I Am Not Ashamed Meet Newcomer Masey McLain
Most people know exactly where they were when the tragic killing occurred at Columbine High School in the spring of 1999. It was reported as the deadliest high school shooting in U.S. history. On that day, two senior students murdered a total of twelve students and one teacher before taking their own lives. More than 20 other people were injured, but it was the story of the first murder victim, Rachel Scott, that struck the heart of so many people. This 17-year-old girl was having lunch with a friend when the shooter shot her multiple times and then pointed a gun to her head and asked, “Do you still believe in your God?” Scott is now the inspiration for a new film titled, I Am Not Ashamed and she will be portrayed by actress Masey McLain. McLain sat down with Risen to talk about the film, unwavering faith, and how truly living your life for Jesus changes others.
Interviewed exclusively for Risen Magazine in Nashville, Tennessee
Risen Magazine: I know you have a deep love for both acting, writing, and performing music. Was there a specific moment in your life when you realized you wanted to be an actress?
Masey McLain: Well, I started acting for film and television when I was fifteen years old. I did a play in high school and we went to a one-act competition and ended up winning. I actually ended up getting the Most Outstanding Actress award. I was just like this little kid, and had no idea what I was doing, but I just loved it. So I asked my mom after that, “Do you think that I could like try to do this?” And she said, “Well, yeah, let’s try.” So, I auditioned for an agency and pretty quickly after that the first thing I booked was a Jonas Brothers commercial! It was a karaoke commercial and I got to sing for them, and with them, and it was so great. After that, I was like, “Yeah, I can do this!” It happened pretty quickly for me. I think career-wise, when I was fifteen, I honestly just did it as a hobby because I was still in school. But when I decided I wanted to be an actress [as a profession] it was probably about a-year-and-a-half ago. I really committed and I started taking a lot more classes regularly, and really fell in love with it.
RM: Growing up, where did you get your creative genes? Were other members of the McLain family actors and singers as well?
MM: Actually, from my mom. She’s a phenomenal singer, dancer, and choreographer. She was an awesome dancer and won national competitions all the time. She did musical theater and her thing was the stage. She almost did Broadway, but she honestly felt like the Lord kind of called her out of it. Then she married my dad and the entertainment stuff didn’t have the best effect on her life, so she knew she had to get out of it. I guess she’s the entertainment one in the family that I got the gene from.
RM: How did you feel when you first heard you were cast as Rachel Scott in the film I’m Not Ashamed?
MM: I was shocked! [Laughter] It was such a long process, and such an up and down process of them [producers] searching to find [the perfect person to play] Rachel that I didn’t think I got it for a really long time. So when they told me that I was it, I was like, “What?!” Yeah, it was the biggest shock ever. It was awesome.
In my own faith I’ve been praying that the Lord change me and open my eyes to what it looks like to pick up my cross everyday and follow Him, and to lay down my life.
RM: I understand I’m Not Ashamed was your first leading role, so what was it like especially since this is a true story and the Columbine tragedy was such a historical event that shocked the nation?
MM: Goodness! I was like, “There’s a lot of expectation here!” Especially, because it is a true story, and also because it is such a powerful story. It was the people around me that would constantly tell me they were confident in me doing this role, and them telling me over and over, how confident they were that the Lord called me to do this, that really helped me a ton. There was a feeling of like, this is Rachel, and I have to get it right. You have to just trust and I had to get to a point where I could just trust that God called me to this. That was the confidence I had going in, not the confidence of myself, but, the confidence of, if the Lord calls you to do something, He’s going to give you absolutely everything you need to do it. And He totally did! So, anytime you ask the Lord to work in your weakness, He’ll blow your mind.
RM: Rachel was just seventeen when she died. In what ways did you relate to her? And in what ways did her story impact your own faith?
MM: It was really awesome going through all of Rachel’s journals and even talking to her mom. I’m not Rachel, and Rachel’s not me, and we’ll never be the same person. But it was amazing some of the ways we really were similar, and the way I was able to empathize with her, and relate with her. One way I was really able to relate with her was her desire to please God. Sometimes she would have the feeling that she wasn’t doing enough, or that she knew she could be doing better than what she was doing. I think we all struggle with that feeling of maybe disappointing God, and wanting to hear the words “well done,” and wanting to know that you’re pleasing Him. And then, when you know you’ve messed up really bad, that feeling of disappointing God – that is just the worst feeling ever. That was really big with Rachel. When she did feel like she disappointed God, those were her lowest moments, and I’ve experienced that. In doing this whole film, I hope I never forget a single thing.
It definitely impacted my faith in the way that even though Rachel wasn’t perfect, what I loved about her was she wanted to do absolutely everything she could to lay down her life for Jesus. So, in my own faith, and going through my mind since doing this and while filming this was, “What am I doing to lay down my life for Jesus? Am I too comfortable, and what does it look like for me in my everyday life?” In my own faith I’ve been praying that the Lord change me and open my eyes to what it looks like to pick up my cross everyday and follow Him, and to lay down my life. There’s so much joy in following Jesus, but there’s also a level of, “Do you want to be successful, or do you want to lay down your life for Jesus?” Especially in the entertainment world. We climb the ladder, climb the ladder, climb the ladder, and it’s awesome, and the blessing is great, but at the same time, [we ask] “Is it too easy? And am I too comfortable?”
RM: I’m sure being a Christian in the entertainment industry can be a challenge at times. How does it affect the choices you make in your career as an actress?
MM: It’s definitely always affected my choices with my career and that’s always been hard. A lot of times, when it’s not all black and white, you have to go by personal conviction when you do play a part. Whenever you’re handed a role, you want to show the human side of it. You can’t always show just the good stuff because otherwise it’s not human. You want to be real, but, at the same time, you want to glorify God in everything that you do. My thing has always been, whenever I get a script, or something is offered to me, if I feel like a little check from the Holy Spirit saying “probably not,” then I have to take it case-by-case and ask myself, “If I do this, at the end am I glorifying God? Can I do this, and can I be a light in this, whether it’s secular, or Christian?” So I always look at it like, “Am I doing this part for entertainment purposes, or is there a greater purpose?” So, it definitely affects my choices in my career.
RM: What message do you hope the world will take away from Rachel Scott’s story, and the film?
MM: First of all, I hope if someone doesn’t know Jesus, they will come to know Jesus and see that nothing else matters. Someone told me, if Rachel could look down and say one thing to us from Heaven, she would say, “You have no idea what’s next, so don’t settle for anything less than giving it everything you’ve got, and fully living the way the Lord’s called us to live.” I mean, we have one shot, you know? We don’t get to Heaven by works or anything so my thought now is if all that matters is eternity, what are we doing? Second of all, I hope people walk away with an eternity mindset thinking, God’s given me life, now what am I going to do with it? Am I really going to follow Him?
RM: I know you have a music duo and write and perform your songs around the Atlanta area. Tell us about that and are you planning to do more with your music in the future?
MM: I love music so much! I love writing, I love performing, I love leading worship, and I love it all! I am in a duo that is actually me and my boyfriend. His name is Matt Wilson and he is very talented and loves the Lord so much. We love to write together and have two music things that we do. We have our own jazzy, folk deal that’s our kind of music, and then we also write worship. That’s more where our heart is. He’s more behind the scenes and loves to just write, and I’m like, “Let’s go perform!” But when it comes to worship music, he is definitely the leader. We are actually in the process of making our own EP (LP) right now and are sort of bringing our jazzy, folk sound to our worship music. We will probably be getting our music out within the next year. We don’t have a set date yet, but it will probably be right around the time of the movie release. So yeah, exciting stuff! We’re called Matt and Masey. We thought about getting a different name, but then we thought, well, our names kind of go together! [Laughter]
RM: Now we’d love to know a little more about Masey McLain personally. Right off the top of your head, name your favorite movie and top five favorite songs?
MM: Frozen! I love Frozen. I love anything Disney and I love all sports movies. I feel like I can go conquer the world after I watch a sports movie. And let me just tell you Taylor Swift is my jam at all times. I’m about to go to her concert and I am so excited! So, her whole 1989 album, let’s just say that to start. I love Ed Sheeran and his song Photograph. That would definitely be one of them. No Longer Slaves by Bethel is one of my all time top favorite songs, and Forever Love by Francesca Battistelli. And Shepherd by Bethel. I used music a lot when I needed to get in a zone on I’m Not Ashamed. That whole Bethel album was huge for me.
RM: Do you have a favorite Bible verse?
MM: One of my favorite verses for a while has been Romans 12:1-2 and it says, “Therefore brothers, be of God’s mercy to offer your bodies as living sacrifices, holy and pleasing to me, and that’s your spiritual act of worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind.”