While it’s an effortless process for some people to believe they create their own destiny, others prefer to rely on their faith and embark on an inspirational journey to discover how to best live their lives. In the process of witnessing the triumphs of others, the heroic protagonist in the new comedy-drama, ‘Yellow Day,’ faces his own fears. Along the way, he also tests the strength of both his faith and courage, as he sets out to fulfill his destiny in his romantic and professional lives. The sentimental examination of faith, hope and love fuels the family movie, which marks the feature film directorial debut of veteran television helmer, Carl Lauten, and is now playing in select theaters nationwide before it expands to more cinemas on Friday.

‘Yellow Day’ is set on the title annual celebration at Camp Grace, a rural Christian retreat in Mobile, Alabama that serves special-needs children and teens who are either combating chronic and/or terminal illness or escaping domestic abuse. The campers who attend hope to not only receive acceptance, and be celebrated, by their peers and counselors, but also obtain a new level of Christian understanding. John (Drew Seeley), who the story also refers to as “The Good Man,” is trying to reconnect with a woman he met the previous summer, Monica (Lyndsey Shaw). As a last resort, he visits Camp Grace again this year on Yellow Day, but Monica is nowhere to be found.

In his quest to find Monica, John encounters “The Little Girl” (Ashley Boettcher), who becomes a spiritual guide to him as she gives him a tour of the camp. During their time together, he witnesses campers overcoming seemingly overwhelming circumstances. John and the girl’s time together is interwoven with animated scenes that dramatize the backstories of various characters, and reflect on their lives through a sentimental and faith-driven prospective.

During their time together, John also tells the girl how he and Monica initially connected. The two officially met at a local church, after bumping into each other during a series of seeming coincidences. The two, who went to the chapel on their own to pray, got to know each other when they were mistakenly locked in the church with each other overnight.

Despite early conflicts that lead Monica to become weary of John, the two are drawn to each other. They soon discover they have a lot in common besides prayer, including their artistic natures. John writes religious verse, while Monica’s a Juilliard-trained composer. The two tell each other how they’ve both suffered loss and disappointment, and Monica also mentions that she found happiness and her talent at Camp Grace. After the two separate the next morning, John becomes determined to track Monica down, but has no luck finding her. So he returns to Camp Grace in the hopes that it’s in their life plans to be together.

Seeley generously took the time recently to talk about playing John in ‘Yellow Day’ during an exclusive phone interview. Among other things, the actor discussed how he was drawn to the comedy-drama, as it’s a film that families can watch together and learn how people can overcome adversity, and take the lessons they learn from any situation and use them to help the people in their lives. The actor also mentioned that he appreciated how as a first-time feature film director, Lauten always knew exactly what we wanted, but also gave him and his co-stars creative freedom to develop their characters and scenes they way they envisioned.

SY (SY): You play John, whose visit to Camp Grace challenges him to face his fears, find love and accept grace, so that he can be shaped into who he is meant to be, in the upcoming spiritual family drama, ‘Yellow Day.’ What was it about the character, as well as the script overall, that convinced you to take on the role?

Drew Seeley (DS): Well, I immediately loved the fact that it’s an inspiring movie that parents can bring their children to, and they can discuss it together after watching it. I also liked the fact that it shows how people can deal with, and overcome, adversity. I also liked that ‘Yellow Day’ shows that people can take any situation they’re faced with and really use it to enrich the lives of everyone around them. That’s a message that I try to follow in my own life, which inspired me to take part in the film.

SY: Speaking of the film’s message, ‘Yellow Day’ shows John’s life-changing and inspirational journey as he searches for Monica throughout Camp Grace, and includes such important lessons as not immediately judging others just based on some of their actions. Why do you think it’s important for films to include important ideals?

DS: There’s no shortage of films out there that are only meant to act as pure entertainment value. That’s fine, and people do need to watch those types of movies. But there aren’t that many films that take a stand and purposefully try to teach a lesson. So it is important for movies to add something important and uplifting, especially for younger people. I’m happy that I was able to be a part of the film, and it’s being released around Christmas time.

SY: Carl Lauten made his feature film directorial debut on the drama, after helming episodes of such popular family shows as ‘Sonny with a Chance’ and ‘That’s So Raven.’ What was your experience of collaborating with him on the movie, particularly since he was a first-time helmer?

DS: Carl was so awesome to work with on the film. He was so laid back, but not in a way that he didn’t have control over the set and what was going on. He always knew exactly what he wanted, but he always gave us actors a lot of freedom. He also had a lot of open discussions with us about our scenes. We worked through, and rehearsed, scenes on ‘Yellow Day’ more than I have on other films. So it was a really good and relaxed working environment. Carl’s such a gentlemen and a cool guy, and we stayed in touch after we finished filming.

SY: In general, do you prefer having rehearsal time on your projects, or is having spontaneity with your co-stars more beneficial to your projects?

DS: Rehearsal is beneficial, to an extent. I’m doing a lot of theater right now. I can have a month to rehearse for my roles in theater. But on a film, I can have an hour, at most, to talk over a scene with the director. I don’t think rehearsing for films is always the best idea, because it’s important to also leave room for spontaneity.

But it is important for everyone to understand the characters’ intentions, as well as the technical aspects. So rehearsing for those aspects is invaluable. That way we don’t have to go back and redo a whole emotional scene, just because a light was on the wrong side of an actor’s face.

SY: While talking to Monica in the church, he reveals that his grandfather inspired him to embrace his faith. What was the process of creating your character’s backstory? How much creative freedom did Carl allow you to have in developing John’s motivations?

DS: I think creating a backstory is important, but I don’t fill an entire workbook about my characters. But I do think you need to understand who the character is, where they came from and how they got into the situation they’re currently in. I think it’s important to know where they are coming from, so you can spontaneously react when the other actors give you something. There isn’t an exact way to prepare, and every actor does so differently, but I have found a way that works for me.

SY: John initially visits Camp Grace to hopefully once again see Monica, who he was hoping to see again after previously meeting her at a nearby church. What was your experience of working with Lindsey Shaw, who portrayed Monica, and showcasing that their connection is based on their mutual faith?

DS: Lindsey’s cool and is a good actress, so I liked working with her a lot. I see her in L.A. every once in awhile. She has a great sense of humor, and she’s a lot of fun to be around. I think we spent about a week-and-a-half only shooting the scenes that were between us when our characters were stuck in the church. So we really got to know each other, and as a result, worked off of each other well.

SY: ‘Yellow Day’ was filmed on location in Mobile, Alabama, where the camp is set, and your scenes take place in the church where John met Monica and the camp grounds. What was your experience of filming the drama in Alabama? Do you feel shooting on location is beneficial to creating your roles?

DS: I think filming on location is totally beneficial. Actually spending time with the campers and the staff at the real Camp Grace was a positive experience. It really helped me understand what they do, and be that much more grateful to be a part of the film, and help spread their message. Alabama is a beautiful place, and I had a great experience spending a month there. It’s somewhere I had never been before, and I definitely hope to go back soon.

SY: While looking for Monica at Camp Grace, John hears stories in faith, hope and love from some of the campers and counselors, which pushes him to fulfill his destiny, and test the strength of his faith and courage. Why do you think Yellow Day inspired him to continuously pursue his dream of reuniting with Monica and continue his writing career?

DS: I think John finding all aspects of his faith is what the film is really about. The film’s not just about him finding his lost love; it’s also about how his experience at Yellow Day changes and affects all aspects of his life. He wants to finish what he started in his writing. That’s what I can definitely relate to in the story-being able to find the inspiration to achieve your goals.

SY: In the film, Monica is a pianist who attended Julliard, and her musical background helps connect her with her faith. Having musical background yourself, including having released several albums, why do you feel music is so inspiring to people as they set out to reach their goals?

DS: Music is definitely inspirational, and is absolutely essential in my life. I started dancing, writing songs and singing at a young age. I’m currently touring with ‘Jersey Boys.’ I’m singing all these Four Seasons songs every night to audiences who sing along, as the music brings back memories for them. We also recently went to a children’s hospital in Dallas and sang a bunch of Christmas songs to the kids. They all sang along and knew all the words. Music is the true universal language that everyone can get on board with. It’s a great thing to be able to share and receive.

SY: How does acting in films compare and contrast to performing in plays-do you take a different approach to each medium?

DS: Acting in films and in theater is similar, except with plays, you have more rehearsal time. ‘Jersey Boys’ has been playing for 10 years, so there’s established blocking that we have to follow. We also have to follow musical cues for all the songs. So performing in the play is a lot more technical than in films like ‘Yellow Day,’ which don’t already have a set precedent. So you have more creative range in how you want to play characters in movies. But besides the technical aspects in ‘Jersey Boys,’ I am able to infuse my own personality into my character, so I’m not just playing a plastic cardboard cutout of Bob Gaudio. The other main difference between the two mediums is that in theater, you also have to project more. You can whisper in film, but you can’t do that on stage.

SY: Besides acting, are you interested in directing, as well?

DS: I think directing would be fun. I directed two music videos last summer, and one was a Michael Jackson parody video. I helped in the casting of all the actors, and got all the props together. I liked it, but it was only three minutes that I was responsible for creating, so making an entire film may actually be more of a daunting task. So I think one day down the road I’ll want to try directing a movie.

SY: Besides ‘Yellow Day’ and ‘Jersey Boys,’ do you have any other upcoming projects lined up that you can discuss?

DS: Well, music-wise, I just produced a new song for Christmas, called ‘Stowing’ Away in Santa’s Sleigh.’ It’s now available on iTunes and Spotify. Film-wise, my wife Amy (Paffrath) and I just finished the romantic comedy, ‘Do Over,’ which should be coming out sometime (this) year. I’m also in ‘Chalk It Up,’ which is a gymnastics movie that’s also going to come out (this) year.

Interview:  Drew Seeley Talks Yellow Day (Exclusive)

Written by: Karen Benardello

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By Karen Benardello

As a graduate of LIU Post with a B.F.A in Journalism, Print and Electronic, Karen Benardello serves as ShockYa's Senior Movies & Television Editor. Her duties include interviewing filmmakers and musicians, and scribing movie, television and music reviews and news articles. As a New York City-area based journalist, she's a member of the guilds, New York Film Critics Online and the Women Film Critics Circle.

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