It was Saturday, May 21, 2011, at 12:35 pm that I first laid eyes on the talented, tall, dark and handsome actor named Josef Cannon. If you’re wondering how I’m able to be so specific about our encounter, it’s because Josef was auditioning for one of my book trailers and that was his appointment time. I’ll never forget seeing him for the first time. He was not only easy on the eyes, but he had a warm and beautiful spirit. I remember thinking how lucky I was that he had agreed to read for the role of the rich producer, Gregory Livingston III and if that wasn’t enough, after he had given a brilliant read, he agreed to stay and read with some of the actresses that were auditioning for the role opposite his. Needless to say, I cast him and we have remained in contact ever since. I have enjoyed following his career and when he announced that he had a role in PAUL’S PROMISE, the Christian movie, beautifully written by Vitya Stevens and superbly directed by Matthew Reithmayr, that has been the recipient of countless awards and that has taken the world by storm, my chest bloomed with pride and excitement for him.
Today I had the honor of seeing Josef on the big screen in the role of Jimmy Lipkin, in PAUL’S PROMISE, the inspiring true story of Paul Holderfield, former racist firefighter-turned-pastor who started one of the first integrated churches in the American South. Josef’s performance was no less than mesmerizing. No wonder the awards continue to roll in for him: Canadian International Faith & Family Film Festival Best Supporting Actor
Nominee, International Christian Film Festival Best Supporting Actor Winner in a Feature Film, and Kingdomwood International Film Festival Best Supporting Actor Winner.
Josef’s character, Jimmy and Paul, wonderfully portrayed by Ryan O’Quinn, were childhood friends, but a sad and heartbreaking incident separates them. The movie opens with a fire and Paul and his fellow firefighters putting it out. It’s at this time that we see Jimmy and Paul on screen together for the first time. We soon learn that the two have been estranged and when Jimmy reaches out to Paul, one of his blatantly racist fellow firefighters expresses his dismay and disgust that Jimmy and his brother Tank, powefully played by Tank Jones, who is there at the time, would have the audacity to try to engage Paul on any level.
From there we see Paul battling his demons and grappling with his past and his mother’s illness. His mother, marvelously played by Linda Purl, is at the heart of the film. The movie flashes back to Paul’s childhood and we learn the source of much of his anger and confusion. We also get to see Jimmy at home with his wife, nicely played by Bianca LaVerne Jones, as the couple discuss the current state of affairs as well as Jimmy debating with his younger brother Tank who wants Jimmy to take a stronger stance against the bigoted firefighters. However, Jimmy holds true to his belief in nonviolence. Josef does a wonderful job of embodying Jimmy’s spirit of wanting the nation to come together at a time when racial unrest was at an all time high. A scene with him and Paul at an afterschool program Jimmy founded speaks volumes to Jimmy’s character and heart for the less fortunate. Josef plays the role of Jimmy so well, I truly forgot he was the man I’d met eleven years ago.
I am so proud of Josef and I cannot wait to see what’s coming next for this talented young actor. Bravo my friend!