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The Chosen: An Interview with Elizabeth Tabish
NRT's Grace Chaves talks with the actor about her portrayal of Mary Magdalene in the TV drama 'The Chosen'

AN NRT EXCLUSIVE INTERVIEW, The Chosen: An Interview with Elizabeth Tabish
Posted: August 26, 2021 | By: GraceChaves_NRT
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By now, you've probably heard of The Chosen, a television drama that follows the life of Jesus and His disciples. Over the past few years, the show has exploded in popularity (it's the #1 highest crowd-funded project of all time).

Honestly, I was hesitant to watch it at first. I kept hearing about it, and I saw Christian artists showing their support for the show on social media. But, I had seen plenty of cheesy Christian shows and movies, and I figured that this would be another one of "those" TV shows. You know the kind. The ones with low-paid actors and cringeworthy scripts. Why would I waste my time watching something like that?

After seeing more and more people post about The Chosen on Instagram and seeing the trailer for season two, I decided to give it a shot. I sat down to watch it, completely ready to turn it off if it got weird. Instead, I was captivated by it. I watched, and I didn't want to turn it off. I had never seen a show that captured the raw, humanness of Jesus.

An actor named Jonathan Roumie portrays Jesus (he does an outstanding job). The actors authentically portray these biblical characters, showing that Jesus and His disciples were just like us. They were human, and they dealt with emotions and struggles just like we do. It's been incredible seeing The Chosen bring that to life.

I'm a huge fan of The Chosen, and I've binge-watched it (more than once now). So, it was an honor getting to sit down and chat with artist Elizabeth Tabish who portrays Mary Magdalene. Due to her busy schedule, she didn't have much time to talk, but we still had a great discussion. I talked with her about her experience with The Chosen and some character development that Mary Magdalene went through in the second season.


You portray Mary Magdalene in The Chosen. In the second season, she went through a lot of character development. Tell us about that, and what it's been like portraying her.

It's been a blast, my dream role. I always wanted to play Mary Magdaline, to portray someone from history with a strong intellect and emotional depth (and I get to have an accent). It's a dream, but the actual reality of portraying Mary has been tough
especially in season two. Season two delved into some heavy emotions. And, I felt a responsibility and pressure to do it right.

I wanted to honor this character and also represent people who have struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or trauma, realistically and honestly. So that took a bit of an emotional deep dive. It was challenging, but I get to work with the most incredible group of filmmakers and actors, which made the entire process so much easier. I always felt protected, safe, and supported, while having to go to these vulnerable places. I've had all sorts of feelings; I can't even express them.

There's a powerful scene between Jesus and Mary in season two, episode six where Jesus forgives Mary after everything she did. What were you feeling at that moment?

Right before we started filming, our director Dallas Jenkins came up to me and mentioned something sort of abstract. He told me that I'm portraying what everyone has felt: feelings of unworthiness, shame, fear, and guilt, as well as having to come to Jesus and ask for forgiveness
a very vulnerable thing to do. When Dallas said that it helped me shift out of my own head with my questions of, "Can I perform this?" It ended up helping me realize that this scene is for other people to connect with.

Working with actor Jonathan Roumie, who portrays Jesus, has been a dream. He's always so present. You get lost in some moments where it feels like he's really Jesus. There's a realness to him in these scenes. While we're performing, it's very easy to react as if he's Jesus. As if Jesus is telling you that it's over and you're forgiven. That was one of my favorite scenes to film. It was hard, but it was really gratifying.

A lot of Christian artists have shown their support of The Chosen. Popular musicians like Phil Wickham, Kari Jobe, and Cody Carnes were all extras in the Sermon on the Mount scene. Tell us about that.

I have no idea because I was probably huddled by a heater somewhere. They performed, but I didn't get to watch anyone. But I can speak for the music in the show, which always blows me away
—especially in the last episode. The last song "Trouble" really stuck with me, and I think it's a powerful moment. But, I wish I could have watched the performances that day when we were filming the Sermon on the Mount.

It was freezing that day. I was shocked that everyone actually came out when they didn't have to. There were 2,000 extras present
and nobody was complaining. Everyone was happy to be there, and it was a beautiful thing to see.

What's next for The Chosen?

I heard some rumors of The Chosen doing another Christmas special this December, but I don't know any details about it. And, I don't know the specific details of season three, but I think we're doing it pretty soon, within the next year. Dallas mentioned that he's working through the scripts, so hopefully, we get to film it sooner rather than later. I'm very excited to get back to it.

Grace Chaves has been a fan of all things Christian music since 2016. She is NRT's news editor, and one of NRT's youngest writers. Homeschooled, Grace is an author, loves Jesus, concerts, and road trips.

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