Note: This commentary was delivered by PFM President Mark Earley.
When Christian actor Eduardo Verastegui devoted his career to serving God, he had no idea what might come out of his decision. He certainly couldn’t have imagined that his widely acclaimed movie Bella would literally save lives and souls. But that’s the story that author Tim Drake tells so well in his book Behind Bella.
As the book shows, God’s hand was on Eduardo and on the making of the movie from the very beginning. To prepare for his role in Bella, Eduardo wanted to find a real-life Nina-the co-lead in the film struggling with her unwanted pregnancy. So Eduardo paid a visit to a local abortion clinic.
Outside the clinic, a Mexican couple who had come to have an abortion recognized Eduardo from his acting days in Mexico. They approached him, and soon Eduardo found himself counseling them against having an abortion and telling them about the story of Bella. They talked for over an hour and on the phone in the days ahead.
A few months later, Eduardo received a phone call from the young man. He explained that his girlfriend had just given birth to the baby-a boy-and he asked for permission to name him Eduardo.
But baby Eduardo would not be the only child whose life would be saved through Bella. An old friend of Eduardo’s attended one of the film’s pre-screenings in Miami. He came in late to the film, and during the entire screening he was taking phone calls on his cell. His presence was so distracting that one of the film’s financiers almost asked him to leave.
Three weeks later, however, the man called Eduardo late at night to tell him about a mutual friend whose family was pressuring her to abort her child. She was scheduled to have the abortion the next day. But Eduardo decided to call the woman and counseled her to keep the baby. He even told her he would be willing to adopt the child if she would just carry through with her pregnancy.
The woman postponed the appointment and accepted Eduardo’s invitation to come to a pre-screening of the film. After seeing the movie, she decided to keep the child. Months later she told Eduardo that she had given birth to a baby girl named Bella.
To date, the producers of the film are aware of some 40 babies whose mothers were contemplating abortion, but who decided to keep their children as a result of seeing the film. Even the film’s lead actress, Tammy Blanchard, who played Nina, found life imitating art. Before the film’s release, she found herself pregnant. Prior to the making of Bella, she says that she never wanted to have children. She thought it was “pointless.” But making the film changed her mind.
And in December 2007, Tammy gave birth to a baby girl, Ava Jean.
Many have donated the film, along with the book, Behind Bella, to crisis pregnancy centers across the nation. By donating both to your own local crisis pregnancy center or buying copies to give as Christmas gifts, you could help the film continue to bear such fruit.
Though the film never received an Oscar, producer Leo Severino is happy with the awards it has received. “The living Oscars,” he says, “have been the babies saved and the babies adopted because of it.”
[CE Editor’s note: Please support Catholic Exchange by getting your copy of Behind Bella from our online store.]