Sunday, May 29, 2022

‘No Vacancy’ Based on True Story About Fighting for the Homeless – Hits Theaters May 9 Only | WatchTrailer

No Vacancy
No Vacancy

*”No Vacancy” is an uplifting true story of First Baptist Leesburg, Cecil Johnson and the Samaritan Inn. The film is for the whole family that follows a jaded reporter, played by Sean Young (Dune, Blade Runner), who is demoted to a rural news bureau and finds her cynicism slowly transformed as she befriends a recovering addict and writes about a church struggling to purchase a motel for homeless families.

Also starring T.C. Stallings (Courageous, War Room) and Dean Cain (God’s Not Dead, Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman), No Vacancy premieres May 9 in more than 700 cinemas nationwide for one night only. caught up with one of the film’s stars, T.C. Stallings to discuss his role and theme of unconditional love for society’s forgotten people.

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Courtesy of Kingstone Studios. How did you come across this project? How did you get involved?

T.C. Stallings: It’s an interesting thing; it was way back in, I believe, 2016 or 2017. When Art, the executive producer, we’re at an event, and he was in the process of writing a script. This is so long ago, I can barely even remember this initial story, but he reached out to me back then and told me that he was working on a script about this story that’s going to be very inspirational, and he’s thinking of me for one of the leads. When it takes shape, he’ll reach out.

So obviously, here it is, all these years later, he reached back out as he promised, and he said, I want you to read the script and tell me what you think. When I read the script, I was just blown away, and this has been years in the making. He told me that I was one of the first people he cast, which was also an honor. So that’s how I got involved. What detail about your character Cecil Johnson that you learned didn’t make it to the screen?

T.C. Stallings: That’s a good question. He passed away in 2019. That makes its way, not necessarily in the film itself, but there are some extras that everybody watching [should] go early, and stay a little later, kind of how we do with the superhero films, as always, some little nuggets in there, and you’ll get to learn a little bit more about Cecil. But that’s something that didn’t make it in there that, you know, he passed away from different diseases. Also, his appearance got disfigured from it, and the reason I bring this up is because it just shows the beauty of marriage, his wife, Victoria.  It’s almost like he could have lost both eyes and arms, and it wouldn’t have mattered. She is one of the most committed people I  have ever met in terms of a relationship and what it truly means to unconditionally love somebody. So I got a chance to see all these pictures with the two of them together as he kind of, I hate to use the word, but kind of deteriorated a little bit. [She was] just in his arms, hugging him and being with him [like] there was nothing wrong with him. His wife went through the same things that he went through, and they rose through that together. She’s the female version of Cecil Johnson, so some of those things are lost within it. But those are some of the things that I got to experience that helped me prepare to be the character. So those are just a few things that I think are pertinent to the story. How long did you have the chance to spend time with her before you started shooting?

T.C. Stallings: It was several weeks, and right away, we jumped on a Zoom. When they told me it’s official, you’re going to play him immediately; I wanted to learn as much about him as possible.  I scheduled a Zoom meeting with her and Art, who was the executive producer who knows Cecil extremely well. We just began to talk, and I asked her to tell me before we get into the pertinent [stuff] to the story, I want to know what was he like at home? What would he get up and eat for breakfast? How did he laugh? What made him [happy] and I said I’m just gonna shut up and listen, Victoria. She started to tell me so many things. I can’t remember. It was hours that we were on a Zoom call, telling me all the things that no one else would know, and that helped me to be authentic. We would continue to meet and talk, and then, over the next several weeks, I received different videos of him preaching and doing messages. Then I got a chance to see him tell his testimony because I’m going to tell Cecil’s testimony. Well, no one tells it better than him, and I got a chance to watch him talk. I had several weeks to get prepared.  I grew out all this hair on my face and grew my hair out, work on some of my techniques and feelings and moods. I had a significant amount of time to get ready. Mr. Johnson, as depicted in the film, was an addict and suicidal. What message of his life do you want to emphasize to people who may be dealing with mental health issues, and how can they get out of that dark place?

T.C.Stallings: Well, the great thing about this story is that when you watch Cecil, you won’t be able to point to anything that he personally did to climb himself out. Which means that no one needs to feel like ‘I’m too weak to get out’ [or] ‘I gotta find this inner strength to help myself’ because Cecil had none of that. In fact, see, so as you said, he was trying to die. Cecil was trying to check out; it was the easiest thing he could do for himself. That’s how messed up he was. What ended up happening was other people who are trying to love people like Cecil came to help him out. I wouldn’t even pose a message at the struggling person about what they need to do. I want to pose a message to the struggling person as to what God can do as he sees you. God sees you, and be open to the help that can come your way from other people. Don’t be a person that keeps all of that to yourself. Don’t try to be strong for yourself.

You’ll see in the film, my character for a moment, started to do that, and had he succeeded in pushing away the help, he probably would have died. When help comes your way, be receptive to that help. So I will say to the struggling person that just Cecil Johnson sat out there and did nothing to necessarily deserve help, he didn’t ask for help, but help came, and hope came because God saw him, and he can do the same for you. Great answer. Based on this film, what are your views on the homeless? How should society help them? 

T.C. Stallings: Well, for sure, and this is going to come from a person that actively actually does things in the homeless community. My view towards the homeless is that if you’re a Christ-follower, which I am, this is what Jesus was passionate about. He doesn’t walk past these people. He doesn’t forget about these people. He commands us in the end, saying, ‘Hey, did you walk past the homeless? Did you not feed the hungry? Did you not visit people in prison?’ who we term as the least of these, to ignore them is to ignore Him. I take that extremely seriously. Look at the book of Matthew, and so my view towards that is to try to take the same attitude that Jesus had and that these people are not to be overlooked. These people are to be loved on; my take on this is something that I hope will be the takeaway from the film [and] that we are to look at these people and drop extreme love on them and listen to their needs. Then we need to listen to God in terms of how to address these needs.

I just moved to Texas not too long ago, but for nine years, I lived in Southern California, and we lead the nation as leaders in homelessness.  My family [went] with me to my auditions in Los Angeles; I would say, let’s always take some sandwiches with us and if we see somebody, let’s go and take those sandwiches but don’t just drop the bag and walk off. Let’s sit down and have a conversation and listen to him. I couldn’t read Scripture about how we are to treat the homeless and then not act on that’s my view on it. It’s what the Lord will want us to do. What would you want if you were out on the street? We are to love them, listen to them, and then listen to God on how to address their needs. What would you like to see the church and the government do to help the homeless? The church in Leesburg started stepping up, but what would you like to see nationwide?

T.C. Stallings: That’s a question I get a lot, and there’s an answer to that. I would love to just see it get more attention in terms of resources being allocated to it. The United States, with all the money that we have, and I would love for all of us to care, regardless of your monetary level. If you got five dollars, that might buy somebody some socks, and as you rise up, if you’ve got $5 trillion, you could do a motel. There’s a little bitty church in Leesburg that is taking care of two to three hundred people on any given night. There’s hardly any room; they’re probably going to expand this place, so one church does it; what if we all did it? Because it’s not a choice that Leesburg made, First Baptist Church to Leesburg, it’s a commandment that they are obeying. So really, all churches should be looking to do something similar. I would love to see churches do and be inspired to say, ‘hey, we need to obey the Scripture, the way that FBC Leesburg did’ if they’re not already doing it because I know that churches are doing it.

As far as a country,  I gotta put it to you this way, the country as a whole is not necessarily Christ-followers; let’s call it what it is. But I can speak directly to the Christian community, anyone who calls yourself a Christ-follower; this should be one of your top goals to take care of the homeless. So I’ll speak from a personal perspective. What I would love to see happen is take what you have, do what you can, and ask the Lord to lead you in terms of what that looks like; start there. The film also touched upon racial strife. What can this story teach us on how to heal this deep wound in our country?

T.C. Stallings: One of the coolest lines in the film is you’ll see Cecil talking about race and how he feels about it. A man gives him this advice and says, ‘when you stop seeing the world in black or white and colors, you’d be able to truly see what God would want for you to be and everything.  I think that’s the thing that resonates because I see the situation as a Black person, and I can see kind of what people go through and people of different races and nationalities. I see what they go through. But I have found a balance with that. As I was coming up in my faith, I would always say, I don’t see color. I’m not going to be a guy that complains about my plight as a Black person because I got Jesus, I got God, and no one can stop my purpose.

While that is a great way to think, to take that in a more balanced standpoint, I know that God doesn’t see color in favor of different things. But what God does see, and you can see this in Scripture, is the plight of individuals in whatever they’re in at that moment. For example, if a certain race, regardless of Black, white, whatever is suffering, I know that God opposes the proud, but he gives grace to the humble. I know that God looks out for the least of these. I know that God looks out and fights for the oppressed. God loves all people; it ain’t about color.

I don’t want to be a guy that only cares about what happens to Black people. I want to be a guy that cares about what happens to all people. But within all people who’s being hurt at the moment. God is not partial to any race. But he does command us to look after the least of these, look after the oppressed.  I don’t see the world in color, I see the world in the love of Christ and act accordingly to what love will require you to do regardless of what people look like. What do you want the audience to take away from the film?

T.C. Stallings: [To have] hope in any situation where you’re hurting, you can swap out the things that the film addresses and put in your issue or issues that are not addressed, and the answer is still gonna be the same thing. The takeaway is twofold: hope is found in a sovereign God who sees all it doesn’t matter what you’re going through. You go to the Lord for the answer. That doesn’t mean the process doesn’t come with a bunch of strife because, you see from the film, Leesburg didn’t just say, build it, and then it happened. Oh, there was so much that went into it.  But it did happen, and God did it his way. So hope is in Christ, hope is in God, hope is in the power of the Holy Spirit.

The second thing that I hope people take from it is to play your role within the process. Everybody has a role to play, and that’s what I love about this film, three people, three different stories, three different roles that they had to play. The pastor had to exercise his faith, the reporter had to humble herself, and my character was able to be completely transformed.
If people start getting active in their community, listening, are concerned with the least of these, and they have hope, or if they know somebody who can use hope in their life, that’s why you do it.

For more information visit No Vacancy.




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