Recently, The Digital Breakdown sat down with Shari Rigby to discuss her new movie, EXTRAORDINARY. (Watch the trailer here!) The movie will release for one night only on September 7th! We had so much fun chatting with her, and hope you enjoy our conversation here:
TDB: To get started, can you tell me about your story and your start into acting?
Shari: Yeah, I always love tackling this question! As far as my acting goes, I always love-love-loved movies when I was a little girl. I grew up in Cooperstown, North Dakota, and my outlet really was being in a movie theater and imagining what it would be like to be the leading lady on that screen and how I would make it happen. Unfortunately, as I got older my family moved away and things really turned toward a different life for me. Before I knew it, I was a teenage mom by the time I was seventeen years old and down a lot of pretty challenging roads. With being a teen mom and all of the things that come along with that, a lot of dreams looked like they were completely out of reach.
The cool thing is that God always has a plan for our lives. As time went on, I started to see that God was doing some things in my life. I ended up meeting my now-husband of 20 years, and he asked me to go to church with him prior to us being married. The next thing I knew, I was at a church where I heard this message of grace and re-dedicated my life to Christ. I was really excited about having a family with my husband and this marriage. We had our son Levi who is seventeen. At that time, I just wanted to have a house full of children and found out we couldn’t have any more babies. My husband and I had started a coffee shop in our church. We had my son from a previous marriage and Levi there together and I was just really lost because here I was thinking I would have more children. One day, a guy came to our coffee shop with his family. I was serving him coffee, and he looked at me and said, “Have you ever thought about being in a commercial?”
That always kind of chokes me up because it’s just so cool how God works, right? So, obviously the furthest thing from my mind. I stepped out in faith and went to an audition. I had no idea what I was doing and walked into a room of about 100 people who were very educated on what the industry was like. They were well-prepared with headshots in their hands and agents next to them. I walked in really with nothing and did my audition. That was the beginning; I ended up booking that job. Eventually, more national campaigns came with commercials – Suzuki and American West Airlines and just incredible print stuff as well. I then began to desire to take a step into film and a little film sci-fi project was coming through Arizona, so I submitted for that and ended up booking the lead role.
So that’s the way God has continued to move in my life, all the way up to taking me to California. That’s why I shared it in my book, Beautifully Flawed. He eventually led us to California and the next thing I knew I was working with the Irwin Brothers on an award-winning video for Casting Crown called “Slow Fade” that was used for the movie Fireproof. I was doing soap operas during that time called “The Bold and Beautiful” and “Young and Restless”.
The next thing I knew, I was being cast for October Baby then onto Not Today. God continued to open the doors like He is today. He took this young woman that was really lost, (I think a lot of people around me thought I wasn’t going to amount to anything because I was a teenage mom) and before I knew it God had taken my life and turned it into something completely different. I get to tell stories, be it my acting or directing, and what an incredible way to do life. So that’s my story in a nutshell!
TDB: That’s amazing! We always enjoyed watching October Baby and then hearing your story’s parallel after.
Shari: Thank you! My prayer always is, “How can I be a voice to women and how can I uplift young moms to show them there is a greater purpose for their life?” I’d been praying for a platform to speak that when October Baby came along and God was like, “Here’s the platform I’m giving you and I want you to share your voice.” That was just really an amazing opportunity to see Him take my story and weave it together 20 years later – it’s just so cool!
TDB: So, tell me about the story of EXTRAORDINARY.
Shari: Yeah, so EXTRAORDINARY is really a sweet movie about the ultra-marathon winner David Horton and it’s really based on him, his wife, and their extraordinary race toward marriage and serving God well. When I got the script, what I liked about it was that Nancy Horton was the real deal for me. I think often when I see faith-based films or movies, I don’t really see the heartbreak of the woman. I think sometimes it gets whitewashed, and that’s why I was really excited to play Nancy Horton – she was really at a breaking point of “I don’t know if I can do this anymore.” I think so often, that doesn’t get shared in the church culture.
So I loved having the opportunity to lend my voice to that and share that message and see how as we get into the movie and Nancy starts her arch we see that what Nancy goes through is what so many women go through in their marriages- many are raising children as a stay-at-home mom and see their husband in a career or calling God has on their life – so many times as women we lose our identity and feel that we’re not as worthy or don’t have that kind of calling on our life.
What I loved was that Nancy has a realization that she is an extraordinary woman because she is there holding down that fort and really the one speaking into her children’s lives and she is that help-mate speaking into her husband’s life so he can fulfill his calling. You see Nancy really coming into her own she can really support her husband in what is going on in his life. It’s this beautiful marriage coming together, and at the end you see him realizing his race is really about doing marriage well and supporting his family and children the way God has called him to. That’s what I think makes the movie so extraordinary – it’s truly a great story.
TDB: Yes, and it shows the good and the bad of the marriage. It would be hard to support a dream where you would lose your partner for that long. Can you tell me about how she dealt with her husband’s absence and how her friends were there for her at that time?
Shari: Absolutely. That’s a great question because I always think of the women whose husbands are gone for great lengths of time – especially our service men and women. First, she had to identify who she was, and as we see her finding herself and her purpose. She starts to realize what it is to be a mother and speak life into her children. Her friends are encouraging her to be the best that she can, and she starts to realize she needed to put her time into those things that God had called her to – the art, serving others, and wanting to teach people. As she starts to serve the people around her, she was not only receiving from the Lord and her friends, but she was able to put that out there. I think that’s what the win-win was for Nancy, she realized she was worthy and important and had a calling on her life. That’s what really helped her deal with all of it.
When we translate that into our life, we have to do remember the same thing – rely on the Lord to show us who we are in Him first and really be blessed by the people He’s put around us to sharpen and grow us. Then, to dive deep into the gifts and talents He’s given us and bestow them upon other people. That’s how I see Nancy in EXTRAORDINARY.
TDB: How do you think audiences will be inspired by the whole story and marriage of EXTRAORDINARY? Did you learn anything from Dr. Horton along this process?
Shari: Absolutely. I think when people go in to see this movie – whether single, married, young, or old – there’s a lot to learn from this film. Not only watching a marriage but individually how do we manage ourselves? How do we speak into others’ lives and encourage them? You know, I love Dr. David Horton. I think he’s just a really inspirational man on so many levels. He really does have this incredible heart to serve his students and speak life into them and their gifts and talents. For him to go out and run this race, I love this outlook that he’s out running these races across the United States and sharing the message of creation and beauty he meets along the way with those that may not know the Lord. What a great way to see this message and see him out there persevering and running this race – and going through the physical, spiritual, and mental ups and downs. I think that’s really inspiring to many of us. I hope people walk away from this movie looking at David Horton and hoping they are the same kind of inspiration to others as I go out and I’m running that race to do the things that God has gifted me with. Asking who Jesus is in their life and how they can be that example. With Nancy, too – I hope people see Nancy Horton and start identifying with the Lord first and knowing they are purposefully and wonderfully made as a wife and mother. That they are valued, and start translating that to their children and people around them. I think that’s something that is beautiful. As a married couple, I hope couples walk away more transparent and open with the conversation of how to sharpen each other. I think that has to be something husbands and wives need to speak more to each other to solidify the friendship of a husband and wife pursuing their passion toward glorifying the kingdom. So there are so many great lessons and I hope people leave inspired and ready to take on the world.
If you’re looking for more information or would like to see the film, click here. We appreciate Shari’s time, and sound off in the comments about what you think about Shari’s message!