Author Ron Hall shares the life-changing lesson he hopes people take away from his new film.
The upcoming drama, Same Kind of Different as Me, starring Greg Kinnear and Oscar-winner Renee Zellweger, tells the story of a wealthy art dealer who befriends a homeless Black man and has his life changed forever.
For author Ron Hall, that story just happens to be true.
Hall, whose real-life transformation serves as the foundation for the new film, traded “success for significance” after he struck up a friendship with Denver Moore, a poor African American man living on the streets in Dallas, Texas. The two met at a mission after Hall’s wife, Debbie, urged him to go and aid the community. She’d had a dream that the experience would change their lives.
Debbie died nearly 20 years ago after a tough battle with cancer, but her dream came true. Hall and Moore forged bond after her death that lasted over a decade before Moore passed away in 2012 and the pair’s friendship is now inspiring people around the world.
Hall spoke with Guideposts.org about the new film, his life-changing revelation, and what he hopes people can learn from his story.
GUIDEPOSTS: What were your initial thoughts when producers came to you about making this film?
RON HALL: Well, I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t excited and flattered. We had a hard time getting traction with our book. In fact, we got turned down so many times, I self-published before one of those copies got in the hands of a well know author and he put us in touch with his agent. However, that initial excitement about the film offer was followed by several years of frustrations and disappointments until God breathed new life into it in April 2014.
GUIDEPOSTS: What was the most important thing you wanted this film to portray?
RH: Faith in action is the most important thing I want this film to portray. I want [people] to understand this is not about a rich white [man] saving a poor African American. It’s about two reluctant, polar opposite men with hardened hearts thrown together to save each other.
GUIDEPOSTS: How did your relationship with Denver grow and evolve over time?
RH: It took months of pursuing Denver at Debbie’s insistence until I finally got him in my car and took him to breakfast one morning. I found his story fascinating though tragic. His wisdom was beyond belief though he was totally illiterate. After several months, he became my professor and I his very willing student.
GUIDEPOSTS: Is there a moment in your friendship with him that really stands out to you?
RH: It was the catch and release moment when in response to me asking him to be my friend he told me there was something about white folks that really bothered him. It had to do with fishing. He could not accept the fact that when white men went fishing, they would catch and release. So he told me if I was a white man fishing for a friend and I was going to catch and release, then he had no interest in being my friend.
GUIDEPOSTS: How did being Denver’s friend change you as a person, your view of the world and what you wanted to accomplish in life?
RH: A few months into our friendship, I realized I was losing interest in my art business as God was stirring my soul to move from success to significance.
GUIDEPOSTS: What are Denverisms?
RH: Denver had his own language that was based on his combination of homegrown and God-given wisdom. They were unique sayings of his that I have tried to preserve in a new book coming out on the twelve years we lived together after Debbie went to heaven. My favorites are ‘We are all homeless, just workin’ our way home’ and ‘If the devil ain’t messin with you, he’s already got you.’
GUIDEPOSTS: How do you hope this film can affect people who watch it?
RH: I believe our film illustrates beautifully that it’s not the color of our skin that divides us, it’s the condition of our hearts. Hopefully, people will see the homeless through the lens of God and want to make a difference in their community. After Debbie died, Denver moved into my home with nothing and gave me everything. I once was wealthy, but Denver made my life rich.
In 2001, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. I wasn’t a good candidate for chemo. I took tamoxifen instead and gave my trouble to God—just as Dr. Peale suggested in his book, "Thought Conditioners". Since then I’ve remained cancer free. -Guideposts Magazine reader