Anyone familiar with sitcoms from the ‘80s and ‘90s will recognize the name “D.J. Tanner,” the oldest of three daughters being by a single dad, his guitar-playing brother-in-law, and his comedian friend in the popular sitcom Full House. The role of D.J. was played, from 1987 to 1995, by Candace Cameron, who started when she was 10 years old. Now 37, she is known as Candace Cameron Bure after marrying former professional hockey player Valeri Bure, with whom she has three children. She has continued to work in the entertainment industry since her Full House days and has demonstrated that it is possible to carve out a life of faithfulness in an industry that is not known for reflecting Christian values. I recently spoke to Bure about the challenges of living a God-honoring life while working in show business.
I understand that you have particular criteria in choosing your projects; what are those criteria, and what ramifications do you experience from having set standards for the work you will do?
Many scripts get passed my way, but all of the projects that I choose to do are family-friendly, which is important to me both as a mom and as a Christian. There are a handful of networks that do family-friendly very well, such as GMC and the Hallmark Channel, and I love working with these networks. They understand the kind of entertainment families want. I’m not looking to do only faith-based projects, but family-friendly very is important to me.
This why I’ve also gotten into the producing side of the business, so I can develop and pitch scripts and shows that are timely, have a story I want to tell and values I want to support, and are special to me. It’s really just been in the last year or two that I’ve found this is what I love, what I want to be able to do, to create from the ground up. Being a producer gives me the freedom to pursue the type of content that’s important to me.
Full House fans often tell me, “I wish there were shows like this on TV again, like Full House, or Family Ties, or The Cosby Show.” I wish that too. But when you talk to executives, they say these kinds of shows are outdated and not what the audience wants anymore. As far as I’m concerned, there is a big audience for family-friendly programs, and I think that has been proven. Faith-based movies or family-friendly networks that have uplifting programming are all doing well.
What are your greatest challenges and struggles about walking the narrow way as an actor in show business?
I love the entertainment industry; it’s such a crazy business, but I wouldn’t want to be in any other one. It can be challenging to be a Christian in this industry because most movies and television shows today want to push the envelope and be edgy, and I am always asking to keep traditional and moral values as a focus.
Specifically as an actor, I have my own personal boundaries as to what I will or won’t do, so that limits me. Those are my choices, so I don’t feel badly about them, but it makes things more difficult. If I don’t feel with my whole heart that an opportunity is honoring to God, I won’t do it. I often struggle with these decisions and with knowing where that line is, if I can see a bigger picture to choosing this role, or not. Is it just for the sake of working? Can I see ministry value in it? Those are things I think of with every job I take.
I have heard you give your testimony to an audience of thousands, and it’s clear you have a passion for evangelism. What are the intentional steps you take to be salt and light to those around you?
In everything I do, I try to represent Christ the best that I can. I hope that people will see that in me regardless of whether I talk about Jesus. But if I see those opportunities with crew or cast members I work with, I will definitely talk about my relationship with God, get to know where theirs is at, and share the Gospel.
For example, I was doing a Christmas movie a few years ago. I knew the actor playing my dad was not a Christian and had specifically been praying to share Christ with him as well as with anyone else on set. That very first day, we were talking about the script; I had asked the director if we could take out “Oh, my God!” and replace it with something else. The actor said, “I don’t understand; can you tell me why that is a bad thing to say?” This opened up an opportunity in which I was able to share the Gospel, he was receptive to listen, and we had a wonderful conversation.
During your recent talk at the Hearts at Home conference in Illinois, you mentioned that you are still in contact with your Full House colleagues. I’m guessing that you have probably had similar conversations on spiritual topics with your former cast members as well?
Yes, I’ve had those conversations with everyone from the show. My faith is in every part of my life, and I don’t shy away from talking about it, as it’s a part of my everyday language. I’ll say things all the time like, “When I went to church, I learned…” or “When I was studying the Bible, I discovered…” But I believe evangelism is more than sitting down and sharing the Gospel for a moment. It’s about how you do life over the years. My Full House family is like my second family, I love each of them dearly, and I’m very close to several of them. And I hope over the years they will all come to know Christ.
Your brother, Kirk Cameron, has also maintained an active career in the entertainment industry. Tell us about his influence in your life and how your approaches to living as a Christian in show business differ.
My brother has had a huge influence on me and my Christian faith. I love that over the years, his relationship with Christ has become deeper and stronger. He is such an inspiration to me. He also is the one who led me to my faith; although I accepted the Lord when I was 12 years old, I didn’t start walking in faith until my 20s and it was due to a book he passed to me, called The Way of the Master, and then seeing him live out his own faith. As far as our different approaches to show business, over the years I have been focused mainly on being an actress, while my brother is more ministry-based with what he does in the industry. He works to equip Christians, and I’m super proud of him and all he does.
I’d also like to hear about the influence your parents have had on your life, and how that influence has intersected with your faith journey.
Obviously, my parents were a huge influence in shaping me as a child and as an adult. Although my parents were not walking in faith when we were young, they brought us up to be moral, hard-working people. They held and taught many Christian values although they wouldn’t have called them that. I know my mom prayed for all of us for many years, even though her faith was not strong at the time. It wasn’t until I was 12 years old that we went to church as a family for the first time. My dad did not become a believer until about seven years ago, although he had always gone to church with us. I believe my journey walking as a Christian was more of an influence on him over the years. Today, I’m thrilled to say that we are all Christians; my parents, brother, two sisters, and I would say that we challenge each other, encourage each other, and protect each other on a daily basis.
In addition to all your work in the realm of acting, you are also the author of a New York Times bestseller, Reshaping It All, which deals with physical and spiritual wellness. You are also working in an industry that places so much emphasis on body image and appearance. What do you do to maintain a God-centered attitude about body image and physical health in the midst of cultural pressures to put so much emphasis on those areas?
What has really changed for me over the years, in terms of the relationship I have with food and keeping my body fit and healthy, is that it came down to renewing my mind in the word of God, and ultimately knowing that God is who I want to please. And He is not going to love me any more or less depending on how I look or what number is on the scale. It’s my duty as a Christian to honor God with my body and take care of it. I don’t want to be lazy or use His grace as an excuse to be a glutton and not take care of my body.
As far as the industry goes, there is pressure to stay thin but the truth is, I have gotten over that part. I’ve been the same weight for the last ten years, since having my youngest child. I know my value and worth lies in the eyes of God, not the industry.
Your made-for-television movie Finding Normal debuts on the GMC channel May 18 and 19. What was it about this movie that drew you to the project, and why should viewers tune in to watch it? And what other projects are you working on?
I loved the Finding Normal script when I received it. It’s a newer, faith-filled version of Doc Hollywood, about a doctor named Lisa Leland who gets stuck in a teeny, tiny town. She had her life all planned for her, but it’s not what God planned for her. I loved the theme and the character, especially because in the first half of the movie, while she is not a terrible person, she lacks a great bedside manner. I haven’t played a character like that before, so I enjoyed doing so.
I just finished filming a Hallmark movie that will be out in early December, and my next book is out January 1, 2014. It’s called Balancing It All, and it’s about the lessons I’ve learned over the years about managing career, motherhood, and faith. Plus, being a mom of three, and supporting my husband in his area of passion means there is never a dull day. He has always loved food and wine, and his dream was to have his own wine label. A few years before he retired from playing professional hockey, we bought a vineyard, and our first release of Bure Family Wines was in 2006. It’s a small, boutique wine label, with our production just under 1500 cases. We’ve received great ratings from Robert Parker, 95s and 96s. Val’s goal is to make a 100 point wine, and I fully support him and his desire to do so.