Brandon Michael Hall grew up in church, like the average kid from the South. Unlike the average kid, his mother was a minister and his schooling took him to the halls of Julliard School in New York City. Unlike the average graduate of a school of the arts, Hall matriculated in 2015 – and signed his first headlining role as The Mayor in 2017. Less than a year later, he’s holding down the title role in CBS’ latest entree into faith-based television, God Friended Me.
Growing up watching 7th Heaven and Touched by an Angel with his grandmother, Hall never imagined he’d be playing a role that could start up conversations about God in the world today. Looking back at his eight-year-old self, Hall is amused imagining what it would have been like for that second grader to see a young black man on a television channel anyone with an antenna could watch. “I think that would have been huge for me,” the actor reflected. “It would have made me very hopeful to see something that feels more grounded in reality, that shows a person like Miles who has definite beliefs about things but is very open to others.”
The Miles in question is a young wannabe podcaster who is also an atheist; Miles believes it is his job to disabuse people of false hope and untruths that serve as artificial crutches for their lives. In the opening episode of God Friended Me, the audience sees that Miles’ disbelief stems from a great tragedy suffered when he was younger, which drove him away from the church and his pastor father (Joe Morton).
“You see a group of people who are going through real life experiences, like finding their birth mother or experiencing true love, who deal with some painful experiences but seek the truth,” Hall explained. His hope is that the show will start conversations in a meaningful way about what it means to be human and to relate to the divine, breaking down our barriers to each other.
Hall referenced that the hour of worship, often Sunday morning, is the most segregated hour in America, racially and religiously. “What would happen if we broke down the barriers and were all about to have service together?” he asked. What starts out as a comical request from a Facebook user claiming to be God may just be the discussion starter to build bridges and open up conversation. If so, Hall will consider his job a success.
Throughout the series, Hall’s podcaster will be called on to help various people; in the first episode he befriends a journalist whose deep wound originated when her mother abandoned her family years before. There’s a near-death experience (actually, two of them!), a burning bush, and enough laughs to soften the audience up for the deeper questions about life, love, and faith.
God Friended Me premieres on September 30 on CBS, but you can see the premiere on some streaming providers now.