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Off Camera . . . with Susana Zepeda Cagan

Our guest on “Off Camera” is Susana Zepeda Cagan, Vice President Talent of the TCM network.

Dan: Thank you for being with us, Susana. I want to start at the beginning: What and when was the spark that set you on a career course in the media?

Susana: The spark happened for me when I was in middle school and in school plays. Plays led me to movies, and I just loved losing myself in a story. It was very therapeutic for me in a very turbulent childhood. During college I was a TV news writer/producer, a great beginning for me.

Dan: How does your faith shape your approach to your job?

Susana: That’s a big question. As a producer (seller), you work so hard packaging a movie, and I often found myself having to compromise with a studio to get my films sold. I got so tired of compromising and needed to reinvent how I work, who I work with, and what I work on. I changed a lot, and now I work with talent, building them up—it’s about people first. God has shifted this in me. It changed the focus of my career, and my life is better for it.

Dan: Is there ever a tension between your personal values and beliefs and what is best for the network you serve?

Susana: There is often tension when working with strong people in a creative field. I ask God to help me watch my tongue and act in a way that pleases Him, and He helps me so much in business. When joining a company, I try to be really honest about who I am, how I think, and how I like to work. People are hiring me for my judgment, so I’m very up front about that. I’m sure I’ve missed out on some jobs because of this, but that’s okay. I work at having a strong relationship with the head of the company so I can be heard during times of moral disagreement. I try to be fair, and if I’m not fair I do my best to make matters right.

Dan: Thank you Susana. Your friends at Mastermedia appreciate who you are as a Christian, a media professional, and a follower of Christ within the media. And we ask our entire Mastermedia community to continue to pray for you.

Star Wars’ Spiritual Legacy

Why has Star Wars endured for four decades? It’s simple—story.*

“On May 25, 1977, director George Lucas forever altered the cinematic landscape by introducing theatergoers to an exciting galaxy far, far away. He gave us Luke Skywalker, Han Solo, Leia Organa, two lovable droids and arguably the greatest villain of all time in Darth Vader. This film went from a niche genre to being in the mainstream. Indeed, everyone knows about Star Wars now.”

Good Stories Transcend Generations. 

“The Star Wars narrative unpacks the far-reaching struggle between the Rebel Alliance and the Galactic Empire for control of the galaxy through the respective journeys of numerous characters.

“The Scriptures . . . also unpack dozens of smaller stories, but they are all pointing towards one—the life, death and resurrection of Jesus.”

Good Stories Accurately Portray What We Value.

“Values like courage, friendship, heroism, sacrifice, loyalty, redemption and hope are all evident in Star Wars—and all are rooted in the Scriptures.”

“Hope drives the narrative of Jesus, the son of God who took upon our sins that we would become reconciled to God. Hope in Jesus is never misplaced hope; it is mighty and lasting and reassuring.”

Good Stories Capture Our Imagination.

Why does Star Wars generate new fans year after year? It deals with big ideas: life and death, how we should live, and how to make a difference or have an impact in a sweeping conflict.

“The overarching story in Star Wars can be traced back to Genesis 1 . . . good versus evil. Unlike Darth Vader, who let go of his hate and saved his son from the Emperor, Satan, our enemy, will not release his seething disdain for those who cling to the saving, supernatural power of Jesus. His days are numbered . . . .”

A Force for Good

“Forty years ago, audiences watched as [Luke Skywalker] emerged as a new hope for the Rebel Alliance. Christ followers have a hope too. He’s not a fictional character . . . . He shaped all of the galaxies, and He is the same yesterday and today and forever (Hebrews 13:8).”

“This man Jesus is not a new hope . . . He is the only hope.”

*Highlights and excerpts from Relevant Magazine 5/25/17

 

The Power of a Good Story

“Tolkien believed so much in the power of a good story to reflect God that he wasn’t bothered that the Gospel themes weren’t as accessible in his writing as in C. S. Lewis’. He knew humans crave the meaning good stories give, drawing us closer to God.” —Philip Long

“The gospel is the true myth . . . the great fairy story. In the gospel of Christ all the elements of truth in the pagan myths find their fulfillment.” —J. R. R. Tolkien

“Any amount of theology can now be smuggled into people’s minds under cover of romance without their knowing it.” —C. S. Lewis

“We believe the gospel is good beyond words. If it seems tired and dusty, we’ve forgotten the unfathomable depth of God’s story.” —Philip Long