Bishop T.D. Jakes‘ message has long transcended the pulpit. Now, his latest film venture is using a millennia-old message to speak directly to our modern issues.
Continuing the 7 Deadly Sins series, which premiered in 2021 on Lifetime, Jakes is wearing his producer hat to bring two more stories of everyday people being faced with decisions that see them falling into the trap of temptation into behaviors that are harmful to themselves and others.
As the Bishop sees it, Wrath, premiering April 16 and Greed, premiering April 23 speak directly to the issues many Americans are facing today in uncertain times filled with pandemic, war, and the fallout of each.
“We’re living in a time of rage, just utter rage,” Jakes said. “All you have to do is go on social media. You can say ‘good morning’ and get cussed out. So I thought Wrath at a time that we are seeing so much rage in the world, it’s so important.”
Wrath stars Michelle Williams of Destiny’s Child fame as Chastity Jeffries, a successful single lawyer who gets caught in the fray of a new suitor’s unbridled jealousy and bouts of rage. When she turns to her mother Sarah, played by Tina Knowles-Lawson, and her high-school ex-boyfriend Roger (Romeo Miller) for help and guidance, she realizes she’ll have to fight to save herself.
Conversely, Jakes’ Greed speaks to the money and success-obsessed society we live in today, placing the dollar above all else.
Greed finds successful interior decorator Zuri Maxwell (Monique Coleman) sacrificing everything from her relationship to her morals once she finds herself in the good graces of wealthy benefactor Godfrey Anderson (Eric Benét) and his even more fabulously wealthy aunt Miss Viv (LisaRaye McCoy). As she draws nearer claiming the luxurious lifestyle she’s always wanted as her own, will she compromise all that’s most valuable to attain the “finer things?”
“It has been interesting over the last ten years or so to watch what people will do for money,” Jakes said of the second Sins film’s subject matter. “It’s the leading cause of divorce. Not infidelity, economics. So it’s interesting what people will do to get ahead. You go almost can’t trust your grandmother,” he laughed.
“So I thought those would be two interesting topics to talk about, particularly at a time that the world is dealing with economic issues and rage issues.”
Preaching from the podium has made Bishop Jakes a household name, able to broaden his message through multiple other media; a method that he finds invaluable to reaching modern Christians.
“[Film] broadens the platform. I wouldn’t necessarily have to be a preacher to do this,” he said. “The church has a responsibility to remain relevant. And I think sometimes we’ve lost our way in the fog of life and we’ve gotten so busy building buildings or doing whatever we’re doing, that we haven’t remained relevant.”
Still, with some hiccups in relevancy, Jakes says he sees no dip in enthusiasm for The Lord among Black millennials, or younger generations. With many stats and articles spotting higher African American populations being less religiously engaged, he says that the difference is simply in worship style.
“I argue back against those stats because I don’t think people are moving away from God. I think people are moving away from traveling to anything. They want everything on their phone, they want everything on their iPad,” he said. “I’m not seeing any trouble. I’m seeing bigger numbers than I’ve ever seen in my life. So I am not seeing any trouble with people going away. I have seen them shift from physical attendance to online attendance and they’re receiving it that way and in smaller information bites.”
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By delivering parables in the form of digestible Lifetime movies starring some of the most recognizable faces in the culture, Jakes hopes that believers, fans, and casual viewers alike can discover a message of self-governance and recognizing dangers coming from within.
“I think first of all, you can check yourself. Because if you don’t check self and define boundaries for yourself, then you lose all profile as to who you are. Who are you? Who are you is determined by what you won’t do,” Jakes explained. “We all want to get ahead. We all want to prosper. We all have anger. We all have issues, but there are some things that you ought not to do because of what you went through.”