Actress Patricia Heaton isn't your average Hollywood celebrity. An outspoken Christian and the star of ABC's "The Middle" and the long-running "Everybody Loves Raymond," she's been open about her faith — and told TheBlaze that, contrary to popular belief, she isn't alone in Tinseltown.
Heaton, who plays a pastor's wife in the upcoming comedy "Moms' Night Out," said that there are actually a lot of Christians and "seekers" in Hollywood.
"Most creative people have a deep spiritual well that they’re drawing from even if they don’t know it," Heaton said during a sit-down interview with TheBlaze. "The arts are being creative -- I mean, God is a creator, he creates constantly, and when you’re in a creative place like Hollywood, there’s a lot of opportunity to talk and share and find common ground."
Actress Patricia Heaton attends the Old Spice "Scent Responsibly" campaign launch, Jan. 13, 2014 in Los Angeles. (Getty Images/Imeh Akpanudosen)
Christian celebrities who keep quiet about their faith might do so because of the perceptions and stereotypes about what it means to be a Bible believer, Heaton said -- a paradigm Christians can sometimes bring upon themselves.
The "cheap" way that Christians are often portrayed in media, she believes, creates fear among some in Hollywood when it comes to opening up about their faith.
"You know, my older sister is a Dominican nun, and nuns are always portrayed as weird, sexually repressed, old maids who are bitter. Listen, I went to Catholic school, there are a few of those, but the Dominican sisters that I know are lovely, lovely ladies," she said. "So I think there has been this idea out there and the media kind of runs with it, portrays Christians as bad guys."
As for living out one's faith, Heaton, a self-described Catholic who attends a variety of Christian churches, said she believes actions truly matter.
"If you’re on a set everyday with 12 people, they get to know you and see how you treat number one on the call sheet and number 49 on the call sheet and how you act," Heaton said. "Whether you act entitled or whether you are kind and generous and compassionate, and also, do you show up on time? Do you know your lines? Are you professional? All of that stuff speaks volumes."
Heaton isn't sure if she's paid a professional price for her Christianity, because those who haven't hired her would never admit if her faith was the reason why.
Patricia Heaton visits "Extra" at Universal Studios Hollywood on Sep. 17, 2013 in Universal City, Calif. (Noel Vasquez/Getty Images for Extra)
But considering her Emmy Award-winning performance as Debra Barone on "Everybody Loves Raymond" and her current role as Frankie Heck on "The Middle" -- now in its fifth season -- Heaton doesn't seem to be too bogged down when it comes to success.
Heaton told TheBlaze that she is delighted that "The Middle," a show revered for being safe to watch for all ages, has become a program that is "smart and edgy -- and warm and appreciative" of life in the Midwest.
Plus, she said, the show offers a realistic look at how many American families actually live.
In "Everybody Loves Raymond" and "The Middle," for instance, Heaton pointed out that the families attend church -- but that the themes don't hit viewers over the head with the message.
"It’s unusual that really two shows I have been on have had that in common, 'Raymond' and 'The Middle' -- both families were churchgoers, and they never made a big deal about it," she said. "It was just part of the fabric of their lives which is true for many many families in the United States, but it is never portrayed."
But it's not just the fact that she portrays positive and real themes on television. Heaton has also jumped into sociopolitical debates, taking to Twitter to share her views and openly advocating for and against the issues she's passionate about, albeit carefully and with compassion.
During the Kermit Gosnell trial, for instance, Heaton shared her candid assessment of what unfolded at his Pennsylvania abortion clinic.
Never one to back down from her stance, Heaton said she's always careful to speak with compassion.
For more information on her new film, "Moms' Night Out," click here.
Stay tuned for TheBlaze's next story about Heaton's passion for taking a stand on the issues that matter most to her.