Stephen Baldwin may be best known as an actor, the youngest of the Baldwin brothers clan. But instead of acting, his passion these days is evangelism, and he's using the clout he's built up in his 70-some film and TV roles to draw attention to "Livin' It," a skateboarding/BMX tour with a spiritual bent.
Presented by the 60th Annual Hula Bowl
» Place: Aloha Stadium's lower parking lot, 99-500 Salt Lake Blvd.
» Time: 5 to 9 p.m. Friday
» Admission: Free
As a tie-in with the Hula Bowl, Baldwin, the executive producer of "Livin' It," will bring the sports show to Aloha Stadium on Friday as part of a series of free events leading up to Saturday's all-star college game. Using a specially built street ramp, professional skaters will flip, twist and jump, much as they do in the DVD also called "Livin' It," in which Christian extreme sports athletes do tricks in between sharing their personal testimonies of faith.
"The cool aspect is that 'Livin' It' is a faith-based reality that's culturally relevant," said Baldwin via phone from upstate New York.
In 2004, more than half a million people attended "Livin' It"-related events, which Baldwin co-produced with PaLauFest Productions, organizers of several large-scale Christian music festivals. And according to press releases, attendees of "Livin' It" have made "over 1,500 recorded decisions for Christ." If young fans emulate the athletes' straight-edge lifestyle, or are drawn in by the athleticism, so be it -- a part of the organizers' goal has been met.
Baldwin has traveled around the U.S. the last two years to promote the tour. So what converted the actor, best known most recently as the host of the reality TV show "Scare Tactics," to Christianity? His housekeeper, whom Baldwin said has influenced both him and his wife in becoming born-agains.
I lined up in the media turnstiles to get in 10 minutes with the actor, who had a day of back-to-back interviews before he left for Hawaii earlier this week. As he was surrounded by family and we were his last interview before dinner, he was, at times, um, a little distracted:
Question: So what can we expect from you Friday night?
Answer: "Livin' It" skaters will tear it up and throw down. We've got some of the top pro skaters in the world. They'll be ripping it up. The ramp is not the normal tour-built version. It was made for Aloha Stadium. I think there will be BMX riders, last time I checked. Hold on a minute. (Dials up his publicist on the three-way phone.)
No. Not BMX. I don't want to give you the wrong information. Their ramps are too huge. We're just taking the bike guys. It will be gnarly. And you can quote me on the gnarly.
Q: We will. A lot has been made in the press about your newfound faith, yet you were always known as the rebellious one in the family. Do you think your personal actions have changed in the last few years, given your conversion?
A: I went from being a person who thought they kind of knew who God was to someone who knew who God was. Now I truly know my purpose and why I was born ... Excuse me, just a minute. (Answers cell phone.)
Q: So what's in store for 2006?
A: With "Livin' It," it was a 23-city tour in 2005, a 40-city tour (is planned for) 2006. We've had requests from 340 cities in just the U.S. We've had invitations from China.
At first we were just making the skating video and distributing it. But there's been more than 100,000 "Livin' It" skate videos sold and we were asked by distributors to make short appearances in cities for the video. Excuse me. (Answers cell phone.)
Sorry. That was one of my daughters. First it was one daughter, then the other one. I always take calls from family.
Q: Of course. So why the tie-in with extreme sports and spirituality?
A: These skaters are already out doing this kind of thing. I asked myself the same question: How do you take this group of skaters, who are generally accepted, and share it with a larger audience.
One of his young daughters then interrupts him, asking "Dad, can I go with Mom to Bible studies?" He replies "Of course, you can. You can do anything you want when it comes to Bible studies."
Before I can ask him another question, he suddenly says off-phone to his family "Sushi? You're going to sushi now?
"Can I go get sushi with my family? Is it OK if I go to dinner? ... Bye. God bless."