Member Spotlight: Robia Scott of 'Unplanned' finds herself back onscreen

Michael Miller  ·  Aug 23, 2019

Samaritan Ministries member Robia Scott hadn’t planned to get back into acting after a 15-year hiatus, but the film Unplanned changed that.

The actress and former dancer was content with her ministry of speaking to women at conferences and churches. During a snowy visit to Nashville for a TV interview, though, she had dinner with some people “through a God series of events.” One of them was working with Cary Solomon and Chuck Konzelman, the writers of God’s Not Dead who were putting together Unplanned, the life story of Abby Johnson, who left Planned Parenthood to become a pro-life activist through the And Then There Were None ministry.

After 15 years away from acting, Robia found herself in the role of Planned Parenthood clinic director “Cheryl” in the film, now released on DVD at

“It was an ‘only-God’ type of situation,” she says.

It wasn’t the first “only-God-could-have” time of her life, though. He pulled her out of anxiety and fear, which she lived with despite her success as a dancer—she was “Pearl” for Prince’s Diamonds and Pearls video and tour—and a TV actress.

“I was a chain smoker, but above all I was really struggling with my relationship with food and my body image,” Robia says. “Even though you wouldn’t know it by looking at me, because I was always thin and in shape. But I was really tormented in my mind about food, about my body. I dealt with eating disorders.”

When she came to know the Lord, though, she says that she “heard in my spirit” that food was not her problem, “but I was using food as a counterfeit comforter.”

“The Lord reminded me that the Holy Spirit is the comforter, and He was showing me that food wasn’t really my problem,” Robia says. “He took me through the process of learning how to transfer the dependence from the counterfeit to the true comforter. I went through this process of emotional healing.”

As a Christian in Hollywood, though, she was finding fewer roles she felt comfortable in and turned to full-time ministry.

“I felt God pretty quickly was pulling me away from the industry and using my gifts that He had given me for communication and expression for the Kingdom,” she says. “I had no intention of ever going back to acting.”

Robia started her own speaking ministry and wrote Counterfeit Comforts: Freedom from the Imposters That Keep You from True Peace, Purpose and Passion. She bases both the ministry and the book on 3 John 2: “Beloved, I pray that all may go well with you and that you may be in good health, as it goes well with your soul.”

She and her husband, James, also started the church Deeper Life in Redondo Beach, California.

But, over the past five years, “randomly people would be praying for me or would speak into my life that they sensed that God wasn’t done with me in Hollywood and in the entertainment industry.”

“I said, ‘Well, we’ll have to see, because God would have to literally drop it in my lap. I love what I’m doing for God and I’m definitely not going to do anything that compromises my beliefs or compromises my walk with God, which most of the entertainment industry would do.’”

Then Unplanned came along, and Robia found herself portraying Cheryl, the cold, calculating director of the Planned Parenthood clinic where Abby Johnson worked.

Interestingly, Robia says she fueled her portrayal of the clinic director's passion for a woman's access to abortion by funneling her own real passion for women and women's ministry. 

"I played her as just very focused," Robia says. "I was trying to be the embodiment of Planned Parenthood as a whole."

'Unplanned' is really about education, it’s about healing, and it has the potential to shift our culture.

Robia Scott

While Robia doesn’t plan (there’s that word again) to pursue more roles, “I’m definitely open to doing more if I feel that it’s an important story to tell.”

“I feel like the heart and the crux of whom I am is ministry, but media is so powerful,” she says. “If God wants to open some doors, we’ll see what happens.”

Working on Unplanned was a great experience, Robia says.

“I was excited to be able to be part of a film that’s so much bigger than just entertainment,” she says. “Unplanned is really about education, it’s about healing, and it has the potential to shift our culture. It was also daunting to take on a story that we knew would receive a lot of resistance and backlash.”

She said there was an “atmosphere of spiritual resistance tangible while filming on the set.”

The directors’ belief in the power of prayer, however, countered that spiritual resistance.

“They actually hired a paid intercessory prayer department,” she says. “We had a group of five men and women who were full time, 24/7, onset with us. It was extraordinary. It made such a difference that they were praying over the set every day, praying over the directors, praying over us individually as actors. When there were very intense scenes, they would be on the other side of the set with their hands on the walls praying for hours while the scenes were being shot.”

When finances were being hindered, “they would be interceding and praying and all of a sudden the directors would get a phone call and they would get a huge gift of finances. Prayer was crucial.”

Robia says she’s proud of the finished movie.

“The film is emotional. It challenges you,” she says.

It’s also representative of the improvement in quality of Christian filmmaking, she believes.

“The writing is fantastic. The look of the film and the acting are fantastic—if I do say so myself!” she adds, laughing.

More importantly, “people’s lives have been changed and lives have been saved.”

“This is a film that has literally saved lives,” she says, referring to reports of viewers becoming pro-life as a result of the film, pregnant women considering abortion choosing to keep their babies after seeing Unplanned, and abortion clinic workers leaving the abortion industry. “I don’t know of many films that have actually done that. I believe it’s historic.”