By: Elora Smith
“Thomas Edison failed a thousand times when creating the light bulb and look where we are now. The most successful people have failed the most. What matters is that when you find your passion, you keep going. You keep fighting for it even when you fail.” says Joshua Cody, one of Shenandoah University’s upcoming actors known best for his role in Santa Girl. He has just finished filming A Cupid for Christmas, SU’s next feature film that is to be released this holiday season.
Joshua Cody looks like your typical “pretty boy” with his tan-colored jeans, perfectly trimmed blonde hair, piercing blues eyes, and the aroma of cologne following his every move. However he may look, he is most known by his friends and family for his immeasurable kindness, the compassion he holds in his heart, and the light that he radiates.
Josh’s journey started with an auditory processing disorder, diagnosed at eight years old. Less than seven percent of children in the United States have been diagnosed with this disorder that affects one’s ability to understand speech. Josh struggled with speaking in full sentences, as well as understanding directions.
“I just couldn’t process things as other people could” Josh says. Through all of the confusion and struggle, his parents, Shawn and Marsha Cody played an instrumental role in making sure that this disability did not define the kind of person Josh would grow up to be.
“We didn’t tell him that he had a language processing disorder until he was in middle school.” Mrs. Cody said, “We didn’t want him to have any excuse to underachieve.”
She worked with him every chance she got, doing exercises that involved small directional skills like moving blocks from one place to another. Now he doesn’t view his language processing disorder as a disability, not allowing it to keep him from doing his best. He said, “God healed me, His hands were on me and he healed that disorder.”
Josh developed a concept of never giving up, even as a stigma of failure and defeat followed the decisions he made his senior year of high school. Josh had dreamed of going into exercise science. That, however, according to Josh, wasn’t in God’s plan. Two days before Alamosa High School’s first football game, Josh, the captain, and quarterback of the team broke his arm during practice.
“I wanted to play, and I didn’t understand why this happened to me. I distinctly remember sitting on the couch feeling sorry for myself when my mom came in the room and said ‘Well you can sit here moping or you can do something’” he explained.
His mom then suggested participating in the musical the school was putting on, Grease. Initially, Josh was entirely against the idea of trying out for a school play, he was a jock, not an actor. However, the push and need to do something was so strong that he found himself auditioning and received a lead part as Danny Zuko. Through this step outside of his comfort zone, his love of performance was birthed.
Josh enrolled at Adam State University as a theatre major. On the first day of class he told his professor that he wanted to go into musical theatre, “… She immediately said we got to get you out of the valley then,” Josh stated, “so we started looking at places, and the only one that stuck out to me was Shenandoah Conservatory, so I applied and sent an audition video.”
A few weeks later he was invited to come to Shenandoah University in Winchester, Virginia, and go through a long, rigorous audition process. When he was here, he found out that the musical theatre program had a two-point seven percent acceptance rate.
He didn’t think he was going to get in, in fact, he thought his audition was the worst. “My hands were shaking. I messed up so many times; there was no way I was getting in. It was a huge, huge God thing. He opened the door, and I walked through it” he said about his acceptance into Shenandoah, and with the support of his family, he moved to Virginia to pursue the path God set before him.
Josh’s schedule was packed with classes meant to sharpen his performing arts skills like music theory, dance, piano, acting, and voice lessons. These classes helped him audition for the movie ‘Santa Girl’, now on Netflix, directed by SU professor Blayne Weaver.
He acquired a lead part in the movie that was to be filmed on and off-campus. Auditioning for the part, Josh said, “That was by the grace of God that I got that part. I thought I was auditioning for a role in a student production. I had no idea it was an actual movie,” nevertheless he took the role of JR, Jack Frost’s son.
Jennifer Stone of Wizards of Waverly Place and Devon Werkheiser from Ned’s Declassified School Survival Guide play the main characters in the movie as well. Over 60 students and staff members of the University were involved in creating the film.
Though this is his most popular film, Josh has been a part of several other short films produced by the school and other production companies.
After being asked what he thought his greatest accomplishment was, he responded by saying, “Asking Jesus into my heart will always be my greatest accomplishment. With Him, I have all I need.” Josh claims that his relationship with God is the reason for all of his success.
However, in the midst of all of Josh’s successes, he admitted that there are challenges he continually has to overcome.
When moving to Virginia to attend school, Josh felt he was comparing himself to others, thinking he was not talented enough.
“I have had to work on this a lot and with time it has gotten better. I realize that I need to be the best me and that should be my focus, not on what other people can do that I can’t” he said.
Josh also mentioned spiritual battles as a challenge he constantly faces. Everyone faces these challenges every day. The thoughts of worry, doubt, and fear creep up in the minds of every single person.
The battle is choosing whether to listen to those thoughts, the battle is fighting to act in faith and never in fear of the future, as well as the desire to be in and of the world rather than being the light we were created to be. “…I catch myself asking what would Jesus do in this situation and how can I be more like Jesus today?” he explained.
Fighting those battles is one of the hardest things to do.
When Josh was asked what motivated him to keep going, even when he comes against failure and not knowing the future, he said, “I want to make a positive impact on the world. I want to show virtue through what I am doing, that there is more to life than what the world has to offer. Being that light, showing God’s love, and being the change in the world, that’s what motivates me. If I do that I am fulfilling my purpose.”
Through the process of finding your passion, there will always be obstacles in your way. There will always be the times you fail epically and the times you succeed. Finding what ignites that fire inside of you is only half the battle, the other part is sticking to it.
Marsha said that she often reminds Josh that, “God made you on purpose for a purpose – no mistakes – so use all God has given you to pursue excellence every day to serve Him.”
Joshua Cody came from a small rural community in the state of Colorado, he went through struggles most can not even begin to understand- with his auditory processing disorder, and overcame a physical injury which, in turn, helped him find his vocation.
His story has the potential to inspire millions, and the most amazing part is that it’s not over.
Whatever your passion is, fight for it, don’t balk at the challenges and you can make a life worth living. There will always be times that you will feel stuck, or lost, but that’s life.
Keep fighting, reach for the stars, reach for the promise God has placed on your life, whatever your spirituality may be. You have these abilities for a reason and were put where you are today for a reason. Use them and pursue them with everything you have to not only tell your story but your God’s story through you.
Joshua Cody’s last piece of advice is to “…do something, keep going, and you will be amazed at what you can accomplish and how much joy life can bring you.”
The world is full of uncertainty, ever-changing circumstances, and undeniable pain, but it’s people like Josh that are going to change the world. He is one light amongst thousands striving to make a difference. While he is nowhere near perfect, he is a warrior that will never stop reaching for the divine destiny that has been placed on his life.
Alex Holland, a free solo rock climber once said, “It’s about being a warrior, it doesn’t matter about the cause, necessarily this is your path and you will pursue it with excellence. You face your fears because your goal demands it. That is the warrior spirit.” Find the warrior spirit inside yourself and allow it to keep your soul on fire.