Praise This Interview
Praise This is a new movie streaming on Peacock that is a fun and inspirational musical comedy that is great for our generation. Chlöe Bailey gives an amazing performance as Sam, Anjelika Washington plays Jess who is Sam’s silly and sanctified cousin, and the musical and comedic star studded cast is rounded out with Jekalyn Carr, Koryn Hawthrone, Druski, Birgundi Baker, Quavo, and more. The music was phenomenal and it has plenty of laughs with an authentic message as the story progresses. UrbanFaith spoke with Anjelika Washington about the film which highlights how acceptance and love from believers can draw everyone to faith Christ. Excerpts from the interview edited for clarity and length are below. The full interview is above, a trailer for the movie is below.
And I’m really curious, just to get in my first question, what was your inspiration for being part of this film that can showcase so much great music and really have a fun time?
You know, I did not grow up in church. I did go often with my aunties, especially for holidays and things like that. But I grew up raised with Christian values and morals, but didn’t grow up in church. I did have my own come to Jesus moment when I was around 18. And I attended Bible college for a bit before I became a full-time actress. And while I was there, I met quite a few people who from what I learned, were called Jesus freaks. When I read this script, I was like Jess is that person, she’s the Jesus freak. She’s obsessed with God. And just is like, always continuously going after the heart of Christ. But not always for the best reasons. But what I really wanted to showcase that was to make her multidimensional and a real human, because she also was so ambitious, she has dreams, she has other things. And what I really want people to see is how open just was to receiving Sam, she never judged her, she was completely open and embraced who she was, although [they had] very different walks of life. Because she just knew in her heart; “if I love this girl, if I just love her, she’ll change.” She said it from the very beginning, “your testimony is going to be the goat.” [Jess] had this peace and ease that she was led by in the spirit that she just knew Christ would change the heart of Sam in time. She didn’t have to shove it down her throat, or like Bible thump at her. It would happen through love and through acceptance. And I think that it’s a beautiful journey.
I think that’s so amazing and is such a great point. One of the things I think this movie does so well is it starts out fun and ridiculous. But it really rings authentic as it goes along. I see that in Jess’ journey. It allows us to be able to laugh at ourselves as a church, as people who are believers, but also be able to draw that serious message. Why do you think that’s important for us to be able to have both: laugh at ourselves and to be able to still take our faith in our journey seriously?
Yeah, because I think that that’s just the balance of life. Like we can take everything seriously. And we can move through our relationships. However, your relationship is with Christ is your own relationship. So you have that. But also, life is meant to be lived. It’s supposed to be fun, or at least that’s what I believe. And so I think that we should celebrate life. And with that comes enjoying ourselves, enjoying the people that you’re with, enjoying the music, enjoying the food, enjoying your own culture, you know, things like that. And so I really hope that the celebration of culture and gospel that we blended together, does that for people outside of this film as well.
Yeah, and speaking of that, there were just so many amazing musical artists as well as actors and actresses in this movie. Can you talk about what it was like to be around so many different musical icons and folks working in different spaces?
Well, absolutely. I met Jekalyn Carr and Koryn Hawthorne on my first day of rehearsals and they are just incredible, incredible humans. And I mean that just like, behind closed doors no cameras rolling just awesome. Jekayln Carr is now one of my literal bestest friends, I talked to her every single day, we FaceTime all the time. And we both come from completely different walks of life. Like I said, I wasn’t raised in the church and Jekayln Carr was. And I mean, she’s Jekalyn Carr. She’s a star in a very different world. But I think that what brings us together is how we love and accept each other from just very different lifestyles. And it’s so beautiful that we’ve been able to make this friendship. And she’s definitely a spiritual guide and mentor in my life these days. And I’m very, very grateful to her for that. And I hope that reads on camera in the film as well, because this film, while I am a believer, this film is for believers and non-believers. I really do think that everyone can enjoy it no matter what walk of life you’re at, or you’ve been through. And so, I really hope that reads and it brings people together the way it brought us together.
I appreciate that. And so my last question, Anjelika, this story shows so many young folks like those in our audience who are grappling with how to be successful, and to be faithful and true to themselves. And can you give a nugget of advice or a lesson or takeaway that you would give to young adults who are trying to balance that success with being able to be faithful and authentic?
I would say a couple of things. The first one would be, I remember hearing Bishop TD Jakes saying once [that] interests make you interesting. So you can love Christ and do other things. Like it’s okay to like love Christ, and also love… rock climbing. I mean, I don’t know. But you can have other hobbies and do other things in that way. And still have fun and enjoy your life because you really do only live once. So make the best of your life. And I think that’s also celebrating what Christ did for us. So I think that it’s important for us to enjoy our lives as well. And number two, while all that is true, and I do think that we should enjoy our lives, there are certain things that you shouldn’t compromise on. I don’t think anyone should. So if something compromises a value or your morals… I would say stay true to yourself. It’s okay to say no. While I want everyone to stay open minded, because fun can come in all different forms and shapes. If there’s something that you know in your heart and your spirit is not for you, it’s okay to say no.