Robert Amaya: Taking Classes and Making Movies
Most TIU-Florida students have to balance work, classes and study time.
Robert Amaya balances student responsibilities and arriving on movie locations with his lines learned.
Robert has appeared in 11 motion pictures, is writing a book, and expects to direct his first feature film within the next year, all while finishing an undergraduate degree in Christian ministry.
There’s more: pastors and youth leaders who see him in films such as Courageous invite him to their pulpits.
“I never expected that,” Robert says of the long request list. “I never expected to be in ministry and be doing ministry work, but here I am now, and I’m taking the gospel to all these different places, organizations, schools, Christian schools.
“God has really given me a platform to not only do film, but also to be able to speak,” Robert says, “and so I do travel quite a bit to preach the gospel.”
As he took on those speaking engagements, Robert realized he needed more knowledge of scripture. He wanted to build credibility in those settings – to be more than simply a guy his audience had seen in a movie.
“Someone says, ’You have a cough. Here, take this medicine,’ but it’s just your neighbor,” Robert says. “However, if that person has M.D. after their name, suddenly that opinion matters a lot more, right?”
After finishing his bachelor’s degree, Robert wants to continue with graduate work and divinity school: “To be able to get an education from a wonderful school like Trinity is amazing!”
One of Robert’s best-known comedy scenes came in Courageous, where his character pretended to be a psychotic street gang member in the back of a police car. The officers wanted him to intimidate an unruly suspect they were taking to jail.
“My character provides the comic relief in that film,” Robert says. “It’s all about fatherhood and how we need to step up as dads.”
Robert does not covet the fame and fortune of better-known movie actors. Instead, he looks at the results of his work and derives satisfaction.
“Nobody goes up to Tom Cruise and says, ‘Man, Mission Impossible really changed my life,’” Robert says. “I hear things like ‘we saw Courageous, and my dad came back home.’”
Robert’s example as an actor/preacher/student has inspired prospective students to enroll at TIU-Florida. They see a busy man who is still able to find time to take classes. They decide they too can work it into hectic schedules. Robert admits it takes understanding faculty members at times to help navigate his obligations.
“I have to travel. I’m always going on sets, and what I have found is that they say, ‘we’re working with you. We’re going to help you get through this,’” Robert says of the TIU-Florida faculty.
He adds that in return, the faculty also expect him to meet high standards in his classes.
“Anything that matters is going to require work and dedication,” Robert says. “The hardest thing to do is to start it. Take that step of bravery and move forward and say, ‘Yes, I’m going to go ahead and do it.’”
Although Robert has ambitious educational goals, he also loves devoting time to the movie business and the people who work in it. He says many are in need of a friendly listener, and he uses down time on the set to start conversations with them about life and eternity.
“People may eat their lunch and go back to their trailers to relax,” Robert says, “but I’ll eat my lunch and then I’ll go hang out with the cooks, because I want to know what’s going on and I want to know more about them.
“It is such a ripe field for mission work.”