DeVon Franklin and Meagan Good
From Relationships to Faith-Affirming Films, DeVon Franklin and Meagan Good’s Influential Reach
DeVon Franklin is a studio executive described early in his career as a wunderkind and whose production credits include box office hits like “The Karate Kid” (remake), “The Pursuit of Happyness,” and faith-based titles like “Heaven Is for Real” and “Miracles From Heaven” to name a few. As President/CEO of Franklin Entertainment, he recently signed a multi-year deal with 20th Century Fox for future films. He is, by his own admission, deeply committed to producing inspirational content of faith that reaches audiences all around the world. In addition to his commitment to film, Franklin is an ordained minister and also co-wrote the New York Times bestseller, The Wait, with wife, film and television actress Meagan Good.
Good, who has been acting since the age of four, has been in numerous films ranging from Stomp the Yard to Think Like A Man, and television shows including the NBC drama Deception, Fox’s Minority Report and CBS’ Code Black. Hulu is currently developing a TV reboot of Foxy Brown with Good starring in the iconic role.
Referred to as a Hollywood power couple, Franklin and Good strive to maintain authenticity and integrity in their work. Risen met with the couple who shared candidly and talked about their careers, marriage and the faith that brought them together.
Interviewed exclusively for Risen Magazine in Los Angeles, California
Risen Magazine: What was it about movies and the entertainment industry that made you want to pursue it as a career?
DeVon Franklin: It’s the power of imagination coming alive onscreen and seeing stories that capture the awe and the wonder of life. I think sometimes we look at movies and entertainment as a business, and it is, but that business is built upon this incredible ability to take what is on a page and bring it to life. That, to me, the magic of that journey and the magic of seeing that onscreen, is what really motivated me to want to pursue it as a career goal. I thought if I could create content that would help uplift the world, then I could maybe contribute positively to the world through entertainment.
RM: Getting into the film school at University of Southern California became your main goal, but when that didn’t happen you still felt like the Lord was telling you to attend USC. How did you know?
DF: It felt like a peace in my spirit. I went to visit UCLA and USC. I was accepted to both schools, but when I found out I was rejected from the film school at USC I thought in my mind, “There is not a chance I am ever going to go here.” But since I had already paid the money to visit the school, I thought I would at least finish out the visit. I went and did the visit and when I was spending time on campus it just felt calm. It felt peaceful like this is where I am supposed to be and I didn’t have that feeling when I was at UCLA. It was a feeling I had to trust and listen to because I felt like it was God telling me where I needed to be. Ultimately having been there for four years and graduating, I got the confirmation along the way. I think that from a young age being taught to listen to God’s voice, being in church, reading the Word [Bible] and [having all] that be a vibrant part of my life [led to the point that] by the time I was 18 years old and needed to depend on hearing Him, it is not a foreign concept.
RM: During college you worked as an intern for Will Smith and James Lassiter. How did this come about and what is one thing you learned from your time with them that you still implement today?
DF: One thing I learned is that it is about a work ethic. One of the thing’s Will told me was, “It’s not about how hard you work, but it is about how long you are willing to work.” Everyone works hard, but the difference-maker is how long you can work. Those that can work hard and work long will succeed, and I use that lesson almost every day.
Those that can work hard and work long will succeed, and I use that lesson almost every day. -DeVon Franklin
RM: You spent a decade at Sony and started your company, Franklin Entertainment to develop and produce films. Now that you are teaming up with 20th Century Fox, what does this mean?
DF: It means 20th Century Fox will fund my company where before, Sony was funding my company, so now I will be primarily making movies for them. It’s a great opportunity to start a new chapter as my identity as a producer and the Fox family is a great family to be a part of. They have made some of the most historic movies in the business. Now I can help contribute to that legacy by making films that are inspirational, positive and faith-affirming and I’m really excited about that.
RM: Meagan, you started acting at the age of four, which I would assume means you had to rely heavily on your family practically in terms of getting to auditions and encouragement through the process. What did your relationship with your parents and siblings look like?
Meagan Good: My dad was LAPD for twenty-six years so he wasn’t really in the home. He is an awesome father, but we didn’t grow up with him in our household. So it really was my mom raising me, my older sister, my brother – who has a learning disability, and then later down the line my mom ended up getting remarried and we adopted my younger sister as well. Me and my older sister told my mom when we were like four and six that we wanted to pursue acting. We pursued it for fun initially, we did a ton of “extra” work, and then it kind of kept upgrading to having a Barbie commercial, then a Pringles commercial, now you have a McDonald’s commercial to having one line, then two lines, then you’re in three scenes, literally working from the bottom up. My mom was super supportive and when we told her we wanted to do it not as a hobby but as careers, we were like 13 and 15 years old; she quit her job at the bank and started managing us. We worked really hard and tried to be good kids and she taught us a lot about not believing your own hype, and to understand that God has given to you what He has given to you and He can also take it away just like that [snapping her fingers].
RM: I had read that you became a Christian at the age of 12. What influence did your faith have as you navigated Hollywood?
MG: What influenced it was that a friend of mine, and a friend of hers in school, got into a car accident and three people died – they were all teenagers except they were babysitting a five-year-old little girl who died as well. They went to my youth group. I would go because my god-mom taught youth group, but I wasn’t necessarily saved, I would just go. After that happened we all went on a retreat including the girl that survived the accident, and we were all on this mountaintop and we were praying and they were talking about accepting Jesus into your heart. I remember her crying and wailing and then accepting Jesus. I thought, “Wow, if she can go through something like that and see three of her friends die, and be one of two survivors, at all of 13 years old, and she believes in Jesus after all of that, I could believe in Jesus.” I got saved that night as well; I was 12. I was a Christian, but I was immature in my walk and it took growth and time and age 19 I wanted to get baptized. I was ready to make the decision for myself, so I rededicated my life to Jesus. I try to balance and never be judgmental, because I know what being judged so much feels like – especially growing up in the business.
RM: Fast forward a bit, you have said you had a destructive personality, but started making changes and reconnected with God before you ever started dating DeVon. How do you think the shift in behavior allowed space for you to be interested in a guy with DeVon’s qualities?
MG: It was literally a decade later, from 19 to 29 years old. I had just gotten out of a not great relationship – and it’s not the person, we just weren’t right for each other – I was really at my lowest point and I was in this relationship while I was shooting Jumping the Broom. DeVon and I got to know each other, just as co-workers, nothing inappropriate, he was the boss, I was the actress, but I remember thinking to myself, “That is the kind of guy I wish I could marry.” And feeling like he was out of my league because he was so good. When I left the movie I said, “Lord I feel like I’m at my lowest point and I really need to know what I need to be doing right now.” And God told me to get out of the relationship I was in, and I did. He told me that I needed to be celibate, and later He told me that DeVon was my husband, nine months before we even started dating. I had to change a lot of my behavior so I spent those next months working on myself. When I felt guilty or was in a bad place, I was very self-destructive and that time for me was really about getting it together and healing. When that process was closer to being done, God brought us [DeVon] together.
There is nothing more amazing than turning back to God about something that is the hardest thing to do and really being obedient in an area that is often overlooked. -Meagan Good
RM: DeVon, what did that look like from your perspective, you were working on Jumping the Broom with Meagan so what was it about her that caught your attention and how did you go from a professional relationship to one of dating?
DF: I wasn’t looking at her romantically when we were making the movie. I just thought she was great in the film and seemed like a cool person. I was a studio executive and I wasn’t going to be the guy that made a movie and used it as an opportunity to meet women. We developed a friendship over the course of the film, but I wasn’t thinking anything. The thought of us even being here right now married is like, “What? How did that happen?!” because it was so improbable at that time and even now.
The same week as the release for Jumping the Broom I was doing the release of my first book Produced by Faith, so I had Meagan and Laz Alonso come out to the church I’m a part of to do an interview with them to promote the movie, and then afterwards was a book signing. We had a good time and that night one of my cousins said, “What was going on with you and Meagan on stage?” And I said, “What are you talking about? Nothing.” And the reply was, “No, we saw.” I said, “You saw nothing.” [Laughter]. I had no idea at that point that God had already told Meagan I was gong to be her husband. She told her god-sister that she came with, “Ooh you are going to meet my husband tonight.”
MG: [Laughter] Yea, she said, “Your husband? Does he know that he is going to be your husband?” I said, “Nope.” She said, “How do you know?” I said, “Because God told me.” She said [skeptically], “Alright Meagan.”
DF: I dismissed what my cousins were saying thinking they were crazy. The next week we were at the premiere and premiere party and we started talking and I thought, “Is something happening right now? This feels like a little more than just friends.” We kept talking and I told her I was going on my book tour, but when I get back let’s get together. I was gone for about two weeks and when I came back we hung out. By the third date it was clear something was going on.
RM: Together you two wrote the book, The Wait. Neither of you came into your relationship as virgins, but together you made the decision to wait until you got married, if that was even going to happen, to have sex. Speak to others in a similar situation that believe in God, but maybe have chosen to not follow that aspect of God’s plan.
MG: I think God knows our hearts and I really wanted to be obedient to what I already believed. I always felt conflicted about sex and I always felt a conviction about it throughout my twenties. It is an area where Christians are kind of just doing what they want. But there is nothing more amazing than turning back to God about something that is the hardest thing to do and really being obedient in an area that is often overlooked. I think regardless if you have had sex before, or how many people you have been with, there is always a chance to start fresh. A lot of times when you bring sex into the equation, even if it’s not early on and it is a few months down the line, that becomes kind of the base that everything is built on and then I don’t think you see the person for who they really are. I would say it takes two to three years in most scenarios and then it won’t work out, and the cycle repeats. I think most of the time it is because we don’t really know who the person is because the sex is sustaining the relationship until the sex slows down and you start to get to know the person and you’re not sure you like them. Or you accepted something for the first year, but now you’re not sure you can accept it long term. You deserve better and God wants the very best for you no matter what mistakes you have made or where you have been, He wants you to have the best version of life.
RM: The book isn’t just about the two of you waiting to have sex with each other until you were married, it talks about the need to be patient and wait in several areas of relationship. What encouragement would you give singles who want to be married but for whatever reason the right person has not entered the scene yet?
DF: I think it is about shifting the focus off of when the “person” is going to arrive and focus on “who I am right now.” Many times we are reaching out for that next person and we are not doing the work we need to be doing in ourselves. I believe that singleness is a gift and we need to maximize it while we have it. When you are not single you can still do the work that needs to be done, but it becomes more challenging because you really have to be with somebody that is going to allow you to do that. So if God has allowed us that time [to be single], let’s not squander that time by wondering when the right person is going to show up. Wondering, worrying, self-doubt or loathing – all these things rob the power of our singleness so we end up getting into relationships and we are not nearly as whole as we could be. We would encourage singles to embrace this divine period of time and become who you need to be. Relationships will help add to you, but relationships do not make you. Getting married does not automatically heal your wounds from before you were married. Sometimes we expect marriage to magically make us happy and it doesn’t. Also, pick well. As a single person use your discernment, don’t just let someone waltz into your life that looks the part; are they the part? Do they have character, integrity, and ability to grow? Picking well, in accordance with God, saves you so many problems down the road.
RM: People love to judge or place their version of what they think faith should look like on others – types of movies deemed Christian, fashion choices, types of roles – how do you address criticism especially when it comes from the community that should be celebrating the growth you two are bringing?
MG: At first I didn’t handle it very well. Growing up in the business I was used to being judged. I was used to being subject to tons of scrutiny, but it was actually really minute in comparison to the positive feedback, but I would take it very personal. It would really hurt my feelings and it would kind of depress me a little bit. I worked through my twenties just getting to a place of really being okay with it and loving the person that throws the stone, praying for them, and allowing it to develop my character. Then we got married, and all of a sudden it was like a lot of people thought I just became a Christian. I came under large amounts of scrutiny from the Christian community. It blew my mind because I can understand you disagreeing with me, that’s okay we don’t always have to agree on everything but I felt brutally attacked. They’d say, “You can’t do this now.” Or, “you can’t do that now.” And I’d say, “Yea, I’ve been a Christian since I was 13 and this is what I do.” At first it was really hurtful and more devastating because it was from a community I am a part of and we are supposed to be the most loving and if you correct someone, you do it in love. That just wasn’t what I experienced initially. I feel like everybody has a personal relationship with God and you know the Word of God, and you take everything to Him and you work out in your spirit what you think is appropriate. That may vary for people depending on what your upbringing was, depending on how old you are, depending on your life lessons, depending on where you are from and all kinds of other things. So it took me a minute to work through it and a lot of it was strength from DeVon, because he is just not affected by that kind of stuff. His personality has made it easier for me because I know even if no one supports me, he does. Being able to adopt that attitude has made me better in a lot of ways.
DF: Negativity is a sign you are headed in the right direction. We say we follow Christ, but then we don’t want the negativity, then we don’t really follow Him because we follow a man that was a revolutionary. He received much negativity not only during His time on earth, but continues to. Sometimes that negativity is evidence that you are doing what you need to do. With others sometimes if you allow that negativity into your life, it can be the director of your story instead of God. It is really important to not let it disrupt what God is trying to do. I think as Christians we buy into this idea of a safe existence until it’s time to go to Heaven and that is just not biblical. We live in a world that is incredibly dark and we need to be bold and daring and try to help people in their life, and sometimes that is going to require doing things that some Christians think you shouldn’t do.
My vision is to make the faith-based market part of the mainstream by working with Hollywood studios, by having the resources necessary to make quality productions, hiring great crews, and casting the films with name actors. -DeVon Franklin
RM: This leads into an interesting conversation about quality. I guess labels or genres are needed to help audiences identify a type of film – comedy, drama, horror, faith – but a lot of time quality is compromised in faith films and written off as low-budget. I can point to a lot of mainstream “low-budget” films that would dispute that argument. We are getting closer in production level with films like Noah and Exodus: Gods and Kings, but then the content is off, or there is great content, but other areas fail. I think movies like The Book of Eli and Miracles from Heaven, currently even like Hacksaw Ridge, are the best we’ve seen when comes to marrying content, production value and great casting. DeVon, you have been an absolute game-changer in this area, what is your vision for elevating faith or values on-screen?
DF: One of the reasons I wanted to go to 20th Century Fox is because being a part of the main Hollywood system in one of the fundamental ways to mainline the faith-based genre. So much of the genre has been built on the back of independent production. Most independent production, by definition has limited resources. So you’re not seeing people who aren’t trying or putting in effort when you see a film that doesn’t meet normal Hollywood standards, you’re seeing people put their hearts and souls into these productions with the resources they have available to them. You see people responding to the content, but the faith-based market is the same as the general market, they want good movies. You have even more faith-based families going to see Marvel films then you probably do going to see faith-based films because you can take your whole family to it and it’s fun for everyone. My vision is to make the faith-based market part of the mainstream by working with Hollywood studios, by having the resources necessary to make quality productions, hiring great crews, and casting the films with name actors.
My next film, The Star, which will be out Thanksgiving 2017, is Sony animation and it’s the story of the nativity, told from the animals point of view, and we have an incredible cast. I just got brought on to do the Kurt Warner [Christian NFL player] project at Fox. I want to make content that can make the case for God. Content that can chip away at the skepticism, and the cynicism. Then it’s about putting these films through a system that has great distribution, marketing, and the publicity needed for the films to have a seat at the table. The vision is that you will go to the theatre and have a spectrum of entertainment content that you want to see whether it’s a comedy, whether it’s a drama, or whether it’s an uplifting film that can affirm your faith.
RM: Meagan your next film, Love By the 10th Date, premieres January 28th on Lifetime. What can audiences expect?
MG: I was really excited about Love By the 10th Date because it is a character I’ve never played before. It’s a lot of Lucille Ball comedy. My character does not know that she is unstable, but she is really, I hope, loveable. She is on the search for love and she is trying to get to ten dates with the same guy thinking that at that point the guy would know that they are in a relationship. Beforehand every other relationship she has been in it hasn’t been what she thought it was. It’s a very quirky and fun character.
RM: Will we get to see the two of you work on another project together in the future?
MG: We are actually in the process of developing something together. It’s pretty cool and such a blessing. I have been learning Taekwondo and I was telling a friend I wanted to do action and stunts, but I also want to be vulnerable. I want to be strong and still own my sensuality. And my friend said, “You are not going to find that, you have to create it.”
As this article was going to print Risen confirmed that Hulu is developing a TV series adaptation of the 1974 cult classic film Foxy Brown with Meagan Good starring in the iconic role. She’ll produce along with her husband, DeVon Franklin and Tony Krantz. The studio is MGM Television.