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Leigh Anne Tuohy: More Michael Ohers out there
Lilly Fowler, Religion News Service
December 02, 2009
4 MIN READ TIME

Leigh Anne Tuohy: More Michael Ohers out there

Leigh Anne Tuohy: More Michael Ohers out there
Lilly Fowler, Religion News Service
December 02, 2009

LOS ANGELES — In the new

movie “The Blind Side,” Sandra Bullock plays real-life Memphis mother Leigh

Anne Tuohy, a woman whose family is turned upside down when she spots Michael

Oher — a young boy who has left the projects and has nowhere to turn.

The Tuohys decide to provide

a home for Michael and as a result, he reaches heights — both as a student and

as a football player — that few could have imagined. In the process, he not

only transforms himself, but those around him.

Oher, 23, now plays for the

Baltimore Ravens. Tuohy spoke about the movie that depicts her family’s life

and in particular, the role faith played. Answers have been edited for length

and clarity.

RNS photo courtesy Grace Hill Media

Leigh Anne Tuohy and her adopted son, Michael Oher, are the real-life family behind Sandra Bullock’s new film, “The Blind Side.”

Q: Religion is definitely

hinted at in “The Blind Side.” Can you tell me more about your family’s

religious background?

A: My husband and I met at

Ole Miss. Sean was Catholic, and I went to a nondenominational evangelical

church. We did all different churches. And after we moved to Memphis, we

started our own church called “Grace Evangelical.” We started with less than 50

people. It really has grown, and we have a great core of people.

Michael, I don’t think, had

ever attended church, probably very little. The children are all born-again

Christians, and we’re just a very blessed family.

Q: How did faith influence

your decision to take in Michael?

A: You know, there never was

a decision to take in Michael. Michael was there, he had a need, and we were

able to fill it. Do I think that our faith played a part in that?

Absolutely.

We looked over and we said, “Wow, that young man needs some clothes.”

Q: Your children attended

Briarcrest Christian School. Did you find that people at the school were more

open to what you were doing because of its religious nature?

A: By the time we

encountered Michael, he was already attending Briarcrest. We just came along

after the fact. There were some other people at Briarcrest who saw the need.

There were already teachers stepping up, who saw that Michael was an extremely

intelligent young man. Like Michael always says, “I could never repay them for

what they did.” I think they would do it for the next kid, which is a great

thing because there are certainly more Michael Ohers out there.

Q: Was there anything you

felt the movie got particularly right or wrong?

A: By the time they decided

to take on this project, they were the ones who wanted to get it right. Sandra

Bullock put herself into this. It does portray us more accurately than most

Hollywood projects would. These people cared about getting it right, and I

think it shows. Maybe I wouldn’t use those drapes, and maybe I don’t wear my

skirts that tight, but what does it matter?

Q: What do you want people

to take away from the movie?

A: The most impactful

message that people could take from the movie is that society had deemed

Michael worthless. There were very few people who cared where Michael Oher was

any minute of the day. He is now a contributing member of the society. He is

intelligent. He made the dean’s list in college. If it can happen to Michael

Oher, it could

happen to anyone.

We need to figure out what

we can do. Our system is flawed when it comes to kids. And I just really hope

people will walk out of this movie better than they walked in. Do something

little. But whatever it is, do it well.