On Fri., Feb. 16, Azusa Pacific University honored acclaimed actor Jonathan Roumie, best known for his portrayal of Jesus in the TV drama, The Chosen, with the 2024 Inspirational Artist Award. APU welcomed Roumie to campus for a special day-long visit where he spoke in chapel, attended a luncheon in his honor, and met with theater students.

“Jonathan exemplifies the power of the arts to shine God’s light. He makes a significant impact on other artists as well as his fans around the world,” said Adam J. Morris, PhD, APU president. “For our students studying the arts, Jonathan is an example of what it means to be an artist in the industry, exceptional at his craft, who does not define himself by fame or by celebrity, but by his relationship with God. It is for these reasons that we recognize him with the 2024 Inspirational Artist Award.”

Roumie has garnered critical success and inspired viewers across the globe with his authentic and human depiction of Jesus in The Chosen. The faith-based drama grew from a crowdsourced television series about the life and ministry of Jesus and His followers to amass more than 110 million viewers in 175 countries. Season four premieres this February. A devout Catholic, Roumie told the Christian Post, “I think if I had experienced success much earlier in my career, I wouldn't have appreciated it in this way, and I most certainly wouldn't have developed the faith that I have now.” Roumie said that the longer he plays Jesus, the greater his thirst to learn more about the Son of God. His other credits include playing hippie street preacher Lonnie Frisbee in the 2023 motion picture Jesus Revolution, which was Lionsgate Studios largest-grossing domestic film in three years. He partners with Hallow, the number one prayer app in the world. A new docuseries about Roumie, titled Jonathan and Jesus, currently airs on Amazon Prime.

“I couldn’t do this without Him,” said Roumie as he accepted the award. “Psalm 115 comes to mind: ‘Not unto us, oh Lord, not unto us, but unto thy name give glory.’ I’m completely honored and so grateful. Thank you, and God bless you.”

Roumie was a featured guest in APU’s morning chapel service where he spoke about his career and faith with more than 1,200 students, faculty, staff, and special guests in attendance. An awards luncheon in his honor followed where the university recognized his professional achievements and worldwide influence as a Christian artist, presenting him with the 2024 Inspirational Artist Award.

“I reached out to Jonathan and shared APU theater arts’ mission to train students to be excellent at their craft so they can go out into the world as ambassadors for Christ,” said Jill Lincoln, MA, chair and associate professor in the Department of Theater Arts. “I also shared our deep appreciation for the impact he is having for Christ globally and invited him to APU to meet with our aspiring Christian artist and we are thrilled he said yes.”

APU’S theater students had the unique opportunity to host Roumie for a special workshop where he shared his story, provided them with helpful advice, and encouraged them to pursue their dreams. He shared his personal experience as a struggling artist, encouraging them to surrender their careers to God and put Him first.

“Strategically located next to the entertainment capital of the world, Los Angeles, APU students, alumni, and faculty are found at every level of the film, television, music, recording, and arts industries,” said John Simons, DMA, interim dean of the College of the Arts. “Jonathan’s successful career and his desire to work with our APU students and faculty demonstrates the integration of the arts and reflects APU’s unique industry connection and collaboration amongst our theater, cinematic arts, art, music, and design departments.”

APU’s plays and musicals are produced through a program of rigorous training. The Department of Theater Arts prepares outstanding, innovative, and influential artists in an ever-growing and multi-faceted performing arts profession.