Franklin, of dealing first with the pain of his father's abandonment and then his death. "Instead of rebelling and going crazy, the way that I handled it was to submerge myself in everything that was going on in the church."

During his school years, he threw himself further into church and his studies, student government and the leadership council. He camouflaged his internal struggles with an air of confidence, with strong handshakes and steady eye contact. He crafted an impeccable image and was even voted Most Likely to Succeed.

"Mr. Perfect," is what his classmates called him. They just had no idea how imperfect his path had been.

As a freshman at the University of Southern California, he had a "minor crisis of faith," he said, proof again of his personal imperfections. The newness of college, the parties, the college girls and the coming of age ruffled what had been his solid faith.

"I started questioning everything that I had believed about God, and really had to relearn why I believe what I believe so that I could have ownership of it," he said, "not just doing it because that's the way I was raised."

Part of that was redoubling his efforts to observe the Sabbath and learning to balance dating with his Christian values. He has since come to grips with the fact that a faithful walk is not an easy walk.

His book is dedicated to the memory of his father, grandparents and great-grandparents, but also to "all of you who have struggled with holding on to your faith. This is one of life's most challenging pursuits."

These days, he struggles more with managing his own ambition and not getting caught up with what "I want" and "when I want it," than pre-marital sex or partying.

Through his faith and his success in the film industry, and doing so largely on his (and God's) terms, he is beginning to find his place.

"I feel like in this moment in life, I'm finding more of myself than I probably have before, because I feel like who God has called me to be is beginning to manifest," he said. "In writing the book and hearing people respond to it, and talk to me about how it ministered to them, has been encouraging. A lot of people say, you know, I went through the same thing. So that helps me feel like, Wow, I'm not so alone as I thought I was."

Comments: (10)

Add a comment

Page 1 of 1