A native of Jacksonville, Fla., Ken Bevel is a graduate of the University of Memphis with a bachelor's degree in Computer Engineering Technology; he's also a graduate of the Naval Postgraduate School with a MBA in Logistics Management. After 20 years of active service in the United States Marine Corps, Capt. Bevel retired to serve in the ministry on the staff of Sherwood Baptist Church in Albany, Ga.
However, he's also become a recognizable film actor. Bevel played Lieutenant Michael Simmons in the inspirational film "Fireproof," and is now on big screens across the country, playing police officer Nathan Hayes in "Courageous," a police- and family-focused drama from Sherwood Pictures. Here, the Marine Corps Captain-turned-pastor/actor talks about life and about his latest role.
Kam Williams: Hi Ken, thanks for the interview. It was great meeting you Julie, Paul and Pastor Alex in person the other night.
Ken Bevel: Thanks Kam. We enjoyed meeting you and your wife and we definitely enjoyed the conversation.
KW:What interested you in "Courageous?"
KB: There are two things that drew my interest. The first was my conviction to the messages told by Sherwood Pictures. In each of the four films they've done, the Sherwood Pictures team handles with care the weighty issues of honesty, integrity, marriage and fatherhood. As these topics are addressed through the silver screen, I have seen lives changed and families restored. So, seeing the fruit of the movies drew me more than anything. The second is the topic, fatherhood. There are many men who deeply desire to be a man of integrity upon whom their children can look to for guidance, instruction, affirmation and love. However, due to a lack of wise counsel, many are straying from the path of true fatherhood and settling for good instead of great. As a man, I long to be a part of the solution that will assist men in being the fathers they were designed to be.
KW: Tell me a little about your character, Nathan Hayes.
KB: Nathan Hayes is a man most of us would consider a "good" man. He is a hard-working African American male, with a beautiful wife and three wonderful children. Although his life may seem picturesque initially, his earlier years were filled with identity struggles, violence and doubt due in part to the absence of a father. However, through the assistance of a mentor, William Barrett, Nathan was able to learn what it means to be a man. While the presence of a mentor helped his belief in God and personal growth, he believed there was more to being a father and was willing to seek after it.
KW: Are there any parallels between Nathan's life and your own?
KB: Very much so. I see myself in the same light as Nathan Hayes. I too grew up with my father being absent from our home for many years. As a result of the lack of affirmation and encouragement, I grew up doubting myself as a young man and struggling to understand how to deal with the issues of life.
KW: Editor/Legist Patricia Turnier would like to know: What message you want people to take away from the movie?
KB: The message I pray people walk away with is one of hope and the ability to understand "failure is not final." As fathers and parents, each of us has missed the mark in one way or another. We have provided incorrect advice, scorned our children excessively or crushed their spirits. This is not the end. Our children still need us for encouragement, instruction and for the greatest commodity, love. So our approach should not be as one who withdraws him or herself from their lives. We should be willing to ask for forgiveness and earn their trust through intentionally rebuilding the relationship.
KW:She also asks: What interested you in acting after serving in the Marine Corps?
KB:I wanted to act because I was excited about the impact the Sherwood Movies were having on my life and countless others. Although there were many jobs on the set, acting drew my attention the most.
KW:Finally, Patricia says: The focus of "Courageous" is on fatherhood. What does fatherhood mean to you?
KB:Fatherhood means acting as a guide for our children. The job of the guide is assisting our children to safely navigate through life by providing continual love, warnings, protection, and guidance.
KW:Harriet Pakula Teweles asks: How did the Marine Corps prepare you to embody and accurately portray the bonding in "Courageous"?
KB:Just like the Marine Corps, most paramilitary organizations are a band of brothers, who seek unity and are willing to go the extra mile for his or her fellow officers. So, this aspect of portraying the character was very easy because the environment was familiar.
KW: Documentary director Kevin Williams says several other Marines became actors and did very well at it. Guys like Steve McQueen, Lee Marvin and Harvey Keitel. Has your Marine Corps training come in handy in your acting career?
KB: The Marine Corps training was VERY handy during the filming of "Courageous." There were many physically challenging scenes that required more than a "thirty minute morning work-out." So, in those times I prayerfully asked the Lord to give me the same strength and endurance used during my Marine Corps training to make the character seem real and believable. I really enjoyed the action!
KW: Kevin also notes that Sherwood Pictures' films like "Fireproof" and "Courageous" have really helped bring the genre of Christian-based movies to mainstream audiences. How do feel about that being part of your film legacy?
KB: As mentioned, I have enjoyed working with Sherwood Pictures and the seeing firsthand how our culture is being impacted by the movies. With that said, a film legacy is not what I am seeking after. My joy comes from seeing mainstream audiences enjoy an entertaining movie, which happens to be produced by Christians, while at the same time being challenged in their faith, family, marriage and level of integrity.
KW:Is there any question no one ever asks you but that you wish someone would?
KB:Why do you believe what you believe? I feel this is an important question, because it outlines one's motives for every action on and off the screen.
KW: The Tasha Smith question: Are you ever afraid?
KB: Yes, I am. There are times in my life when I get extremely anxious. However, I understand that I have a heavenly Father who sees my struggles and insecurities. It is in those times, He gives me peace and endurance to be strong and courageous amidst my problems.
KW: The Columbus Short question: Are you happy?
KB: Rather than say I am happy, I would rather say "I am joyful." To me, joy is something I can always have and it is based upon truth versus short-term feelings. An example would be: I would be "happy" to see my children receive academic awards, but I take joy in the fact that they receive academic rewards due to their honestly, integrity and desire to impact their community. Joy has a more lasting impact.
KW:The Teri Emerson question: When was the last time you had a good laugh?
KB:The last time I had a good laugh was watching the "Snake King" scene in "Courageous." Hilarious!
KW: What is your guiltiest pleasure?
KB: My guiltiest pleasure doesn't come from a dark secret. It's being a kid with my kids. Some may say it's getting on the kids' level, but I really enjoy doing things like getting inside the "kiddie" jumpy house with my kids and doing back-flips, falling down and laughing with them or playing hide-and-seek with my kids when all other adults are sitting around talking. I feel like I should be engaged with other adults during those times, but I really enjoy spending time with my children!
KW:The music maven Heather Covington question: What are you listening to on your iPod?
KB: I listen to mostly gospel and contemporary Christian music on my iPod. When I am working out and need the extra push, I put in a little gospel rap by Lacrae. That really gets my heart pumping!
KW: The Nancy Lovell Question: Why do you love doing what you do?
KB: I love doing what I am doing because it has eternal purpose. Many of the things we do are called "time stealers." Time stealers are things that have little to no value or purpose, but consume the majority of your time. I have decided to focus on things which will last through eternity and those are the things I have grown to love.
KW: The Judyth Piazza questions: How do you define success? And, what key quality do you believe all successful people share?
KB: For me, success is defined and is dependent upon achieving an expected outcome. For Sherwood Pictures, I define success as seeing lives changed for the better. All successful people share the common quality of identifying the needs of the person who is being served. By understanding people, successful people can anticipate the needs of customers before the issues are raised.
KW:Judy also asks: What is the most important lesson that you learned from your time in the military?
KB:Real leaders never announce they are leaders, people are just willing to follow them.
KW: The Toure question: Who is the person who most inspired you to become the person you are today?
KB:There have been many people in my path, throughout the years, that have helped me to go the extra mile when I wanted to give up. The person who has inspired and encouraged me the most is my wife, Lauana. She has been in my corner faithfully and has always believed in me when I didn't believe in myself. I truly have a virtuous woman that exponentially adds to my life and I am grateful to be married to her.
KW: What has been the biggest obstacle you have had to overcome?
KB: Pride! As a young child, I experienced many difficult times where I felt like a failure who could not be accepted. As I began to mature, I was recognized for many achievements like sports, academics and physical fitness. As I climbed the ladder of success, my pride was far ahead of me. When I learned of how pride's damaging effects destroyed relationships and lives, I asked for forgiveness and began putting the needs of others before my own. This was a very difficult obstacle to overcome.
KW: The Flex Alexander question: How do you get through the tough times?
KB: The way I get through tough times is with prayer. It is impossible for me to handle life's challenges on my own.
KW: What motivates you?
KB: My motivation comes from assisting others to achieve their goals. I have realized that life is more about others than it is about me. I have determined that I must be able to give of my resources and time unselfishly to equip others for great things.
KW: Dante Lee, author of "Black Business Secrets," asks: What was the best business decision you ever made, and what was the worst?
KB:The best business decision I ever made was purchasing a home. Although intimidating, after the purchase we received quite a few financial benefits from owning our own home. One of the worst business decisions made was investing in a home-purchasing workbook for purchasing foreclosed homes with a credit card. Bad move.
KW: When you look in the mirror, what do you see?
KB: In the mirror, I see an unworthy man that is incredibly blessed. The question I often ask is, "Why me?"
KW:The Ling-Ju Yen question: What is your earliest childhood memory?
KB: My earliest childhood memory is meeting my dad on the street corner everyday as he was walking home from work and racing him home. What fond memories because our time didn't depend on material things. Just time spent together.
KW: The Tavis Smiley question: How do you want to be remembered?
KB: I would like to be remembered as a man who loved God, loved his wife, loved his family and walked in integrity.
To see a trailer for "Courageous," visit: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=i9VT_NBIVfs