After making it big in the entertainment industry, a young Sam Sorbo was struggling to find purpose.
“I guess I figured out that the game was to make a lot of money,” she recalls. “That’s what I was taught growing up. And I made a lot of money and it wasn’t enough for me.”
Sorbo’s quest for purpose led her to faith, and a new set of values.
Sorbo, an actress, author, filmmaker, and advocate of education freedom, joins the “Problematic Women” podcast to share her journey into faith, entertainment, and homeschooling.
Listen to the podcast below or read the lightly edited transcript:
Virginia Allen: I am so pleased to be joined by author, filmmaker, education freedom advocate, and actress Sam Sorbo, who is most known for her work in many, many shows and TV series, but most known for “Miracle in East Texas,” “Andromeda,” and “Hercules.” Sam, thank you so much for joining the show today. It is a pleasure to have you here.
Sam Sorbo: Oh, it’s lovely to be here. Thank you for having me.
Allen: So, we spoke briefly at the Conservative Political Action Conference in February, but we didn’t get to have a full conversation. So I’m really glad that we’re getting to have that conversation today. And I want to start by just asking you to share your story.
You’re a conservative. You’re a Christian. You’re incredibly open about your faith and your views. You’re a wife. You’re a mom. But you’ve also really been in this entertainment space in Hollywood for years and years and years. So could you just share kind of how you got into that line of work? What drew you to acting?
Sorbo: Acting came naturally to me because I just loved it in high school, but I was dissuaded from pursuing it because, well, let’s face it, high school drama teachers are actors who can’t make it in the real world. And so the message is, basically, “I couldn’t make it and I’m awesome, so therefore you can’t make it, you younger person who I’m supposed to be teaching and mentoring.”
And I’m not saying that’s true across the board, but it seems to have been true for me because I was completely dissuaded. I was told that I could never be successful. And then I was, and I really had a career shift midway through college, frankly.
Allen: Was there someone that came along that kind of said, “Hey, no, I think you really can do this”? What gave you the guts to jump in and try it?
Sorbo: Oh, I started modeling and I was hugely successful modeling. And the reason that I decided to model was, first of all, I needed the money. I was recruited. So it was fairly easy to say, “Oh, you want to take photos and earn a lot of money?” “OK.” I happened to be pretty good at it, so I was very successful and I needed to take time off from school because I was giving myself an ulcer with all the stress that I was under in school.
Allen: Wow. And did you grow up in a Christian home? Were you a person of faith when you decided that you were going to kind of try and enter this world?
Sorbo: No. I was raised as a Jew in an atheist home where we celebrated Christmas and Easter.
Sorbo: So it was, I would say, pretty average secular in a sense. And so in my late teens, early 20s, when I was very successful financially and I realized it’s not enough to just make a lot of money—that’s not really winning the game. Or rather, I guess I figured out that the game was to make a lot of money. That’s what I was taught growing up. And I made a lot of money and it wasn’t enough for me.
It was sort of like, “OK, now that I’ve won the game, now what do I do? This is it? This is all there is?” And so I went on a quest seeking truth and meaning for life. And that’s what led me to a belief in God.
Allen: That’s really cool. I think that’s awesome that you were kind of in this entertainment world when you decided, “OK, I need to find faith.” And in some ways, that that propelled you to kind of ask big questions about life and search for something bigger than just fame and money.
Sorbo: Yeah. I was looking for meaning and I found God, I guess, is really the way—I was looking for meaning. I found order. And when you discover order, you find God. So that’s how that happened.
And I’m very blessed to have had that happen because there are a lot of people now, I would say, who are searching, who are not finding their—they’re giving up. And I think that’s contributed to the high rate of suicide that we’re seeing today.
Allen: So what changed for you when you kind of started to figure out your faith, what you believed when you were in this entertainment world that is traditionally not known for being super friendly toward Christianity, not known for being super friendly toward traditional conservative views and values, what was then kind of the wrestle for you personally as you were kind of navigating the Hollywood world with these newfound views and beliefs?
Sorbo: Well, I guess I didn’t clash very much. I mean, I just understood that I knew more than—I mean, this sounds terrible, but I just knew more than people that I was dealing with. But you deal with people on a fairly superficial level. So I never got to the point of sort of proselytizing or evangelizing people. I really enjoyed going to church. I had friends who went to church.
That’s how I found my church and the friends who I had who were totally uninterested—when you’re young and disinterested, it sort of doesn’t matter because you can distract yourself. It’s as you grow and the weight to the world gets heavier on your shoulders, I think that you really start to understand that there are consequences and there should be some meaning. And if you can’t find it, then you really become lost. But I don’t know, we’re getting a little philosophical here.
Allen: Sure. Well, I think your story is just fascinating. You actually … met your husband on the set of “Hercules,” correct?
Sorbo: Yes, I did.
Allen: OK. And at that point, where were you on this journey of figuring out your own views and beliefs and faiths?
Sorbo: Oh, I was fully a Christian at that point.
Allen: OK. So what was that like, to be on a movie set, filming? You’re falling in love with one of your co-workers, essentially, and you’re navigating being a young person. You have all this fame, but also, now you’re trying to live by these Christian beliefs.
Sorbo: Once I discovered that there was a God and I wasn’t him, it was a pretty easy transition for me. It wasn’t like, “Oh, now what do we do?” And in fact, C.S. Lewis talks about this in “The Weight of Glory”—I think it was “The Weight of Glory,” I’m trying to think.
He talks about when he first became a Christian. And initially he thought that if you become a Christian, your whole life changes. And yet, that’s not really what happens. Your life stays the same. It just feels differently. And so I guess that’s a good way to characterize it for me, is, once I became a Christian, life had meaning. My fear left me. Everything seemed to make a lot more sense. Those kinds of things.
And so separate from that—that happened. That was done and finished. And I was walking in my Christian faith. And I went down to guest star on “Hercules” and I met the man of my dreams. It was pretty simple, pretty astonishingly straightforward. I met him and I was just like, “Wow, this is amazing.” And he checked all the boxes, so to speak.
And the challenge came because we got engaged and then we had an engagement period where I was wondering how I was going to make it work. I had prayed to God that he would find me a mate. I wanted to get married and I wanted to have children, and so that’s what I prayed for. And clearly, God had provided that for me, but then how [am] I going to make it happen? Because I was a career woman, I had my job.
I was a working actress and my popularity was rising. And the demands of the job were growing, not diminishing. And I was trying to figure out how he lived in New Zealand, but that wasn’t going to last forever, maybe, but I lived in [Los Angeles]. It was a very, very long distance. I really liked being around him. I really wanted to make this work. So I was just wondering.
By the way, I had prayed for somebody, and maybe the year before I met Kevin, I realized that there was going to have to be a compromise, that I wasn’t going to meet “the man of my dreams” because there just had to be a compromise. Somehow I got convinced of that.
So I prayed to God that God would show me what the compromise was. Was he going to be short or stupid or whatever? Like, “What was it going to be, God, just show me what it is and I’ll make the compromise, because if that’s the way to get this done, then that’s the way to get this done.” Then I’m meet Kevin and I’m like, “Holy smokes, this is awesome. I found the perfect guy.”
OK, so maybe the compromise is just this Pacific Ocean, we’re just going to have to figure it out, we’ll make it work. And I sort of set aside the idea of compromise because that just seemed like, OK, logistics. So it’s just logistics we just have to figure through.
And then he got very, very, very sick. He had three strokes and he ended up in intensive care. And at the same time I booked one of the best jobs you could hope for as a young aspiring actress. [It] was a TV commercial, so it was a quick job, lots of money, first-class travel, New York three days. For the one thing that I could never resist, ice cream. So it was a commercial for ice cream.
And at the time this was, in a sense, it was a holy grail. Maybe not the starring in a film opposite Pacino or something maybe would beat it, but this was pretty big. And I booked it.
I had to go into the intensive care and I asked Kevin if he wanted me not to go. By the way, this put him in a very uncomfortable position of admitting that he needed me. And he said, “Yes, I want you to not go.” And I looked up to God and I said, “That’s the compromise.” With the snap of my fingers, I walked away from my career.
That was one of the easiest things I’ve ever done, I can’t even—it was so, it was so self-evident: “Oh no, if you want a marriage and family, then this is your option.”
I was faced with that binary choice once more when I had children and that’s why I chose to home educate them. It’s why I chose to stay home with them. Then when the schools didn’t step up to the plate, I realized that I needed to home educate. Even then it was a decision that was fraught with peril. It was a decision that was overwhelmingly stressful. I knew that it was the right thing to do and it was.
I felt completely inadequate to the task, which, by the way, is a reflection of our education system. And by the way, like, I’m super educated and I felt completely incapable of teaching my own children, which is absurd.
But that’s the result of our education system, which tells you that it’s not a system of education. It tells you it’s a system of non-education. And so why are we subjecting our children to it and why are we believing that it knows best for our children, in which case, why are we even following its dictates when we bring our children home to educate them ourselves and doing its curriculum, for instance?
By the way, those two seminal choices that I made—well, I should say three. So one, staying home to nurse my husband back to health. Two, staying home to be with my children so that they didn’t have to miss me. And then three, choosing to home educate them. [Those] are the very best decisions of my life and that’s why I’m such a staunch advocate for the family, because life is nothing without your family and your relationships. You don’t know what you’re sacrificing when you sacrifice those, like when you drop your children off at school.
Allen: Sam, I love what you’re saying because I think we can think into the future, 10 years down the road, and we picture having to make these really hard decisions. But so much of what I’m hearing you say is, when you’re faced with someone you love, like your husband’s in the hospital, you’re staring at him and in that instance it’s not a hard decision to make, because this is someone that you love deeply.
When you’re looking at your kids and you’re thinking about their education and what they’re learning, even though it’s really challenging to think of taking on their education, still it’s a yes and it’s a hearty yes because you love your kids and you want to do the best for them.
I think as young people we can sometimes kind of get really caught up in our head about, “Gosh, how am I going to balance career and family and all these things?” And it’s like, at the end of the day, I think when those people are standing in front of you that you love so dearly, the choices become clear and a little bit simpler.
But for you, how has that journey been of taking on homeschooling your kids and really becoming this advocate for parents to be their kids’ advocate in the education space?
Sorbo: I follow truth. And when I find truth, I want to share it. So, that’s what I do.
So, I’m putting together a conference right now that’s going to be, let’s see, it’s June 24 and 25. So it’s a Friday evening and a Saturday all day up in Port St. Lucie, which is in Florida, which is a great place. We’re at the community center there, so it’s a great space. And we’re inviting parents and even people who are not parents or grandparents to rethink the way that we think about education.
We need to educate differently because clearly, what we’ve been doing has been a failure. Look at us. So now they graduate children from high school who cannot read and they call them learned. It’s an absurdity. We’ve been sold a bill of goods. This is the greatest Ponzi scheme known to mankind. In fact, it’s the greatest Ponzi scheme known to mankind. In fact, it’s the greatest heist and mystery, the fact that we allow the bureaucracy of our school system to steal the family from its members.
So children are stolen from their parents and parents are stolen from their children. That relationship is robbed and plundered.
Allen: … Obviously, for some people, homeschooling is practical and they’re going to say, “Yes, I want to do that. We can make that happen.” For other people, that’s nearly impossible. What are the options that you would give, how you would encourage young moms who are thinking, “OK, I don’t want my kids in the public schools, but I can’t sign up to teach my kid five days a week because I have a full-time job or other responsibilities”?
Sorbo: So, practical or not, possible or not, I talk about best. If you want the best for your child, then you preserve the bond. And you preserve the bond by not breaking it every day and turning your child over to literally a complete stranger.
Allen: Sam, thank you. I think this is so helpful because even for someone like me, who doesn’t yet have kids, these are things that I’m increasingly thinking about, of just, “OK. There will be a time when I need to cross that bridge.”
Allen: And so I already need to be making that plan of, how do I want to deal with this? And I think five years ago, if someone had asked me if I would ever consider homeschooling, I would’ve laughed and said, “Absolutely not.” But now, increasingly, it’s like, OK, not only is this beginning to seem like, OK, the public schools are not a great option, but also just learning there are so many great tools out there that make it doable for families that are in various seasons of life and have various challenges. So appreciate the work that you’re doing.
But one more question, before we let you go. There’s one question that we love to ask all of our guests on this show and that is—
Allen: The famous question. Do you consider yourself a feminist? Yes or no? Why or why not?
Sorbo: I consider myself a true feminist. That’s actually the first website that I ever put up. That was my first attempt at branding, affirming feminine convictions. So I believe that there is such a thing as the feminine.
And I love the fact that feminists today are even denying that the feminine exists, and that the feminists out there that try to reaffirm that there is a difference between men and women and that we shouldn’t be allowing men to compete in sports as if they were women are being ostracized as TERFs. I think that it’s a terrible thing. In fact, … you know what a TERF is?
Sorbo: … It refers to somebody who’s, basically, it’s a radical feminist who’s trans-denying, basically. And so you’ve got Martina Navratilova, I believe, who was branded with that, and then also, J.K. Rowling—
Allen: Oh, OK.
Sorbo: … who came out and said, “We shouldn’t be doing this.”
So, yeah. But, here’s the problem that we have, and I wrote a book about this called “Words for Warriors,” the left has taken words and changed their meanings on us. And then they use them, either with the new meanings or the old meanings. It’s nebulous. And you’re never quite sure what the heck they mean when they say things. And this is a degradation of the human language.
This is a terrible, terrible thing. And we ought not to be allowing it to happen. And that’s why I just call for everybody, the least you can do is stand for the truth. The least that you can do is say, “I don’t think that word means what you want it to mean,” and not join them in the lie. Because when we lie, we deny God. The lie is the denial of God. Because in the beginning was the word, and the word was with God, and the word was God. Right?
Sorbo: And Jesus said, “I am the truth.”
Allen: Yeah. Sam, thank you. Really appreciate your time and you sharing, and the work that you’re doing. Again, if you guys want to learn more about Sam, what she’s up to, want to buy her books, you can check out samsorbo.com. We’ll put a link in the show notes. But Sam, this has been a real treat just to get to pick your brain for a little bit, hear about what you’re working on, and also hear some of your story. We really appreciate you sharing.
Sorbo: It was lovely to hear your voice. Thank you so much for having me. This was fun.
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