Giving Up Hollywood For God

 

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Eduardo Verastegui had it all by today’s standards. He had conquered the worlds of modelling, music, television and had just broken into films. He lived the Hollywood lifestyle with fast cars and fast women.

He lived the high life: fame, fortune and women fell at his feet. He was successfully breaking into the US market after his phenomenal success in his native Mexico, first as part of the boy band ‘Kairo’ and later as an actor.

He had the world at his feet. Yet in 2002 at just 30 years of age, Eduardo Verastegui walked away from it all.

To the outside world it seemed as though Eduardo had lost the plot, another up and coming Hollywood actor who could not handle the pressure of that life.

In reality however, Eduardo had rediscovered the truth; he re-established his relationship with God that had fallen by the wayside as his fame had sky rocketed.

Humble beginnings

Jose Eduardo Verastegui Corodoba was born on May 21, 1972 to devout Catholic parents. He was raised in the small village of Mante in Tamaulipas, Mexico. His father was a sugar cane farmer, but for Eduardo this lifestyle was too simple. He dreamed of a life in the entertainment industry.

At the age of 18 he left the family farm and headed to Mexico City in search of fame and fortune. By the time he was 30 Eduardo had already toured the world as part of the Mexican pop sensation ‘Kairo’ as well as an acclaimed solo recording artist, and performed in sold-out concerts in over 13 countries.

He had stared in five Spanish soap operas, broadcast in over 19 countries, was voted as one of the 50 most beautiful people (Spanish speaking demographic). He appeared opposite Jennifer Lopes in her ‘Ain’t it funny’ video clip and in an international television ad for one of her fragrances.

Eduardo starred in 20th Century Fox’s first Latino driven film ‘Chasing Papi’ and then in an indie film ‘Meet me in Miami’. Guest roles on ‘Charmed’ and ‘CSI:Miami’ also form part of his resume.

Despite his success, his family back home lamented his loss of faith and morals. His father tried on many occasions to convince him to return to his Catholic roots, but to no avail.

Eduardo remembers clearly one argument they had on the subject and recalls his father saying ‘My words have not yet touched your heart, but my prayers will eventually.’

Facing facts

Eduardo’s very existence was turned on its head by his female English tutor. He recalls vividly the conversation that took place, and recounted it to over 10,000 people at the World Meeting of Families (WMF), held in Mexico City in 2009. My husband, 8 month old son and I were blessed to be in the audience when he delivered this story!

Eduardo and his tutor had somehow broached the subject of family and she asked of her student if he wanted to have a family one day, would he settle down to domestic life and have children, particularly daughters.

When he responded in the affirmative she asked him to describe what sort of man he would want his daughters to marry.

Eduardo went on to describe a man of good ethics and moral fibre, a man who would respect and treat his daughter with dignity and think only of her happiness.

His tutor replied, ‘Are you that man?’ to which he had to reply that he was not.

‘Then why do you want something for your daughters that you are not? These women you have tricked they are all some one’s daughters!’

This conversation was certainly far from pleasing to Eduardo, it was confronting and made him uncomfortable. But it also proved the turning point in his life. Afterwards he went straight to Confession.

He soon returned to his Catholic faith, to the delight of his parents back home, and is now a daily Mass attendee, prays the Rosary every day, receives the Sacraments regularly and spends time with Jesus in the Blessed Sacrament and has vowed abstinence until marriage.

Breaking new ground

This new found faith soon provided challenges. The very industry in which he worked did not always promote what is true and morally right. Often the depiction of Latinos on film was sexualized and this stereotype was what would drive his career should he stay.

So he left. He walked away from the Hollywood lifestyle, left his management company and agency and in 2004 joined forces with Alejandro Monteverde and Leo Severino to form Metanoia Films, a company committed to producing projects that entertain, engage and inspire people to lead better lives.

‘Bella’ (2006) was their first project and it was a successful one at that, in more ways than one. The film won the People’s Choice Award at the Toronto Film Festival and has achieved much commercial success. However, it has had much success in another way.

Lives saved, hearts changed

Before ‘Bella’ was produced, Eduardo undertook some research at an abortion clinic where he befriended a Mexican couple who were going to abort their child. Their relationship with Eduardo however, inspired them to keep their child, a son whom they named Eduardo.

The fruits continue. A friend of Eduardo’s called him one day to say that a mutual friend of theirs, whom Eduardo had not seen in many years, was pressuring his girlfriend to abort their baby.

Eduardo rang this friend and tried to talk him around. But he would not budge. And so in a parallel way to the movie he had just finished shooting, Eduardo offered to adopt and raise the child as his own so as to spare them from the trauma of having an abortion.

At the time Eduardo recounted this story at the WMF in Mexico City he revealed that the couple had changed their mind and kept the baby, whom they named Bella and she was already over 12 months old.

Indeed there are many more stories of babies whose lives were saved as a result of their parents watching the movie ‘Bella’. And many more will be as hearts too are changed, one such example is that of Tammy Blanchard, who plays the lead actress in ‘Bella’ and who was pro-choice before making the movie and is now pro-life.

Pro-life campaigner

In addition to his film production company Eduardo is also a fierce pro-life campaigner. He campaigns against any bill in the US and Mexico, particularly, that violate the dignity of life and actually campaigned against Barack Obama during the US Presidential race last year because of his pro-choice agenda.

And yet at the very heart of this man, a famous and very wealthy actor and pro-life campaigner, is a humility that was lacking during his first foray into fame and fortune. Eduardo Verastegui is a man who truly knows and understands what it is to be a sinner, and what graces come from following God’s will.

He is not afraid to share his own personal story in the hope of changing hearts and bringing the truth of God’s message for all to hear.

Filed Under: FaithMovie ReviewsSpirituality

About the Author: I am a reformed perfectionist who is now a stay at home mum with five children under nine years of age. I am a qualified journalist and graphic designer with a decided creative streak, and run a hobby business called Emily Shaw Design + Write. I will attempt most craft activities and love to write about topical - and especially controversial - issues.

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