NBA Star Steph Curry Breaks the Mold of Conventional Faith-Based Media
By Cooper Dowd, Staff Writer
NBA All-Star Stephen Curry is an outspoken Christian who is breaking the mold of conventional faith-based media. He founded Unanimous Media alongside co-founders Erick Peyton and Jeron Smith to share faith stories and motivate change in the world.
“I know I have a unique opportunity to reach a wide audience,” Curry told RELEVANT Magazine. “I want to leverage that to inspire and move people.”
“It was important for me to start Unanimous Media to tell powerful faith stories, honestly, because life is hard,” Curry continued. “There are curveballs and losses that can feel overwhelming; but through those moments there is also a God who by nature cannot abandon you. If we can introduce or redefine who God is to someone, then the entire production was worth it.”
Co-founders of Unanimous Media, Erick Peyton and Jeron Smith, also shared that they want the positive and unifying stories to reach people of all backgrounds, even audiences who do not have a faith background.
“This is Stephen’s brain child,” Smith said. “This is Stephen wanting to use his platform to impact and inspire. And when we all sat down and talked about the opportunity in media, there was no better way to inspire people than film, television and digital. Media became a vehicle to inspire, to impact and to bring families together.”
“We want to work on projects that move people. It’s really as simple as that—storylines to draw people in and make them think or make them feel and bring them together,” Peyton added.
Curry’s reach through Unanimous Media uniquely crosses over into both faith-based media and the secular market. BREAKTHROUGH, a faith-based movie about the power of prayer, was the company’s debut production.
“It’s almost serendipitous how [Unanimous’ first movie] Breakthrough brought those three pillars together,” Smith said. “It kind of made it the perfect first theatrical release for Stephen and for our company. Those pillars came about as an extension of who Stephen is. When you think about who Stephen is and what he represents, he really is a man of faith, and his family is paramount.”
Peyton added that Unanimous Media’s goal is to tap into broader areas of American culture, which will allow them to reach more people and not force them to fit into any particular box.
“I think we look at these stories and we want to make sure the cast represents culture and the story represents the culture,” Peyton said. “That is really how we try to break these stories. We don’t want these things to fit in a box and be categorized as a faith-based film. We look at these films as inspirational. We’re trying to think outside the box when we’re reading these scripts. From a 360-degree view, we’re trying to break the mold around that traditional faith-based format.”
Smith said that once they decide on a story involving faith, it is paramount that it is presented with high-quality technical aspects to ensure that the movie or media appeals to their target audiences.
“Ultimately, delivering a premium product is imperative,” Smith said. “Once we find the story, a line on the story, or feel like there are shared values in how that story is told, the focus shifts to delivering a quality product, which will obviously yield an excellent viewing experience for our audience. The more we deliver in terms of your cinema experience, the more eyeballs are going to see it, and that’s the goal. We want as many people to experience these stories as possible.”
Curry’s most recent project is a documentary called EMANUEL, which tells the powerful story of forgiveness in the wake of tragedy after the Charleston church shooting.
“The surprise comes in the families’ response to the tragedy, but it’s not just rooted in the response,” Smith noted. “Director Brian Ivie is incredibly talented. When you look at the story arc and the pace of the docs and the way he draws the audience into the individual families, you get to this climax where you experience the tragedy and how the families responded to it. Not all of the families chose to forgive Dylann for that tragic act, but many of the families did, and you witness these tremendous benchmarks in humanity. Those survivors chose to love in the face of hate.
“There’s this moment when Dylann is locked up and the judge gives [the families] the ability to have some words for him. This woman is weeping and telling Dylann about the effect his act had on her family. You can barely make it out. She takes a moment and finds almost this divine spirit and says, ‘I forgive you.’ It brings me to tears every single time. So even if you know what the film is about, even if you know how the families responded to Dylann, it’s still a poignant and surprising moment when you’re able to hear the families utter those words.”
Smith said that their goal is to present a powerful story of faith and forgiveness with Christian elements to start a dialogue with those who watch the movie.
“I think you’re inspired by the power of forgiveness but I love the way the story did not tell you what to think. It creates a dialogue. It sparks a conversation and lets the viewer digest information for themselves,” Smith said.