Standing in Faith...in Hollywood
"In my 'hyphenate' existence as talent agent-minister I've had some unique experiences," says Kim Dorr (MDiv '02). Dorr works full-time developing and promoting the careers of Hollywood stars--and serves part-time as the Designated Associate Pastor of Entertainment Ministries at Bel Air Presbyterian Church in Los Angeles, where roughly half the 5,000-member congregation works in "the industry."
Dorr stepped into Hollywood over 20 years ago, first as a casting director for television. She later worked as a talent agent for the Bobby Ball Agency, overseeing the Children's and Young Adult TV/Film Division and launching the Adult Theatrical Department. Dorr presently runs Defining Artists, a boutique talent agency that she has co-owned since 2005.
Her journey to Fuller--and to ordained ministry--began one night 14 years ago when a friend invited her to church. Raised nominally Christian, Dorr had dabbled in New Age spirituality...until she heard the sermon at that evening church visit, on the topic "Straying from the Path." The message moved Dorr to receive Christ as her Savior and dive headfirst into various church activities at Bel Air Pres. Before long, the pastoral staff noticed Dorr's passion and encouraged her to explore a call to ministry.
It was her Fuller experience, Dorr says, that "absolutely prepared me for my involvement at Bel Air Pres." Classes such as one on Dietrich Bonhoeffer with Senior Professor of Theology and Ministry Ray Anderson profoundly impacted Dorr's theological framework for ministry. "I had never heard of Bonhoeffer before I started at Fuller," Dorr explains. "I found in Bonhoeffer's theology, and particularly his book Ethics, a paradigm for our entertainment ministry. Bonhoeffer believed that it was more important for a disciple of Jesus Christ to be found in God than to be found 'good.' In other words, we need to set aside our judgments and be willing to discern the Lord's leading, rather than taking the 'holy' path of remaining removed from the world."
Already Dorr has seen the impact of this loving approach. "I remember representing an actress, not a Christian, who had just finished working a job that had some provocative moments," Dorr recounts. "Before she worked the job, I asked her how she felt about the role. She convinced me she was fine. However, after she worked the job, she felt quite different and came into my office full of shame and regret. I shared the gospel with her that day. I let her know that she was not defined by this and that God, in Jesus Christ, could remove from her anything that felt like a 'stain.' I don't think she'd ever heard about Jesus doing something like taking away regret and making 'all things new.' It was wonderful to share Jesus with her in this context."
Dorr notes that, though her formal ministry is one of equipping and encouraging at her church, its aim extends beyond local fellowship and into the world at large. "At Bel Air Pres, we believe that those working in entertainment are culture creators and that culture significantly shapes how people think, feel, and act. This ministry, then, becomes a ministry of equipping people to be a mechanism of cultural influence and change." Achieving this goal, she believes, goes back to a posture of engagement and an open mind. "I've encountered a number of people in entertainment who actually said they wanted to keep their faith clean or pure from the industry's perceived 'dirtiness.' This certainly shows the need for the ministry! We must encourage people to stand in Hollywood while standing in faith, with the hope of transforming culture for Christ."