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YouTube Producer Tells Queenstown Audience: 'Stay True to Who You Are'

The Queenstown New Zealand branch of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints recently hosted “An Evening with Devin Graham and Team Super Tramp,” at the Queenstown Hilton Hotel. 

YouTube sensation, and member of the Church, Devin Graham, credited much of his success to his determination to exercise his faith and stay true to who he is and what he believes. 

Much of who Devin is and what he believes comes from his Mormon background, he told the audience of Latter-day Saints and other guests.  

Devin Graham and Colleagues

From an early age Devin was taught the importance of having a belief in God and following the example of Jesus Christ. Despite his strong faith in God, Devin was not exempt from problems and hard times.

The outgoing, "larger than life" personality you see in his videos and in person was absent during his childhood and adolescence. He explained he was so excruciatingly shy that his fourth grade teacher contacted his parents and asked them if he was mute because she had never heard him speak. 

He told stories of how he was the brunt of excessive bullying in high school and would isolate himself to hide the pain and embarrassment he felt from having no friends. 

Although his childhood was filled with emotional pain, he found a passion for running and immersed himself in training for track at the university level until a devastating snowboarding accident abruptly ended his dream. 

“All of a sudden my dreams changed overnight because of this awful experience,” he said. 

In spite of his disappointment Devin said he learned a great lesson.  “I realized something crucial. There are trials and tribulations in life–they are mandatory—but misery is an option.” 

“We are constantly faced with awful situations,” he said.  “But we are also faced with the choice to make the best out of that situation or make the worst out of that situation.” 

Devin admitted it was not an easy choice for him. His shy personality and the loss of the only dream that was keeping him going added to the difficulty of his situation. 

It was during this trying time that Devin began reading blogs and websites about cinematography. His interest led him to making his own short videos with family members as subjects. 

He explained, “Once all of this began to happen I started gaining confidence in myself and realized this is something I could do.”

It was during this time of discovery that Devin made the life changing decision to put his new dream and passion on hold while he served a two year mission for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints in Jamaica. 

Devin worried about his success as a missionary because of his extreme shyness.  He explained, “I was so shy I didn’t know how I would be able to talk to the people—to gain the confidence I would need to talk—but it happened. Over that two year period of time I began to gain confidence and began believing in myself.”

He said, “This just goes to show that it is amazing how Heavenly Father can work to shape us and help us to overcome our trials and tribulations so that we can become better people.”

After returning from a successful mission, Devin studied film making at Brigham Young University in Utah, USA, with the intent of working on feature films. After seeing the success YouTube videos were amassing, specifically one made on a cell phone that produced over 2 million views, Devin opted to focus on making videos of his own rather than pursing feature films. Once he made the decision to take a risk and pursue what he loved and was passionate about he said, “That is when everything great in my life began to happen.” 

The desire to do what he loves keeps Devin motivated. He is a firm believer that everyone has the power to do and be what they want. He explained the importance of "the power of one," recognizing your own personal potential to do great things.  He believes every person has the ability to make great contributions to the world, their community and their family. 

“It took one man to walk on the moon,” he reminded the audience. “It took one ordinary man to invent the light bulb, it takes one man to be a father and one woman to be a mother, it takes only one person to change the world forever!”

“A big part of what I feel my success has been,” he said, “is because of the gospel of Jesus Christ.” People warned him that making movies would mean he would have to compromise his standards and would have to do what the rest of the world told him to do, that meant abandoning many of the standards he had been taught to live. It wasn’t long before Devin realized that, “The more you stay true to yourself the easier it gets. You can be true to who you are.”

Devin Graham

He told the audience he loves working with people who have the same kind of passion and standards he has. “It is important to surround yourself with good people because the people around you will have a huge influence on determining your success.” 

Devin and his team are all members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and all are committed to living true to their religious beliefs. They don’t smoke, drink or use profanity. They insist that everyone appearing in their films are dressed in what Devin calls "modest clothing."  He said, “We have a dress code that we expect everyone to adhere to. It’s who we are. We have the power to make a difference when we stay true to who we are.”

“So many times we’ve had opportunities to do things for companies that do not adhere to our standards, and the more we said no to those people and did what we knew to be right and what we care about, the happier we’ve been. That’s Heavenly Father’s plan. We are here to be happy and to draw nearer to Him and learn how to get the most out of life.” 

Because Devin and his team are committed to staying true to their standards and values, they have earned the reputation of being family friendly—providing quality videos focused on the good things in life. Many companies now come to them requesting their assistance in producing video and advertising ‘because’ of their standards.

His teammate and right-hand man, Parker Walbeck, commented, “You can be successful in the advertising world without having to give up your morals and your standards. In fact, that is how you change the world and that is what we are trying to do. We are trying to do our little part to change the world, to make it better, to help people feel joy and happiness and to love life without giving up what they believe in.”

Devin posed a question to those listening.  “What are you doing every day to affect people?”  He explained, “With every person you meet you have the opportunity to have either a positive or a negative effect on them. What are you doing to inspire others? The more you help out the people around you, your brothers and sisters, the more everybody succeeds.”

“I feel super fortunate and super blessed that I get to do what I love to do,” said Devin. “No matter where I travel in the world, I know that every one of us are brothers and sisters, all trying to figure out life, and we all have the power to affect each other and play a huge part that can make changes forever.”

“I know that the gospel of Jesus Christ is true," he said. "The more I’ve stayed true to Christ’s teachings the more blessed I have been.”

President Alexander Hacker, Church leader of the Queenstown LDS congregation, concluded the evening by saying: “I think we’ve all felt something inside of us tonight. We felt goodness, we felt faith, we felt patience, gentleness and kindness today. Let’s go out and let’s make a difference in the world—one person at a time.” 

“If we treat each other as our brother and sister we can make a difference in the world. We can share that light and knowledge of who we are and why we’re here on earth, and that’s to help each other through all our trials and tribulations…and create that love here in our communities, in our jobs, and in our families.”

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