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Hollywood, homelessness and '17 Miracles' shaped LDS actor's faith

Published: Thursday, Sept. 20 2012 5:00 a.m. MDT

“I am proud of Jasen,” Merrill said. “Not only because he continues to hone his talents, but because he never abandoned who he is inside. ... He has a firm grip on a rapidly rising career.”

From the moment he stepped on the stage in Springdale, Wade has carried a deep desire to be part of films that tell compelling and inspiring stories. As he immersed himself in characters like Levi Savage and Harland “Bud” Curtis, Wade learned and gained a special strength from their examples. He hopes similar projects come his way in the future.

“It took me leaving Los Angeles and coming back to Utah to find the stories I wanted to tell,” Wade said. “Every character I have played during my entire career has taught me something, but when you get to immerse yourself into characters like Savage or Curtis, your life is changed, for good, forever. These were real heroes. You begin to take on their strengths and wisdom, and you sense a connection to something greater than yourself.”

In July 2010, Wade married Holly Green, a former SUU gymnast. They have two children and live in St. George.

In the meantime, as more movie roles come, Wade will continue to fight fires each summer. In addition to the income, fire keeps him grounded and adds a certain authenticity to his characters. He recalled leaving his buddies in the height of fire season to join the set of “17 Miracles,” which enhanced his masculine, pioneer appearance.

"If I got coddled in a trailer, I would lose a little bit of that authenticity that comes from having life experience," Wade said. “But no matter what movie I go do, I still come back to clean bathrooms and take out garbage.”

Lessons learned

When speaking to youth groups, Wade often shares lessons he’s learned over his career.

Follow the Spirit. "It's a guiding force," Wade said.

Don’t take shortcuts. “A lot were offered to me, but I kept turning them down,” he said. “If I had taken one, I know in my heart I never would have been considered for ‘17 Miracles.’”

Remember who you are and don’t compromise. “If you don’t know who you are, there are thousands of people ready and willing to define you overnight,” Wade said. “Know who you are, set that standard, and keep it between you and God.”

Be patient and trust in the Lord. “I was impatient. I thought this dream should have come to fruition many years ago, but there was a reason for it. Perhaps if I had done something earlier, it would have taken me in a different direction,” he said. “I think one of the greatest lessons the Lord is teaching us is patience, that there is a time and place for everything. You can’t give up. Trust in the vision he has given you until it unfolds.”

Email: ttoone@desnews.com Twitter: tbtoone

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