Rusty Whitener calls himself sentimental, reflective and forgiven.
His first screenplay won several prestigious awards and has been turned into the novel A Season of Miracles (Kregel). He’s also an accomplished actor. “Our American culture revolves so tightly around story and image,” Rusty says. “Rather than curse our culture’s lack of respect for propositional truth, I feel God would have me engage in those things that have beautifully haunted me all my life.”
A veteran thespian who’s done dinner theater, living history and outdoor dramas, you’d never know Rusty used to struggle with stage fright. But when he auditioned on a whim and got the lead role in a school play, he discovered he actually liked acting. “I also discovered that stage fright was, for me anyway, a manifestation of pride. I cared too much how others evaluated my performance. When I focused on the simple calling to ‘act well your part,’ I didn’t have room for stage fright.”
Recently he landed a role opposite Christian music artist Natalie Grant in the movie Decision. “I play her father,” Rusty explains. “A tough, hardworking rancher-type who loves his daughter very much but wrestles with some things Natalie’s character did in years past that left him estranged from her in some ways. I end up helping her and her teenage son come to terms with the harshness of life, but also the sufficient grace and love of God.”
Whether he’s putting pen to paper writing his next book or memorizing lines for a role, Rusty’s desire is to reach people’s hearts. “Story has the power to do that,” he says. “I think Lewis and Tolkien were right in saying that ‘myth’ and ‘story’ can and should have more truth in them than our ordinary, walk-about lives.”