The Faithful Women of ‘The Chosen’

Actresses reflect on ‘being able to tell the greatest story ever told.’

Clockwise from top: Elizabeth Tabish portrays Mary Magdalene, Amber Shanna Williams depicts Tamar and Lara Silva plays the role of Eden, Simon/Peter’s wife, in ‘The Chosen.’
Clockwise from top: Elizabeth Tabish portrays Mary Magdalene, Amber Shanna Williams depicts Tamar and Lara Silva plays the role of Eden, Simon/Peter’s wife, in ‘The Chosen.’ (photo: Courtesy of Angel Studios)

It’s a wrap! Angel Studios’ blockbuster series The Chosen, which has attracted more than 380 million viewers since its introduction in 2019, has just finished filming Season 3 on location in Midlothian, Texas. Enthusiastic followers of the crowd-funded drama will be able to watch the first two episodes of the third season in theaters on Nov. 18.

Dallas Jenkins, the show’s creator, announced the showing on his Facebook page. “The most common question I get,” he wrote, is “‘When is Season 3 coming out?’ I now have the same answer you can give your friends: Nov. 18, Episodes 1 and 2 back-to-back, only in theaters.” 

The Chosen has been popular with audiences because it shows a very personal side of Jesus: imagining conversations between Our Lord and the people he encountered, such as the apostles, his Mother Mary, and the leper beside the pool (“called in Hebrew Bethesda” in John 5), hoping to be healed. In Season 3, there will be new stories and a few new characters. The characters’ relationships, such as the marriage of Simon/Peter and Eden, will be explored in greater depth. 

When journalists were invited to the set this past August, I had the opportunity to talk with members of the cast and crew. What was evident was that all who were associated with the film — writers, actors and behind-the-scenes professionals — shared a joy and an enthusiasm for the story. In particular, I was struck by the candid accounts of the women who brought The Chosen to life and who had been deeply touched by the story.

 

Eden’s Deep Faith

Lara Silva plays the role of Eden, Simon’s wife, one of the characters created by Jenkins to enhance the story, since Scripture doesn’t name her and reveals little about the woman who shared her life with Simon Peter. Silva related to her character on a personal level. 

“Eden is a strong woman of faith,” Silva told reporters, “but the writing is so colorful! They gave me a little bit of sass.”

Silva said she felt privileged to participate in a show that would, she believed, resonate with the public for years to come. 

“Being able to tell ‘the greatest story ever told,’” she reflected, “bringing that to life, is meaningful. It’s great when you meet people who weren’t necessarily on a spiritual journey, but who came back to their faith [after watching The Chosen]. They watch the show, and something resonates with them.”

Silva hinted that she will play a larger role in Season 3, as Eden struggles with doubt and insecurity. 

“What I can tell you now,” she said, “is that Simon and Eden’s home became a meeting place for Jesus to come and talk.”

 

Lilith/Mary Magdalene

In Season 2, viewers witnessed a dramatic change in Mary Magdalene (played by Elizabeth Tabish). Before her encounter with Christ, she was called “Lilith” and suffered the severe effects of demonic possession. Nicodemus (Erick Avari), a Pharisee and a member of the Sanhedrin, attempted unsuccessfully to drive the demons from Lilith; but when Jesus spoke, changing her name to Mary, the demons fled her body and, afterward, she joined Jesus’ followers. 

Tabish told the press pool she has been deeply influenced by her character. When she accepted the role of Lilith/Mary, she had been facing serious personal problems and was fighting depression. 

“I had a series of friends and broken relationships; I was on medication; I faced chronic … issues,” Tabish admitted. “I was stuck in a little loop of hurt, and I couldn’t quite find my way out. I thought that I’d face the same bad experiences over and over and over: bad choices, leading to pain, leading to bad choices.”

But playing the role of Mary Magdalene — seeing how Jesus’ touch transformed Mary’s life, freeing her from the demons that tormented her — the actress realized that she, too, could change. 

“This role changed me,” Tabish said with a smile. “Just by being able to recognize the change within Lilith, it showed me that my life could change, too.”

In Season 3, Tabish reported, her character Mary Magdalene will experience a really pivotal moment with Tamar, an African woman. Although freed from the demons, Mary Magdalene experiences post-traumatic stress, recalling terrible incidents from her earlier life. Tamar helps her to realize that one has to leave the past behind in order to become the person God wants you to be.

 

Tamar’s Backstory

Tamar, portrayed by Amber Shanna Williams, is an Ethiopian woman who is friend to the paralytic whom Jesus healed. After witnessing the healing, Tamar dropped everything to follow Jesus. 

Williams reported that, in Season 3, viewers will learn a bit more about her character. “We’re going to find out why: the backstory,” Williams told reporters gathered in Midlothian. “What they [the film’s writers] got right is the relatability of everyone.”

Williams counts herself among the show’s enthusiastic fans. “We don’t generally like seeing ourselves on screen,” she admitted; “but I watch it, and I think, ‘That’s me! That’s my moment!’ It has deeply affected me on a human level.” The actress said she is touched by how much viewers are moved by The Chosen. “The stories that people tell us!” she exclaimed. “That’s what we all want: to connect to Jesus. We all carry burdens which are too heavy for a single person, struggles that we can’t face alone. You carry not just your burdens, but also the other person’s: your kids’ burdens, your grandparents’ burdens.” She described The Chosen as “a little guidebook.” 

“It’s not a replacement for the Bible,” she acknowledged, “but it’s an easy Scripture hour for those who believe. And for those who don’t believe, it’s just so relatable.”

 

WATCH
Followers of The Chosen will enjoy the opportunity to see new episodes on the big screen on Nov. 18. Shortly after the theatrical opening, the first two episodes of Season 3 will be available on the free TheChosenApp.org. The remaining six episodes will launch weekly through November and December. Seasons 1 and 2 are already available on multiple platforms; Season 3 will most likely receive the same wide distribution.

 

José Benlliure Ortiz, “Leaving Mass in Rocafort,” 1915

On Suffering and Hope and Forever

‘In the Eucharist the sacrifice of Christ becomes also the sacrifice of the members of his Body. The lives of the faithful, their praise, sufferings, prayer, and work, are united with those of Christ and with his total offering, and so acquire a new value. Christ’s sacrifice present on the altar makes it possible for all generations of Christians to be united with his offering.’ (CCC 1368)

José Benlliure Ortiz, “Leaving Mass in Rocafort,” 1915

On Suffering and Hope and Forever

‘In the Eucharist the sacrifice of Christ becomes also the sacrifice of the members of his Body. The lives of the faithful, their praise, sufferings, prayer, and work, are united with those of Christ and with his total offering, and so acquire a new value. Christ’s sacrifice present on the altar makes it possible for all generations of Christians to be united with his offering.’ (CCC 1368)