Screen success for former thief

In a life-change likened to ‘Billy Elliot’, professional actor and broadcaster Christopher Power broke away from learning difficulties and petty thieving after two jail sentences to pursue a notable career on stage, screen and TV.

Christopher Power
‘I could not see any future after jail’, says Christopher, pictured with wife Pauline

Starting with the Shakespeare Company playing Quince and Egeus on stage, Christopher Power trained in radio, which led to roles for ITV's 'Coronation Street' and TV doco 'Titanic: Birth of a Legend'.

In 2013, he played Colin Jarvis in the British-made feature film, "For Love's Sake", which premiered in the UK and USA on May 14th. He has also toured in the award winning play "Remembrance Day", appeared on stage as Bill Sykes in "Oliver!", and played the poet Wilfred Owen in the musical "Bullets and Daffodils".

In 2009, Christopher wrote an autobiography "Breaking Free" and the accompanying screenplay now awaits investment backing to turn it into a film by North Light Film Studios.

"I wanted to tell my story as honestly and openly as possible, hopefully showing that no matter where you start in life, that's not how you have to end up," says Christopher.

"I make no excuses for my behaviour, but the important thing is I got back on the right track."

Born in Cheshire, UK, Christopher and his siblings were in their bedroom when their father's friend was murdered in the hallway.

Hyperactivity and co-ordination problems lead to hospital and medication at the age of six. Frustration by his speech and learning impediments, Christopher frequently lashed out at hospital workers and teachers.

Eager to be accepted, he was sexually abused on two occasions by adults he trusted, but kept this a secret for many years.

As an 11-year-old he found an identity with a group involved in glue sniffing, brawling, drinking and gambling.

"I was oblivious to the dangers of solvent abuse, excessive drinking and gambling. It was destroying my life but I was not aware. The peer pressure was too much."

Ultimately, his choices led to a short detention in prison for petty crime at age 14.

Thankful for the comfort of his father's visits, he began thinking about how he could turn his life around. Finding a Gideon Bible, he sensed it was something special about it and kept it in his cell drawer.

In those days, there was no post-release offender support, so he quickly returned to drinking and self-harm. "Out of stupidity", he recalls stealing from a cash box; a crime that put him in adult prison, where he realised he needed to change his lifestyle.

"After coming out of prison, I realized how terrible I was physically and mentally," he explains.

"I was very pale, skinny as a result of the drugs. I was suffering from palpitations and headaches and could not see any future for myself."

While sitting with his gang, an old school friend named Jean Pierre began talking with Christopher about how he had become a Christian and what Jesus Christ had done in his life.

Christopher recalls: "In the yard of the local church, under a cross shaped headstone, Jean talked about Jesus Christ coming back, and of the need to be born again spiritually by believing Jesus took the punishment for my sin.

"I realised that I was in a mess and I needed a new life. I invited Jesus into my life and I am so glad I did."

Within weeks, Christopher knew God had forever changed his life.

"I had a sense of peace and the addictions slowly broke, some of them over a few years. I felt that I did not want to smoke, do drugs, drink or gamble. I wanted to be truthful and I now respected the people I had lashed out at, such as police and teachers."

Christopher found that he wanted to pray daily, read his Bible and understand more about the Spirit of God that now lived within him.

He explains that the assurance that he has God's eternal life is not based on his behaviour but on Romans chapter 10, verse 13, which says "Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved."

Because of this Bible verse, Christopher says, "I know 100% that God has done a great work in my life and is still working."

At college, Christopher befriended Ron, a well-spoken man who developed his acting talents by teaching him art, drama, Shakespeare, and life skills.

Following studies at Richmond Drama School, the Royal Academy of Dramatic Art and the Lee Strasberg Studio, Christopher also trained in radio broadcasting and has been a regular narrator and voice-over actor on British local radio.

In seeing his autobiographical story made into a film, Christopher hopes to inspire youth who struggled as he did.

"I believe that young people have so much to offer," he says, "but just need a little encouragement. I know that if they knew what background I came from and the power of God, then they too could follow their dreams and do something positive with their lives."

Christopher is married and his 12 year old son is following in his father's footsteps as a performer.

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