Cody Longo openly admits that he could easily relate to his character Caden Welles in the moving film Not Today, “I was in a very similar path that Caden was heading towards,” explains Cody. “I was in a rebellious stage. I knew what I believed in, but I wasn’t sure how strong I felt at that particular moment. We all go through our struggles and we all go through questioning ourselves. I’ve never forgotten there’s a higher power, but I was just going through a ‘why’ stage.” During this phase of Cody’s life he asked several definitive questions of God, one being: “why are you letting things happen this way?” It was in this time of self-reflection that Cody, like his character, found God again, “I just had to take a look at myself and stop living so much for myself and start living for more than that.”
In Not Today, the main character, Caden, plans a trip to India on a whim. While there, he refuses to help a father and his little daughter. Later, Caden learns that the father was forced to sell his daughter with hopes that she would have a better life than the one he was able to provide. Devastated by the revelation that this man’s daughter was sold into prostitution, Caden madly searches to free this precious girl from a shattered existence. Caden’s character, and the film as a whole, teaches us that going outside our comfort zone, and striving for something that’s bigger than ourselves gives us life.
I do what I do to inspire kids and people to connect with who they are and create themselves… I encourage people to be who they are and be incredibly proud of it because no matter what, you are who you are and when you’re proud of it, that attracts people.
The plot pulls Cody toward a similar transformation that his character, Caden, underwent. Not Today was filmed out in the open, illustrating the true lifestyle of the most vulnerable people in India. Seeing the brokenness of these people moved Cody into action, “when you stop living so much for you and you start living to inspire other people, that’s completely changed my life. I wish I would have realized that earlier.” The most pivotal moment of filming Not Today came during the last few days in India when Cody and the crew interviewed a few girls who were rescued from human trafficking. “They had been kidnapped when they were six or seven years old. We got to speak to them about their experience and relive some of the moments with them respectfully.” Then Cody asked the girls if they wish this never had happened to them. “[This girl] looked at me, and she said, ‘No, because, if this wouldn’t have happened to me, I wouldn’t have found Jesus.’ That was one of the most powerful things I’ve heard in my life. Let’s just say, I had to end the interview there. I broke down. It was so truthful.”
Cody has always inspired his fans, those who watched him on Make It Or Break It in 2010 to his current Hollywood Heights supporters, so the production of Not Today confirmed his devotion to his fan-base. “I do what I do to inspire kids and people to connect with who they are and create themselves. If you’re an artist, be an artist, if you’re an athlete, be an athlete. If you’re intelligent, be smart or be nerdy. I encourage people to be who they are and be incredibly proud of it because no matter what, you are who you are and when you’re proud of it, that attracts people.” One of Cody’s favorite quotes prompts individuals to create themselves rather than trying to find where they fit. To help teens create themselves, Cody says, “I encourage people to broaden their horizons. To really experience the world and not be so sheltered. It’s not about finding who you are and finding what group you fit in. It’s about what you want. It’s about creating yourself. Break the mold. Be different. Be a leader.”
‘No, because, if this wouldn’t have happened to me, I wouldn’t have found Jesus.’ That was one of the most powerful things I’ve heard in my life. Let’s just say, I had to end the interview there. I broke down. It was so truthful.
God created each of us for a distinctly beautiful and unique purpose and it’s important to discover our identity – who we’re created to be. Cody is incredibly passionate about this idea because, “I feel like we’re robbed of our identity because we have to live by society’s rules. We are robbed of who we can become because we’re afraid of it, and I don’t believe in that. I believe in following your heart and doing what you love to. Society’s built us up that we all have to make a certain amount of money and provide for this and provide for that, but if that’s not you, then don’t do it. The happiest people that I know are doing what they love to do.” How do teenagers know who they are while in the process of inventing and pursuing their identity? Cody states, “They’ll know in their heart, and they’ll know in their soul what feels right and what doesn’t feel right.” Christians know that they are a child of God and must trust that God reveals who He wants each individual to become every day. To discover one’s truest identity, he or she must listen to the voice of God.
When struggling with creating his identity, or when struggling in general, Cody says, “there is nothing much that I can do in my darkest hours, you know, I just give it up to Him. I have faith in knowing God and I have a great relationship. I just express myself artistically. Obviously, I pray about it and try to follow in His footsteps. We’ve been blessed with so many things; break it down and realize what you’ve been blessed with and be you and be proud of it because you should be.”
Naturally, Cody hopes the film motivates all who see it to create change, but especially young people, “I’m hoping that the teenagers that see this film will be the generation that makes the change and creates awareness because [trafficking]’s going on not just in India, it’s going on next door, and people don’t realize it. I would love for this to be a trend because it’s for such a great cause. When it’s trendy, that’s when people actually make things happen, and people get passionate because they see their peers are passionate about it.” Cody’s words framed with the subject of Not Today can spark a movement to help the hurting people in India and at home when we choose to seek the character that God blessed us to become.