It was the sincere message of faith-based film Decision that piqued country music star Billy Dean’s interest in exercising his acting chops again.
“I love it when a film or a piece of music absolutely cuts through everyone’s defenses and walls, and makes them feel again,” Dean said. “That’s the whole purpose: to remind human beings we’re emotional beings.”
The film is a heartfelt story of one lost boy’s triumph over the grief he endures following the death of his firefighter father (Dean), who dies in a car accident. Sixteen-year-old Jackson Conners (Michael Rosenbaum) starts ditching class to evade torment from bullies and is held back at school because of it. Struggling to stop Jackson from sliding further into despair, his mother, Ilene (Dove Award-winning Christian singer Natalie Grant), sends him away to spend some time with her rigid father, Wyatt Johnson (Rusty Whitener). While at his farm, Wyatt instills in Jackson a strong work ethic and Christian values, which empower the teen to stand strong when faced with another harrowing obstacle.
Decision arrives on DVD ($27.97) March 6 from Image Entertainment and includes a Bible study guide.
Flashbacks portray the once-solid father-son relationship between Jackson and his dad, Steve. Being a husband and father (he has an 18-year-old son and a 16-year-old daughter) in real life made Dean’s role in Decision come naturally, he said.
“I love being a dad,” he said. “That’s my favorite thing.”
“There’s a lot that kids could learn from the other generation,” Dean added. “It’s very painful to watch kids go through mistakes that you’ve tried to warn them [about], and there’s nothing you can do. It’s hard to tough love. If there’s anything we need more of … it’s patience and tough love, when it comes to dealing with teenagers. Somebody told me once that teenagers rebel against hypocrisy. One of the greatest lessons I’ve learned is they can sense when someone’s not being upfront and truthful with them.”
Perhaps Wyatt’s sharing the gospel with Jackson in a clear, honest and relatable way is what helps the troubled boy come to know God for himself and make the decision to follow Christ. Wyatt plants the seed and Jackson, remembering his grandfather’s wisdom, calls out to God for help during a powerful scene in Decision. God answers his prayers and sets forth a transformation in Jackson, whereby he learns forgiveness and to place his faith in his heavenly father in the absence of his biological one.
The film also gave Dean a chance to practice another aspect of his artistry that he’d like to hone.
“I enjoy acting. I know just enough to know that I don’t know anything,” he said with a laugh. “The experience has been helpful in all areas of my artistic life.”
The Grammy Award-winning musician previously starred alongside Crystal Bernard and Dolly Parton in made-for-TV movies A Face to Kill For and Blue Valley Songbird, respectively, in addition to various appearances on TV shows such as “Wings” and “Diagnosis Murder.”
Combining both acting with songwriting is a new avenue that Dean aims to further pursue, giving him the opportunity to bring some of his songs to life in script form.
“Something that’s kind of old and dead in the water for me is going into a sterile environment like a studio and recording just a one-dimensional audio CD,” Dean said. “I don’t think people have the time to dissect and really listen to music. I think they need to see the music and the story, in addition to hearing it. … A lot of these songs are mini movies. It takes a little more than three minutes to unfold them.”