The hardships that come with working in the entertainment and fashion industries are no. joke. I know that first-hand because I’ve experienced both worlds, and with me being a Christian, the continuous pressure to compromise my faith became extremely overwhelming. You wanna who can relate to my past struggles? Ranae Shepherd.
Ranae is an ex-actor and stand-up comedian who left the entertainment business after giving her life to Christ. She also runs a super cool ministry/non-profit called The Night Shepherd, geared towards individuals working in two of LA’s most prominent industries. Read her Q&A to see why she stopped taking new roles and gigs, the day she accepted Christ into her life, and much more.
What influenced your decision to move to Los Angeles and pursue a career in the entertainment industry?
I had initially dabbled in Tampa and Orlando’s entertainment scene, where I did some modeling work in Miami for a summer. I just always knew that moving to Los Angeles was the next step after that. I joined the Screen Actors Guild after working on a Larry the Cable Guy movie in Orlando, so I became a member of the union before moving out here. I also knew that it was the place to be if I ever wanted to do anything worthwhile!
I’m sure you were under some pressure to do things that compromised your faith. What were some of those things, and what choices did you end up making?
I didn’t become a Christian until I left the industry! I actually got saved after I got out. When I moved here In July 2007, I was 21 years old and started hanging out with the wrong crowd. I even hung out at the Playboy Mansion, living an all-around wicked lifestyle. I didn’t have any desire to become a Christian at that time. None of the people I spent time with were Christian, and I just chose to focus on my career and having fun.
I also dated a well-known actor during this time in my life. We ended up getting a house together at one point, but those six months were a living nightmare. It was such a whirlwind ride of too much handed to me at such a young, vulnerable age. Once that relationship ended, I switched careers and went from acting to stand-up comedy, but I still experienced the same old stuff. I was trying to fill an empty void with acceptance by temporal fixes, but it didn’t work.
How was your time in the industry overall? Any regrets?
I learned a lot and really enjoyed it while in it. I ultimately left after I had gotten saved, because I felt convicted over some of the roles I took (even in little things). Personally, I didn’t feel comfortable saying God’s name in vain, cursing, or even pretending to be married or dating someone I wasn’t romantically linked with in real life. I didn’t want to kiss anyone else besides my husband. Although I’ve done a lot of things that I’m not proud of, I have no regrets. That painful journey brought me to where I am today!
My husband only reached out to me through Facebook because he knew of me from the industry—due to poor choices I had made. Had he never reached out, I honestly might not have been married by now. He was the one who took me to church, and was there when I prayed and asked Christ into my heart. Am I proud of those choices? Absolutely not. However, every decision that I made brought me to where I currently am. The valuable lessons I’ve learned give me the ability to help others in the industry, especially those who are going through what I went through.
Tell me about the day you made the decision to give your life to Christ.
I remember it vividly. It happened on a Sunday morning after service. I remember having a sick feeling in my stomach, and rudely interrupting the Pastor while he was speaking with a first-time guest. I told him, “Pastor, I know you’re talking but I need to see you, your wife, and my boyfriend (now husband) in your office, as soon as possible!” Once we got into the office, we sat and they all started staring at me. I remember what I said like yesterday: “If I were to leave this building and die, I’m scared that I wouldn’t go to Heaven based on the Bible’s teachings on how to get there. I have never been born again, but I want to be saved!”
I then looked at my boyfriend—who grew up Christian and got saved young—and said to him, “I’m sorry if you thought that I was a Christian this entire time, and I’m sorry if your parents might be confused by this, but I know that I need to get this settled today.” He smiled back and said, “Don’t you worry about me or my family. My parents will be thrilled to know that you’ve accepted Christ, but don’t do this for them. Do this because you feel convicted over your sin, and a need for a Savior.”
After that, the Pastor told me that there wasn’t a prayer for me to repeat because it doesn’t work that way. He told me that I just needed to recognize that I’m a sinner who needs Jesus, to ask Him into my heart, and thank Him for dying on the cross for me. That’s exactly what I did, my sweet friend! I got baptized shortly after on June 24, 2012—best day of my life!
Has your spiritual walk influenced any of your former colleagues in the business?
A few of them have noticed the changes in my life, but they aren’t quite sure of where it’s coming from. They think that me going to church plays a factor in my growth, and some of my friends have even mentioned it to my face. But then again, the fact that they’re not Christians explains why they can’t understand my feelings of conviction in the industry. I do my best to be a living example of who Christ is, and prove through my actions that this isn’t a religious game I’m playing.
My spiritual walk has even affected my approach towards my ex-boyfriend. I’ve been able to apologize for my wrongdoings in the relationship, as well as forgive him for the hurt he caused me. I actually mailed him a letter with the gospel (with my husband’s permission), sharing how Jesus changed my life and providing verses on how he could know Jesus too! I obviously don’t know whether or not he read the letter, or what he’s done with it. What I can say is that I have truly been able to experience real forgiveness for others, because Jesus forgave me.
Oh boy, that was deep. What advice do you have for the entertainment and fashion industry professionals out there, who have a relationship with Christ?
Don’t compromise the Bible for your career. Everyone has their own unique convictions and relationships with Christ, but the Bible remains clear and consistent on the important principles. Stay true to God’s word, pray constantly for wisdom and discernment, seek God’s will for your life, and be content with where he currently has you. Also, witness to those on set or sharing the stage with you! It’s a privilege to serve the Lord across all industries, but it comes with the major responsibilities of stewarding your job being a vessel for the Kingdom.
Remember this: you are performing to please an audience of one, and that’s Jesus. Always seek to serve and honor Him. This world is not our home, and we want Jesus to say “well done” when we see Him face-to-face in Heaven. A U-Haul doesn’t follow our hearses to the funeral home, so focus on building up your treasures in Heaven instead of the earth!
Working in LA’s entertainment or fashion industry? When the going gets tough, Night Shepherd (Ranae’s non-profit organization) is always available to provide you with sound advice, valuable resources, and a helping hand when you need it.
More About Ranae Shepherd
Ranae grew up in Kentucky, went to college in Florida, and in July 2007, at age 21, she moved to Los Angeles. Upon arriving, she began acting right away and became heavily involved in the entertainment industry. By 2012, regretful choices began eating away at her, but on June 24, 2012, she gave her life to Christ. In 2014, she married a former fashion model. In 2015, they launched a non-profit organization & ministry called “The Night Shepherd,” dedicated to helping and supporting those who are struggling in the entertainment and fashion industries of Los Angeles—a positive wave that is always there, no matter the day or the hour.
As of today, she is assisting her husband at CityLight LA hosting services, small groups, and activities that strengthen and encourage the spiritual lives of single men and women. She also runs a Bible devotion each month at an all-female sober living home. Ranae loves to speak at women’s events and church conferences to share her story of redemption, and how Christ can take a wrecked life and turn it into something beautiful. Her goal is to inspire and encourage women through mentorship, and her testimony. Through her non-profit, she is also deeply motivated to provide credible resources to those in the industry. Ranae is currently working on her memoir as we speak. The desires of her and William (her husband) are to point others to Christ, share where God has brought them from, and discuss where He is directing them now.
Ranae has been featured in various media sources, including The 700 Club, US Weekly, People Magazine, The LA Times, Huffington Post and Fox News. She currently resides with her husband and their Maltipoo (Laci) in Los Angeles.