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Raising Izzie

Here’s a stunning debut film with a refreshing take and powerful message, Raising Izzie.


Film poster

The film recently premiered on GMC TV—a favorite channel for uplifting entertainment—and its compelling message hit the spot, drawing thousands of viewers. And this is just the beginning.

Raising Izzie tells the story of two young orphaned girls, 14-year-old Gertie and 10-year-old Izzie. Without a father in their lives, their mother’s death left them in a quandary as they struggled to maintain a “normal” life in obedience to their dying mother’s pre-death instructions.

Afraid that Child Protective Services would separate the girls, the mother had painstakingly prepped Gertie to assume the household responsibilities and take care of Izzie—without letting anyone know that they were parentless. In spite of the girls’ efforts to hide their predicament, Gertie’s teacher, Tonya Freeman (played by Vanessa Williams), senses something is amiss and gently probes until the girls open up about their situation.

The backdrop of the story centers on a huge question and marital dispute between Greg (Rockmond Dunbar) and Tonya (Vanessa Williams): “Will we have children?”

Dunbar and Williams, both great actors, are especially favorites when they play together as a “couple”. They exude a natural sense of ease and chemistry making them believable.

Their issue as a married couple in Raising Izzie is not uncommon: to parent or not to parent. What is uncommon, however, is how God puts this family together with all its unusual dymanics—not the least of which is that the parents are black and the children are white—a reversal of the usual combination. (It is more common to see white couples adopt black children than vice versa.) Thus, the film sends a double-whammy message: let God choose your family, and be open to break tradition to embrace His purpose.

The film is refreshing, inspiring, enjoyable, probing, and uplifting. Thank you GMC.

This article first appeared in The San Diego Examiner. (



Janey DeMeo is founder and director of Orphans First — a nonprofit organization helping suffering children around the world. She is also an author and speaker. Her husband, Louis, is a church-planter, mentor and pastor. They were formerly missionaries to France for 22 years and also worked in developing countries. They are now based in Southern California where they continue their ministry mentoring people to walk closer to Jesus. They both taught at the Calvary Chapel Bible College.


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