Crawford Wilson has had three successful runs at some illustrious careers—all before the age of 25!
At the age of 11, Crawford was a nationally ranked tennis player, attending elite training camps, and dreaming of Wimbledon. That all changed with one serendipitous moment. Crawford was at an Atlanta training camp, when he was asked if he could be used for a photo shoot.
“It wasn’t really my cup of tea, but I figured I’d give it a shot–and it would make me some money. I ended up blowing up.”
Barely 12-year-old Crawford was signed with Wilhelmina Models, and moved to New York to pursue this new ground. From here, the doors opened for him to act, and Crawford knew he had found his true calling.
“As a kid, you don’t really think about the business side of acting. It was a chance to really be creative, to learn something new, to learn to pretend to play other people. It was a creative outlet for me. I really have a passion for it, and really wanted to do it.”
Two months spent in Los Angeles for pilot season cemented this. “I screen tested for a couple of pilots and got really positive feedback. I didn’t book anything at the time, but in that small time span, it helped me see that L.A. was the place to be.”
Crawford used his modeling money to make the move to Los Angeles. Bold and strategic, the move has already reaped huge dividends.
His first major role was as “Victor McClaren” on the CBS series Judging Amy. Crawford’s recurring part as the boyfriend of Judge Amy’s daughter, gave the untested actor the opportunity to learn from veterans up close and personal. “This was the first time I was really involved on a television show; going to set multiple days in a row, getting familiar with the cast and crew. Each time just got better and better, I knew in myself that this what I wanted to do.”
Crawford expanded his television credits with roles in movies of the week Hatching Pete (Disney Channel, 2009), and Secrets of the Mountain (NBC, 2010). Crawford has also made his mark as a voiceover talent, with the role of “Young Rodney Copperbottom” in the 20th Century Fox animated film Robots. Crawford has continued voicing characters on cartoon shows like Avatar and Batman.
With this solid and growing acting pedigree, it is intriguing that for his first feature film role, rather than pursuing bigger, more commercial parts (think Shia LeBeouf), he chose a smaller, inspirational work called King’s Faith.
In King’s Faith, Crawford plays the principal role of “Brendan King”, a child of the foster care system, trying to rebuild his life after three years in juvenile detention.
“It’s an amazing story, basically about how your past doesn’t have to define you. Brendan King, had a rough upbringing, in and out of foster homes, selling drugs, using drugs, ends up in juvenile jail but read the Bible. He was able to change his mentality, his thought process, and his way of life. He was taken in as a part of a foster family, and really got to show that he had changed, that he was a different person. That’s where the story comes in—his past comes back to haunt him. It’s a struggle, but eventually he becomes the person he desires to be.”
Crawford’s own background is the polar opposite of the character he plays. Beyond the ability to expand his skills, it was an opportunity to pull from his past.
“My family took in foster kids. These kids, from infants, to 8-10 year-olds, stayed with us for two to three weeks before moving into a permanent foster care situation or an orphanage. Before the kids came, whatever their stories were, my mom would let us know what happened. I got to see the other side of it, and took those memories and grew with them.”
Crawford does an exemplary job constructing Brendan’s past, his struggles, and ultimate transformation. However, in interpreting Brendan’s transformation, the role served to transform him as well.
“It made me very thankful to be who I am, for what I come from, and to have a family that loves me. I’m more aware of other people’s situations who may not necessarily have this.”
King’s Faith opens in recognition of National Foster Care Month (observed in May). According to the Child Welfare League of America, every year 25,000 young Americans “age out” of the foster care system. The film hopes to bring attention to the plight of these kids who are often unprepared to enter the adult world.
“It’s so great that this film brings awareness to foster care!” Brendan says. “The children/legal adults that age out of foster care have nowhere to go—they have no family. They end up on the street and incarcerated. So the fact that we are able to bring awareness to that is amazing.”
Crawford was also able to continue his acting education by learning from veteran stars James McDaniel (NYPD Blue), and Lynn Whitfield (The Josephine Baker Story, Madea’s Family Reunion). Employing the grace and substance that their years of experience brings, McDaniel and Whitfield bring life to foster parents Mike and Vanessa Stubs, pivotal players in Brendan’s metamorphosis.
“I learned so much being on set with them, and feel so privileged to have worked with them. Your knowledge comes from experience. Just to be able to gain insight from them during a scene, from camera angles to small things like body placement, was rewarding. And this happened throughout—they were so generous. It made the experience comfortable, easy, yet at the same time challenging—different, and new, and exciting!”
King’s Faith is scheduled for platform release this Friday, April 26. The film will premiere in select cities, then open in more cities the next weekend, rolling out according to audience demand. To view King’s Faith in your area, go to the movie’s website and click the link to “Demand King’s Faith for your Theater”. King’s Faith also has an official Facebook Page. “Like” the page, and submit a request to see the movie in your region.
Cameron has enlisted several of his hometown friends from Memphis, Tennessee, and other places in South for the film’s promotional efforts. “I’ve sent it to all of my friends on Social Media! A lot of smaller cities in the South have gotten hits through people that I know who have circulated it down there.”
Though King’s Faith has obvious Christian messages, Crawford hopes others with different belief systems will not dismiss the movie on that basis.
“A lot of people may look at this as a ‘Faith-based film’. That’s simply not what it is. There’s a powerful message behind it, but you can’t just define it as a Christian movie. The people who wouldn’t be the first ones to jump to see it will be able to watch it, and get invested in the story and the characters. If people just give it a chance they will see it’s a great, positive story with a powerful message behind.”
Watching Crawford bring Brendan King to life is well worth the price of admission. He bestows a beauty, gravity, and fresh innocence to a role that could have easily been interpreted otherwise. Crawford has an inherent gift, an openness to learn and grow from each experience, and he’s made some really smart choices. With that combination, this young man on the rise has a long and promising career ahead of him.