Amber Nelon Thompson faces a variety of lessons in life and film
Feature by Craig Harris
Amber Nelon Thompson is becoming comfortable in front of the camera. The Nelonsâ€™ soprano is making her big-screen debut in A Question of Faith, which is slated for a release this fall.
â€œI play Michelle Danielson,â€ Thompson says. â€œItâ€™s about three different families who go through some very, very trying times. One family is struggling with losing a loved one. Another family is living with a loved one who makes a mistake, and they donâ€™t know how to help. Another family is struggling with the possibility of losing a loved one. All three families are kind of woven together in the end.â€
The faith-based film was the first that she had even auditioned for, and the cast includes C. Thomas Howell (The Outsiders), Renee Oâ€™Conner (Xena: Warrior Princess), Kim Fields (Facts of Life), C.T. Stallings (War Room), Richard T. Jones (The Wood) and Christian recording artist Jaci Velasquez.
â€œMy first day, I remember seeing all of these people walk around and was just intimidated,â€ Thompson recalls. â€œI was like, â€˜thatâ€™s Tootie! (Fieldsâ€™ character on Facts of Life.) Iâ€™ve seen her on Nick at Nite.â€™ I was like, â€˜this is the coolest thing in the world.â€™â€
The experience didnâ€™t come without its challenges for the 27-year-old. â€œThey have a set schedule where they have to film,â€ Thompson explains. â€œMy family was very gracious to allow me to take the time to film this movie. My sister (Autumn) filled in for me for a few weekends where I had to be off the road.
â€œIt has been tiring. Itâ€™s early call times, but itâ€™s so much fun that I didnâ€™t think of it as work â€¦ not until after it was done. During the filming, it wasnâ€™t tiring at all. My adrenaline was going so much. Itâ€™s life. I make it work. Iâ€™m only this age once, and this is the time to do it.â€
Thompsonâ€™s mother, Kelly Nelon Clark, has appeared in multiple films. â€œMy mom has really been the actress in our family,â€ Thompson points out. â€œSheâ€™s done TV shows, movies.
â€œThis kind of just fell into my lap. I wanted to (do movies), but I wanted it to be the right one. I wanted it to fit me. I was just patient and waited.â€ Filming concluded in September.
â€œI immediately came off set, and my mom said, â€˜what did you think,â€ Thompson remembers. â€œI said, â€˜I would do this a million times over again.â€™ Itâ€™s a good tired. Iâ€™m tired because my dreams have come true all day.
â€œI hope they call me back (for more films). Itâ€™s so exciting. I still feel like Iâ€™m dreaming. Iâ€™m like, â€˜this is not real life.â€™ Iâ€™m so blessed â€¦ Iâ€™m so blessed that God takes care of His children and gives us a great life.â€
While the big screen has been kind, Thompsonâ€™s small-screen experience proved to be considerably different. Thompson was a part of an episode of the Learning Channelâ€™s Say Yes to the Dress in October of 2013. The show followed Thompson â€“ who began an engagement one month earlier â€“ as she was in search of her wedding dress.
â€œThey asked me to come on the show and be a part of it,â€ Thompson explains. â€œThey knew I had been engaged at Disney World. They wanted me to come on and try to find my Cinderella wedding dress. I was so excited to find my Cinderella wedding dress. It was supposed to air about a month after our wedding, which was going to be in June of 2014.â€
However, a detour in the four-year relationship occurred after filming for the show was completed. â€œWe went through the engagement,â€ Thompson points out. â€œIn March, we started realizing our paths were going separate ways. We started praying for Godâ€™s direction in our lives.
â€œSo many times, a lot of young couples, they donâ€™t ask the hard questions. They donâ€™t want to ask the hard questions. They want to pretend everything is good, but both of us had that (same) feeling. We were just trying to figure out what that was. We started seeking counsel from our pastors and people we loved. Come April, we made the decision to call off the wedding. There was an instant peace you just canâ€™t explain. Itâ€™s the peace of God. We were four weeks away from the wedding day.â€
Despite the peace that followed, the outcome wasnâ€™t the anticipated result.
â€œTo sit here and say it was easy â€¦ Iâ€™d be lying,â€ Thompson says. â€œIt was very tough â€¦ but it was the right decision to make. Both us walked away with respect for each other. It wasnâ€™t something where we were mad at one another. There was no drama. It was an all-God thing.
â€œI wasnâ€™t mad at him. He didnâ€™t hurt me. We truly did love each other. We truly cared about each other. Sometimes, thatâ€™s even harder. He is an amazing person, and we respect each other. We were each otherâ€™s best friend. Thatâ€™s a hard thing. I didnâ€™t just lose a love of my life â€¦ I lost my best friend.â€
A host of emotions ensued. â€œYou grieve,â€ Thompson explains. â€œItâ€™s like a death. You donâ€™t have that person any more.
â€œIn the beginning, I went through depression. It was very hard. I asked a lot of questions. Even though I knew it was the right decision and knew itâ€™s a God thing, but you still wonder why. I started really reading my Bible and got in the Word. I read about Israel, and Israel asked for a king. They kept asking for a king. God said, â€˜You have a king. I am your king.â€™ They wanted an earthly king.
â€œI read this conversation they were having with each other. God said, â€˜Iâ€™ll give you your king.â€™ He gave them one. He was an evil king.
â€œWhen we were dating, I kept praying that it would be the one. I finally realized that I was Israel. The one thing I wanted in my heart the most was to be married. If I had just stopped and listened to God at that moment â€¦ thatâ€™s what I would have changed. I think if I would have listened to God, it would have saved us a lot of heartache.â€
The episode was televised despite the ending of the relationship.
â€œIt still aired,â€ Thompson notes. â€œItâ€™s still on TV. I feel like everybody in America has seen it. Itâ€™s still a reminder to this day. Itâ€™s something that was really hard.
â€œI watched it the day it aired, and I said, â€˜you know what Amber â€¦ the only way to heal the wound is to watch it. Itâ€™s going to hurt you, but you have to let it cut you.â€™â€
Amber admits that it has been an evolving process of getting to the point to where she can talk openly about the situation. â€œI was very depressed,â€ Amber recalls. â€œI was an introvert for a while. I didnâ€™t want to talk about it, but itâ€™s easier to be transparent when you just let it all out. Iâ€™m very open and honest about it (now). I try to help people as much as I can. I try to be open. You can make it through. Itâ€™s a good decision â€¦ even (though) a hard one.
â€œLife is not easy. Life is tough. Every day of my life, I face hard times and trials.â€
It took some time before she resumed dating. â€œEven thinking about a wedding, it was nauseating,â€ Thompson emphasizes. â€œIt took me a good year (to date again). Dating takes a while. When you get in the mindset of Iâ€™m going to spend the rest of my life with this person and it doesnâ€™t happen, it takes a while to rewire your brain. You have to hit the reset button. Thatâ€™s not easy.
â€œWhen we first started dating, the things I wanted were different from what he wanted. We kind of settled because we cared for each other. Eventually, those things stack up. Itâ€™s important to wait for the right one. Now, when I go to dating, I donâ€™t settle. Itâ€™s a matter of being equally yoked.â€
Amber is in a committed relationship again, one that is approaching its one-year anniversary.
â€œWeâ€™re taking it very slow,â€ Thompson says. â€œWeâ€™re letting God lead us. We are best friends. God just kind of led us to each other.
â€œIâ€™m excited about the future. From now on, Iâ€™m just letting God lead.â€
Sheâ€™ll face the future with a grateful mentality. â€œEvery day, I wake up, and Iâ€™ll pray and just thank God,â€ Thompson explains. â€œIâ€™ve gone through phases and depression and wanting to give up. Everybody goes through those times. God just continually shows me my purpose â€¦ thatâ€™s to glorify Him through whatever doors He opens.
â€œIâ€™ve looked back now at the mountain and know that I can come over it and climb it. Iâ€™m ready to climb it. I have my gear on this time.â€
Photographs courtesy of Daywind and Craig Harris.
By Craig Harris
First published by SGNScoops in January 2017
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