Harry Lennix: Nothing is Impossible

Nothing is Impossible is an inspiring movie where you take a center-court seat to a journey of
transformation as Scott Beck gets a second chance at life and love. Can he let go of past pains
and open himself to God’s purpose? Or will new challenges keep him from the future he always
hoped for? We talked with Harry Lennix, who stars as Coach Russell Banks in this family drama.

Interviewed for Risen Magazine

Risen Magazine: Nothing is impossible. It’s so inspiring. It says in the name that we can do anything. Set this film and why you were so excited to be involved.

Harry Lennix: Well, I found out about the film through my dear friend John Shepherd, a guy I went to college with for a little while, many years ago. I won’t give that away. But that said, I’ve been very impressed with the success of the films of Pure Flix and Pinnacle Peak and what this company, and really these group of people, believers, have been able to accomplish in the entertainment industry. So clearly this is a movie that is meant to make us feel good and it does. It teaches us that we can learn things even when things look down. That wonderful story in the Bible, almost like a parable, isn’t it really? In the book of Matthew where the young man wants to follow Christ, but he’s not quite willing to give up all of his comforts and so forth. And God says, Jesus says, “Well, it’s easier for a camel to pass through the eye of a needle than a rich man to go to Heaven.”

And then they say to him, his disciples, “Well how is that possible?” He says, “With man, it’s impossible. But with God all things are possible.” And even in the case of this story where you’ve got a guy now a janitor, he’s down on his luck, gets an opportunity, God creates an opportunity for him. He takes the chance. He reintroduces himself to a love of his life in many ways. And even though it doesn’t quite work out the way he is hoping that it might in every way or start it’s not the quite smooth path that he thinks it is, he realizes that even that serves to strengthen him. And so it’s just great to be among a group of people that are putting these kinds of messages out in a world that sorely needs it. In this time when people are frustrated and cynical and all of these, that there are people making movies and telling stories about people that we can relate to. So I was delighted to be a part of it.

RM: Your character is the professional basketball coach and he’s in his final, maybe farewell, season and he’s not in the spot where he would be. He didn’t know he was going to be recruiting people off the street for his team. So maybe talk to me a little bit about where we find him.

HL: Well, it’s a curious thing because I think that Coach Russell Banks becomes a believer. In that way he is a little bit like the Roman centurion at the foot of the cross where he is thinking, “Surely this man has something that I did not give him credit for.” And I think that even Coach Banks becomes an optimist and he starts to root for David’s character. And so I think that really he’s indicative of a lot of us. You get a little jaded, you get a little long in the tooth there and you start to think, “It’s time to hang up my heels.” But then sure enough, something comes along that inspires us. We’re willing to go along for the ride, we might just wind up being a believer.

RM: That’s one of the things I think is so relatable, is the idea with your character and with David’s character, is expectations. Missed expectations where we thought we would be at a certain age, at a certain point in our career. All these things that can weigh on us, but also could drive you to do something better. Is there a time where you can think in your life where there was a missed expectation and then it surprised you and was even better than anticipated?

HL: Yes. Well, there’s times certainly when I have thought, for example in this acting industry, a lot of the stuff that we want we don’t get. For example, I was doing a play and it was Radio Golf. It was the first and only Broadway play I’ve ever done. But because I was doing that, I was not able to do a certain movie. I won’t name the name of it. But even though I missed the opportunity to do that film, it turned out that I was therefore available to do something that wound up meaning a great deal to me, which I got to play Adam Clayton Powell in a movie called Keep the Faith Baby. The Reverend Adam Clayton Powell Jr by the way, who was the author of about 60 major pieces of legislation. Really, really defined the progressive age, in some ways, in politics. It was called The Great Society. That’s what it was, The Great Society of Lyndon Johnson. He wrote those bills.

So I was able to play that because of what I thought was a missed opportunity and it turned out that it was the best thing. And God’s vision for us is far greater, far clearer than our own for ourselves. And frequently what turns out to be something we think is frustrating is actually our liberation and our salvation. So I have had that.

RM: I love how it’s all perspective and choice as to how you look at things and that we see that with multiple characters in the film and the honesty that we see, the frustration with God. And, “I’m trying to do this, why would you set me up then for failure?” The conversations that can be had, it’s not always just smooth and exciting. There’s a lot of mess that’s involved to get to the good points. So maybe talk a little bit about that theme of imperfection, but how it can all be used for good in the end.

HL: Of course, the Bible is so rich with quotes that are appropriate. “All things,” it says, “for we know all rights to us, for we know that all things work together for good, for those who love the Lord and who are called together according to his purposes.” And so I think that that’s really the nature and the theme of this film, is what looks like a failure is not. What looks like a setback, is just the setup for a comeback, and so I think that’s really what this movie is. Had it gone according to our heroes plan, he might have had a good career, decent career, one of this, but he would not perhaps have wound up being reunited with the love of his life and these things. So the path, God’s wisdom and his vision for us is, his thoughts for us are good and not evil, to give us a future and a hope. So I think that that’s the real takeaway is that we can really know, if we’re willing to rely on God’s wish, is when we are in our darkest moments and at our most vulnerable, that we have to lean on God and to trust that his ways are the right ways for us, that our steps are ordered in that way. And I really think that this is a tremendous example of that as a film.

RM: That’s so powerful. And just the idea of all the lives that you’re indirectly or purposefully impacting based on decisions that you’re making. Like, “I’m going to stick with it, let’s do it again. I’m going to change your thoughts on different things. I’m going to encourage you to do differently. I want to make these people’s dreams come true.” There were so many aspects from the kids, to the FCA meetings, to the pastor and so forth, of the way that it was all intertwined and it all became uplifted for each other, because of somebody else’s willingness to step into what they were doing. And I’m sure that there were many, but is there somebody that comes to mind that was instrumental in seeing that within you, or being a mentor or being that mode of encouragement that made you say yes, I can do this and I want to do this?

HL: Yes, certainly there was. Her name, actually the one that comes most quickly to mind, is Mrs. Marcella Gilley. She was the principal of a school where I taught in Chicago, a Chicago public school. And she had such belief in me. She saw things in my ability or my potential ability to teach young people. And she recognized that there was value there and she could nurture that and encourage it and inspire it, that I might be of some use as an instructor. And so she’s the one that comes to mind, a woman of deep faith and belief, a woman of great principle. And I think it is encountering those people that give us this example.

Life is… we are not promised an easy life or a perfect life in some ways. So it is in these imperfections and in trying to address those to, and to climb those hills so to speak, that we find the meaning, I think, of life. And so I’ve been on this journey now for a while, and it’s really actually great to have been able to work on a project with people who are on that same journey, on that same path. And trying to do the right thing in this industry that is sometimes quite hostile to these efforts, but without which we would be in a much different place, ain a less desirable place. We need to keep this kind of content. We need these kinds of brave and courageous people to continue to make it and to provide it for the people who need to see it.

Nothing Is Impossible is streaming now on Pure Flix

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