This veteran of the faith-based movie scene plays opposite Erin Bethea in our inaugural picture and, wow, is he ever good.
If you are a fan of the Erwin Brothers, one of the top filmmaking teams in the Christian genre, then you are no doubt familiar with Jason Burkey. He got his big break in their first movie, October Baby, playing the male lead in that 2011 picture, and has been in three more of their films, including the 2018 smash hit, I Can Only Imagine.
A graduate of Taylor University, a Christian school in Indiana, Jason says acting is "in his blood," citing his mother's career as a theater actress and director. He initially realized the power of acting himself in a junior high school play when he drew laughs from the audience during a comedic performance. That ability to connect with and move theatergoers hit home again during a college staging of Flowers for Algernon, when one of his theretofore indifferent brothers, with tears flowing, led the audience in a standing ovation during Jason's curtain call.
After finishing school, he briefly worked in videography and editing before moving to Nashville in 2008. It was there he received a note from a former professor that finally hooked him for good as an actor. The missive pointed out that Jason had "a gift" for the craft and encouraged him to stick with it. Fortunately for us, he did exactly that, though he does write as well for periodic stage performances he puts on via a charitable Atlanta theater group called Act for a Change that he helped establish.
In Miracle on Christmas, Jason plays James Boyce, a Christian man in the midst of family crisis. While the difficulties cause his wife - played by Erin Bethea - to waver in her faith, they pull Jason's character closer to God, revealing the dilemma that Christians have faced since the resurrection of Christ: does hardship draw us to God or push us away from Him?
The action in this picture plays out on Christmas Day against the backdrop of an extended-family holiday dinner, something Jason says drew him to the project; having grown up as one of four children, he likes what he calls the "comedy and drama" of the large family dynamic, which is perfect in this case since the movie's gathering features 11 players! Being a Believer and an optimist, he also was attracted to the script's message of hope and uses his range as an actor - in scenes of both comedy and heavy drama - to help deliver it.
As we mentioned in our profile of Erin Bethea, she and Jason have great chemistry in this picture; he jokes that it's because this is the "second time we've been married," having played Erin's husband in another recent Christian film as well. He also praised the rest of the cast, saying that the fast friendships they established served as a catalyst for great collaboration, which we feel confident you will sense. And as a fan of Christmas movies, Jason states he's glad he had this opportunity to play a major part in one for the first time...his real-life spouse loves them, too, so it sounds to us like a win-win in the Burkey household.
He adds that while any good film must first entertain, the most effective ones are realistic, not necessarily putting a perfectly tied bow on top of a happy ending. We certainly aim for Miracle on Christmas to be an entertaining picture, but also an inspiring and uplifting story of love, faith and hope. And while it features some flights of fancy in its story line, it most assuredly serves up a healthy dose of authentic struggle and uncertainty as well. The movie will be released during this year's Christmas season.