With three Emmy awards to her name, you could forgive Patricia Heaton for getting caught up in the success of Hollywood. But the fact that her professional career started at the age of 30 has shown that accolades have nothing to do with her skill, and everything to do with God.
“When I moved to LA, I was 30—no agent, manager, or car, and one commercial to my name... I feel like God really held [back] any success until I was at a breaking point,” she told Christianity Today.
When nothing panned out, she volunteered at an orphanage in Mexico before returning to LA, and that is when everything started to change.
“My entire identity was in my success or lack of success as an actor. That’s when I realised I needed to give that thing over to God and ask him what he wanted me to do, not what I wanted to do… That’s when I started getting acting work.”
Raised in a Catholic family, Patricia chooses to live out her love for Christ daily—something that is aided by the fact that the roles she plays are also those possessing an underlying faith.
Best known as Ray Barone’s long-suffering wife in the sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond and, more recently, Frankie Heck in The Middle, Patricia shows that faith is not a label, but a way of life.
“Both families were churchgoers, and they never made a big deal about it,” she said to The Blaze. “It was just part of the fabric of their lives.”
In the same way, she aims to live out her faith when the cameras are rolling, and when they’re off.
“If you’re on a set every day with 12 people, they get to know you and see how you treat number one on the call sheet and number 49 on the call sheet… All of that stuff speaks volumes.”
Proving time and again that the message of Jesus doesn’t have to be boring, Patricia’s most recent ventures were more overtly faith-based than any before—she starred in the family comedy Moms’ Night Out (now on Netflix), and voiced a character in the animated nativity story The Star.
This allowed her to combine her love of physical comedy with her faith, while also keeping it respectful of such poignant events.
“As a performer in comedies for almost 20 years, I see how people’s hearts really open, and the message at the end of the movie of peace and forgiveness and joy can really come through because your heart is prepared for it,” she told The Gospel Herald.
A mother of four sons with her husband of more than 27 years, David Hunt, the families Patricia emulates on screen are a reflection of the values she aims to instil in her children. This was helped when one of her sons joined her on a mission trip to Zambia with World Vision.
During this trip, she was challenged to look beyond the ‘navel-gazing’ culture of the Western world and pursue the joy many Zambian people have in Christ. This, she believes, starts by thinking of others first.
“There’s a lot of need in this world. There’s always something you can do to help someone else. You’ll find the Holy Spirit; you’ll find Christ; you’ll find God. You’ll find love and mercy and forgiveness when you’re helping the poor. That’s really what we’re called to do here,” she said to Christianity Today.
Whether we are under the bright lights of Hollywood or walking the streets of our hometown, Patricia’s life is a reminder that connecting daily with God is vital. She also shows us that we can all do something for the people around us, no matter how great the need.