Rolling Out

Pastor Mike Jr. explains how ‘Paws of Fury’ elevates animated cinema

The gospel artist explains why he turns to cartoons for inspiration
Pastor Mike Jr. explains how 'Paws of Fury' elevates animated cinema
Pastor Mike Jr. hosted a screening for “Paws of Fury” in Atlanta on July 9. (Photo credit: Rashad Milligan for rolling out)

One week ahead of the Stellar Awards in Atlanta, minister and gospel artist Pastor Mike Jr. spoke to rolling out after hosting a screening for the upcoming film Paws of Fury.

The movie, set to release on July 15, is about a dog who aspires to become a samurai in a town of all cats. It’s a mixture of life lessons, advanced humor and childhood charm.

How was today’s screening?

I’m so excited. I got the opportunity to host a private screening of Paws of Fury. So many messages, so much symbolism. It was absolutely inspirational. My babies love it, the kids love it and the parents love it. So July 15, go check it out everywhere Paws of Fury.

To be an animated children’s movie, there are a lot of profound life messages in there. What do you think that means for the movie to have such deep meaning?

It’s incredible. My church always laughs at me. They said, if you want to be inspired, Pastor Mike, what do you do? And I always tell him, I go watch a cartoon. This movie has so much symbolism from cats to dogs, Blacks, Whites, Christian, non-Christian, tall, short, it broke that fourth wall. It helps us realize there’s value beyond the differences we see in each other. And I really believe as a culture, if we can get to a place where I can see your gift and see your value before I see your hair or your skin or your ethnicity or your sexual preference, that’s when we can go to another level. So for me, man, I’m encouraging everybody go watch this movie. I believe it’s going to help you see the value in those who are right there around you.

At this screening, there were a lot of Black fathers, and Black parents in general, in attendance. How did it feel to see Black parents bonding with their children?

What was so incredible about this premiere was how many African American fathers were here. We have to make sure that as men we are present in our children’s lives. I love being a daddy. Someone asked me earlier you won Artist of the Year and you won this, you won that, what’s the biggest part of last year? For me, it was not missing a single game. It was being at all my kids’ recitals. If we can start affirming our children and speaking life into them, I really believe we can help them become all that God wants them to be. So I’m excited, man, I can’t wait to see what the future holds.

What are tips you can give to aspiring gospel artists?

Number one, understand your why … you’re in it to lift up the name of Jesus … Number two, build a great team … Number three, don’t ever forget who you are.

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