I Saw The Light: Celebs Who Left The Entertainment Industry Behind For Jesus
When your faith becomes stronger, it’s amazing the effect it can have on your way of looking at and doing things in life. From watching what you say and the image you put out there of yourself, once you’re born-again, (for many people) you are a new person. These famous folks changed their lives, changed their music, and in many cases, stepped away from the entertainment industry altogether to focus on getting closer to God.
While Chris Tucker never officially disappeared, he decided to start working every once in blue moon despite being on a hot streak in the mid-to late ’90s. The only work he would do for a good decade was the Rush Hour franchise, though he did take a role in the Academy Award-nominated film Silver Linings Playbook in 2012. Despite being the most-loved sidekick to Ice Cube’s Craig in the Friday franchise, Tucker wouldn’t sign on for the sequels to play Smokey because he had become a born-again Christian after doing the film Money Talks and no longer approved of the character.
I had the biggest crush on Mase after that Harlem World album came out in 1997. Who didn’t? But by 1999, Mase was having a change of heart about the whole rap thing. After releasing his sophomore album, Double Up, Mase revealed to Funkmaster Flex that he was retiring from the rap game to pursue a calling from God. He went on to become a pastor, and did that until 2012 as pastor and founder of El Elyon International Church and Mason Betha Ministries. Once he decided to return to rap, he says he realized that he might have jumped the gun trying to be a pastor so soon, but his faith is still strong:
“I didn’t give myself any room to grow, I went from one extreme to another extreme, I was just so gung ho about what I was learning, that’s all I wanted.”I went so hard in one direction that people had things to say and rightfully so,” Betha told Flex. “I don’t blame them for that [but] it’s been 13 years, let’s move on.”
Remember Vanity? Before there was Apollonia, Prince’s female protege was the s*xy lead singer of the group the Purple One formed called Vanity 6 (three women, six boobs, hence the “6”). The group was behind hits like “Nasty Girl” and their performances were quite raunchy. Vanity was supposed to have the lead role alongside Prince in Purple Rain, but left it all behind, and left Prince’s camp in general to focus on solo music and acting. Eventually, Vanity became addicted to crack cocaine in the late ’80s, and after almost dying from from the effects of years worth of drug use, Vanity became a born-again Christian, and went back to being known as Denise Matthews. “With the devil breathing down my neck, trying desperately to snatch and strangle me for hell, I repented.” She has since become an evangelist.
He’ll forever be known as the guy behind the jam, “This Is How We Do It,” but Montell Jordan wants to be known more these days for his work for Christ. In 2010, Jordan planned to put out new music, but it was shelved, so he found himself trying to reconnect with his faith alongside his wife, Kristin, and their kids. They joined Victory World Church in Atlanta and his life hasn’t been the same since. “The Lord spoke to me and said ‘you got to retire, you got to lay that life down.” Jordan became the Worship Minister at Victory World Church and along with Victory World Music, has released a gospel album called Shake Heaven.
After years of being known as the “Mercedes Boy” and “Girlfriend” singer (and as the rumors go, stiffing folks out of their money), Perri “Pebbles” Reid left the music industry behind to focus on God. She became Sister Perri and started a deliverance women’s ministry in Atlanta, deciding to do so in ’97 after she says the hand of God touched her life and changed her direction during a really tough time. She started the Perri Ministry because God told her she could change lives:
“He told me through this ministry that millions will be delivered and set free. Through the power of the Holy Ghost, they will be delivered from alcohol, drug addictions and abusive relationships.”
Angus T. Jones
Once the lovable little boy from Two and a Half Men, grown up Angus T. Jones’ faith became much stronger and he was no longer feeling his work on the show, calling it “filth” in a YouTube video in 2012 after being baptized. Jones, now 20, left the show behind and has since started working for the World Harvest Outreach Church in Houston, affiliated with the Seventh-day Adventist Church. While he has since apologized for calling Two and a Half Men filth, he says he doesn’t regret everything else he said about working on the show:
“It was difficult for me to be on the show and be part of something that was making light of topics in our world where there are really problems for a lot of people. I was a paid hypocrite because I wasn’t OK with it and I was still doing it. I really want to come into the light because I know that is where the healing is and I’ve seen God do amazing things.”
After major success on Growing Pains, Kirk Cameron became a born-again Christian at the age of 17 after years of being an atheist. He would ask that things be removed from the script for his TV character that he felt went against his faith, and once the show ended, he became engrossed in evangelism. To this day, Cameron trains other Christians in evangelism. He did, however, cause major controversy in 2012 when he went on the Piers Morgan Show, saying that homosexuality is “unnatural, detrimental and ultimately destructive to foundations of civilization.” He received backlash from former Growing Pains castmates and quite a few other people, but never retreated from his statements.
The late “Hot Stuff” and “Bad Girls” singer became a born-again Christian at the height of her popularity. She wanted to stop singing a lot of the sexually charged music she became popular for, but was afraid she would lose her fans.
“If I have to perform those songs, it’s part of the weight I have to carry because of the wrong I’ve done. I have to acknowledge that I built this bed and I’ve gotta lay in it. There will come a time when I won’t have to ever do those things again. But it’s like the old remnants that you still have to clear out of your house. You can’t clean your house in one day so I’m going about it methodically.
I think that if I were to do an about-face and do spiritual songs, I would lose contact with all those people that would buy my records. I feel like I’m doing what I have to do.”
The current co-host of The View has been pretty open about her faith on the show, and on the impact it has had on her life. She said she moved closer to God as her mom was dying, after she started getting evicted and was dealing with a stalker ex-boyfriend. Once she did, she admits that the “vulgar” stand-up she used to do had to go, and she lost some fans in the process of coming into her own:
“It was dirty. I thought I had to be Eddie Murphy. And it was working. It was very dirty, vulgar and blue. I had a following. I had a huge gay following because I did all the clubs in West Hollywood. All the gay pride parades and festivals. When you go into those kind of clubs, all male clubs, it kind of lends itself to being blue. I would get on stage and do an hour. Oh man, I was so blue. But I got a big following. It was very hard to let all that material go because I lost a lot of my following.”
No, Michelle Williams never disappeared from music, but she changed her musical direction during the height of her career to give love to God by releasing the gospel album, Heart To Yours:
“Some people will do gospel when their career fails, but I chose to do it at the height of the popularity of Destiny’s Child. And I didn’t want to do it because it was a fad. I wanted to do it because it’s in me. It’s in my heart.”
After years of singing classic but raunch-er-rific songs like “Head,” “Soft and Wet” and “Gett Off,” it’s a rarity that you’ll find the Purple One singing these particular songs live these days. Even some songs from his landmark album Purple Rain (think of “Darling Nikki”) aren’t really his thing to perform like that anymore. Why? Because Prince became a born-again and devout Jehovah’s Witness in 2001 and decided to leave his sexually charged hits behind. However, Prince has quite the catalog outside of such tracks to keep fans entertained.