The Table Podcast

Faith in the Spotlight

In this episode, Mikel Del Rosario and Megan Alexander discuss thriving in your career while staying true to your Christian beliefs, focusing on Alexander’s experiences working in the media.

Timecodes
00:15
Alexander’s background and work in the media
05:51
Alexander’s book, Faith in the Spotlight
11:36
Having a voice in the entertainment industry
21:57
Discussing biblical sexual ethics in the entertainment industry
27:54
Moral challenges in the entertainment industry
34:09
Intellectual challenges in the entertainment industry
36:22
Discussing Bible stories at Inside Edition
38:59
How the church can support Christians in the media
Resources Megan Alexander, Faith in the Spotlight C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
Transcript
Mikel Del Rosario
Welcome to The Table where we discuss issues of God and culture. I’m Mikel Del Rosario, Cultural Engagement Manager here at the Hendricks Center, and our topic today is Faith In the Spotlight: Thriving in Your Career While Staying True to Your Christian Beliefs. And my guest in studio is Megan Alexander. Megan is an actress, an author, and national correspondent for Inside Edition. Welcome, Megan.
Megan Alexander
Thank you Mikel, good to be here in person.
Mikel Del Rosario
Yeah. So good to see you. Last time we talked I found out that you were actually from Seattle, right?
Megan Alexander
That’s right. Born and raised in Seattle.
Mikel Del Rosario
And so my first question to you is, how does a nice west coast girl like you end up on the other side of the country working at Inside Edition?
Megan Alexander
Yeah, it was a long journey. A lot of different little steps along the way, a lot of different moments. And yeah, I think in our industry it’s changing, but for the most part LA and New York are still the hubs of where you want to be if you want to work in the entertainment industry. So I knew I would get to one of those two places, but I thought it would be LA being from the west coast. But God closed every door and said, “You’re going to New York City,” so that’s how I ended up over there, and I love it. I will say, I’ve been in New York now for 10 years, and I will forever love New York City. There’s something so special about it, the energy is incredible, you meet people from all over the world. It really is, I think, one of the greatest cities, so I’m a New Yorker for life.
Mikel Del Rosario
So tell us a little bit about what your responsibilities are on the show, not just things people see on screen, but behind the scenes as well because it’s not all red carpets and riding elephants for you, right?
Megan Alexander
Definitely not. In fact, I would say Inside Edition, which is celebrating 30 years, has moved further away from entertainment. We do a little bit of everything; business, politics, lifestyle, crime, investigative stories, cooking, a little bit of everything. Yes, we do cover the red carpets and the entertainment, too, but yeah, I’m one of four correspondents that are fulltime, and I’m part time, and another gal is also part time, so there’s – gosh, there’s four fulltime, two part time correspondents, and then our main anchor is Deborah Norville, who’s been with the show for, gosh, over 20 years now. She’s incredible.

And I work – I was fulltime for five years, and I now work part time, Monday, Tuesday, Wednesday, and I did that so I could cover Thursday night football a couple years ago, and also pursue some other projects, some side projects. But we cover multiple stories a day. We don’t just have one story and one beat. We do a little bit of everything. We are very much covering the breaking news of the day. The show definitely focuses on what’s going on in the moment.

Yes, there are some long form stories that we still plan ahead and really research and produce, but we also – you know, the day changes by the hour, and it’s our responsibility to get it together quickly, do very quick research, go into an interview, go somewhere maybe do a report on the scene, race back to the studio in New York and put that story together with our incredible editors, writers, and producers.

Reporters don’t have quite as much say in the actual script as we used to just because we’re so fast paced now that we’ll have to be working on multiple stories. And our deadline is 3
00 PM. That is the golden hour for us where we tape our shows since we are syndicated. We tape from 3

But because we are syndicated and we’re taped, it is nice that we don’t have the intense urgency of breaking news. We do get a little bit of time to really put it together, and I think that’s one of our main things that we’re known for is incredible storytelling.

Mikel Del Rosario
Yeah, but when breaking news hits it gets crazy, right?
Megan Alexander
It does. I think our whole industry is crazy nowadays because you can look up on your phone in a moment and see what’s going on, and there’s an urgency to it that we have never seen since we had 24/7 news and instant technology. So it’s difficult, you’ve got to make sure you double check. I had a news anchor that I worked with in San Antonio and he used to say the first on is the first wrong, and that was back before instant news on our phones. That was over 10 years ago before I was at Inside Edition.

And you think about that now, everyone wants to be on first, and it’s not always correct, the information, so you’ve got to try to slow down and take a breath.

Mikel Del Rosario
Yeah, well working in such a fast paced environment, how do you integrate your faith in with the actual job function that you have on the show?
Megan Alexander
Well, it’s life, you know, and when something is important to you and it’s in your being and in your soul, I think it’s going to just naturally come out. I don’t think there’s a perfect formula at all, which is why I wrote my book. Because I got a lot of e-mails from specifically young girls that were wondering how this was all going to work. So everybody has a different system and a different formula, and I think you have to decide what’s right for you.

My approach is to do excellent work first and get that seat at the table in the first place. I also love people. I’m a firm believer in building relationships and friendships, and just loving people where they are, and being grateful that they love me with all of my flaws where I am. And then just looking for those little moments when people really get to know you, to have opportunities to maybe share what your moral compass is, and what gets you excited about life, and for me that is being a lover of Jesus Christ and grateful for his grace over my life.

So yeah, I don’t think there’s a perfect formula, but there’s definitely opportunities just in how you live your life. We’ve all heard, you know, preach the Gospel, use words if necessary. I think that’s really true. It’s who we are all the time.

Mikel Del Rosario
So tell us a little bit about you mentioned your book. It’s called Faith In the Spotlight: Thriving in Your Career While Staying True to Your Beliefs. And tell us where the idea for the book came from, and how that even came about.
Megan Alexander
Yeah, so I got an e-mail from a pastor from Seattle, coincidentally, a couple of years ago, and he said, “I have a – Megan, I have a church full of young ambitious women of faith. They have big career goals and dreams, but they’re very worried they’re going to need to compromise their faith to get ahead in this world.” He said, “I have few people to point them towards, but I’ve heard of you. Would you come speak to these women?”
And, Mikel, I felt like that was me
the young high school, or college age girl sitting in the pew of my church with big dreams, and wondering how it was all going to work out. And I think we’re at a pivotal moment where my parents, and maybe you feel this way with your parents, it was a different generation. And to be a working woman of faith in evangelical Christianity today, or really any forms of faith, it’s different. There are changes. People are putting off getting married, they’re putting off having kids, and how are we serving those women in equipping them, and empowering them, and lifting them up to go change the world and live out their dreams and goals, and remain true to their faith.
So it was that moment where I kind of looked around. I went to book stores. I didn’t find any books. There’s great ones for men, there’s great secular ones for women that I love; Lena and Sheryl Sandberg, Knowing Your Value, Mika Brzezinski, but for the working woman of faith, the young ambitious women there aren’t a lot. I’d like to see that change. And so it was that Isaiah 6
8 moment, “Here I am Lord, send me” where I said, “Okay. Me Lord? You want me to do this? Okay,” and so I put pen to paper, sent the book proposal out. I would say, of the 10 publishers I sent it to I got nine rejections, and one yes from Simon and Schuster. They believed in the book and said, “Let’s do it.”

It’s my hope it’s a practical guide book for this next generation, especially of women that they can do it, they can live out their faith, go after those goals and dreams and not compromise, but yet let’s talk about it. What does that look like? Let’s really talk about the real scenarios.

Mikel Del Rosario
It’s kind of half memoir up to that point, and half how to, right?
Megan Alexander
I would say an eighth memoir, and more how to. I really wanted it to be stories and examples, and I brought in a lot of my friends in the industry and talk about everything from negotiating a salary as a woman. Finding a mentor, what does that really mean, what does that look like, who should you surround yourself with? Body image as a female. How do we wrestle with that? Sex, dating, and relationships as a female believer, balancing career and family, all sorts of things. Remembering who you are, making decisions, basic problem solving on the job, so we try to tackle.
Mikel Del Rosario
Wow. Well take us back to that early time in your life, junior high, high school, and in your spiritual journey then. How did the Lord use that time to shape you and bring you I mean to the point where you are today?
Megan Alexander
Yeah, I am so grateful that I was raised in a Christian home. My parents put me in a Christian school from kindergarten on. And I went to Kings Schools in Seattle, Washington and just had an awesome, awesome experience. I’m getting ready to go back for my 20 high school reunion very soon, so I’m really looking forward to that. But I would say lots of seeds were planted along the way; experiences, being able to talk about faith openly was such a blessing whether it was playing on your sports team, or music, or Bible classes.

But I think a pivotal moment for me was my junior year in high school. We were all getting ready for prom. My friend Nathan was in the group, and his dad is a pastor. And when it came time to share what we wanted to be when we grew up I remember kind of looking over and sort of apologizing as I answered, and I said, “I think I want to be a news reporter or an actress. I know it’s not a doctor. I know it’s not a pastor or a missionary. I think I want to work in entertainment.”

And Nathan’s dad said to me, “Megan, every person is a minister. Every industry can be a ministry.” That was huge for me to receive that blessing. And I’d like to see people of faith and values encourage everyone to know that no matter what you do you can shine your light, and there’s a purpose for you in this world. I think a lot of times we’ve sort of pigeon holed people. Ministry just looks like this.

Mikel Del Rosario
Yeah.
Megan Alexander
When really it can just be being you in this world, so that was the blessing, and I said, “Okay, here we go,” and I just kept going to work in this industry.
Mikel Del Rosario
Now there are some people who weren’t too supportive of what you were doing, right? And they were like, “Why do you want to be in this industry because isn’t this like where the devil?”
Megan Alexander
Satan’s playground, yeah.
Mikel Del Rosario
How do you respond to people like that?
Megan Alexander
Sure, well I mean I understand where that comes from. I think, you know, first of all parents are fearful for their children. They want them to do well and sort of they want to protect us as long as they – as we can, but I’m grateful that at my school I distinctly remember one year our theme being, “Some people prepare the road for their children. Others prepare their children for the road.” So it’s out there. It’s going to be out there, but how are you raising your children and our young people to engage and be able to make decisions, and hold true to their values and problem solve.

And for me, again, not a whole lot of resources out there, so I just feel lucky that I gathered mentors, whether it was – I’ve had great bosses in my career, encouraging parents, family, friends to continue on, but I just sort of figured it out. I haven’t done it perfectly. I’m still figuring it out. I believe in surrounding myself with positive people that encourage me, but will also shoot me straight and be honest and real. I think we all need that in life.

So yeah, but I would say the church was like, “You really want to do this,” and I think we still have that out there. But I think if you want to change culture you need to engage directly with culture, and do it with excellence, and take that seat at the table. I have countless stories, Mikel, of being in the room and just having the opportunity to raise my hand and offer up an idea when nobody else – it was no story of faith, or whatever was on their radar simply because it’s just not a part of their life. I was able to offer up a suggestion by having a seat at the table, and I’d love to see more believers get involved in all spheres of influence, all different industries, and just take their seat at the table.

Mikel Del Rosario
Yeah, well tell us one of those stories about how you were able to take your seat at the table, and have an idea that what eventually showed up and something the viewers saw.
Megan Alexander
Sure. Well, in San Antonio, Texas my first fulltime job was as a reporter in San Antonio, Texas. I think one of the first moments for me was we had this segment, it was like a Good Morning Texas in San Antonio where we did happy birthday to celebrities. It was live television, live TV, and I went in to this industry kind of like I don’t want to rock the boat. I just want to do a good job. I don’t want to get fired. I mean I think we all have those feelings where you’re sort of unsure who you’re going to be in the industry, and I was just thrilled to have that first fulltime job.

And I was on this morning talk show, it was live with a couple of other hosts, and we said happy birthday to all these celebrities every week, and that particular day it was happy birthday Hugh Hefner. And my cohosts, whom I adore and love, and still keep in touch with, really praised Hugh Hefner, “He’s this amazing man. Wow, he’s revolutionized the magazine industry and given women all these opportunities.”

And, Mikel, I was just sitting there going, “I completely disagree with this conversation.” I’m not a fan of Hugh Hefner. I don’t like any of his magazines as a woman who values herself. I’m just like, “No,” and that was sort of a moment, and it’s live television. And so when it was my turn to talk I just went, “I don’t really care for this man. I don’t think Hugh Hefner is that great. I’d rather not celebrate him, and I wish more women would have kept their clothes on and not supported his magazine.”

And I kind of looked around the studio and one guy behind the camera started clapping, and then pretty soon everyone in the studio started clapping. There’s a couple of reasons I share that story. One, more people agreed with me than I realized. We also got a lot of e-mails at the station with people going, “I like that Megan girl. I agree with her. Why are we praising Hugh Hefner?” But my cohost and I all had different views, and as we moved forward then with the show we all had different opinions and it was really cool to be able to all own who we are.

So just as I respect them, that they may think differently than me, they respected that I also had an opinion, and I felt okay sharing it. So that’s that seat at the table moment. When those moments come be true to who you are, and you may be surprised that more people agree with you than you thought.

Mikel Del Rosario
Wow. Yeah, and so you had a seat at the table.
Megan Alexander
Yeah, didn’t get fired.
Mikel Del Rosario
Yeah, and you were able to talk with people, coworkers who saw things differently than you do.
Megan Alexander
Yeah.
Mikel Del Rosario
But sometimes stepping out isn’t as easy as people would like. How do you know when to save it, or when you’ve just got to say something?
Megan Alexander
Sure. Oh, it absolutely comes with risks. I understand that other people have lost their job, and in certain situations in industries you need to be really careful. I get that. I think every person is different, and they need to figure out what’s right for them. I tell the young people, the best advice I can give them is come into this industry knowing who you are before you get there. Before you have that seat at the table try to figure out your black and whites, what will you absolutely not compromise on, and then when can you compromise and work the problem. Try to figure that out beforehand.

Because our industry moves so fast, in those moments it’s live television. You have a couple seconds to figure out what you believe in so that you’ll make a wise choice. And again, I think it’s different for everyone. You’ve got to pick and choose your battles, and I just think that the more you can figure that out and make a list, or write a mission statement of who you are before you get there the better.

And I think this is perfectly illustrated by a moment I had when I first moved to Nashville, Tennessee. I saved up my pennies and I took a voice lesson from one of Beyoncé’s vocal coaches just because I wanted – you know, my dad said, “Surround yourself with greatness. Be around people better than you and they’ll lift you up.”

And so I just wanted to take one lesson with her and pick her brain about the business of the industry. And she said to me as we were singing, she stopped me and she said, “Well, Megan, what’s your sound? What’s your brand? Who do you want to be in this industry if you want to be a professional singer?” And I said to her, “Well, I don’t know. I was hoping that you’d help me with that.” And she said to me, “Megan, you need to know who you are and what your brand is. And if you don’t figure it out someone else will decide for you, and you may not be crazy with what they come up with. You may not be happy with what they come up with.”

Isn’t that true for life? Know who you are and what you stand for before you get there. Because if you don’t somebody else will decide for you, and you’ll be in a situation all of a sudden years later where you wake up and go, “I didn’t want to be here.” So it’s those intentional moments along the way, those small steps.

Mikel Del Rosario
How did you come up with a mission statement for yourself?
Megan Alexander
You know, I took a leadership class in college, and that was all that we did for a full semester was craft our mission statements and figure out who we are. Mine is constantly evolving and changing. When I had kids I think about being a mother, and what am I doing for my two boys, and for this next generation. So honestly, I think it’s just listing out what’s important to you, making your lists, what are my top five priorities, my goals and dreams, how are they going to align, and then try to craft some sentences from there. Doesn’t have to be long.

I have some friends that are like, “I am a loved child of God. I’m an intelligent beautiful person who has much to offer to this world, and I will keep on trying until my last breath.” You know, it doesn’t have to be – or it can be more catered to you, but it’s good to have that and tape it up on your computer, or put it on your steering wheel so you can see it when you’re driving.

Mikel Del Rosario
Yeah. Before we talked last time you told me about this time you were able to get Max Lucado on the show.
Megan Alexander
Yes.
Mikel Del Rosario
And you weren’t quite sure it was going to work in the beginning. Tell us that story.
Megan Alexander
Yeah, so being – again, being in San Antonio, Texas, Max Lucado, well known author, pastor, Oak Hills Church in San Antonio, and a lot of people asked me how do stories make air? How do they get on television? And in San Antonio, for that particular morning show, I would say 85 percent of the stories were determined for us, and then maybe 10 to 15 percent we could offer up ideas.

And again, being the new girl I didn’t share too much, or offer up too many ideas in the beginning. I just wanted to kind of figure out the system, but we had an opportunity to go about, I would say once a month and offer up our ideas to our executive producer. Maybe even once a week. He had a pretty open door policy, but, coming into that show it was already established when I came in.

A very popular segment was a local psychic would come on live television, viewers would call in, ask this psychic questions, he would supposedly communicate with their dead relatives, give them advice on love, on their finances, and I’m just watching this, Mikel, going, “This is crazy.” But very popular segment. Ask the local psychic these questions. And I think it revealed something important that people are processing grief, and that’s something everybody has to – needs support in. People have deep questions about life, they’re looking for answers.

And so one day when we went back to the room my boss asked for ideas and I said, “That segment with that local psychic is so popular, have you ever thought about doing it with a local pastor?” And he looked at me and he said, “Megan, we don’t do religion on this show. We don’t do faith. That’s not what we do. Next.” And I kind of put my hand down like, “Okay, zip it. Lay low.” I was discouraged, but I thought, “Okay, that’s what he said.”

A couple weeks down the road we had a last minute cancellation. This is live TV. You’ve got to fill that spot. That’s the worst thing is having someone twiddle their thumbs on live television for five minutes. And so people offered up ideas and he wasn’t liking anything, and I said, “What about Max Lucado? He’s just down the street. Oak Hills Church. Maybe he’d be available.” And I think he was exasperated with me and wanted me to just move on. So he said, “Fine. If Max is available, fine. He can be on the show.”

So I called Oak Hills Church. He was in town, which was a miracle in itself because he travels a lot with his books and so forth. And his secretary said, “He’d love to come on. Sure, he’ll be there.” Couple days later he was on the show. We did the same thing, we had viewers call in, ask questions, you know, why do bad things happen to good people. It was not too long after 9/11. People had a lot of questions about the world.

And I thought it went great, but you never know until the next day when the ratings come in. The next day the ratings came in and that was one of the highest rated shows we had had all year long. And that executive producer that said to me, “We don’t do religion. We don’t do faith,” took one look at those ratings and said, “Okay, we do that. Let’s book him again. Get him on next month.” Ratings are king in our industry.

And I share that to also say to viewers, to anybody out there, you are important. If you like it tell us. People e-mailed the station, they called the station, they tuned in. If you don’t like it change the channel. People did not change the channel. They kept watching and they loved it. So, we all got to be in this together.

Mikel Del Rosario
Yeah, well viewer feedback is huge, and on this show we actually ask people what kind of topics would you like us to cover. Because we know there are pastors out there that other people who listen who were like, “How come you’re not covering this topic? I really want to know.”
Megan Alexander
Sure.
Mikel Del Rosario
So, if we don’t ask, we don’t know, right?
Megan Alexander
That’s right.
Mikel Del Rosario
Well, it’s interesting the things that you’re describing seem to me a very practical way to live out what Jesus talked about when he said, “Let your light shine before people so that they can see your good works, and then praise your father who is in heaven,” in Mathew five. And then in Luke eight there’s that section where he says, “People put a lamp on a stand so it can give light to everyone who’s coming in.” They can see the light, right? And so you’ve been able to use your platform, actually, to talk about a variety of different things. You’ve been able to speak on a variety of topics including Biblical sexual ethics, and abstinence, and purity. How did that even come about in the work that you do, and how’s that been used by God?
Megan Alexander
Sure, well it was a decision I made in high school to wait until I was married. And a special moment for me, an important moment for me was my high school had a alumni couple come back and talk about why they waited. And it was an evening event, and it was a group of us that had gathered, and I just remember thinking it was so cool that they said, “You can ask us anything you want, any questions you want. We will be real. We’ll talk about that it’s not all happily ever after,” the fairy tale. I think we tend to talk about all the way until you get married, and then, and then what.

They were really cool to just open it up and say, “Hey, this is why we’ve decided to wait. While we encourage you to, but that’s a decision you’re going to make for yourself.” So I made the decision that I wanted to wait, and I also really put my career first. I mean I tell people, “Instead of chasing boys I was chasing my career.” I really had a lot of goals and dreams. I was not waiting around for Mr. Right wearing a white dress. I mean I made that decision, but I was gung-ho going after my career and believing that when the time was right that the right guy would come along.

And, you know, dated a few guys, thought I might meet my husband in college at a Christian college. That didn’t happen. In fact, a couple of guys I dated told me I was too ambitious. So, I kept going and I figured the right man will be my teammate, and will love that I want to go after my career. And so, yes, so I met Brian, my husband, who’s incredible, in my mid-20s. We actually didn’t get married until we were 28, and I really wanted to establish my career first.

I just tell young people we talked early on about it. Young women have asked me, “When is the right time to talk about the fact that you want to have a big career, and yet you also want to have a family?” And I said, “I say right away.” I mean why waste your time if that’s important to you. So we talked about it early on, and we dated for five years. And he was a teammate in every sense of the word in making this decision with me to wait. And then we got married when we were 28, and I headed off to Inside Edition. We headed off to Inside Edition. He’s been very supportive of my career, and we’ve kind of followed me in our journey.

And I didn’t think I’d talk about it, Mikel. That was my decision, woo-hoo, and here we go with life. But our pastor’s wife in New York had heard that that was the decision that I made, and she was walking through Central Park and called me one day and said, “Megan, a women’s magazine reached out to me and they want to do an issue on sex, dating, and marriage in Christian circles.” And she said, “We want to put someone on the cover of this magazine that believes in abstinence and waited that works in the entertainment industry.” And she said, “We can’t find anybody.”

But she says, “We heard of you. Would you want to share your story and be on this magazine?” And I said, “Let me get back to you because my husband is the other half of this decision. If I share he’s going to be sharing too.” And so I called my husband and I said, “What do you think? They want us to talk all about our decision and it’ll be out there.” And my husband said to me, “Meg, if it encourages one person it’s worth it.” And I thought back to that couple in high school that had – that alumni couple that had encouraged me, and nobody talks about it anymore. I mean especially in today’s society. Nobody talks about it.

So I thought, “Well, you know what? That’s right. If it encourages one person it’s worth it,” and that really has been the whole desire of why I’ve shared. And it’s amazing, Mikel. I mean I think I just want young women and young men to know that it’s even still an option. It worked for me, it can work for you. Value yourself. Value life. Value all you have to offer. In terms of your dating and your relationships, let’s value each other, and appreciate each other, and respect each other. When I think, it really is a bigger conversation of just valuing and appreciating who we are as humans, and how God created us and wanting to really enjoy all that he has gifted us to its fullest, and it’s been cool.

Ever since we shared that story with the magazine which led to then putting it in the book, I’ve had women in all corners of this entertainment industry pull me aside and say, “Thank you so much for sharing. I didn’t think anybody else was waiting anymore, and I’m waiting, and I appreciate that you’re encouraging me,” and guys too. And listen, that is also a decision you can make later in life. My husband did not make that decision. Then he found the Lord. And then he made what some people call a second virginity, or whatever with me, so there is always a second chance.

I realize people make all different decisions in life, and I am absolutely not here to judge one bit. I just want to encourage people that it’s an option, and try to strengthen relationships, and strengthen marriages. And so we talk about it in the book and just try to be as real as we can. And my husband and I are not perfect. We continually jump in and out of counseling. I think it’s like going to the dentist every six months for a cleaning.

I think if your marriage is important to you you’re going to constantly be checking in and getting a tune-up if you will, checking in with your pastor that married you, all of that. So it’s an ongoing journey and process, but I’m grateful. It’s our story, and I want to encourage the next generation.

Mikel Del Rosario
Yeah, well it’s really cool that you got to put that part in your book as well because I think a lot of young people facing a lot of pressures are going to be able to look at that and say, “Well here’s somebody who’s done it, and here’s some of the things that I can think about as I move through dating and marriage.” Even having that second virginity idea. Because there’s always grace, and there’s forgiveness.
Megan Alexander
Absolutely.
Mikel Del Rosario
And that’s the message of the Gospel is grace and forgiveness, and how much God loves us.
Megan Alexander
And just to think about it and talk about it, too. That’s the thing is I just don’t think we talk about it anymore as an option.
Mikel Del Rosario
Mm-hmm. Well, thinking about those young women who are up and coming, looking into starting their careers, what are some of the things for those people who want to go into the entertainment industry and maybe be a reporter? What are some of the challenges that they should prepare themselves for, and be thinking about as they move into that area maybe in college and beyond?
Megan Alexander
Sure. You know, I cover Thursday night football for two seasons for CBS, 2014 and 2015 seasons, and I’m going to give you a football analogy, here. Your male viewers will love this. Female too. It’s the largest growing demographic in the NFL, female viewers. But covering Thursday night football and standing on the field for all of those games, and watching these NFL teams, which are just incredible, whether it’s Arrowhead Stadium where Chiefs play, or Century Link where the Seahawks play, the two loudest stadiums in the NFL.

So, I was amazed at how the players could focus, how a Tom Brady, Russell Wilson, Drew Brees can find their wide receivers on the field. I could barely hear in my ear, and I’m trying to give my news report, and I’m trying to focus, and the fans, and the pyro, everything that is the billion dollar NFL industry. How do these players do it? It’s because they’ve practiced over, and over, and over again. They know what to do before they get to the game. They know how to run those routes, how to do those drills. We’ve got to be that way as believers. We’ve got to run those scenarios before we get into the industry.

So, to the young people I say, “Think about what are your black and whites, what will you absolutely not do, what will you do, and how can you compromise. We need to be talking about things like sexual harassment, what are you going to do in the moment, how are you going to stand up for yourself, who’s that person you can call if you need support?” I never talked about that in any of my college classes, some of these conversations that we have in culture and society today, so try to talk about that beforehand. Again, craft that mission statement and whatever.

And the reason I share that is because in the moment you won’t always have time to call a friend. You won’t have time to say, “Let me get back to you. I need a night to sleep on it.” My dad used to always tell me that. He used to say, “If you don’t know what to do, tell them I’ll get back to you tomorrow.” You can’t always do that in the entertainment industry.

And a quick story that I will just share with you is I was onset for a movie. And I had the lead role a couple of years ago, and I knew the script, and I knew the love scene we were doing would just involve a little kiss. And onset as we’re filming everybody is around, the crew, the director, producer. We do our scene and the director yells, “Cut.” And he comes over to me and he says, “Megan, I just want to do a little bit more here,” and he asked me to do a little more in this scene and pushed me further than I wanted to go, and that was a moment. Everybody’s staring at me. The director is looking at me. I need to decide what I’m going to do.

And I said, “No, I think I’m good. I like what we had. I just want to stick with what we had.” I could have gotten fired. I could have gotten made fun of. Who knows what could have happened, but I made the decision, no. Because I knew going into it, “No, this is as far as I want to go.” Well, the director actually said, “Okay. And action. Here we go again.” But you need to know what you’re going to do in that moment. There was no time to call a friend, right?

Mikel Del Rosario
Mm-hmm.
Megan Alexander
And the pressure and the lights and everyone staring at you, so I have countless other stories in those types of situations. But try to run those scenarios beforehand and think about what you’re going to do in the moment.
Mikel Del Rosario
Right. So there’s areas you’re definitely not going to compromise in.
Megan Alexander
Yeah.
Mikel Del Rosario
And then there’s these non-moral areas where you can come up with a plan B.
Megan Alexander
Sure.
Mikel Del Rosario
Tell us about the story where one day you were asked to wear something you were just thought, “Nope, that’s not what I’m going to do.”
Megan Alexander
Yeah, so on Inside Edition we cover all the award shows. And the first day we recap who won what, and the second day we recap who wore what; fashion, the billion dollar industry. And being one of two female reporters on the show, often times I get the story of okay, for example, Angelina Jolie walked the red carpet in this $10,000 Dior dress. We found a similar one that costs $50. You can dress just like her, and they’ll put me in that $50 dress and we’ll do the story.

And a certain celebrity had walked the red carpet in a incredibly revealing white dress. Left very little to the imagination; see through, slits everywhere. Good for her. I am not judging. In this country we get the amazing ability to have free choice and make our own decisions, and God gives us that ability to choose, right? Beautiful thing. Not for me. I wouldn’t be caught dead in that dress.

And I walked into the office after that award show and I saw a white dress hanging in the back of our studio, and my heart sank and I thought, “Oh no. I know what’s coming here.” And the stylist said to me, “That’s the dress you’re putting on.” It was a replica dress of that incredibly reveling white gown. And I said, “I’m sorry, I just can’t. I can’t wear that dress on national television.” And the stylist pushed back and she said, “Yes, you are.” She said, “Megan, we always do this story. You know that. Put on this dress. Let’s go. We’ve got to turn this story. We have like 30 minutes.” And that was a moment. What are you going to do?

And I said, “I don’t like to let people down. I’m a people pleaser. I don’t like to let people down.” So I thought, “Oh my gosh. Should I just throw it on and suck it up and just figure this out.” But, no. It was that moment where I thought, “Who am I as a woman? What’s my image? What do I stand for?” I know my parents watch the show, and my grandfather at the time watched the show before he passed away. Who am I? Who’s Megan Alexander?

And so I said, “Give me 10 minutes. I’ve got an idea for you.” Ran to the rack of clothes, found a black dress that was much more conducive to something I wanted to wear. I said, “Hey, how about this?” And she said, “You’ve got to do your own hair and makeup, and you have 10 minutes. If you can pull that look together, fine.” And so I ran to the bathroom, not glamorous at all. This tiny little grungy bathroom putting on the dress and fixing my hair and makeup, and I rushed out and I said, “What do you think? Does this work?” And she said, “Yeah, that’ll work. Okay, fine, and put the white dress on someone else.”

That’s a practical example of compromising, working the problem where I could still deliver for my team and for my boss. They were all working very hard to put that story together, and I knew what I signed up for. I knew we did those stories. But I could also hold true to who I am and still win that small victory of, “I feel more comfortable in this dress.” That’s a great example of compromise.

Mikel Del Rosario
Yeah, yeah. Now what about any intellectual challenges to the faith that you’ve faced in your industry? Have there been anything like that that’s kind of –
Megan Alexander
Oh, all the time, and it’s because we interview brilliant thinkers, brilliant minds. You have to really know what you believe in. You have to understand what you believe in. C.S. Lewis was huge for me in my life. When I read Mere Christianity I had just finished philosophy in college, and I remember thinking that would have helped me so much get through my philosophy class if I had read Mere Christianity before. So you need to understand what you believe, and be able to talk about with other people in an intelligent way.

C. S. Lewis has been huge for me, being in Bible study, staying in Bible study. Proverbs tells us iron sharpens iron, so who are you with that will – that you can ask questions of and chat about different things. And, you know, at the same time I love a rigorous debate, a good conversation with someone from another faith, or another thought process. So I think stepping outside of your box, outside of your comfort zone, and learning what other people believe, too, can be fascinating. It’s a beautiful part of life. But at the end of the day you need to know what you believe in and be able to defend it.

Mikel Del Rosario
Yeah. One thing that we’ve done on this show is done a whole series through world religions where we talk about, what is it that attracts people to Islam, or to Hinduism? And for the people who are born into those traditions, what has them stay?
Megan Alexander
Yeah.
Mikel Del Rosario
And so what’s attractive to the adherence, and then how does the Gospel step into that situation? And so I think when you’re serving people at your job, you’re helping people at your job and being a minister in any field. When we have those spiritual discussions, those spiritual conversations, or apologetic arguments, they’re not heard in a vacuum. They’re heard in this beautiful wrapper of your life, right?
Megan Alexander
Yes, absolutely.
Mikel Del Rosario
And so they don’t just see the cosmological argument, or whatever, as a thing on a paper. They hear it coming from you and are you someone of integrity, are you someone who stands for what’s good, you know?
Megan Alexander
Yeah.
Mikel Del Rosario
And so I think that’s a great thing just to have these conversations with people who see Christianity differently.
Megan Alexander
Sure.
Mikel Del Rosario
You can have respectful conversations, and defend the faith as well.
Megan Alexander
Sure. If I could just jump into and share one more thing, Mikel. I also think that we are further and further away of just assuming that people go to church on Sunday, understand the different denominations, or the different faiths. I mean I really think we’re further and further away from that especially in New York and LA, and I’ll just give you one quick kind of fun story. When the Bible came out on the History Channel several years ago, Roman Downey and Mark Burnett, it was rather humorous and fun for me when that show came out.

Because, if you remember, it was Sunday nights, and I had a big party at my apartment in New York City and got a bunch of people together to watch. But I’ll never forget Monday morning, the first episode of that show premiered to huge ratings. Huge ratings on the History Channel. And Monday morning I remember my boss sort of yelling out in the newsroom, “Did anybody watch the Bible? Did anybody watch this show the Bible?” Because we tried to recap what were the big hits over the weekend, and I was the only person. I’m like, “I did.”

And it became sort of this running joke that every Monday morning as we’re recapping whether it was a football game, Sunday night football or whatever, my boss would say, “What was on the Bible? Somebody get Megan.” And I would walk into the newsroom with a captive audience and say, “Oh, this last Sunday it was about Daniel, and he’s in this lion’s den. And there’s these lions circling him.” Everybody looked at me and one of my producers even said, “That’s in the Bible?” I went, “Yeah. You should open it up sometime!”

It was really interesting that Bible stories that I took for granted that I learned as a child, a lot of people don’t know anymore. And so I think that’s a part of knowing our faith is – I so love that Mark Burnett and Roma Downey brought that to life in such a beautiful way, in this epic saga. I loved that, and that was a tool for me to use, and I had some great conversations with people at work about it, including one where I was retelling one of the episodes and one of my producers said, “Do you really believe all that?” And I said, “Yes, I do.”

Mikel Del Rosario
That’s amazing. Now you’ve mentioned they were your mentors actually, right?
Megan Alexander
Yes. I mean I think all of us claim Roma Downey and Mark Burnett in some way nowadays. But, yes, I’ve been grateful to have some exchanges with Roma Downey. She encouraged me to write this book. Her and Mark wrote the forward to the chapter “Seat At the Table.” And all through the Bible series I got to interview them periodically about the different episodes and their projects, when Ben Hur was coming out, and I’m so grateful for them. So, distant mentors. If you read my book you’ll know what I’m talking about. They’re distant mentors.
Mikel Del Rosario
So talk a little bit about how the church can help people working in your industry stay connected to other Christians, stay connected to the church during the week from Monday through Saturday.
Megan Alexander
Yeah, you know, Mikel, I really think we need to rethink church, and Bible study, and church events. When my book came out, a common response I got from people was you’re too Christian for the secular world, and this book is too secular for the Christian world. Until they read it and then I think they realized I really tried to weave faith all throughout it and make it this practical guide. But I also found that a lot of churches still offer Christian business events for men, especially in the South and Midwest.

And a lot of churches said to me, “We’d love for you to come speak, but can you talk about being a wife and mother for the women’s group?” And I say, “Gosh, the book is like 90 percent career. Could I talk a little bit about that, and also about my career?” And so, Mikel, I am so blessed that I’ve had women that have literally created events for me at their church. And people at their church said to them, “Ah, nobody will show up,” and then the room is packed with women, and it’s this next generation that we’re talking about. These women that are putting off marriage, putting off having kids, going after their careers, how are we serving and equipping them?

So to answer your question, I would love to see churches embrace the working woman more, embrace culture more. If a faith movie is coming out in the theaters, talk about it on Sunday. Get the youth group to go watch it, and then have a discussion afterwards. Encourage people to get together in groups and talk about their lives and their industries. It is beyond time for us to do that. And then we need more books on the shelves like mine that will serve these working women, and have these conversations.

I think the millennials are completely hungry for it. The millennials want truth, they want to be authentic, they want to make the world a better place, and they’re going, “I need more. I need more than just some of these sort of cookie cutter scenarios that I think the churches offer.” Listen, I understand that I need to be a part of the solution. I can’t just sit here and complain, so I’m doing what I can to constantly think about engaging the church more in that area to the point where I actually have called up churches before and said, “Hey, are you doing anything for working women?” Just to be one more phone call to plant that seed.

I think we all need to do that, and we need you guys to do it. We need you guys to say at your seminaries, at your churches, at your Christian colleges, how are we supporting women? Because the secular world is giving us tons of opportunities. I don’t want us to be left behind in the evangelical world.

Mikel Del Rosario
Well, one more question is, when you wrote this book, you told me I think you wrote it on the plane, right?
Megan Alexander
Yes. On my commuting, yeah.
Mikel Del Rosario
Yeah. As you’re writing this book, is there kind of a life lesson, or a number one takeaway that was for you that you got out of writing this book?
Megan Alexander
Gosh, if God has planted a seed in your heart, placed a dream in your soul, nothing will stop you from doing what you’re supposed to do. Again, I got a lot of no’s along the way. I’ve had a lot of no’s in my career. I was discouraged from Inside Edition, discouraged from writing the book. Again, nine publishers turned me down, and then that tenth publisher was a yes. All you need is one yes.

So just keep on going, I think, and surround yourself with people that believe in you. Stay close to the Lord in terms of checking in about is this what you want me to continue to do. Check in with the Lord whether it’s your Bible study, or making time for him in terms of your quiet time. Having kids is a great way to kind of go, “Gosh, are my priorities in order here?” But I think it would just be encouragement, especially to those young women that there is a place for them at this table, and we need them to take their seat at the table.

Mikel Del Rosario
Yes. Well, I think what’s come out of our conversation is that one, it is possible to thrive in your career while staying true to your Christian beliefs, and that we need to do good work, first, because that is what we wrap around our Gospel presentation, our spiritual conversations, and that we need to have that seat at the table. If Christians aren’t there we won’t be represented, and God has called many, many Christians to be a light in many different fields, including the entertainment industry.
Megan Alexander
Absolutely.
Mikel Del Rosario
So, thank you so much for being on the show. Again, Megan’s book is Faith in the Spotlight. Stay with us on the Table Podcast where we discuss issues of God and culture, and thanks once again, Megan.
Megan Alexander
Thanks for having me. God bless.
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Megan Alexander
Megan Alexander is a national correspondent for Inside Edition and a special correspondent for Thursday Night Football on CBS. In her book, Faith in the Spotlight: Thriving in Your Career While Staying True to Your Beliefs she shares her practical advice for achieving excellence in career, faith, and family and gives us an honest look at thriving in a secular industry as a believer.
Mikel Del Rosario
Mikel Del Rosario is a doctoral student in New Testament Studies at Dallas Theological Seminary, Project Manager for Cultural Engagement at the Hendricks Center, and Adjunct Professor of Apologetics and World Religion at William Jessup University. Mikel co-authors The Table Briefing articles for Bibliotheca Sacra, manages the Table Podcast, and helps Christians defend the faith with confidence though his apologetics ministry. He holds a Master of Theology (ThM) from DTS and an MA in Christian Apologetics from Biola University.
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