The
Inspiration
Project

WITH BRENDAN CORR

GUEST Daniel Widdowson

Daniel Widdowson
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Episode 40

Daniel Widdowson: Episode Description

On this episode of The Inspiration Project, Brendan Corr talks to Australian Theatre Actor and Australian of the year finalist, Dan Widdowson about his early work for Saturday Disney, Hope 103.2, and why he started acting in the first place. To what it’s like experiencing some high highs and some low lows in the acting industry. Along with how experiencing intense emotions have helped Dan craft stories and influence other’s emotions.

Among other things Dan shares:

  • How Dan got the role at Saturday Disney
  • What it’s like being an actor experiencing a range of emotions
  • What entertainment is
  • How Dan views influencing other’s emotions
  • What are the things that form the bedrock of experience or of life
  • Does Dan think that there are a relative morals in film? Is there right and wrong? Are there things that are good and bad?
  • Dan’s particular God moment that lead him to faith

Daniel Widdowson: Episode Transcript

Sponsor Announcement
This podcast is sponsored by Australian Christian College, a network of schools committed to student well-being, character development, and academic improvement.

Introduction
Welcome to The Inspiration Project where well-known Christians share their stories to inspire young people in their faith and life. Here’s your host, Brendan Corr.

Brendan Corr
Well, hi there, everybody. Welcome to another episode of The inspiration Project podcast. We have with us this morning, Daniel Widdowson. Now, some of you may not know Daniel by name, but you are likely to know him by the voice that you might recognise. And maybe if you see a picture of him somewhere, you’ll recognise him as a character that you’ve seen on TV. Daniel is a very busy guy. He’s fit a lot into what is still his relatively early, early stages of life. Enjoyed great success. So he’s been involved in theatre and in television and in movies over a period of time. He was a Australian playwright finalist, recipient of the Best Director at the Florence Film Awards, Best Screenplay, the New York Film Awards. Great success in the area of producing documentaries. He produced a controversial black comedy about global refugee crisis called the Worm Farming, which was premiered at the National Museum of Australia in 2017. Continues to be involved in that area of work, but we might know him best as Dan from Saturday Disney, the hosts of that programme.

Daniel Widdowson
Right.

Brendan Corr
At least the listeners of this podcast might know that. While that’s his one side of him, the Disney world, he’s also very successfully completed a strong academic programme with a bachelor degree in theology, a master’s in hermeneutics, and recently completed a doctorate in performative understanding, focusing on the Shakespearean literature and theology. Dan, that’s a lot to include in a resume. You obviously like to keep yourself busy.

Daniel Widdowson
Yeah. Now, I feel like I’ve got to live up to all that in having a chat with you. I’m pretty much just an average bloke. I just like to keep busy. That’s all.

Brendan Corr
I’m a little bit in awe of you just having canvassed some of those things. That’s quite a range of opportunities. Let’s start with your Saturday Disney gig that people sort of know you for. But you also worked in Hope 103.2, a breakfast presenter.

Daniel Widdowson
Yeah, I did. Yeah. Oh goodness, it’s really hard to know where to start. Look, I knew when I left school that I wanted to be involved in the entertainment industry and that’s pretty much all I had to go off. I felt passionate about entertainment. I didn’t know how or where that would fit, and so I did local stage plays in Canberra and I started studying a bachelor of communications because I thought that might be a good kind of gateway into the industry. And then I saw an ad in a well, actually my mom showed me an ad in the newspaper for actors wanted for. It was like a theme park. They call it the Backlot Tour at 20th Century Fox. At Fox studios in Sydney. And it was basically just a theme park where they tried to recreate what it’s like to be on a filmset. So, I auditioned for that and I got in. It’s a full-time job just working as an actor in a theme park. I thought, that’s great. That’s kind of. Well, I want to act, so that’ll be wonderful. Most time, did that. I only did that for about a year when I auditioned to be the face of Fox. They were looking for someone to kind of lead the television commercials and hosters around Sydney. And through that, the two girls who hosted Saturday Disney at the time, who were Shelley Craft and Mel Symons, saw the television ad. And this is really weird because anyone who’s tried to pursue a career in the industry knows that moments like this are so very rare. So, I refer to this as a bit of a God moment. Other people view it differently. But the two girls from Saturday Disney saw my ad and they just turned up to work one day and they said, “Would you like to work with us-”

Brendan Corr
They pitched up to your work?

Daniel Widdowson
on Saturday Disney? Yeah. They turned up to Fox Studios. They asked for the guy who was on the ad and they said to me, Would you like to audition to work with us on Saturday Disney? I was like, Are you kidding me? Of course, I would. And then two weeks later, yeah, I had the job, which led to a seven-year full-time gig at Channel 7 working for Disney and I get to write scripts for Home and Away and host some other shows. It was pretty wild.

Brendan Corr
So you mentioned in that little anecdote, a God moment from your perspective. I’ll come back to that and ask you about how you hold that sort of view of the things happening in your life. But let me roll you back. You said as soon as you left school, you knew this was the line of work you wanted to be in or the sort of life you wanted to live. When did you discover that this was your interest, your passion, acting and theatre and drama and the entertainment business?

Daniel Widdowson
Yeah. Look, probably in high school or look, throughout primary school, I dabbled in all sort of things. Drama of course and-

Brendan Corr
Class plays and things?

Daniel Widdowson
Sorry, what was that?

Brendan Corr
You did class plays?

Daniel Widdowson
Yeah.

Brendan Corr
You got the lead role in the year three production?

Daniel Widdowson
No. No, I didn’t get the lead. I never got the lead in primary school. I was quite bummed about. We did Mary Poppins. I wanted to play Bert and I didn’t get it. Thanks for bringing it up.

Brendan Corr
Yeah. Sorry. Painful memories. Yeah.

Daniel Widdowson
Painful memories. But then in high school, look, in high school, I really loved my sports and I really loved drama, and it was probably. I don’t think there was one particular moment, but if I was to define a moment, it could be in. There was this thing called the Rock Eisteddfod that was like a big dance.

Brendan Corr
Yeah. Rock Eisteddfod, yeah.

Daniel Widdowson
When I was growing up. And my drama teacher asked me in year nine to join the Rock Eisteddfod and I was like, No, there’s no way I’m going to join a dance competition when my rugby mates can come along and laugh at me. But she talked me into it. I said, All right. Look, I’ll give it a go. So, I joined this thing called the Rock Eisteddfod. My costume involved black tights and this tiny shirt. And I knew that my rugby mates were going to be coming along watching it, so I’m thinking, Oh, what am I doing?

Brendan Corr
That’s real courage, Dan. That’s real courage.

Daniel Widdowson
It was real. It was real courage. But when I remember being in the theatre, when we finally performed, and being backstage and when the lights came on and the camaraderie of this team backstage, we’re all a bit nervous. And then we hit the stage together and we just basically physically pour our hearts out to perform this dance. It was a wonderful moment and I developed some great friendships from that and I got a real high from performing. So, that was one moment. And then perhaps later on in high school. I mean, look, I had a pretty good childhood. Things were great, but like everyone, you had your ups and downs. And I guess I’ve got the kind of brain that allows me to have high highs and low lows. So when I had some lows in high school, I found that watching shows or watching movies or reading books helped me to escape my low moments. So, a combination of feeling a passion to perform and also realising the escape it gave someone when they’re not going through a great period in life really drove home the fact that being in entertainment would be good for me. And if I was good at it, could be good for others as well.

Brendan Corr
Yeah. That’s an interesting perspective. So, it wasn’t solely about realising your own potential or self-expression. You very early on had a sense this is something that could be an act of service also.

Daniel Widdowson
Yeah. And look, I haven’t. I mean, particularly my younger years, so 19, 20, 21, 22, I didn’t totally honour that because there were times where I’d try and write plays or be parts of performances where you would just try to invoke an emotion from the audience. I found my mentality back then was, If I can invoke any kind of emotional response from the audience, then I’m winning. But I very soon learned that it’s actually not hard to write a heartbreaking story and make someone cry. It’s not very hard to produce maybe a scary, short film and make someone jump. But what I learned those early years is, do I actually want to do that? Do I actually just want to invoke any kind of emotional response or do I want to invoke a positive, emotional response? So, it was probably by the age of 22 that I really tried to start. And it’s not always clean, but try to start producing and being part of shows that drove home a strong message.

Brendan Corr
You mentioned that you have a personality that experiences emotions intensely, high highs, low lows.

Daniel Widdowson
Yeah, yeah.

Brendan Corr
And that’s not true for everybody. But do you think that makeup of yours, the experience you’ve had of intense emotion both ends helps you craft stories or helps you understand how to influence other people’s emotions?

Daniel Widdowson
Yeah. Look, it’s certainly helped me as a performer. It’s funny though. So, I’ve found that I’m really grateful. I’m really grateful and thankful for my experiences in life that have not been good. So, obviously at the time, you hate that maybe you’re losing a loved one or you hate that you’re losing your health for a significant period of time or whatever it is. But coming out of that, I realised that, well, all those experiences, as a storyteller, helped me to really understand what’s going on. It’s very hard to write a story about someone who loses a loved one when you’ve never lost a loved one.

Brendan Corr
Yeah.

Daniel Widdowson
But if you’re going for realism and you want to create a genuine character, then having experienced all those kind of things is a wonderful blessing, in retrospect, because you can dive into those moments.

Brendan Corr
Your writings, you said before that it is relatively easy for you to be able to craft something, an experience that will evoke an intended emotion from somebody. Is that what entertainment is? Is entertainment about creating a situation that requires or that involuntarily makes somebody respond?

Daniel Widdowson
That’s a very interesting question and I’m sure lots of people would answer it differently. So there would be lots of entertainers out there who would go for shock value and they would craft something or create something or perform something, and because it gets an emotional response from the audience, they would say, Yes, that’s a success. And once upon a time, I saw entertainment as that. Now, however, I also see entertainment as an opportunity to create a positive response. And that doesn’t mean that the audience is always going to feel good after they read or watch something that I craft, but perhaps it will make them ask questions that will benefit them or benefit society, and that’s a positive response. So how I would define the entertainment that I want to be part of, is one that invokes positive responses long term from the viewer or society, as opposed to just evoking any kind of response. And you see it in B grade horror films. Lots of people love B grade horror films. But really, that’s not hard. Play suspenseful music, someone’s walking up to a door, they’re about to open the door, there’s a shadow behind them, put a dramatic sting on there, and then show a scary face. You’re going to invoke a response from the audience, but is that beneficial or not? Well, that’s debatable

Brendan Corr
In hearing you describe that sort of scenario, Dan, is there’s this risk of interpreting that as that all emotion is rather shallow and hollow and easily manipulated, and it’s just a matter of push a few buttons. Have you changed the way you think about people’s emotions, what they hone as emotions, by being able to play with them as easily as it seems entertainers can?

Daniel Widdowson
Yeah. I think that emotions are easy to manipulate and that’s scary. That’s actually a really scary thing because even in particularly documentary makers, there are documentaries that set out to push an agenda and they will emotionally manipulate their audience. So at the end of the film, you go, Oh, wow. Yes. I believe that. And then you watch a documentary. Actually, this is a really interesting exercise for anyone who would be interested in doing this, is watching two documentaries that argue completely different perspectives. Watch them back to back and you’d amazed at how you’re soldeither way. So in an ethical line, I guess, of performance, there’s something in the projects that I craft where I deliberately try not to manipulate my audience. I try to ask. In fact, the latest film that I was part of was called Equivocal Redemption. And it was really deep, really dark, really deep, quite an emotional journey for the cast and crew, as well as audiences. But in that, I deliberately tried to ask questions all the way through, as opposed to present answers because I don’t want to put forward a show or a film where I’m force-feeding an audience and they walk away going, Oh, okay. Great. I believe that now because of this, or, I feel that now because of this. I just want to set up great questions to get the audience thinking. And then I feel like if they genuinely go on their own genuine journey, the results will be positive.

Brendan Corr
So you’ve introduced an interesting dichotomy about the fallibility of emotions and the ease with which they can be played versus the authentic response to those emotions and the grounding of those things in reality or in a framework of ideology, I suppose.

Daniel Widdowson
Yeah. Well, yes, because you can get I mean, I think we all have, whether we want to admit it or not. We can get emotionally manipulated. And for a short period of time, we’ll be sold on an idea or an agenda or a thought. But it’s those moments in my life when I’ve gone deep within myself and asked questions myself and had a revelation of thoughts, they’re the responses that last with me for a longer period of time. For a lifetime or at least for years. It’s like when for anyone who listens to a motivational speech, at the end, you go, Yeah, great. That was wonderful. And then, what, two hours later, whatever, I completely forgot it. But if you’re not just listening to something and being fed it, and you’re going deep within yourself and you have a self-awareness or a self-realisation or revelation of sorts, then because it’s really true to who you are in your inmost being, I find that they’re the changes that will last a long period of time.

Brendan Corr
So for you, Dan, if emotions and emotional responses come and go, and they can be influenced by the immediate information right in front of you, and you’re encouraging somebody to go deeper, what is deeper? What are the things that form the bedrock of experience or of life?

Daniel Widdowson
Hmm. That’s a cracking question. Look, I think there’d need to be vulnerability there. There would need to be trust in that space. There would have to be a self-awareness that asks questions. Have I been wrong in the past? And am I open to change? It’s very hard, I think, to go deep, unless you’re willing to just put everything aside for a moment and go, Okay, I’m completely open to any kind of change that I feel really needs to happen within me. So then as a creator, to work your audience into a space where they’re willing to go there, that’s really difficult. That’s the kind of emotional impact that’s quite difficult.

Brendan Corr
Yeah. Yeah. You’ve mentioned it a few times in our conversation so far, your intention to have a positive outcome, to frame people so that there’s a positive response. We’ve talked about the need to go deeper than just an emotional response. How do you make those. What is positive for you? What’s the thing that gives you a value about what you’re wanting to achieve in your work?

Daniel Widdowson
What’s a positive response? Well, let me answer that by giving a couple of couples of examples because the way I always get there isn’t necessarily the cleanest. So, it’s messy journey. So for Worm Farming, for example, Worm Farming, it was a short stage play that I wrote about the refugee crisis, but it was a black comedy. So, some of the characters in the play made horrifically racist jokes, that I would totally be offended if somebody said those things to me in normal, everyday life. But in the world that I created on stage, I needed some characters to behave like this. And the way they say these jokes, almost out of shock value, which isn’t my long-term goal, shock value is just this quick, easy, I’m going to make the audience feel something, the audience will laugh at it. But then I try to craft the script so that as they laugh at it, they go, Oh, wow. I really shouldn’t be laughing at this. And it’s this dark, long journey where people die, there’s immoral values, lots of terrible stuff happens. But my goal for that whole project was to get people talking about the refugee crisis. That’s all I wanted. I wanted people to leave the show and have conversations with their friends and with their family about the refugee crisis. They didn’t have to agree on responses. They didn’t have to lean. It wasn’t an argument that was saying, Close the borders, or saying, Open the borders. It was just to get people talking about it. So in this very dark, messy world that I had created, the positive response that I got in the end was a lot of media coverage and a lot of people writing back saying to me that they had these great conversations about the refugee crisis in their immediate circles. So for me, that’s a positive outcome because that’s what I wanted to create.

Brendan Corr
Okay. Yeah, that’s interesting. In that scenario that you’re describing, you’ve left the conclusion or the moral conclusion open.

Daniel Widdowson
Yes.

Brendan Corr
Do you think that there is a morals relative? Is there right and wrong? Are there things that are good and bad?

Daniel Widdowson
Oh, wow. Are there things that are right and wrong? I would say yes. Are there things that are good and bad? I would also say yes, but there’s also a whole lot of grey. And so in that grey area, that’s where I thrive. I thrive in asking questions and exploring. And if I’m having a conversation with someone and they’re very black and white, I struggle in that space. I really do. I dislike watching debates where people are just at each other back and forth, back and forth, You’re wrong because. You’re wrong because. But I love that grey area. I love listening to conversations and debates where there is a moral issue and people say, Yes, I feel it’s wrong because of all these reasons, but I understand your perspective, and the other person says, Yes. Well, I think this is right for all these reasons. And then that way, I think in that conversational space, long term, there’ll be some great results, as opposed to beating each other over the head.

Brendan Corr
Dan, you mentioned earlier in our conversation a God moment.

Daniel Widdowson
Yes.

Brendan Corr
That you saw something providential about that encounter that opened up new opportunities for your life. Tell us about your life of faith. How did it come about? What strengthens it?

Daniel Widdowson
So my faith journey, I guess it began young. My parents had faith and we had to go to.We had to. I didn’t want to. We had to go to church on weekends. The school I went to had chapel services and all that kind of stuff. So, look, by the time I left high school, I knew the general story of the Bible. I knew who Jesus was, I knew what he had done. But my big struggle coming out of high school is when I looked around and I saw my teachers, in particular, at school and people within the church community who were saying these things and teaching me things, I looked around, I was like, I don’t think anyone actually believes what they’re saying.

Brendan Corr
Right.

Daniel Widdowson
They’re telling me all this stuff about Jesus, but looking at everyone, I don’t feel like anyone actually believes it.So I took the story of the Bible and thought, Oh, that’s a nice little moral idea, and basically just left it. And then there were these. In retrospect, I called them God moments because at the time I didn’t know they were. At the time I thought, Oh, wow, this is so lucky. I got into the industry and I was working at Channel 7, and life, I thought at the time, was great. There were red carpets and flying around the world to interview celebrities and parties and all sorts of things. And then it was at a Channel 7 Christmas party, I met this young lady, who is my now wife, and someone warned me of her. They said, Oh, careful. She’s really religious. And I’m like, Oh, that’s cool. I dig that.

Brendan Corr
I can deal with that.

Daniel Widdowson
I don’t even know what that meant. I don’t even know what that meant, “She’s really religious.” Anyways, we got talking. We were dating for a while and we would often talk about faith. And I wasn’t anti it at all, but I remember saying to her, I said, Look, I just don’t think it’s real. And I said, But I can see this is really important to you, so here’s what I’ll do. I’m going to read the Bible cover to cover and I’m going to go to your church services, I’m going to go to your Bible studies, and whatever. By this stage we kind of knew that we were going to get married eventually. And I was just like, You just need to respect that whatever I conclude at the. I’m going to go into it open-minded, openhearted. You just need to respect that whatever I conclude at the end is my decision and we can still love each other. And she said, Yeah, great. That’s fine. So that year of me reading through scriptures and asking questions and going to churches and all this kind of stuff, about a year and a half into that, this is still before we were married, I was blown away and overwhelmed with two things. One, a historical evidence that this person called Jesus did actually live, there’s historical evidence that he did die, and there’s plenty of evidence to reveal that this character then actually came back. And I thought, Wow, that’s uncanny that this can be supported, not just in the Bible, but in other historical documents.

Brendan Corr
Other sources.

Daniel Widdowson
Other source, yeah. And then emotionally and physically, and now I’d say spiritually as well, I felt myself changing completely to the point where I’d be out at these red carpet events or parties in the industry, and instead of thinking, Oh, who can I network with? How can I promote myself?, I found myself just really caring for people. I found myself really kind of looking around and kind of going, Oh, well. It was weird. It sounds weird even to reflect on. But just my response to wanting other people to be well and do well and feel cared for was much stronger than my desire to land my next acting gig. What am I going to do next? What am I going to perform? And so all these changes within me and all this evidence for Jesus just blew me away with the truth of it. I thought, Man, this guy’s legitimate.

Brendan Corr
Yeah. How are you sure in those moments, Dan? Knowing entertainment and the conversation we’ve had before about the way emotions can be influenced, your self-reflection about needing to go deep, where were you in understanding that actually this was something deeper, this was bedrock, this wasn’t just me getting caught up with the emotion of a church or my girlfriend or-

Daniel Widdowson
Yes. Yeah. And you know what? I’m always hesitant with that. Even when you leave a church service and you hear a great sermon or whatever, Is this real? Have I just kind of been manipulated a little bit? But at that time because it was a year and a half long journey. It wasn’t a moment. It wasn’t an event. It wasn’t a conference. I was-

Brendan Corr
Didn’t come and go.

Daniel Widdowson
No, I felt pretty strong about it. And then when I began my faith journey, there’s been lots of times over the last, oh goodness, almost 20 years where I will question things. And I love that. And I’m not the kind of person who goes, Oh, no, no. I can’t ask that question because it’s irreverent. I’ll ask it and I’ll even ask it in my prayers. I’ll be going, God, I don’t get it. The Bible says this, but that doesn’t match up with this. So, what an earth is going on there? That’s how I grow and learn. And I find the more questions I ask openly, my faith actually becomes stronger and stronger and stronger. And so now there’s probably lots of church doctrine, I guess you’d call it, that I’m like, Yeah, I just don’t know about that. I’m not sure about that. But when it comes to my faith in Jesus Christ, believing that he is God made man and he lives, I totally believe that. I am totally sold out to that and to him, even though my ideas on conventional faith might differ from others.

Brendan Corr
Or the expression of that faith or the liturgy around different types of faith is.

Daniel Widdowson
Yes. Yeah, that’s right. Yeah, yeah. The liturgy of it and how the beliefs that are expected to come with it, as opposed to just being in relationship with this person who I call the Creator.

Brendan Corr
So, you’ve been involved in the entertainment industry for longer than you’ve been on your faith walk.

Daniel Widdowson
Yes.

Brendan Corr
Did you find that starting this new phase of understanding this new sense of being you, did it cost you in the entertainment industry? Was it hard to be a Christian or become a Christian in that space?

Daniel Widdowson
Look, it didn’t, for me, because I think because I was so resolved. And I think I’m very open at just being who I am. I don’t really turn up to any gigs pretending to be something that I’m not or trying to. I think if you’re in any situation, whether it’s a Christian faith or something completely different, I think whenever you pretend to be something you’re not or try to fit in somewhere where you don’t naturally fit in, that’s hard. But I’ve just been myself in the industry.

Brendan Corr
Yeah.

Daniel Widdowson
So, I turn up and I’m openly me. I never force issues. I mean, my idea of being in the industry isn’t to convert anyone, isn’t to try to win anyone over to believe what my beliefs are. I just want to be a positive presence in that industry. And so that’s actually really, really easy and fun and enjoyable to be a positive person in that space. I do have friends who are particularly forceful of their views and they struggle in the industry, as you would expect. If anyone turned up to my workplace and just started belting me over their head with stuff that I didn’t believe, I’d be frustrated. I’d be like, Dude, just-

Brendan Corr
Yeah, chill.

Daniel Widdowson
Stop it, learn your lines, and let’s play the scene.

Brendan Corr
Which is interesting, Dan, because another aspect of your experience has been moving into pastoral work where you were very intently, intentionally assisting people deep in their understanding, grow in their faith. What led you to that expression of who God was calling you to be?

Daniel Widdowson
Well, I was asked to be a youth pastor at my church when I was very new to my faith. Which I’m thankful for the experience, but I would also, at the same time, recommend to anyone who’s new to their faith, not to jump into a pastoral position. I think partly I was asked because I was on the start of a very strong, quick journey. I think partly I was asked because I was on TV and they wanted someone with a profile. It was really challenging to be a pastor with a very fresh new faith. But look, I knew I wanted to help people, I knew that I wanted to care for people, and that’s why I entered that pastoral position. And I did that for about 16 years.

Brendan Corr
Wow.

Daniel Widdowson
Was it 16? No, I did it for about 14 years, I was a pastor. And it was such a tough journey. It was a really tough journey for me because I’m not forceful, because I just want to love people, because I want to get alongside people, and I never ever entered that role as an evangelist trying to convert people. I think if you’re real and genuine and just get alongside people in life and encourage them to go on their own personal journey, they will find truth. They will find the truth. And so the pastoral journey was really hard for me because in meetings at church, they’re talking about, Okay, we’re going to preach this idea. We need to get this many more people into church. And I was like, This isn’t my idea of what church was.

Brendan Corr
Yeah. KPIs and strategies and… Hmm.

Daniel Widdowson
Yeah. And look, I get it. I understand in church organisations there needs to be that kind of stuff and there needs to be growth, but that wasn’t me.

Brendan Corr
Yeah.

Daniel Widdowson
And so it was really, really hard. I just wanted to make pastoral phone calls. I just wanted to be the person that went to a local football game to watch one of the youth kids play football. I wasn’t the guy at the end of the service who said, If this message has spoken to you, then sign up to our latest programme. I didn’t want to do any of that. And so eventually, and it was such a freeing experience. I learned that I can actually be a pastor in the entertainment industry.

Brendan Corr
Yeah, good.

Daniel Widdowson
I don’t need the title of pastor.

Brendan Corr
Yeah, that’s good.

Daniel Widdowson
I don’t need a bit of paper that says, You’re a church minister.

Brendan Corr
Yeah.

Daniel Widdowson
And so that’s kind of how I treat what I do now. Just relational pastor in the industry without the title pastor.

Brendan Corr
That’s awesome. That’s really great. Obviously, you’re a clever guy. You’ve got a few degrees hanging on your wall.

Daniel Widdowson
I can be an idiot at times too, but-

Brendan Corr
I know they’re not mutually exclusive concepts. I get that.

Daniel Widdowson
Great.

Brendan Corr
What is the value that you have found? Because the study that you’ve done has been around theology and about deepening your understanding of the issues of faith, what role has intentional intense study brought to your understanding of faith or your experience of your faith walk?

Daniel Widdowson
Oh, for me, it’s funny because I’d finish a degree, and then I’d say to my wife, I’m going to study some more. She’s like, “Why do you do it?” But I loved it. Because I had all these questions at the beginning of my faith journey. Like, why do we call the Bible the word of God? How is it that these collection of books are now God’s word? Why does this book say this and this book say this? Why do we take this particular part as literal and why do we take this particular part as metaphorical? And why do these societies disagree on what’s literal and what’s. So, I loved studying it. I loved looking at the scriptures and how they were put together. I loved looking at church history. I loved looking at documents that were outside of the Christian faith, considered historical documents, and documents that were outside of the Christian faith considered, oh, maybe less reliable. And I really benefited on my faith journey doing all that because now I have such a grounding. It’s like my heart and my head. I have such a grounding in my heart that my faith is strong.

Brendan Corr
Yeah.

Daniel Widdowson
And that I believe there is a creator who cares for me and does life every day with me. And in moments of doubt, I can always fall back on, Well, hang on. No, the compilation of this, that, and the other, and the person who wrote this, who was an eyewitness to that event, really grounds, for me, that the solid historical evidence that’s there as well. I mean, it was a challenging journey as well, because you realise.And I had to really focus on not being cynical because there was a phase there where I would listen to sermons or listen to other teachers or read particular books, and I will openly acknowledge that there was an arrogance as I was being cynical going, That’s not true because yada, yada, yada, yada. And then I thought, No, I don’t want to be that guy. I want to be open to everything, have my own personal resolve and make sure it’s backed up without being the person that puts other people down who are presenting their ideas.

Brendan Corr
Yeah, that’s good. That’s good. So you’ve experienced that truth where Paul says, ”Knowledge puffs up and love builds up,” and you had that sense of being big in your own eyes because of what you knew and not necessarily being big of heart in the way you were engaging with people. That’s great. You’ve committed a lot of time to study, asking questions. Have you found all your answers or there are still more questions?

Daniel Widdowson
No. Look, the more I learn, the more I realise how very little I know. I don’t think there’s an expert in anything in the world anywhere. We’re all learning as we go. We’re all learning more and more and more and more. And I think being open to the fact that I don’t know everything is such a benefit for daily life and communication and relationships. Just to jump back into the drama world for a moment, I even find that with some actors. Actors who have been actors who I look up to, who have been on sets from a very young age and who are mature actors now, and the actors who I really love and think they’re very good at their craft. They’re the ones that teach a drama class to children and walk away learning something themselves. And the actors that are hard to be around and who probably aren’t as good as their craft are the ones who have. They’ve done a diploma of stage work and they think they know everything. No, you’re always learning. And the little motto that I wrote in the front of my Bible was, Seek to understand, not to be understood.

Brendan Corr
Amen. St. Francis.

Daniel Widdowson
Which isn’t my quote. I read it somewhere, but it’s been really beneficial to keep that in my mind.

Brendan Corr
Beautiful. Dan, if you were looking back now to that guy in high school that was invited to the Rock Eisteddfod and making his way in the world and trying to figure out who he was going to be, any advice that you might want to give to your high school self?

Daniel Widdowson
Oh yeah, lots of advice. But at the same time, I wouldn’t want to change anything. I think I grew through the whole journey, the mistakes as well. But I would say to my high school self, “Be confident being you. Don’t try to be someone or something you’re not. Be yourself and find all the beauty in being true to who you are.”

Brendan Corr
Yeah, that’s good. That’s good. Dan, it’s been fascinating to get to know you a little bit. Thank you for your generous gift of time to us and the generousness of your openness, sharing the things that God has led you through, the things you’ve learned, the lessons you’ve learned. It’s just so encouraging to know that in an area of our society that is so influential, the area of film and television and video and entertainment, that God is placing people that know his heart and want to reveal that through the work that they do. I pray that you continue to get plenty of opportunities to do that for the name of the God, for the name of the Lord.

Daniel Widdowson
Thank you so much. It’s been really fun. I’ve enjoyed it.

Brendan Corr
Thank you very much. God bless you. Dan Widdowson.

Daniel Widdowson

About Daniel Widdowson

Daniel Widdowson is an Australian of the Year finalist, Australian Playwright finalist, recipient of Best Director at the Florence Film Awards, and Best Screenplay at the New York Film Awards. He serves as an Ambassador for the Jane Austen Literacy Foundation, received the Collins Booksellers Arts Award, and is the Artistic Director of Salt House Creative. He hosted and segment produced popular children’s television program Saturday Disney from 2000-2007. This afforded him the opportunity to report on the opening of Disney’s California Adventure, the launch of 20th Century Fox’s Ice Age 2 in London, represent Australia at the Millennium Dreamer’s Global Summit, and report on the opening of Hong Kong Disneyland 2005. Whilst at Network Seven, Daniel also joined the writing team for Home & Away, presented backyard renovation show Ground Force, and performed at both the Melbourne and Perth annual Telethons.

Photo of Brendan Corr

About Brendan Corr

Originally a Secondary Science Teacher, Brendan is a graduate of UTS, Deakin and Regent College, Canada. While Deputy Principal at Pacific Hills for 12 years, Brendan also led the NSW Christian Schools Australia registration system. Brendan’s faith is grounded in a personal relationship with Jesus Christ and a deep knowledge of God’s Word. Married for over 30 years, Brendan and Kim have 4 adult children. On the weekends, Brendan enjoys cycling (but he enjoys coffee with his mates afterwards slightly more).