Kirby Heyborne: When God Opens a Window
Latter-day Saints will best recognize Kirby Heyborne for his starring roles in “The R.M.” and “The Best Two Years.” But in the years since those films, Heyborne’s career has had its ups and downs. Although he initially began in finance, Heyborne loved to entertain. His big breaks in the Latter-day Saint film world would suggest he found an opportunity to make a living by following his passion—but the media industry can be brutal, and it wasn't until Heyborne landed a gig as an audiobook narrator that he found a way to provide for his family while also doing something he loves. On this week’s episode, Heyborne explains how embracing the opportunities God has given him has allowed him to find true happiness.
When you realize that this is a divine opportunity and you look at every moment—every interaction—with every person as a beautiful divine opportunity to lift that person, I think that helps you be happy now.
See the episode of Making Good that Kirby mentions about visiting Utah State Prison on BYUtv:Making Good: Christmas Special
Lemonade Stand podcast interview with Kirby: Kirby Heyborne, Star of Singles Ward, RM, Best Two Years and Saints and Soldiers, Greatest Husband and Father
Hear Kirby narrate the Saints, Vol.2 audiobook
The movie that served as Kirby's big break, The Singles Ward
The two movies that feature Kirby in a starring role, The Best Two Years and The RM
The quote from the Office TV show: “'You miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take.’ -Wayne Gretzky” -Michael Scott
2:06- Golden Age of Latter-day Saint Comedies
6:14- The Impact of Elder Calhoun
8:45- Unanticipated Opportunities
13:29- Narrating “Saints"
15:58- Empty Promises, and Authoring Your Own Joy
24:02- Criticism and Personal Revelation
28:32- “Making Good” on an Opportunity
36:01- One Person’s Ability To Make a Difference
39:16- Seeing the Divinity in a Human Being
42:31- What Does It Mean To Be All In the Gospel of Jesus Christ?
Morgan Jones 0:00
Are you ready to hear something that will make you feel pretty old? Next January marks 20 years since the movie The Singles Ward was released. The movie was Kirby Heyborne's first big break and it led to starring roles in The R.M and Best Two Years. And while he has had a few movie roles since then, including a dream role in the movie, The Three Stooges, Heyborne's life hasn't turned out exactly like he may have thought it would 20 years ago, and yet, if you talk to him, it's clear he is totally okay with that.
Kirby Heyborne is known as an actor, comedian and a musician. But did you know he is also an award winning audiobook narrator? He has narrated over 1000 audiobooks. Most recently, Heyborne is the host of BYU TVs Making Good.
This is All In, an LDS Living podcast where we ask the question, what does it really mean to be all in the Gospel of Jesus Christ? I'm Morgan Jones, and I am so excited to have Kirby Heyborne on the line with me today, Kirby welcome.
Kirby Heyborne 1:09
Woohoo! Morgan, we did it!
Morgan Jones 1:13
[Laughter] Intro at least.
Kirby Heyborne 1:14
I know we made it through the intro. I've been such a huge fan of this podcast for a long time and I never thought there would be a day that I'd get a phone call from you saying "Hey, do you want to do it?" I mean, you've had some insane people on this podcast. Amazing testimonies, beautiful stories.
Morgan Jones 1:34
I don't know how I con people into doing this.
Kirby Heyborne 1:37
You do. So when I heard I was like, no way, I'll bring the level down a little bit.
Morgan Jones 1:43
No, that's not true.
Kirby Heyborne 1:43
Because you have all those out of the parks and then . . . yeah.
Morgan Jones 1:48
No, that's not true at all. And I actually think for me, this is like a very cool moment because I grew up watching you in The R.M. and Best Two Years. And so, and I think a lot of people listening to this podcast, they'll be like, "Oh, man, I love that guy." So first of all, before we, before we kind of get into what you're doing currently, I just wondered if we could kind of take like a trip down memory lane.
Kirby Heyborne 2:14
Morgan Jones 2:16
Because everybody loves that. And I wondered if you could tell us some of your best memories from making those movies The R.M., Singles Ward, Best Two Years, and what are some of your best memories from that time in your life?
Kirby Heyborne 2:31
It was a transition time in my life. I was working in finance, and just not happy . . . dealing with that. I always wanted to be an actor or a musician, at the time I was in a band and we were traveling regionally, we were a big hit, almost made it all the way up to Idaho with the band, which would have been a huge deal. Get out of Utah.
Morgan Jones 2:56
[Laughter] If you had made it to Boise?
Kirby Heyborne 2:58
If we would have made it to Boise with the band. But then just some opportunities came up, and I'd always loved acting. I think that's one thing you do growing up as a member of the Church, you're . . . you give a talk when you're four years old in primary, you're speaking as a young adult in sacrament meeting in front of everybody, so I don't know, you're used to performing and singing and doing all that. And I don't know if you're old enough to remember but we did road shows when I was little.
So I was in Singles Ward, and what beautiful opportunities. The people that I met on that are people that would give the shirt off their backs to you. Funny guys, beautiful people, and just kind of opened my eyes to a new way of, one, making money, and then two, being a part of a bigger family. So the guys at Halestorm, Dave Hunter and Kurt Hale, they became like brothers to me. And so right after Singles Ward, they said, "Hey, we have . . . we want to do another one and we'd love for you to be the main guy. Are you interested?" And it's kind of like, wait, I'm going to be on the All In podcast? It was kind of like that.
"You guys want me to be the main guy in a movie?" And they said, "Yeah, let's do it." So I think for me though, those early days, were just . . . there was a brotherhood that I've never had like that before. And to this day, like gosh, how many years later? It'll be 20 years, this year. That's a long time.
Morgan Jones 4:35
That is crazy.
Kirby Heyborne 4:36
That I became brothers with these guys and it kind of opened up a way for me to be able to . . . I feel like it's my calling in life to help people be happy and to make people laugh and to bring joy and help them see and feel the love of Heavenly Father and this was the way the doors were open for me to be able to do that. Up until that point, you know, I brought joy to people by being funny at little get togethers or selling life insurance to somebody you know, that's a big deal, making a . . . helping people out that way. But it wasn't until I was in this industry of acting that I realized I could–that it's on such a grander scale. And being able to meet people after the movies came out, and being able to spend time one on one with them, made me realize this is what Heavenly Father wants me to do. He wants me to take this time with each individual, let them know that God loves them, and there's nothing better. And on top of it, I get paid to do it. Is that crazy?
Morgan Jones 5:45
Yeah, yeah. Well, and I heard on this–I've listened to a couple of interviews with you in preparation for this, and I heard where you said, you know, you were the leading role in this movie, but it wasn't like you were making millions.
Kirby Heyborne 6:00
Morgan Jones 6:00
And so you were like, "I still live in a small subdivision in Lehi. And my neighbors are like, 'Is that you on this movie?'" So I think that's an interesting element of like being in a Latter-day Saint film. But I also think those movies made such an impression on like, a generation of Latter-day Saints, because I think a good portion of us can probably quote something from one of those movies, and it comes up in just like everyday conversation. So how did you see the movies making an impact, and did that make an impression on you?
Kirby Heyborne 6:37
So in the beginning, I had no clue that people would like them. I just was happy to be on set with these guys. And be part of, like I said, this family and this brotherhood. It wasn't until after a couple of years after Best Two Years came out, and it's so amazing to have people say, "Because of the character Elder Calhoun, I decided to go on a mission." Or "Because of the movie Best Two Years, I converted to the Church." I've had a number of people say that they didn't understand what the Church was until they saw Best Two Years, and when they saw that they're just these young, beautiful, earnest, young men and young women serving these missions, that's when they realized, oh, this is . . . they're not some mysterious cult or weird people doing weird things. They're just kids really doing their best. And that made them want to open up the doors to the missionaries. And I love that. I love the people, that that that movie is so important to some people. I was in line with somebody at a shake . . . what are the shaved ice places? You know, all over Utah?
Morgan Jones 7:52
Yeah, the little like huts?
Kirby Heyborne 7:54
Yeah, the little hut things. And there's a man who is really large, like, I think at least eight feet tall, I'm not exaggerating . . . nah, a little bit. And he saw me in line and he turned around, and he started crying, saying, because of Best Two Years, he came back to the Church. And I love that. And I know it wasn't me, I just was playing a character, but I was a part of something that helped bring people back to the fold or even initially into the fold, or encourage them to go on a mission. That's a beautiful thing to be a part of that. And I think that goes along with–that's what Heavenly Father has wanted me to do, and this was just one small treasure that I've been able to see some of the fruit. Seeing these people happy.
Morgan Jones 8:44
Yeah. So I want to talk a little bit about what you've been doing since those movies because I think you've had kind of a fascinating career. And what a lot of people don't know is that you are an award-winning audiobook narrator. So tell me how one gets into audiobook narrating. And I really, I listened to a podcast where you talked about this, and I was so impressed by your perspective and recognizing that this was something . . . an opportunity that God had given you. So I'd love to hear a little bit more about that.
Kirby Heyborne 9:17
Oh, that's absolutely the case. I firmly believe that we think we know who we are and what our path is supposed to be, and so we ignore times when God opens up a window of opportunity. We think, "No, this is the way that I'm supposed to go. I want to be the titular character in a sitcom. That's why we moved to Los Angeles, was so that I could be, you know, the main guy on a sitcom." But along the way, Heavenly Father was opening these windows of opportunity saying, "This is what you can do. This is how you can bring more joy and more happiness to people" and it was the audiobook world.
I was in a play in Los Angeles about a year after we moved there. Struggling, you know, we moved with nothing, and we're in LA and I'm taking jobs, shredding legal documents and auditioning for commercials. I had booked a couple of commercials but still, I needed to support my family. We had two kids at the time, babies like two, and then six months. They were, they were babies. Anyway. And I did a play in Los Angeles, and I hate plays. I love watching them, I hate being in them because I do improv and I like to just make up stuff off the cuff. Or when you're filming a movie or a TV show, you only need to know like two pages of the script a day, and then you forget it. And even then, I'm an improv guy so I don't even know all the lines then. I make them up.
And so to have to know the whole play every night, is just . . . I don't know if I'm lazy, or I just don't have that much brain capacity. So I counseled with my wife, and she said, "This is an opportunity, you should take it. We came to LA so that you can be an actor. And this is another opportunity, another iron that you can put in your fire, another way for us to make money, you're moving forward in your career"–so I did it. And I didn't know the sound designer of the play, that's the person that makes the sound effects, you know, if there's raindrops or music, they're the person that designed that, put it together, and then they push play in the appropriate parts during the performance. So that the audience gets that aural experience.
He happened to be the executive producer for Random House books on tape, which 20 years ago was the biggest, and still is, they're like the world's biggest audiobook and regular publisher, Penguin Random House. He was doing a favor for the author of the play, and he came up to me and said, "Are you interested in doing an audiobook?" And I said, "Well," well . . . I thought, "What's an audiobook?" And then he explained what they do and I said I would love to. And I was so thankful that . . . I like to think that it was me, but it was my wife really, hearing the windows that Heavenly Father was opening. Hearing the little creeks. You know, "Here's a window," that we took that opportunity and it absolutely–because of that, I was able to provide for my family and you know, it's not glamorous or sexy when you think about health insurance and pensions and stuff like that when you think of being an actor, but when you're a blue collar actor like I am and things like that matter. And so it's because of these audiobooks that are part of the, they're union productions that we get health insurance, and I have a retirement. And if I didn't have that, I wouldn't be where I am today, being able to continue doing what I love. And like I said, continuing to do what I feel like Heavenly Father wants me to do.
Morgan Jones 13:00
Yeah, and you now have recorded over 1000 books, is that right?
Kirby Heyborne 13:05
Yes. A lot.
Morgan Jones 13:07
Kirby Heyborne 13:08
That is a lot, isn't it? When you say that number that's, that's a big number. And before I started narrating, you know, I read required books in school and stuff, maybe a book a year, I average between 60 and 80 books a year.
Morgan Jones 13:24
Yeah. Crazy. So I wondered, you–correct me if I'm wrong–but you do some books that are ones with the voices, do you like those more than just like a reading straight through?
Kirby Heyborne 13:39
I do, because I love doing characters and accents. And my niche really is I do a lot of young adult audiobooks.
Morgan Jones 13:50
Kirby Heyborne 13:51
So I narrate Brandon Mull's.
Morgan Jones 13:54
Kirby Heyborne 13:55
Yes. So it's right after Fablehaven they do Dragonwatch. And so I get to . . I get to be dragons, and I get to do great voices. It's so fun.
Morgan Jones 14:05
Yeah. Do you have like a favorite book that you've narrated?
Kirby Heyborne 14:10
There are definitely some that I've cried during because they were so beautiful. I am such a nerd. I love Church history. And I was fortunate enough to narrate the second volume of Saints.
Morgan Jones 14:25
Oh, no way?
Kirby Heyborne 14:26
Yeah. And I'm about ready to start volume three of Saints, and I just, I love Church history, so I can't believe that I got–I get paid to do it. That's how everything that I do, it's like, "Wait, you're gonna pay me to do this? I would do it for free."
Morgan Jones 14:43
Right, right. Maybe don't say that too loud. Somebody might hear you, Kirby.
Kirby Heyborne 14:47
I know. Delete that from the podcast.
Don't let people know that I would do it for free. Because it is–it's so amazing. And I would have read the History of the Church, Saints, anyway, but then to be able to give voice to it. And the thing that I loved is when the Church history department approached me, they said, you know, "You've done so many audiobooks, and we would love to . . . we love the way that you narrate. And you add personality to the characters. And they said, that's what we want you to do with with this."
And so, when you listen to it, like when I'm doing George Q. Cannon, he's . . . he was from Liverpool. So I did just a slight Liverpudlian accent–not too much to get in the way of the content–but it was so fun to research, like, what part of Liverpool was he from? What did this dialect sound like, and then pulling back, you know, 98%, so that it didn't interfere with the information. But then looking up all of these amazing men and women from Church history, and then being able to give them life and give their, their voices a voice, you know?
Morgan Jones 15:52
Right. That's so cool. I had no idea that you did that. So I'm glad that you brought that up. I want to talk a little bit, Kirby, about the media industry, because I think that this is something that probably a lot of people listening can relate to, whether it be an effort to get into music or acting or something like that, or, just trying to get into any job. I think the job industry in general is hard right now. And you've talked about how people make promises, and very easily those promises can be taken away. So you can think like, you've got an opportunity in the bag, and then something falls through. And to me when I hear you talk about that I'm like, okay, so the lesson that I take away from this is like, "Trust no one."
Kirby Heyborne 16:09
Morgan Jones 16:42
But I love that you said that you felt like you had learned as a result of that, that you're in control of your own happiness. And so I wondered what you've learned about finding happiness, as you are also handling rejection and disappointment?
Kirby Heyborne 17:00
Wow, what a great question. That's absolutely true, though, you have to be the author of your own joy. And that goes, I feel like that's how this–what the Savior teaches us. In every aspect of our lives it's–we're not supposed to judge other people. We can't take away other people's agency, it, it all boils down to you and your relationship with Heavenly Father. And in the acting entertainment industry you hear, "No" all the time. You hear people say, "You're too tall," "You're too short," "You're too thin," You're too fat," "You're, you're too good looking," man, if I . . . so many times.
Morgan Jones 17:42
Get that one all the time.
Kirby Heyborne 17:43
All the time. No, you're just not enough of one thing or another. And if you let that color your perception of yourself, then you're just a bunch of "No's." And I think that's been good for me to hear all that, to really rely on my relationship with Heavenly Father. And throughout my career, you know, I've had people like some choices I've made and not like some choices I've made. Some books get great reviews, some books, people hate my voice. And at the end of it, it's . . . it just has to be between . . . everything, I line up with me being a good husband, and a good father. And then everything else I feel like is not as important.
If somebody doesn't like if I put them to sleep when I was narrating a book, that's alright. I got paid and I paid for food for my family. Somebody out there liked it. And I think that's how it is with the gospel, too. That there's so many beautiful aspects of the gospel that only Heavenly Father knows if you're living them or not. At the end of the day, only Heavenly Father knows your thoughts, and you can feel good with yourself or be worried about what other people are thinking of you. I think that's been good for me during my career as an actor, realizing that it doesn't matter what other people think, as long as I know when I lay my head down at night, that Heavenly Father is happy with my performance that day.
I have on my phone, there's a great quote that President Monson, I don't know if he had it on his fridge or somewhere that it said to remind him every day, "Today is my day of opportunity. Do not let it go to waste." So I have every day at seven o'clock on my phone, a reminder that comes up saying that and I think that helps me appreciate the day that I've been blessed with and realize that at the end of the day, if I follow that, if I let this day really be an opportunity, Heavenly Father's going to be happy with me at the end of . . . end of the day. I don't even know if I answered your question I got off on a–
Morgan Jones 20:02
No, you did. You did. And I think, you know, I think there's a lot of truth to that idea of . . . this is probably like getting too personal, but on this podcast, sometimes people will say, you know, "You talk too slow," or "You don't enunciate your T's." And I am from the South, I do speak slower, and I probably don't speak perfectly. And so–
Kirby Heyborne 20:31
So how do you deal with that?
Morgan Jones 20:33
Well, I think it goes back to what you were saying, I, I think I recognize that Heavenly Father has given me an opportunity, and it may be an opportunity that I don't entirely deserve, but I am going to do my very best. And so I'll take that constructive criticism, the criticism that I feel like I can do something with and try to do better, but also recognize that for whatever reason, Heavenly Father thinks that I'm okay enough to do what I'm doing. And that until He takes that opportunity away from me, it's what He wants for me.
Kirby Heyborne 21:12
He's given you these talents, and he's saying, "What are you going to do with these talents? Are you going to let other people criticize you? Or are you going to multiply these talents?" That's beautiful, Morgan. I love what you said, Morgan, too, that God has given you this opportunity, and what are you going to do with the short time that you have this? Because it is true, it could be someday Deseret Book says, "Hey, guess what? We want a male voice for this," you know? “We think Kirby's available to do the All In podcast.”
Morgan Jones 21:42
Kirby, are you making a run for my job?
Kirby Heyborne 21:45
I'm trying. It's mutiny, Morgan. No, but that–I love that. And whether it's the time that God has given you, as a mother, with this child, or as a teacher at school, this school year, what are you doing with this opportunity that God has given you? Because that's going to be taken away. Your kid is going to grow up, how did you make that–how did you multiply that talent? How did you make other people's lives better? I love that thought, I'm going to keep that. I'm going to steal that and say that I came up with it.
Morgan Jones 22:23
Perfect. You can have it,. I'll give it to you freely. It's really probably not that great of a thought, but–
Kirby Heyborne 22:28
No, it's great. It's like Michael Scott from The Office when he quotes Wayne Gretzky, do you remember that? I don't know if you remember. But
Morgan Jones 22:35
What was the quote?
Kirby Heyborne 22:36
I can't remember like . . . "'Winners win.' Michael Scott, quoting Wayne Gretzky."
Morgan Jones 22:43
I love it. Well, I'm a big–anybody that listens to this podcast knows that I love Kelly Clarkson with like, all that I am. And she . . .
Kirby Heyborne 22:53
[Laughter] "With all that I am."
Morgan Jones 22:54
Yeah, I'm not kidding. But she says, because people were like, you know, “You're doing like all of these different things, and how are you doing all these different jobs?” And she was like, "Well, you only matter until you don't."
Kirby Heyborne 23:06
Oh, that's true.
Morgan Jones 23:07
Meaning like, at some point, nobody's gonna care, and so you just like work super hard to achieve whatever opportunity, to accomplish whatever opportunity God is giving you. And recognize that, like you said, at some point, that opportunity is not going to be on the table.
Kirby Heyborne 23:25
And I think when you do that, then that plays hand in hand with being happy right now. When you realize that this is a divine opportunity, and you look at every moment, every interaction with every person, as a beautiful, divine opportunity to lift that person. I think that helps you be happy now. Because you realize, I know it's cliche, but the present is a gift. And when you realize that, you realize–I'm happy now, and I'm going to do my best with what I have right now.
Morgan Jones 23:59
Right. Right. You appreciate everything a little bit more. Kirby, I want to come back to something that you said a few minutes ago. And you mentioned, some people have been critical of decisions that you've made in your career, and some of that criticism has come very publicly. And I listened to an interview and read an article where you kind of talked about this, and you said that you and your wife had been really prayerful about those decisions, that it wasn't something that you took lightly. And so I wonder what you've learned through those experiences about having confidence in personal revelation? I think sometimes when people are critical of us, it can be easy to kind of second guess and be like, "Did I get that wrong?" What have you learned through those experiences about having confidence in the revelation that you've received?
Kirby Heyborne 24:50
I think because of that experience, because . . . a lot of the criticism came from members of my own Church, which you would think wouldn't be the case. You would think–for the longest time, I had so many people supporting me and excited for me to go to Los Angeles and be a voice of faith in the industry. And then to have those people criticizing choices that I made was, it was very hurtful. Some of the emails that I got, some of the messages that I got, were just so angry and blaming me for any wrongdoings that their kids may do in the future, because I've let them down–was really hurtful.
And for a good hot minute, I was just–I was hurt. I don't think I was ever angry with them, but you feel defensive. And it made me question, we did pray about this, right? We felt good about this. What does that mean, if all of these other people from my faith are saying what a horrible human being I am. Not just, "Hey, that was a wrong decision, maybe in the future, do something different," but attacking my character, attacking my standing in the Church, and . . . like that was hurtful.
And I think, I think I needed that experience, to realize that, yeah, I did receive an answer. And I think we can . . . when we reflect on our life, and we're looking for those moments of conversion, and when we're looking for moments where we felt the Spirit strongly, moments that we can't deny it, for me, it's I can count those on one hand. And but it's those one or two moments that we've experienced throughout our life where the Spirit was so strong, saying, "Yes, this is truth. This is the path that you need to be on." Those one or two moments are what need to carry us through the valleys in the hard parts. And when we're struggling with faith, we need to reflect back on those moments.
So for me, I think this was a moment where it solidified for me, one, that I can count on this personal revelation that I had received, and then two, that it's between Heavenly Father and me. At the end of the day, Heavenly Father knows if I'm a good husband, or father, or if I'm a good minister, or if I'm fulfilling my calling as . . . whatever it is at the time, a primary chorister, only Heavenly Father knows if–and to quote, this podcast–if I'm all in or not. It can't be somebody else looking at me saying, "No. He's, he's not all in." So I think that experience, for sure, solidified that for me. And I count that as one of my few times in my life, where I felt the Spirit and the confirmation. And I think that's helped me move forward, trusting in myself and trusting in my relationship with Heavenly Father.
Morgan Jones 28:07
I love that, because I think you're right. We do all have those moments where we're able to point back and be like, well, I know I received some personal revelation then, and I know God spoke to me then, and I know He cares about my life. And so if I'm doing this wrong, He's gonna stop me if I'm doing it right, He'll continue to bless me. And I think there's a lot of confidence to be had in that.
I want to talk–before we wrap up–I want to talk about your new TV show, Making Good. I think it's so fun. And I watched, I kind of binged it a little bit yesterday in preparation for this. And so you seek out people and charitable organizations that are making good, making a difference in the world. So tell me a little bit, Kirby, about how this show came to be, and how you became involved with it?
Kirby Heyborne 28:59
A good friend of mine, Greg Kiefer, we had done some commercials 20 years ago when I was first starting out. And then we did a movie together. And then over the years, we've stayed in contact and continuously, you know, calling back and forth saying, "We got to find something that we can do, another thing, fun, that we can do together." And then it slowly progressed to, "Let's not only do something fun, but let's do something that's going to make a difference in the world."
And so Greg had this idea and he pitched it to me, and I loved it. And the whole pitch was, you go and join nonprofit organizations, you get in way over your head, you might even get hurt a couple of times, and then you–it's so that we can see that there are people making a difference in the world. And I love the idea, and then I said, "Well, I want to add more to that. Let's make sure everything is, you know, that I get to be funny in it, that I can serve, that I love getting in over my head." And then I said, "I would also love to," because, coming back to I thought I was going to be a musician when I was growing up, and I said, "I would love to write a song for every organization for every episode." And he said, "Really?" That, "You do realize how hard that is gonna be."
I said, "I would love to do that. I feel like that is a way for me to show them that I appreciate what they're doing." And so he said, "Great, let's do it." So then we pitched it to BYUtv, they thought it was great, and now we're coming up on–we're just finishing filming our third season, but the third season starts airing today, if you're listening live, you can watch the show. And it's the best thing I've ever been a part of. I've been an actor for 20 years, and this family that I've been able to join of amazing people has just been. It's . . . it's increased exponentially, working with Greg and the team, they're, the people on the crew are amazing, from the story producer, to the producer–producer to people that work in the office, everybody is special. And I feel like we've all been prepared to be a part of the show at this time.
I would have loved to 20 years ago, when I was starting my career had been told, "Hey, great, we've got the show, you're going to be the host, you get to have fun and get in over your head." I would have died to do something like that. But in hindsight, I realized I wasn't ready. I wasn't ready, spiritually, emotionally, physically, in every way, I was not ready 20 years ago, it's taken all of the experience that I've had through my life, developing my relationship with my Heavenly Father, developing relationships with other people in the industry to be able to get to the point where we can make this TV show. And it came at the perfect time.
Morgan Jones 32:03
I think that's a really cool thing to be able to look at and acknowledge, like, you know, you may not have been ready for it then, but you are ready for it now, and the things that have prepared you for this opportunity.
I love, and I want to compliment you, because one thing that struck me, watching the show, and even in this interview is Kirby, you're very good at connecting with people and making them feel valued and important and asking questions of other people. And I just, I was impressed watching, I was watching the episode where you were participating with the nonprofit for hearing impaired children.
Kirby Heyborne 32:43
Morgan Jones 32:44
And you're talking to this lady. And I just thought, he's so good at like making her feel like what she's doing matters. And of course it does. But how often do people working in situations like that, how often are they truly appreciated for what they're doing? And oftentimes people have devoted their lives to a cause that they often don't get the spotlight or have somebody make them feel like they've done something really great. And so I think you do an incredible job of that.
Kirby Heyborne 33:16
Thank you. And I love doing it. And that goes to the point of "I wasn't ready," so many times in my life, especially starting out my career. It's okay, what's next? What can I do? Who can help me? And it's taken me this time to come back and realize, I just need to focus on the person in front of me, I need to listen to them. Let them know that they are loved and that I can recognize the divinity of our Father in heaven in them. And when I've done that, I'm edified. I feel like they're–they feel recognized and heard. And I wouldn't have been able to do that 20 years ago.
It's just this journey in this, I feel like my evolving relationship with my faith and with my Heavenly Father that, I realize that's my job. Yeah, my job that I get paid to do is to be funny and interview people and, you know, make songs and stuff. But really, my job is to help people realize that Heavenly Father loves them and recognize that divinity in them. And when I'm doing that, everything just falls into place.
Every single episode will–by the end of next month–we will have had 30 episodes. Every single one, it feels like when we're done with it, it was lightning in a bottle. There's no way we can duplicate that again. But every time–it works out. We always have an outline. We know what type of beats that we want to hit, and information we want to get from the people, but it isn't until we're there and I'm really listening that we can see where the story really is.
We did an episode in the Utah State Prison, we thought it was going to be about the inmates learning music and performing a Christmas concert, but we realized it was really about this man who runs the program. It was really a love story between him and his wife. This man who volunteers almost daily at the Utah State Penitentiary, he does this out of love for human beings, but more out of love for his wife. She comes with him, and she's knitting in the chapel pews there in the prison, but it's things like that. We keep our eyes open, and we see what is this really about? And it's beautiful.
Morgan Jones 35:36
Yeah, well, and I think I think everybody has a story, and oftentimes, there's so much more than meets the eye. And so you can look at that guy, you know, and think like, here's this guy that works in this prison, volunteers in this prison, and then you, you start to kind of peel back the layers. And you're like, "Wow, everybody, everybody, there's a lot more to them than what we can see." On the show, you like, like we said, you interact with all of these different nonprofits, is there one in your mind that stands out as just, qow, this really made an impression on me?
Kirby Heyborne 36:16
Goodness, they all do. I try to not get emotional in every episode. But it's so hard to see the good that people are doing, and to see how it affects those recipients. . . Goodness, it's like, which one of my kids is my favorite?
Morgan Jones 36:40
Kirby Heyborne 36:40
And I'll tell–No, I'm just kidding.
Morgan Jones 36:44
"I won't tell you which episode I like best, but I will tell you who my favorite child is."
Kirby Heyborne 36:48
Yeah, exactly. Every single one is special and for a different reason. The one that's most recent, on my mind is the latest one that we filmed. So it will be, it won't air until fall, but it's just one person making a difference. And that's what it boils down to. And that's what I've seen, and that was the inspiration for the show. Greg and I want people to, at the end of the day, do one of two things. One, either join up with an organization similar to the one that we're highlighting, you know, or donate to that organization, because that's the sad thing about nonprofits, they're nonprofit, they need . . . they live off of donations, they need funding, or two, to inspire somebody to go out and do something good themselves.
So yeah, those are our two goals, join up with somebody doing good or go out and do good. And so the ones that touched me the most are every single one, because it all comes down to one person thinking, "I see a problem, and I want to fix it." And that's so inspiring. It's just one person that makes a difference in some of these organizations are huge, and making an impact nationwide–some of them worldwide–because one person said, I want to see, I want to help, whatever, if it's dogs that are old, or if it's kids who can't hear and want to learn how to speak–there's one person that has that vision.
And I feel like if they . . . when they take that vision and work at it, Heavenly Father blesses them, whether they're a believer in divinity or not, they still recognize that something inside them is moving them to do good. I like to recognize it when I'm there with them. Say, "This is what God wants you to do. And you're making a difference." And some of them, I tell them that, "You are God's hands. You're doing exactly what he would want to be done to his children." And some of them receive it really well. I would say all of them receive it well. There have been a couple that were like, "Yeah, okay, I guess so."
Morgan Jones 39:01
Kirby Heyborne 39:03
"You crazy religious guy."
Morgan Jones 39:05
Yeah. But I think I think you're right, you know, even if people are not religious, there's something inside of us that helps us know, like, you're on the right track, you're doing a good thing. Kirby, I wondered for you, as you've–because I know, like whatever we spend our time doing, whoever we spend our time around, that tends to rub off on us, and so, when you're devoting so much time to learning about and engaging with these people that are making a big difference in the world, have you noticed it changing you personally?
Kirby Heyborne 39:38
Oh, absolutely. I think it's helped me realize that I need to see good everywhere. And it's helped me be less judgmental. Some of these, like, especially the prison episode, I went into that terrified of inmates. You hear stories of prison and I'm going to be in the heart of that for a week, and just terrified. Stupid thoughts went through my head, like, what if I get kidnapped? Or I'm like . . . those are my thoughts going into it. And one of the guards had said, "Do not give them any type of information. They will use it against you. No matter how kind they seem, they will use that against you." So I go in just terrified, even to tell them my name.
Morgan Jones 40:27
Kirby Heyborne 40:27
And by the end of that, the three or four days that we spent with them, I loved every single one of those men. There was a change in me. Once I went from looking at them as their sin, to looking at them as sons of God–my perspective changed. And I think that's what's happened with this show, is that I can look at people, if they–even people in prison, and I try to see the divinity in them.
And it was so interesting too, in that episode, in the beginning, the inmates really, you know, they're like . . . some of them felt like they had been beaten into submission figuratively, and they wouldn't make eye contact with you. And just, "Well, it's nice to meet you, thank you for coming." And they would occasionally glance up. But by the end, once they knew that, I recognized the divinity in them, they looked me in the eye. And I wish we could have, but there were guards and it's rules, you can't hug, you know, but I wanted to hug every single one of them. And it went from looking at them as, "Oh, I wonder what they did to be in here," to, "Look at the good that they're doing."
Morgan Jones 41:54
Kirby Heyborne 41:55
Morgan Jones 41:56
That's so cool. Well, Kirby, it has been such a treat to talk with you. And I think–I love what you said there at the end, because I think that that is something that is a rare gift. And I always appreciated it as a missionary, like the opportunity to help somebody feel–hopefully–Heavenly Father's love through me, and His confidence in them. And so I think it's neat that you felt like you were able to get a taste of the way that Heavenly Father must feel about those inmates. My last question for you, Kirby–and you know, this is coming–is, what does it mean to you to be all in the Gospel of Jesus Christ?
Kirby Heyborne 42:38
I think it's just in that phrase, you're either all in or you're not. There's a quote by a great physicist, I can't remember his name, let's just say it was me. Let's say I'm a physicist, I don't know, but he says, "Be your best or be something else." You have to be all in. You have to give it your all. You have to be your best, even in this smallest calling in the Church, because you're doing it for the Savior, and you're doing it for our Heavenly Father. So being all in is as simple as just when you're there, be present. When you're walking down your street, in your neighborhood and in your ward boundaries, love the people that you're with, you're in an area for a reason. So for me, it's–you're either all in or you're not. You can't be lukewarm in the Gospel. You have to be all in.
Morgan Jones 43:38
Thank you, Kirby. Thank you so much. It's been such a treat to talk to you.
Kirby Heyborne 43:42
Thank you so much, Morgan.
Morgan Jones 43:45
We are so grateful to Kirby Heyborne for joining us on this week's episode. Be sure to check out the season three premiere of Making Good, which just came out today April 7 on BYUtv. You can watch live at 5:30 and 8:30pm, Mountain Standard Time, or online at BYUtv.org or on the BYUtv app.
A huge thank you to Derek Campbell of Mix at Six studios for his help with this episode. And thank you so much for listening. We'll be with you again next week.