After having a bad experience with a casting agency during high school, Venus Monique decided to walk away from acting. She had had enough.
God, however, had different plans.
The Film Festival
Several years later, while walking across her college campus in West Texas, Monique heard God nudging her to give acting another try. She had been working at several gyms and was focused on becoming a physical trainer.
“God just hit me with a thought. I was like, ‘I want do acting. Why am I not getting my degree in acting?’” she recounted during a phone interview. “My brain was like, ‘where is this coming from? You hate acting.’”
That short internal dialogue prompted Monique to refocus her goals and move to Austin to pursue acting. Once back in Austin, she was invited to host a film festival where she met Jarod O’Flaherty, who had directed the short film, Vindication. The following year, O’Flaherty and his movie were invited back to the festival. This time Todd Terry, who had starred in Vindication as Detective Gary Travis, accompanied O’Flaherty.
At the festival, O’Flaherty sought Monique out to tell her about how they had turned the short film into a series and that if they were able to continue making episodes, he would create a character for her. While she thought it was a nice gesture, she never expected anything to come of it.
“I met O’Flaherty and he talked to me about possibly coming on if it was created into a series,” tells Monique. “I was all in because I’ve always wanted to play a detective role. I absolutely love crime dramas. I was all for it. Crime drama and faith-based on top of that, that was a hole-in-one for me.”
Monique continued to look for acting gigs, including working on a short film with O’Flaherty titled, Morning Rift, which was shot all in one day in 110-degree Texas heat. Her willingness to drive to the set on her own dime and not get paid for filming impressed the director enough for him to reiterate his promise.
Then it happened. O’Flaherty received the greenlight for more episodes which would bring the total to ten with the short film serving as the first episode. He reached out to Monique and asked her to audition for the part of Kris Tanner, who would be Detective Travis’ sidekick and the primary supporting character.
The Temp Agency
Monique loved the role. It was everything she had ever hoped for – Tanner had depth, athleticism, and, perhaps best of all, she carried a gun and fought. Although the role was enticing, she still wasn’t sure. She thought God was now pulling her away from acting.
“I felt like God was taking me away from acting,” Monique stated. “I was like, ‘I don’t feel like I’m supposed to do acting, but I feel like you brought Vindication to me. What do I do?’”
Aware of her concern that God may be calling her in a different direction, O’Flaherty told her to pray about it and once she came to a decision to let him know if she wanted to audition. So she prayed, asking God for His guidance.
The next day, convinced that she was not supposed to pursue an acting career, Monique went to a temp agency to find a job. When she walked into the agency, a man sitting in a chair greeted her in a very friendly manner. She didn’t think much of it other than, “He’s a very nice person looking for a job.”
As Monique signed in, a woman entered the waiting room from one of the offices and just stared at her. After exchanging pleasantries, the woman asked Monique if she was interested in being in a commercial.
Monique’s immediate response was, “For what?”
The woman told Monique that the commercial was for the temp agency and that she was just in the back office praying that God would bring them an actor. When Monique told the woman that she was an actor, they had her sign paperwork and filmed the commercial on the spot. Furthermore, it turned out that the man that greeted her when she first arrived was the director. Monique’s path was clear.
“I was like, ‘Okay. Thanks God. I know that was my answer. Yes, I’m doing Vindication,’” stated Monique. “God’s answers are so obvious.”
Kris Tanner debuts in the world of Vindication during Episode 4, which premiere’s on Inspiration TV on Saturday, May 23, at 9 p.m. EST, as Travis’ crime-fighting partner. According to Monique, her character is both athletic and stubborn with a very tender heart. She’s not afraid to get her hands dirty and deal with things that might be a little unsettling or gross.
Tanner’s backstory, which Monique partially created to provide the character more depth, includes a military background and a broken family with divorced parents.
Although the show is a procedural crime scene drama and has similarities to other shows in that genre, Monique feels that Vindication taps into a whole new audience because it doesn’t have the same vulgarity and incorporates valuable life lessons into each episode.
Monique summarizes it best when she states, “I think it’s important just because there’s so many of us who want to be good disciples of Christ and we want to be the vessel through which He speaks and allow other people to see Christ in us. And so, when we have the kind of a mirror like Vindication where it’s showing you your own life and your own setbacks, it’s an eye opener as to how far we really are from God and how we are not so perfect at all.”
A series like Vindication will certainly show us the flaws in our lives, but it will also, just as quickly remind us of how our faith and the love of our Father plays a vital role in everyday life.
John Farrell is the Digital Content Writer / Editor of Inspiration.org.