Mastermedia CEO Dan Rupple chats with actor Eric Close who can be seen playing Mayor Teddy Conrad on ABC’s hit series “Nashville,” and recently in Clint Eastwood’s “American Sniper.” Eric also starred for almost a decade on CBS’ “Without a Trace” and “Now and Again,” was  in the Golden Globe-nominated miniseries “Taken,” and guest-starred on “Suits.”

Dan: Eric, you are such a treasured part of the Mastermedia family, and it is a joy to call you “friend.” We all have so much admiration for your bold commitment to Christ in a very visible place in the media industry. What were the circumstances that brought you to faith?

Eric: At age 13 I attended Christian Jr. High School in San Diego, and that is where I first came to faith in Jesus. I remember it being the happiest, most joy-filled year of my life. However, over time I drifted away—not losing my faith entirely, but enough to where it wasn’t a priority in my life. Let’s just say that the story of the prodigal son resonated with me. It wasn’t until my 23rd year when I truly surrendered my entire life to Christ’s care and guidance. I had been pursuing a career in acting for about a year and a half after graduating from USC. Things were going fairly well, I was making progress, but I recall still feeling very empty and alone. One afternoon, sitting by myself in my apartment in downtown Los Angeles, I remember praying these exact words, “God, I don’t know if you want anything to do with me . . . but I miss you.” Words that changed my life forever. That was the beginning of my journey back to faith—and oh what an amazing adventure it has been! Filled with both highs and lows, victories and defeats, joys and sorrows . . . I wouldn’t have it any other way.

Dan: So you came to faith, and you are pursuing a career in acting. Did you ever struggle with a disconnect between following the Lord and being an actor? Did you question whether these two things were compatible?

Eric: Honestly Dan, no, I did not. They are absolutely compatible. I knew beyond a doubt that God had called me to this career. It was 100% clear to me. I’m a storyteller at heart, and so is God. Just look at the Scriptures. The word “history” is “His-story.” My job is to honor God by doing the best I can with the skills and talents He has blessed me with. Whether you’re a writer, publisher, producer, director, cinematographer or an actor, you’re a storyteller. It’s a noble profession, and I am grateful to be a part of it. Plus, being an actor has given me the opportunity to make friendships and share my faith all over the world.

Dan: As an actor, which is an extremely visible profession, what are some of the most significant challenges you face in regard to your faith that a believer behind the camera might not have to deal with?

Eric: In my experience some people have a difficult time separating the actor from the character they see on the screen. They often perceive them as one and the same. In a way, it’s an affirmation that the actor is doing his or her job well, but the personal judgement that occasionally comes with it can be challenging. I’ve learned over the years that you can’t please everybody. Ultimately, I want the Lord to be honored and glorified by my choices. That’s what matters most to me.

Dan: Have there been times when taking a stand for Christ put your career in jeopardy?

Eric: One of the aspects I love about working in entertainment is the immense diversity of people and ideas. So many unique personalities and fascinating journeys. I can tell you that the conversations are never dull. I’ve found the majority of people I’ve worked with to be accepting and respectful of my faith. A little teasing here and there, but that’s to be expected. Yes, I’ve had to make some difficult decisions over the years, but my career has been in the Lord’s hands since the beginning. He is bigger than anything or anyone who could jeopardize that, and by His grace I’m still here.

Dan: Eric, thank you so much for sharing with us. With millions of people seeing your face on their TV screens, it is so great to know that behind the character there is a man who walks in a relationship with Christ. God bless you my friend, and please know that the entire Mastermedia community will continue to pray for God’s hand upon your career, your family and your life.

Eric: Thank you Dan. I can’t emphasize enough how important the Mastermedia family has been to me and my family over the years. They have stood with me through thick and thin. From the time Larry Poland and I became friends in 1995 to the present, their love, support, guidance and prayers have sustained me. I’m forever grateful.