A conversation with actress Erin Bethea, star of This is Our Time

Erin Bethea plays Alexandria in This is our Time.

Erin Bethea plays Alexandria in This is our Time.

This is Our Time, an inspirational film distributed by Pure Flix, follows the post-collegiate lives of five friends connected by their strong belief in God who all long to make a meaningful difference in the world. But when tragedy strikes the close-knit group, their friendship and their faith are tested in ways they never imagined.

Actress Erin Bethea (Fireproof) spoke with Paula K. Parker about her role of Alexandria – Alé – the movie and its messages.

Paula K. Parker: Alé is a godly young woman. As an actress, is it easy or challenging to play such an all-around good character?

Erin Bethea: [laughs] I think it’s challenging. She’s not in the movie as much as some of the other characters are, so you get a short time to get to know Alé. What I wanted to convey with her was that, even though she comes across as pretty perfect, but it’s easy to turn ‘perfect’ into ‘perfectly annoying.’ [laughs] I think we all know people who are just truly amazing people and yet, they have no clue how amazing they are. And that makes them even more amazing.

That’s where I was trying to put Alé; to keep her really humble and totally not self-aware of how sweet she was, and what she was doing, how powerful and huge that was.

PKP: Is there anyone you used as a model for that role?

Erin Bethea: There is actually. I used a little bit of a girl – Bethany – who was my best friend and roommate in college; she had a lot of Alé’s complete and pure sweetness.

I also used my sister, Hayley. My sister is an incredible person. She’s been called to the mission field; she’s serving right now in Africa with the International Mission Board. She’s a strong girl and a tough girl and a much more talented and amazing person than even she realizes, although everybody around her knows it. When I read the part, I thought, This is so Hayley. 

PKP: You acted opposite Oscar nominated Eric Roberts who played your father. What was that like?

Erin Bethea: Eric is so seasoned; he’s got several hundred credits to his name. It really is interesting to watch him come in and knock out the work like it’s nothing. I’m sure it’s not effortless, but he makes it look effortless. It was interesting to hear his perspective on young actors in the industry and the ones who are really studying the craft and really want to get into it, verses the ones who figured they’ve learned about acting by watching a lot of actors on television and movies.

I was really honored to work with someone who has done some of the things he has done and survived in the industry as long as he has. There is so much to learn from people like him who have done it and succeeded.

PKP: Part of this movie was filmed in India and at the Embrace a Village mission. What was that like?

Erin Bethea: I can’t say enough about India; it was a life-changing experience. It’s a country I’ve always wanted to visit and really hope to go back to. Shooting in these actual leper colonies and hearing the stories of Anil and Rose Kumar – who began this whole thing in India and then eventually became a partnership with the organization, Embrace a Village – it was amazing. It was wonderful to get to know these people and hear their hearts to wipe out leprosy. The hurting people there and the pain associated with the disease, which is completely curable and preventable, and yet people still die from it every day. You can’t walk away from that and not be affected.

PKP: Especially having a sister on the mission field; that must have really brought it home.

Erin Bethea: Yes. When we were shooting This is Our Time in India, Hayley had not surrendered full time to the mission field; she had just gone on a couple of trips and was considering it. It was something that we as a family were praying with her about and, of course, she was at the top of my mind and we were talking every day while I was over there and she wanted to know every detail. She was supportive and excited that I was doing a film that shed light on important mission work.

PKP: What do you think the message of This is Our Time is?

this is our timeErin Bethea: One of the clear messages of the film is calling. What is God’s calling? What is God asking of me? What is God’s plan for me? One of the great messages of the film is that we tend to get focused on what God is calling us to do with our life – which there is an absolute calling for all of us to do something. We get focused on that calling and then, when things aren’t working out with what we’re supposed to do, we get frustrated and we feel that God is not working, or He’s not thinking about us, or He doesn’t have a plan for us and we’re out here on our own.

The real message of This is Our Time is that, in those moments when you can’t figure out what it is that God wants you to do, then focus instead on the other calling that we have in our lives; who God asks us to be. For all of us as believers, that calling is the same.

Whether you’ve been called to the mission field, or the medical field, or the restaurant industry, or whatever it is, your calling as a believer is the same. To be obedient and to trust and be faithful.

That is a powerful message and something we can hold on to; when you can’t figure out what God wants me to do in this situation, you always know what God wants you to be.

This is Our Time is available on DVD and Blu-ray.