(LifeSiteNews) — In an interview with former Trump adviser Steve Bannon on War Room, Catholic actor and producer Eduardo Verástegui told the story of how he resolved to put his “entire life” on pause to help end human trafficking by producing the upcoming film Sound of Freedom.
Verástegui, producer and lead actor of the acclaimed pro-life 2006 film Bella, began by recounting a conversation during his early days as an actor that changed the trajectory of his life.
While the Mexican native was working on his first film role, he met a woman who was a good friend of actor Jim Caviezel, who taught him English and is starring in Sound of Freedom.
“But [she] not only taught me English. She changed my life,” Verástegui told Bannon.
“She started asking me questions like, ‘What is the focus of your life? Who is God in your life? How are you using your talents? How do you use your projects? Why do you want to be an actor? … Are you part of the problem, or part of the solution?” Verástegui shared.
He explained that she had him consider how every acting role “has an impact on how people think,” and recalled how Plato said if he had to choose between using art or politics to govern a nation, he would choose art, because of its “power to change people’s hearts and their minds.”
After the thought-provoking conversation, Verástegui “made a promise to God that I would never use my talents to do anything that would offend my faith, my family, or my Latino culture.”
Immediately following his resolution, his life seemed to take a turn for the worse, and he was out of work for four years.
“I lost everything. But I gained everything. I gained true freedom,” Verástegui told Bannon, adding that “freedom is not the right to do whatever you want, but to do the right thing.”
Tired of waiting for a role that would portray a “real man,” he followed the suggestion of a friend of his to instead become a producer, so that he would have the “power to control [his] message.”
He subsequently put together a production company with Alejandro Monteverde and Leo Severino, with the mission of producing films that would aim to “make a difference in people’s lives.”
By that measure, the first movie was an extreme success. Bella, a pro-life film, literally “saved many lives,” Verástegui shared.
“To this day, I still receive letters and emails from women who were pregnant who were scheduled to have an abortion at that time and after seeing the movie Bella, by the grace of God, they changed their mind and kept that baby,” he continued.
As he was in Los Angeles doing focus groups for another film he produced, Little Boy, he met Operation Underground Railroad (OUR) founder Tim Ballard and his team, and learned about their undercover work across the globe to rescue kidnapped and sexually exploited children.
Verástegui was shaken by what he learned.
“I couldn’t sleep. I was depressed. I was in shock,” he said.
He recalled how Ballard told him, “It’s very sad what I’ve told you. But it’s more sad, now that you know, if you do nothing.”
“It was very clear to me what I had to do,” Verástegui told Bannon. “I had to pause everything, my entire life, to end child trafficking.”
Verástegui offered his “weapon of mass instruction and inspiration”: filmmaking.
He would tell the story of Ballard’s most dangerous rescue mission, which was in Cartagena, Colombia.
Verástegui had asked Ballard what happened at the end of the mission.
“He said that the children that were rescued, they were crying. They were in tears. They were singing. It was the beautiful sound of freedom.”
Verástegui knew immediately that would be the title of his film: Sound of Freedom.
After eight years of work on the film, Verástegui thought its release would be a no-brainer, because it is about a cause that should unite everyone: saving children as young as three and five who are “being raped 15 times a day.”
“We finished the movie. And then Netflix passed. Amazon passed.”
While Verástegui suggested that he first thought his bafflement at their refusal to host the film may have simply been due to a lack of objectivity about his own production, he noticed that when he started showing the film to “thousands” of people, they responded with tears and standing ovations.
“I thought something’s going on, something’s really weird here,” said Verástegui.
“And then I thought, of course. They’re blocking this film because this crime is everywhere.”
Verástegui pointed out that the U.S. “is the number one consumer of child sex,” and “Mexico is the number one provider.”
The producer believes that “if everyone knows what is going on,” child trafficking can be halted.
Verástegui shared that according to official statistics, 47 children disappear daily in Mexico alone – and he believes the real numbers are three times that amount.
“If we don’t do something now … the pain of these children will reach out to all of us. And then we will be the ones who will be living a nightmare,” warned Verástegui.
“We have to do something. Whatever is in your hands,” Verástegui exhorted listeners, noting that we all can act according to our different talents.
“Ask God, ‘How can I help? I’m an instrument. What can I do to end this?’” said Verástegui.
“Because what if this was your child? You would hope that the whole world would stop everything they’re doing so they can help you to find your child. Let’s do the same for the children of someone else.”
Sound of Freedom will be released in 1,200 movie theaters across America on July 4.
“The mission of this film, and Angel Studios’ role in distributing it, is to spread worldwide awareness about the horrors of human trafficking,” a representative of the film studio told LifeSiteNews. “If we’re going to spread awareness, that means getting as many people as possible to go to theaters.”
Purchase tickets for Sound of Freedom here.
To learn more about how you can fight human trafficking, visit Operation Underground Railroad’s website by clicking here.