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Eduardo Verastegui: The Man Behind Bella

CBN.com

A MOVIE TO INSPIRE           

Bella is a small movie with a lot of heart. It's a story about friendship, family, and our capacity of love in the face of the unexpected that was inspired by true events. 

The film stars Latino superstar Eduardo Verastegui, who is also one of the films producers. Eduardo plays international soccer star, José, who is on his way to sign a multi-million dollar contract. Then, something happens that brings his career to an abrupt end. Now a cook in his brother’s restaurant, José retreats from the world until Nina (Tammy Blanchard), a beautiful waitress struggling to make it in New York City, discovers something about herself that she’s unprepared for.   

In one irreversible moment, a simple act of kindness brings them together and turns an ordinary day into an unforgettable experience. Before the day is through, José must confront his own haunting past to show Nina how the healing power of love can help her embrace the future. The movie has already been well received by audiences and critics and has won two awards, including the People's Choice Award from the prestigious Toronto Film Festival.            

The movie is the feature film directorial debut of Alejandro G. Monteverde from an original screenplay he co-wrote with Patrick Million and Leo Severino. Sean Wolfington, Severino, Verastegui, Monteverde, and Denise Pinckley produced the film. Wolfington also financed the film with his uncle, executive producer J. Eustace Wolfington. Ana Wolfington, Marcy Wolfington and Stephen McEveety (Braveheart, Passion of the Christ) are also executive producers.

LIVES SAVED           

The film is not just getting positive feedback; it is truly making a difference since it opened to limited release last month. It addresses the tough subject of abortion and has a positive message about life and family. The film has been an instrument to save babies lives from being aborted as well as promoting adoptions. While doing research for the film, Eduardo went to an abortion clinic in L.A. 

When he arrived at the clinic, he was shocked at what he saw – girls 15 or 16 years old going in to get abortions. It was hard for him to continue with his research. He ended up talking to a Mexican couple there. Not knowing what to say to them, he was really praying and asking God what he should say to save their baby. He gave the woman a teddy bear, his cell phone number, and she started crying and left the clinic. A few months later, Eduardo received a call from that man who said their baby was born the day before, and he wanted to ask Eduardo's permission to name the baby after him. This changed Eduardo's life. He never thought he would be used as an instrument to save a baby's life.        

In Miami, there was another girl who was going to have an abortion. Eduardo ended up talking to her, and she saw the film. She cancelled her appointment to have the abortion. A few weeks later, her baby was born and she was named Bella.

EDUARDO'S TRANSFORMATION

Eduardo is the son of a sugar cane farmer from the small Mexican town of Xicotencatl. He grew up with a belief in God but did not have a true commitment. He found early success as a teenage recording artist with the Mexican pop group "Kairo" before starring in five popular telenovelas. He still felt unfulfilled. He decided to venture out to America. Though he couldn't speak any English, he hoped he could find an in-road with the Latin community and a get a recording contract, which he did with a lot of hard work. This led to the starring role in the film Chasing Papi.  Soon he was cast in the pop singer Jennifer Lopez's music video, "Ain't it Funny?" Offers were pouring in, but Eduardo was not satisfied.  Spiritually, Eduardo thought he was a good person and that everything was okay.            

He was still taking English classes, and God used this teacher to change his heart. She was a devout Christian and while she taught him English, she also subtly questioned him about the purpose of his life. At first, he was too proud to let her in. She used the Socratic Method to question him, and Eduardo realized his life was full of contradictions. 

After six months of conversation, Eduardo was broken over the sin in his life, got on his knees, and cried. Jesus Christ became the center of his life. Eduardo was forgiven and promised God he would always do things for Him. He realized that his talents and his projects were being used to poison society morally.  He had compromised all the values he was brought up with to obtain his fame and success.

He turned back to God. He did not like being typecasted and realized that he could no longer take roles that contributed to the negative stereotype of Latinos in films or compromised his faith and values in any way. In Hollywood, that was a tough stand to take – he didn't work for about four years. Jesus became the center of Eduardo's life. He wanted to leave Hollywood to become a missionary in Brazil, but God had other plans. Through a friend, Eduardo was convinced that Hollywood is a bigger jungle that needs the light of Christ.            

As an actor, Eduardo didn't have the power to control the message of the projects he was in, so he decided to start his own production company. In 2004, Eduardo started Metanoia (a Greek word meaning a change of heart or mind; a turning from darkness to light) Films with his friends Alejandro Monteverde and Leo Severino along with Sean Wolfington and Eustace Wolfington. Their vision is to use the media to speak truth and inspire people, to produce films to elevate, heal, and promote Christian values in everything, which they are doing with Bella. 

They don't want to condemn. They want to be a light in the darkness. They want to inspire. America has been a blessing to Eduardo and helped him achieve his dreams. Whatever America/Hollywood does affects the planet. Hollywood belongs to God, and the Christians need to take it back. Eduardo says he was born to love and serve Jesus Christ – his true purpose is not to be an actor, producer, or be famous. He is called to be faithful to God and to do His will.

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