The feature film, Overcomer, is about a high school coach finding his identity – again. But, in reality, the film is about a high school girl, who, while finding HER place in the world, inspires everyone around her to embrace God’s power, majesty and awe. Like much of the real world, it’s the young person – or teenager – who impacts others. Through his or her courage, inspires a community to discover their own identity in Christ.
Hannah Scott (played by newcomer Aryn Wright-Thompson), was orphaned at a young age. As a result of being raised by her grandmother, who has to work two jobs to make ends meet, Hannah feels alone and unwanted. As the only student who tries out for Cross-Country, she’s the sole team member, which doesn’t help her develop a feeling of belonging. She sticks with running because it’s all she’s good at, even though she suffers from Asthma. The principal of her school, Mrs. Brooks (played by Pricilla Shirer), takes Hannah under her wing, encouraging her to follow her passions.
Because of her diligence and aspiration, Hannah inspires her coach, John Harrison (played by Alex Kendrick) to discover the significance and power of his new role. John Harrison previously coached the basketball team and led them to incredible victories because of his heartfelt leadership. When the team falls apart as a result of a local financial crisis which impacts many of the team’s families, he’s directed to coach the lone runner of the Cross-Country team. To his surprise, Hannah runs to triumph. “Cross country is a very difficult sport. From the time you start, you do not stop or pause until you cross the finish line. And in many regards, that’s like our life; that’s our journey of faith,” said Alex Kendrick.
Being an Overcomer
Aryn doesn’t have big shoes to fill with her role as Hannah Scott. She lives the active and inspirational life of the average teenager. She’s an Honor Roll student and community leader. She plays piano, is an avid dancer (training in ballet, jazz, tap, acro and lyrical) and plays volleyball, basketball and softball. She runs from one practice to the next, finding time to squeeze homework into the mix. Just like any teen living a busy life, trying to fit in and discover her identity, Aryn knows what’s it’s like to rise above the mundane chaos of life. “Being an overcomer means you keep your head up and you know that you’re going to get through it; you figure out a way to get through it, you keep your faith strong, you get through it, and you just thank God,” says Aryn Wright-Thompson of her role in the film.
Life is about overcoming obstacles, fear and all odds. Finding your place in the world is a hurdle in itself. Every person must find her purpose and identity by discovering who God created her to be. Not only do you need to be in tune to your passions, talents and interests. You also need to know your creator. God created you for a purpose. He has intention for your life and the only way to discover your role is to follow and grow closer to Him. Any obstacles faced can be big or small, but when you learn to rely on the Lord, any obstruction becomes something that can be overcome. An obstacle is an obstacle, no matter the size. But God prepares you for them and stands with you through it all.
Your success doesn’t define your identity. Neither does your external appearance or ability to stay in the loop. Your identity comes from the Lord. You are His and He created you for a unique and beautiful purpose. As a pageant participant of Miss North Carolina’s Little Miss program and the Black Miss North Carolina Organization, Aryn knows what it’s like to pursue a goal that places you in the limelight.
Her experience in the pageant circuit doesn’t define her, it’s a stepping stone toward a more abundant and well-rounded understanding of God’s call in her life. “We were blown away by Aryn’s audition. She understood the heart of Hannah, and she had us in tears immediately. We realized that God had been doing His special work in her to specifically prepare her for this role,” said Stephen Kendrick notes. The actress for Hannah was incredibly important because this character has to portray the soul of teenager’s life. “We wanted young people to be able to identify with the character of Hannah; with her issues, with her confusion about who she is. Identity is such a big issue with teenagers especially,” notes Stephen Kendrick.
One Runner Matters
The Bible speaks about Jesus, as the Good Shepard. He will leave His 99 sheep to find one lost sheep (Mathew 18:12). We usually see the lost sheep as someone who’s an unbeliever, but that one sheep can be a person who’s simply trying to find her identity again. It’s not that she wants to walk away from God, it’s that she wants to know where she belongs in the world – within the herd. God will pursue that one, and so should we. That’s the beauty Overcomer, it demonstrates how a coach and a principal can pursue a young runner. But, that coach needed to be run after as well. The beauty of God is that He sees the real us. He knows what we’re capable of. He sees things in us that we don’t even see in ourselves.
What if the one who wonders off is being called to something greater than just part of the herd? What if God is calling that wonderer to be a leader. When you face your obstacles of loneliness, consider if God is calling you away from the crowd to inspire them toward a new direction. God knows the best direction for everyone, even when we don’t see it ourselves. God wants you to see your worth and His love when everything that you know, love and value is torn away, and life no longer makes sense. It’s in the darkest hour that He desires for you to rely on Him so you can become an overcomer.