Rising Star Cameron Arnett: “Diversity is real life; Without it, only a partial story can be told…and that story is untrue; That’s how important diversity is”

Yitzi Weiner
Dec 19, 2019 · 9 min read
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First of all, diversity is real life. Without it, only a partial story can be told…and that story is untrue. That’s how important diversity is.


As a part of my series about pop culture’s rising stars, I had the distinct pleasure of interviewing Cameron Arnett. Cameron is a veteran actor with 20+ years of big screen and small screen experience. He is best known for his roles on the television shows Star Trek: the Next Generation and Meet The Browns, the five Dove Award winning film Stand Your Ground, Man’s Best Friend, Champion and The Challenger Disaster. Additionally, he and his wife, BJ Arnett, own Camy Arnett Production Studios (CAPS) through which they produce a variety of media content, including the award-winning feature film Mattie: The Discovery. Arnett is also a highly sought after speaker and the author of A Good Man: A Child’s Coulda, Would, Shoulda Story. To learn more about Arnett, visit www.CameronArnett.com. To learn more about CAPS, visit www.CamyArnett.com.


Thank you so much for doing this with us! Can you tell us the story of how you grew up?

Well, I am originally from Port-Au-Prince Haiti and I came to the United States when I was 6 years old. I don’t remember a whole lot of my childhood there other than one or two fleeting memories; it’s kind of like a disjointed dream really. We arrived in New York and lived in Brooklyn; and later on in Long Island. That is really where my most intact memories begin. I remember playing baseball in our backyard and having some pretty good friends next door and a few doors down…fond memories.

Can you share a story with us about what brought you to this specific career path?

It’s funny. I was never really looking to be in the entertainment industry. Both times in which I have found myself here, were quite by accident…or by orchestration from outside of my making a cognitive decision that this is what I wanted to do. I was a pre-med / pre-law student in college and while working at a hospital one summer, I answered a “Models Wanted” ad. It was a competition and I ended up winning in the acting category. That led to other competitions and eventually to a small agency, to commercials…and the path had begun.

Can you tell us the most interesting story that happened to you since you began your career?

The most interesting, I think, was also the most defining. I was doing a movie of the week in Toronto, Canada, and my then manager called me and said, “Once you get back, they want to see you for this new TV series that’s being done.” So, when I returned back to Los Angeles, I did go to the audition.

Long story short, I got the role, which would have been my first starring role, in my own series etc. Well, before signing on the dotted line, I was told, “Oh, by the way, we need you to do partial body nudity.” Everything went still, or at least in slow motion. I knew I couldn’t do it. It went against my personal beliefs, and the decision had to be made: Christ or Career.

Well, I chose Christ…and lost everything! My agent, my house, etc..etc…etc.

I ended up leaving California and for the next 25 years or so, I was in full time ministry…until 2013, that is. That’s when the second entrance to this path, that chose me, came into being…and here I am now.

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Can you share a story about the funniest mistake you made when you were first starting? Can you tell us what lesson you learned from that?

This is only funny in hindsight because, when you’re young, you are so gullible sometimes…

I remember when I was first starting out, I was with this agency (which shall remain nameless). We were always busy and were always at events, playing baseball with casts of movie projects being shot in town, pool parties etc. And one day, I remember having the revelation, “Hey, we are always busy doing something, being the pass time entertainment for actors coming through town working, but we were never working ourselves.” From that, I learned that being busy is not the same as working or being productive. That lesson has since served me well.

What are some of the most interesting or exciting projects you are working on now?

Right now, I have a film out called Overcomer, which was released August 23, 2019. It’s the sixth Kendrick Brothers film; they’re the producers of the box office hit War Room. Anyway, in Overcomer, I play the role of “Thomas Hill”. It’s a great character. I love his complexity. So, that’s one major project.

Another is one my wife and I produced; I directed and we both starred in it too. It’s called Mattie: The Discovery and that film is actually the first installment of a trilogy. Again, great characters. It’s a well written piece. That film is due out late this year.

Following that, I am appearing in I Still Believe from the Erwin Brothers; they’re the producers of I Can Only Imagine. I Still Believe is due out in March 2020.

We are very interested in diversity in the entertainment industry. Can you share three reasons with our readers about why you think it’s important to have diversity represented in film and television? How can that potentially affect our culture?

First of all, diversity is real life. Without it, only a partial story can be told…and that story is untrue. That’s how important diversity is.

Secondly, there is always a missing dignity of entire cultures when they are not represented in their true form.

Lastly, to be represented in that true form, diversity must also be present in who gets to tell the story, not just be represented by the faces upon the screen. The potential effect upon society is, or would be huge. People would then see that we have more in common then the embellished differences that divide us.

What are your “5 things I wish someone told me when I first started” and why. Please share a story or example for each.

1) Become excellent at your craft because once opportunity comes, you must be able to deliver.

I say this laughingly. When I was younger, I wasn’t too hard to look at, and I remember someone saying, “When someone looks that good, you have to make allowances for what they can’t do.” I was young, stupid and my ego thought it was a compliment. NOT!

2) Whenever money comes in, divide it and use it like a weekly salary because in entertainment, money often doesn’t come in regularly and you have to make it last.

I remember getting my first residual check, many moons ago. It was $1,500. I thought I had gone to heaven and expected one from here to eternity…they stopped coming, and I didn’t know where the money had gone.

3) Work a job and use it well while you pursue what you want.

One must eat and if you like to eat well, you must work, regularly. I didn’t understand budgeting at 19. Work. Used the money for bills. Work some more for the next time…That’s what I knew. The thing is: What I knew was wrong…and the bills at the end of the money was continual proof.

4) Everyone won’t like you having goals. It’s ok. They are not going where you are.

As I began this new trek into entertainment, most of my friends thought it was a pipe dream. After all, who do you know who is on TV? My pursuits led me away from the normal everyday stuff that everyone else may have been involved in at the time. And actually, most times, I was the joke topic. Sometimes, I’m not really sure how I actually made it through some of the peer pressure…but I do remember how things changed when I got my first national commercial and they saw me on television.

Which tips would you recommend to your colleagues in your industry to help them to thrive and not “burn out”?

I think creatives should always have hobbies or things they enjoy doing outside of the industry. This may sound simple, but I love to workout. The more I do that, the less stress I have, and when I’m doing it, I don’t think about what else I should be doing. I also like going to the movies…and it’s not because I am in the industry; it’s because I genuinely like movies. They’re fun. I love going with my wife. I laugh a lot. We are great friends and it allows a non burn out atmosphere. I enjoy being a creative too. So, it’s hard burning out at it. But, for those times when it becomes hectic, or real work…those are my game changers.

You are a person of enormous influence. If you could inspire a movement that would bring the most amount of good to the most amount of people, what would that be? You never know what your idea can trigger. :-)

Wow…..I have a strong sense of social justice. I believe in helping people, but helping people to help people. I would have a movement that unified people to see one another as significant, as vital, as important to society. I believe in bringing dignity to the lives of those most left out, and bringing understanding to those who may not even be aware that others are left out. I find that most people are not intentionally leaving others out. They are simply unaware.

None of us are able to achieve success without some help along the way. Is there a particular person who you are grateful towards who helped get you to where you are? Can you share a story about that?

My wife. She is my biggest believer, cheerleader, friend, confidant, helper etc…With her, it’s which story! I’ll chose one.

Most people don’t know this. My wife and I, within our 21 years now of being together, had once reached a point where we were actually homeless. Well, we lived and slept on the floor of our church and every Sunday and after every midweek service, we would move the chairs, fix our bed pallet on the floor and that was our room. It was like that for about 5 years. Yet she treated me like her King. She gave me the atmosphere of a home, believed in the who I was, instead of the situation we were in, and on and on and on. I owe God and her credit for my sanity.

Can you please give us your favorite “Life Lesson Quote”? Can you share how that was relevant to you in your life?

My favorite life lesson quote is actually a scripture…

Trust in the Lord with all your heart and lean not onto your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path. Prov 3:5–6

This verse has kept me from despair so many times in my life when I could not make heads or tails of what was going on, of what I was seeing or going through. I learned to trust that God, the one who did know and always knows, is there…orchestrating my deliverance and future.

Is there a person in the world, or in the US whom you would love to have a private breakfast or lunch with, and why? He or she might just see this, especially if we tag them. :-)

Sorry, not just one,

Dan Cathy of Chick-Fil-A. My admiration for his Christian values, for what his father, he and his family have done, how they have done it, and how they continue to be a source of integrity in business and life.

Warren Buffett. I would also chose him because I believe he has a heart to mentor and teach, hand down wisdom. He seems to be someone who’s non-affected, void of turmoil and a simple lifestyle, which I admire and aspire to, regardless of fame and fortune.

How can our readers follow you on social media?

www.Cameronarnett.com

www.Facebook.com/cameronarnettspeaks

www.Facebook.com/cameronarnettactor

www.SavingDestinies.com

This was very meaningful, thank you so much!

Authority Magazine

Leadership Lessons from Authorities in Business, Film…

Yitzi Weiner

Written by

A “Positive” Influencer, Founder & Editor of Authority Magazine, CEO of Thought Leader Incubator

Authority Magazine

Leadership Lessons from Authorities in Business, Film, Sports and Tech. Authority Mag is devoted primarily to sharing interesting feature interviews of people who are authorities in their industry. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.

Yitzi Weiner

Written by

A “Positive” Influencer, Founder & Editor of Authority Magazine, CEO of Thought Leader Incubator

Authority Magazine

Leadership Lessons from Authorities in Business, Film, Sports and Tech. Authority Mag is devoted primarily to sharing interesting feature interviews of people who are authorities in their industry. We use interviews to draw out stories that are both empowering and actionable.

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