7 things to know about March for Life keynote speaker Jonathan Roumie of ‘The Chosen’

"The Chosen" actor Jonathan Roumie meets Pope Francis (right) at the Vatican on Aug. 11. "The Chosen" actor Jonathan Roumie meets Pope Francis at the Vatican on Aug. 11, 2021. | Vatican Media/CNA

Jonathan Roumie is a devout Catholic actor best known for his role playing Jesus in the hit series “The Chosen.” The 48-year-old’s popularity has spread like wildfire as the show has more than 450 million views worldwide. 

During its first season, the show was the largest-ever crowdfunded television series and has been translated into 56 languages. In its third season, the first two episodes were released in theaters on Nov. 18, 2022, and was the third highest-grossing film during its opening weekend.

The actor who has touched the lives of millions around the world will now be joining a lineup of speakers at this year’s annual March for Life in Washington, D.C., on Jan. 20.

This year’s theme is “Next Steps: Marching into a Post-Roe America,” which emphasizes the need to continue to work toward legislation, both at the federal level and the state level, that will protect the most vulnerable among us, the unborn.

As we prepare to hear Roumie’s pro-life testimony, let’s get to know him a little better — including the fact that he portrayed Jesus in a different project before taking up the role in “The Chosen” — and learn more about his upcoming movie. You might be surprised to see what he has in store. 

  1. He was baptized Greek Orthodox.

Born in New York City, Roumie was baptized Greek Orthodox. After his family moved from the city to the suburbs of Long Island, his family struggled to find a Greek Orthodox church. His father, who was born and raised in Egypt, attended Catholic school there and was familiar with the Catholic faith. His mother is a Roman Catholic from Ireland. Therefore, when they could no longer find a Greek Orthodox church to attend, the family felt it natural to attend the local Catholic Church down the street. It was there that Roumie made his first Communion and Confirmation as a Catholic.

  1. He had a powerful conversion four and a half years ago.

While Roumie has grown up Catholic, he has spoken openly about the deeper conversion he experienced. He explains that four and a half years ago he began to grow in his faith. Roumie had been an active member at his parish and participated in several ministries such as being a sponsor in RCIA, a eucharistic minister, and lector, but admits that he was not letting God take part in his career. It wasn’t until he was brought to the brink of poverty that he finally let God take complete control of his life.

Roumie shares that he woke up one day in May 2018 and was overdrawn on his bank account, had $20 in his wallet, had enough food for the day, had rent and bills arriving, and had not worked in three weeks. He got on his knees in front of his crucifix and poured his heart out to God. Roumie expresses that he felt an overwhelming sense of peace that everything was going to be OK. Later that day he received four checks in the mail. It was then that he truly surrendered his career to God.

Jonathan Roumie portrays Jesus in the series "The Chosen." "The Chosen"
Jonathan Roumie portrays Jesus in the series "The Chosen." "The Chosen"
  1. He has a special devotion to the Divine Mercy Chaplet. 

Roumie has made his devotion to the Divine Mercy chaplet well known. However, at the beginning of the COVID-19 pandemic he felt called to share this devotion with others. He began to pray the chaplet live on his Facebook page every day. During this time, he had Catholic and non-Catholic fans reach out to him expressing their gratitude and, for some, they now carried a calling toward conversion. 

  1. “The Chosen” is not the first time he has played Jesus on screen.

Although the dynamic duo are most well-known for their recent work together on “The Chosen, director Dallas Jenkins’ and Roumie’s relationship goes back several years. The two first worked together when Jenkins, an evangelical Christian, was the media director for his church. He cast Roumie to play Jesus for a short film he made for his church called “The Two Thieves.” The film told the story of the two other men who were crucified with Jesus.

Soon after, Jenkins made the short film called “The Shepherd,” which became the pilot for what would become “The Chosen.” Several months after that was released, Jenkins called Roumie to ask if he would be interested in playing Jesus again in this new series.

  1. He is outspoken in urging Christian actors in Hollywood to stand firm in their beliefs. 

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In an interview with Matt Fradd on Pints with Aquinas, Roumie encouraged Christian actors to stand firm in their beliefs when accepting roles to play. He discussed how the culture is at odds with faith and reminded Christian actors to look at the kind of roles they are being offered and if they compromise their spirituality. He added that there are certain shows he can’t watch anymore because “they’re so gratuitous” and his “spirit rejects them.” Roumie advised Christians actors to try to find Christ in each role and emphasized the importance of prayer and discernment. 

  1. He has partnered with the Hallow App to create Catholic content.

Roumie is a featured partner on the popular Catholic prayer and meditation app Hallow. He has taken part in several of the app’s prayer challenges such as the #Pray40 Lent Challenge, the Advent Feat. The Chosen: #Pray25 Prayer Challenge, and a 30-day Gospel Challenge. His voice was also used to record the Divine Mercy Chaplet, Sacred Heart Novena, and the Lord’s Prayer in Aramaic.  

Hallow launched in December 2018 and is the No. 1 Catholic app in the U.S. and Canadian app stores. The app has more than 2,000 sessions including novenas, the rosary, daily examens, litanies, music, Bible stories, and much more. The app has been downloaded in more than 150 countries. 

7. He will be portraying a hippie preacher in his new upcoming movie. 

Roumie will be turning in Jesus’ tunic for bell bottoms and flare-sleeved blouses as he takes on the role of playing hippie-street-preacher Lonnie Frisbee in the new movie “Jesus Revolution.” The true story takes place in Southern California at the height of the hippie counterculture in the early 1970s. The movie shows the national spiritual awakening that took place during this time and how a community of teenage hippies came to encounter Christ. The film will be released on Feb. 24.

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