David A.R. White & Andrea Logan White

Life Experience Creates Passion to Produce Entertaining and Inspirational Family Films Up Close with David A.R. White & Andrea Logan White

He’s from an ultra-conservative farm home in Kansas where his dad was a Mennonite pastor. She’s from a broken home where she felt invisible and low self-esteem turned into a life-threatening eating disorder. He went to Hollywood and landed on a hit TV show. She went to Hollywood and partied and lived with Playboy Playmates. Yet as only God can, He placed them at the same church and wove their stories together. David A.R. and Andrea Logan still live in Los Angeles and they have been married fourteen years, have three children and are the co-owners of Pure Flix Entertainment – a video-streaming platform that strives to be the most trusted family-friendly source on the web. Both of them have written books; his about going after dreams Between Heaven and Hollywood: Chasing Your God-Given Dream and hers about embracing flaws and a message of grace to women, Perfectly Unfinished: Finding Beauty in the Midst of Brokenness. Together they star on-screen as husband and wife in the Pure Flix original series Hitting the Breaks. Risen talked with this acting-writing-producing duo to learn more about their upbringings, conversations with the Lord, triumphs and making quality Christian content accessible to families.

Interviewed exclusively for Risen Magazine

Risen Magazine: You grew up in an ultra-conservative home on a farm in Kansas where your dad was a Mennonite pastor. What did your childhood look like?
David A.R. White: It was the life of a pastor’s kid intermixed with this really conservative farming community. Our town was two thousand people, it was outside of Dodge City, Kansas. I grew up working on the farms. My first job was a rock picker in the fields, I was nine or ten years old, I try to tell my kid that who is eleven now; it doesn’t quite connect. My parents were very conservative. I think it’s all I knew, so it wasn’t that big of a deal for me. But ultimately, they really had good relationships with the Lord and that’s what they encouraged most for us as kids – to love the Lord with all your heart, and your soul, and your mind. We spent a lot of time in Bible studies. My father would have a study every night at dinner that we would do and then of course being a pastor’s kid, I had church on Sunday mornings, Sunday evenings and Wednesday evenings and then we would go over to a lot of people’s houses.

My parents were into music. My mom was a music teacher and, played a lot of instruments, my brother played a lot of instruments, he actually went into the music field. And, my sister definitely played a bunch. I took up the violin; I think it was fourth or fifth grade, something like that and then I played the trumpet and learned some piano from my mom. Music was a big part of our lives. I was always more on the creative side, but trying to find a creative outlet in a farming community where we didn’t have a theater program in our school. That part of me wasn’t really nurtured. Going on to Hollywood to be a filmmaker, nobody really had that concept of, is that even possible. Hollywood is just kind of like this dark, nebulous place that we had nothing to do with.

RM: I read at your dad’s urging you went to Moody Bible College, but then dropped out in order to pursue a career in the entertainment industry. I’m curious as to what went into that decision and how did that even become your dream if you had only been in a few productions. Were you exposed to film at all, or what made you want to make that move to Hollywood?
DW: I saw one movie during the first eighteen years of my life in a movie theater. There was not a lot there, but we did have television. In my house, my dad would watch Hee Haw on Sunday nights, which was very odd. It was that or the news, really. But for some reason, I somehow found myself digging into different TV shows along the way. Not with my family by any means, I just would kind of stumble in on them and then I was just fascinated with the whole approach of how do you make a TV show. Never thinking that I could make one or be part of that industry, but it did fascinate me. When I went to Moody, I secretly had a desire to move to Hollywood. Very random, my brother-in-law grew up in San Diego, and when he met my sister, I think I was fourteen and he came home [with my sister] for the first time because they were getting married, and he had brought me all this Top Gun stuff.

I remember thinking, “Wow this is fascinating,” but I never saw the movie and I never knew exactly what the stuff was about other than just fire jets and it seemed fascinating to me  that you could do a movie about that. Moody Bible Institute was really where my entire family had gone, graduated, and met their significant others, and you know, it was something that I knew that I had to do; it was never an alternative. I just kind of assumed that I would be doing the same except that in the back of my head, I had this little dream that was inside of me that I couldn’t shake about the entertainment industry and about being an actor, even though it made no sense and I was probably the least likely person on the planet.

A God-given dream is going to be bigger than you. I think He wants us to depend on Him and He gives us these dreams and these visions in our hearts to go beyond. But ultimately, we have to depend on Him.

RM: You do end up going out to LA and you land on the hit show Evening Shade with Burt Reynolds, but end up getting fired for pushing a joke a little too far. What did your conversations with God look like at that time?
DW: It was weird, my conversations with the Lord. I was very close to the Lord when I first moved to LA. A lot of times, people are running when they come out here when they’re young and they’re on that train of running away from God. For me, it was the opposite. I was actually really close to the Lord, I loved the Lord, I wanted to honor Him in whatever I was doing. I was on that show and I was really trying to bring people to church and witness. I remember having conversations with Burt Reynolds, as much as I possibly could, being nineteen-years-old into my early twenties on that show. It was a recurring role so I would come on and off. They’d be having the big parties and there’d be a lot of different things, but there wasn’t a lot of interest for me at that time in any of that stuff, if anything I just wanted to go the opposite way.

It was a weird time. All of a sudden I had Leonardo DiCaprio and Toby McGuire and two-time Academy Award winner Hilary Swank, and these were my peers. There would be pot there and a lot of alcohol and I found myself having no interest in that nor wanting to be part of that, but rather just wanting to serve the Lord with my whole heart. And it wasn’t until my late 20s when everything had dropped out, when I felt like God had kind of abandoned me. He allowed me to taste my dream, everything was so great, everything was moving in such a great direction. He’d given me above and beyond and it was easy. I went through this dry spell for years in my late twenties and that’s when I actually started to question all this; my faith in the Lord, did I really believe this because I believe it and it’s true, or was it just ingrained from an early age that ultimately God is real and He loves you. I think Hollywood started to take its toll on me after close to eight to ten years here, it started to infiltrate my being.

Hitting the Breaks cast. David A.R. and Andrea Logan White play husband and wife on this Pure Flix original series.

RM: So, within that time, what finally gave you that confirmation?
DW: It’s interesting, I was doing a movie called Mercy Streets and irony is life imitating art. I was playing two characters, a conman and a preacher. These twin brothers, separated at birth. The basis of this story is the conman gets thrown in the preacher’s life, and the preacher gets thrown into the conman’s life, and how do they sort this out. It’s a pretty cool movie that was really ahead of its time in the Christian film industry. I lived a lot of that, going through that. I came out better. Obviously with an understanding about truth and why we believe in what we believe in and ultimately that led to one of the reasons why we even made [the film] God’s Not Dead years later.

RM: You’re continuing acting and you’re getting into producing, how does PureFlix fit into the picture? At what point did you co-found that and what went into your thought process as to your involvement in the business end as well as the kind of artistic side?
DW: Well in 1999, I produced my first film called The Moment After, and that kind of led me into producing, and then I produced maybe four or five Christian films. I was told on an early film in my twenties that I should produce. [I was told] you have much more control in the whole thing and you love to tell stories and you love to have your hand in more than just the acting side, so you should actually get involved and start producing your own stuff. I got together with Kevin Downes, one of my early partners, and we made movies. We were going in opposite directions, Kevin was going more into producing for studios and I really wanted to stay in Christian film.

I had a dream to change the Christian film industry for how people were thinking about it and also where it was going. I believed that we needed a Christian studio to be able to release not only our movies, but [to help] other Christians who were making these films who were having a tough time getting into the studio system. To put our arms around other producers and try to get this content out on a consistent basis to transform what was this kind of wild-wild west Christian film industry. So, in 2005 we started – myself, Michael Scott, and Russell Wolfe were the co-founders with the early vision and then Elizabeth Travis came in about a year or two later to help.

Burt Reynolds with a young David A.R. White

RM: You had been producing and putting out films for a decade before God’s Not Dead hit and was a huge payday. Speak to the patience, the hard work, the perseverance needed to see a dream come to fruition?
DW: For everyone who is given a dream in their heart, I believe God puts these dreams, these desires inside of us and the question is, how do we know if we’re supposed to follow them? How do we know if we’re supposed to pursue them? And this one thing that I always fall on is, is your dream bigger than you? Because a God-given dream is going to be bigger than you. I think He wants us to depend on Him and He gives us these dreams and these visions in our hearts to go beyond. But ultimately, we have to depend on Him.

The other thing is, can you let these dreams go? A God-given dream is a bothersome thing; it keeps bobbing its head to the surface of our hearts just clamoring for our mind’s attention. That’s what a God-given dream does. Can you let it go? I aligned up with all of these things, I couldn’t let the idea of a Christian studio go. I believed that it was something that needed to be done. I just believed that this was a niche that’s been cheated for years. Whether or not you’re in the film industry, a lot of times when people think of Christian films they can pinpoint something really cheesy and bad with no artistic value and they think, why watch it? It was a dream of mine to transform that culture to appreciate, not to mention to be encouraged, by these films. This meant all the Christian filmmakers had to up their game and ultimately create more films, that created a genre; and [then] build a hunger and a need for this type of entertainment.

Whether or not you’re in the film industry, a lot of times when people think of Christian films they can pinpoint something really cheesy and bad with no artistic value and they think, why watch it?

RM: Speaking of that, your book came out last year, “Between Heaven and Hollywood: Chasing Your God-Given Dream.” What advice can you share about being open to the dream shifting or being altered from what we envisioned in our head versus what God has planned for us with the talents He’s gifted us?
DW: I think everybody struggles with this, because no matter where you are or what you achieve, there’s always that next step to take. I don’t think God wants us to stop. Even if we’re sixty-five, seventy years old and achieved a lot in life, I don’t believe that God’s done. If you’re still breathing and you’re still here, there’s a purpose for you. To search out these dreams, to say, “What is it that I’m supposed to be pursuing Lord, what is it that you want me to be doing?” I always come back to this idea that when you’re fighting to achieve this dream that’s inside of you or to accomplish these things that you can’t shake and that you believe are from the Lord, and sometimes you’re in this drought, you’ve failed at a lot of things and the roadblocks have come up and you’re frustrated, it’s those times that I think are important, because it allows you more time to actually really focus on what is it the Lord is telling you that you should be doing. “What is it God that you’re asking me to do?”

The Bible over and over says, “Be still, and know that I’m God. Wait on the Lord.” Don’t rush, God’s plan is not our plan. When I entered into Hollywood, I was nineteen, I was on a hit sitcom surrounded by those that today are superstars. There’s part of me that liked that path, that path was an easier path in a lot of ways than starting your own business. With Pure Flix we went without salary for almost two years. I remember my son’s third birthday party, we couldn’t pay for his cake, we did everything we could just to keep the lights on in this company, in this vision that we thought the Lord had wanted us to do. And it was hard. It was very hard. God’s Not Dead was not an easy thing either, but obviously when God’s Not Dead came out, it certainly lifted a lot of different burdens off us. But then we poured so much back into Pure Flix, because again we really felt like this is what the Lord wants us to do and we took almost all the profits from that movie that we had and pushed it back into the company to expanding this vision that God had given us to do.

The White Family: (l-r) David, Ethan, Everson, Ocean and Andrea.

Are we struggling like we were before? No. I can pay for my son’s birthday cake. But now we have eighty employees and their family’s lives depend on the company, which is stressful in a whole different way. Before you had five or six, and it just is interesting how the Lord takes us to different places, but really the struggles are the same at the core and it comes back to, do you depend on God. Do you depend on Him through thick and through thin, when life is good and when life is tough?

We still suffer loss. After God’s Not Dead came out, Russell Wolfe, our main partner, was diagnosed with ALS. Eighteen months later he went to be with the Lord. He was fifty years old. How do you struggle with that with his wife and the two young kids? Life is not fair in a lot of ways. There’s a battle going on between good and evil, but we as believers have won. We will be reunited. Maybe not now, but God is faithful and we keep coming back to that. Which leads me into even God’s Not Dead 3. A lot of the core is about God is good all the time, and all the time God is good. What does that really mean? And that’s a little teaser into what number three is going to be about. It’s really answering that core message, is God really faithful in the tough times?

RM: Pure Flix has branched out and it’s a full streaming service now plus you and Andrea are both on a new show called Hitting the Breaks. Talk to me about this project that also involves Burt Reynolds, Tim Tebow and Rob Schneider.
DW: We’re so excited about Hitting the Brakes. I had done a bunch of guest spots on different TV shows, but it was really in the 90s. I haven’t done a sitcom in quite a while. As we got more into making movies we did a couple comedies along the way, but I think primarily in the industry you have a lot more dramas and thrillers than you do comedies for movies. So, PureFlix.com started to try to build a faith family version of Netflix. We’ve been so excited where it is going, the response from people, and all the original programming. There are close to 6,500 titles on the platform alone; so it’s amazing. I’ve enjoyed getting my family so much more involved in watching. Hitting the Brakes came up a couple years ago where we thought, “Hey, let’s do a sitcom. I think it’s time, our audience likes comedy and there’s not enough of it.”

Andrea and I play husband and wife and I’m an ex-race car driver who ends up getting dropped and I take over my dad’s bed and breakfast in this little city in Colorado. The fun thing about this for me was casting [the role of] my dad. I had to cast someone at the end of every episode, when I read from this journal and hear my father’s voice who basically instructs me. In my book, and you touched on it earlier, I talk about how I got fired off of Evening Shade after the third season. I think I had offended Burt Reynolds. Burt Reynolds is born the same year as my [real] father, so Burt was kind of like my Hollywood dad. It was a sweet [relationship] and then all of a sudden it came to an end in this abrupt thing, and it was like, “What happened?” Anyway, I had this opportunity to say, “Who do I want to be my father? Who should play my father in this show?” We ended up casting Burt Reynolds; it was awesome. Burt gave me my start, but I hadn’t seen him in twenty years so to be able to hang out with him again and to have him play my father in this sitcom was pretty cool. It was the irony of life, but also the sweetness, and again it’s even how the Lord brings things full circle.

ANDREA LOGAN WHITE

RM: Andrea, you had a totally different upbringing than your husband. Your parents divorced and in your teens you tried drugs and were even diagnosed with depression. Share about how you felt growing up?
Andrea Logan White:I’m the middle child and I have an older brother and a younger brother, so I was kind of the sensitive one. I was a sick kid, I was always the one drugged on Benadryl with big puffy eyes, sneezing and itching. I was allergic to dogs and everything under the sun. My dad was a cop and my mom would clean houses until she eventually got a job in an office. I didn’t grow up in a nurturing environment, I went to church I think on Christmas and Easter. I was baptized Greek Orthodox – my dad is a one hundred percent Greek, but if you’ve ever been to one of those services, they’re usually spoken in all Greek. My mom was raised in a Lutheran church, but we went to the local Methodist church twice a year.

When I was a kid, I didn’t know that I could have a relationship with God. I thought God was some dude up in the sky. Looking back, I was kind of the type that was really shy and almost, I guess, an old soul. I just picked up on a lot; I was always highly aware. So, I kind of say that I raised myself, and there were times where I felt more mature than my family. I think anytime a child is not affirmed, they continue on thinking that, I just need to be better and smarter and cuter, and all these things because you feel ignored. I kind of felt invisible. I wasn’t abused, thankfully; I know there’s children much worse off. But I guess you could say I was neglected in the sense of it was an emotionally sterile home.

My parents got divorced and in that same year my dad lost both of his parents. It was the perfect storm dealing with the divorce and losing my grandparents. My grandparents were some of my best memories. I think when you’re a kid you go to your grandparents’ and you eat and there’s just this feeling of safety with them. They both lived in the same town and then I lost both of them. I just had some really hard times transitioning from the loss of my mom and dad, the loss of my grandparents, going through puberty, going through that ugly awkward stage of glasses and braces and permed hair and not to mention my brothers – the only role models I had growing up around me, and they would make fun of me. I love them so much now and we’re very close, but it was like they bullied me.

I think anytime a child is not affirmed, they continue on thinking that, I just need to be better and smarter and cuter, and all these things because you feel ignored.

RM: Would it be fair to say that low self-esteem kind of manifested itself in an eating disorder?

AW: Yes. I started experimenting with drugs when I was fifteen. By then I was pretty much getting my groceries, doing my own laundry, and raising myself. My mom had worked in an office job and then she went off the deep end after the divorce and had one friend that steered her awry. What maybe saved me from getting in trouble with the law was sports, I loved sports. I was an athlete so I was in soccer, basketball, volleyball and softball. That kind of kept me focused along with the perfectionism of always feeling like I had to do better. I was a good student, I studied, I kept good grades and I was focused on sports.

Going into my senior year in high school, my mom said, “I’m going to move and marry Bob,” someone she had met through work. I said, “Well that’s good for you, but I have one more year in high school, I would never up and move for you.” So, she just left. Within a few weeks, she was gone and remarried to my stepdad – who is not my stepdad anymore. And this led to a disastrous senior year. I had lost over twnty-two pounds in a four month period, and at five-foot-four, I dropped to just seventy-eight pounds. I was a walking skeleton, I almost died.

I was living with my dad that last year of high school to finish it off and my mom came in town one weekend and she saw me and took me to the doctor and said, “I think she’s got anorexia.” Back then health insurance didn’t cover eating disorders and my parents didn’t make a ton of money. It was over $100,000 for four to six weeks of treatment, so that wasn’t even an option. I was eighteen years old and I went to two weeks of out-patient treatment for eating disorder therapy. Then I got on a plane and moved to San Diego with my dad. So that was kind of the end of “professional treatment.”

I couldn’t really do anything other than shower and brush my teeth and I was in bed for a few months until I was strong enough and gained weight to go to a community college in San Diego. It was very liberating in a way after high school — I had been so hurt and broken and made some really poor decisions – [now] I got to walk into, I guess, a new life. I didn’t know anybody and I got to go to college. It was kind of neat to start over and I fell in love with a theater class, and started dating again. The eating disorders continued on and off and the behavior of drugs and marijuana and certain things continued pretty much until I moved to LA two years later, with $350 in my bank account.  To back up a step, I was doing some small modeling down in San Diego when an agent said, “Hey, do you want to come to the Playboy mansion?”  I drive up to LA and within a few minutes this girl came up to me and said, “Hi I’m Brandy, I’m Hef’s girlfriend.” She befriended me and continued to invite me to these parties all summer long. And she said, “My other friend and I are going to rent a house in North Hollywood, would you want to move up here?” I said yes even though I didn’t know how I would make a living.

So, I had some really hard, awful years with some terrible people and some near overdosing experiences, but God got my heart eventually. I met David right after I gave my life to the Lord, and he tried to chase me down, and I was like, “I want nothing to do with men. I want to be a born-again Christian. I am not sleeping with men; I am dating Jesus.” God protected me for a good year, and then we met again at church and he had asked me out and the first few times I said, “I just want you to know, I’m not dating, I don’t go out with men.” He was like, “Well that’s fine, but I’m dating you.” A year later we were married and now we’ve now been married for fourteen years.

It took a good year for God to start pruning. It was a really beautiful ride with God, I feel like I could hear and see God in everything I did and it was like everything was brighter and more amazing.

RM: When did you actually became a Christian and how did the Lord give you confirmation?
AW: I was trying to pursue acting, I was going on these auditions, and I wasn’t living with the Playmates anymore. I was doing all kinds of jobs, waiting tables and working at all these things and just barely scraping by. I remember being at a stoplight on my way to meet with an acting coach, and I was at my wit’s end, crying out and saying, “God if you’re real, please show me who you are.” I didn’t plan suicide, but I was kind of at the end of myself.  [I felt] I am so broken and so lost, I have no desire to move on with life. I don’t know what I’m doing, nobody is there to support me, I supported myself. I think I was about twenty-one years old. This car next to me at the stoplight honks its horn and I’m like, “Okay, who’s this creeper?” And it was this old beat up car and this man was pointing to the radio station and tears were streaming down my face. He points to the radio station, holds up a piece of paper and I think it was probably The Fish, maybe 99.5 KKLA, I can’t remember, and he drives away and waves at me. His bumper sticker says, “Jesus loves you.” So I turn on that radio station and the pastor is literally repeating the words that I just cried out to God. It was like an angel in disguise of God saying, “Hey, by the way, I do hear you and I work miracles and I’m talking back to you.” It was a pivotal moment where I knew this was real.

Andrea Logan White on set with Rob Schneider in the Pure Flix original series Hitting the Breaks.

One of my jobs was a personal trainer at a gym in West Hollywood and there were Christians that worked out there that I trained. Then before I knew it these people were talking about church, so it was like my whole radar was up about church and Christians. Then I went to church with a girl – who is now one of my closest friends, she was my maid of honor, she is still in my life, lives ten minutes from me right now – and she was the one who was like, “Andrea, you got saved, right?” My story is obviously very long, but I ended up getting saved around that time and I started going to church. But it took me a while to kind of get what saved meant.

It took a good year for God to start pruning. It was a really beautiful ride with God, I feel like I could hear and see God in everything I did and it was like everything was brighter and more amazing. And the week I started dating David is when I thought that everything was healed. I was walking with the Lord and I was getting up at five in the morning and watching Joyce Meyer and in my Word, doing Bible studies, and then the week I started dating David, I started binging and purging, which I had never even tried before. It was like this whole new thing. In hindsight, looking back I don’t know if it was the newness, if it was the fear of intimacy which I think it was because I’m not a very affectionate person, and just knowing that somebody potentially could be my husband, it was all new to me now. It was this weird discomfort of what God puts into your life and it’s pure, but this is still really uncomfortable for me. And my journey continues, it still unfolds and thus the title of my book is, Perfectly Unfinished: Finding Beauty in the Midst of Brokenness.

RM: With your book out this fall, why did you decide it was time to share your struggles and write your story?
AW: Well, I would say the timing has nothing to do with me, I feel like the timing is all God. I’ve had this idea in my head since I was pregnant with my son, which was over twelve years ago, and God wanted me to go through a lot more years of falling and getting back up. God has given me a lot of courage to share the dark side of my life, because not everybody has such an extreme life, [but] some people do, and then they come to God and they’re radically changed and they never go back to their old habits or patterns. I’ve had a struggle. I wish I would have been discipled differently or know more about how important it is to stay surrounded by accountability of believers, but I tend to be a private, isolating person. I believe if I can help one person through their hell, excuse my language, I would be honored to do it because I know for me, there’s days that I just couldn’t understand the purpose of the trials I was going through.

I can take care of other people, but I still have a really hard time taking care of myself. That’s being brutally honest, and that probably has to do with the foundation of my childhood; I’m still on the journey of grace.

RM: You mentioned your son. The doctors told you because of your eating disorder you would never get pregnant, but God is the one in control and you have three healthy children. What did your relationship with the Lord look like during this time?
AW: It was an interesting time because I was really struggling, I had relapsed with bulimia and I was really struggling and crying out to God and of course, even back then, David and I couldn’t afford for me to go to a clinic or something in-patient because it’s just so expensive. I was convinced that I was going to die. And I could not find reprieve or peace or any sort of balance or normalcy. I was going to therapy, so I was at least trying to work out some of the issues that I was dealing with, but I feel like I supernaturally conceived my son, and that pulled me out of the self-destruction. God is so good, He’s so faithful that not only does somebody speak a curse over you saying you’ll never be able to have kids, not only that, He pulled me out of the pit of sin when I was hurting and abusing myself, I could not get out of that pattern of self-destruction on my own, and then I conceived a child in that process… can you imagine? My body was so broken and so not fertile, in the natural. But God is supernatural.

I was late one month, and I took a pregnancy test and I was like, “there’s no way I’m pregnant.” I was twenty-eight at the time. I instantly had this love for this baby that I didn’t even know. It was such a miracle because God knew that I could not stop that cycle, I did not love myself enough, I could not receive God’s love by just receiving his love by faith, I had to conceive a child for me to stop that behavior. I never binged and purged, I was like, “There’s no way I’m hurting this child.” It was a huge miracle and I fell in love with God more because I was questioning my salvation asking, “Am I really saved, because if I’m saved why can’t I stop this?”

It was hard. I had to go from controlling my life and my body and this dark, dark pit of not only keeping my food down, but eating and gaining weight and getting fat. Not only that, but my body wasn’t working, I couldn’t even go to the bathroom because my body didn’t know how to process food. It was hard. And then I was so afraid of losing this precious life inside of me, so I just remember pregnancy being so hard and uncomfortable and thankfully, I delivered him full term. I had a C-section. I had a miscarriage between Ethan and my daughters, so I did lose a child, and David’s always like, “Life is just really hard for Andrea.” I’m like, “You’re right, it is!” We thankfully have three beautiful children that are such a blessing. I’m still on this journey of my own self-love and self-care, and I can take care of my kids and I can take care of other people, but I still have a really hard time taking care of myself. That’s being brutally honest, and that probably has to do with the foundation of my childhood; I’m still on the journey of grace.

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