Mel Trotter Movie Includes Host of Memories for Local Actor. Film Premieres on World Homeless Day

Written by Paul R. Kopenkoskey on . Posted in Local

Cutline No. 1-101Julian Newman: “I’m kind of a real time mentor that helps shape our main character to get him on the right track.” The movie Mel Trotter Ministries has released this month, "One Life at a Time" stars Dean Cain and Luke Schroder. The film also features local actors, including Julian Newman, 47, who lives with his family in Eastown.

The movie premieres on Oct. 10 — which is World Homeless Day —at Celebration Cinema's Studio Park. Digital copies are also available at
with any donation amount. An emailed copy with the viewing link will be sent in support of Mel Trotter Ministries.

The motion picture was produced by JCFilms and was filmed entirely in Grand Rapids over the summer.

The film's story centers on what homelessness looks like through the eyes of someone who has had everything handed to him. A video clip of the film, which includes scenes of Newman's role, can be viewed here:

Experience God differently

"We are doing this film in this order," Beth Fisher, vice president of advancement for Mel Trotter said earlier. "To bring honor and glory to God ... debunking stereotypes and to help people think differently and to experience God differently for those who haven't experienced God."

Newman is an example of how connections open doors. The speaking role he earned for "One Life at a Time" stems back to when he was a student at the Grand Rapids-based Compass College of Cinematic Arts, which is known for its filmmaking education and servant leadership based on the example of Jesus Christ.

'I can do this'

"They sent me the script and I saw I was going to play Pastor Leonard, a real person," says Newman. "I looked at the script and thought, 'I think I can do this.' I meant with Pastor Leonard who works there now (at Mel Trotter) transforming lives. I got a chance to hear his journey and I shared mine. I was good to go."


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The script includes an historical nod to Melvin E. Trotter, founder of Mel Trotter Ministries, in light of Mel Trotter's 120-year anniversary. Mel Trotter Ministries opened its doors in 1900.

On the right track

"I'm kind of a real time mentor that helps shape our main character to get him on the right track," Newman says of his part in the movie. "It was a fun experience because I am still trying to get my cinematic documentary on faith and race done. I love that stuff, to do something that is meaningful. Mel Trotter does a lot of things to transform lives. It was a true honor."

Inherent in filmmaking are the memories it births. This is true for Newman as well.

"What stands out the most is we did a scene that's basically a testimony service," Newman recalls. "And we had an audience there and they were enthusiastic and I had to pretend to get the group excited. It was fun because it was staged and pretend but at the same time, there was some authenticity to it in terms of encouraging crowds, talking about hope and the powerful work God does to be able to bring restoration, to bring blessing out of broken things. The core of this story is that."

Newman's passion for the arts spans the years. He recently auditioned for a singing part in "The Wiz" at Civic Theatre.

"I'll be honest," Newman says. "I'm not a person who gets nervous but one of the scariest things is going there and having to sing as part of my audition. I was sweaty nervous. It was tough for producers and the director to hear me sing."

Different ministry space

Until earlier this year, Newman was co-founder and co-pastor of Tribes Church in Rockford. He has since went full-time with Culture Creative, a national consulting firm specializing in diversity, equity, inclusion and belonging. Clients include Chicago-based advertising agency InnerWorkings, Gordon Foods Service and Michigan State University.

"Even though I'm in a different ministry space, my company would not be where without the support and investment of Tribes Church," says Newman. "It's like a toboggan where people are pushing you get to start line, you've already been pushed. Tribes Church has already pushed me even before I got to the start line."

Newman adds he's in the throes of writing a book about "how to be more beautiful together." He speaks on behalf of the National Diversity Council and serves as an advisor to the Disruptive Technologists Think Tank.
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Author Information
Paul R. Kopenkoskey
Author: Paul R. KopenkoskeyWebsite:
Paul R. Kopenkoskey is a full-time freelance writer and editor for an assortment of publications including Grand Rapids Magazine, Grand Rapids Business Journal, and Faith Grand Rapids magazine. He has completed his first novel with the working title, Karl Beguiled. He and his wife, Barb, live in Wyoming, Michigan. They have three children and five grandchildren.

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