Lifetime has released its first trailer for “Gwen Shamblin: Starving for Salvation,” a movie based on the life of church leader and diet guru, Gwen Shamblin Lara, who has been accused of leading a cult and who died in a plane crash in May 2021. The film stars Jennifer Grey (“Dirty Dancing”) and is set to release Feb. 4.
“Based on a true story, the movie centers on the controversial religious leader and faith-based diet creator who positioned herself as God’s prophet and preached the virtues of being thin,” says Lifetime in a description of the film, marketed as a movie “ripped from the headlines.”
Gwen Shamblin Lara According to Lifetime
Gwen Shamblin Lara became well-known in the 1990s due to her Weigh Down Workshop, which was offered in many churches, and her book, “The Weigh Down Diet.” The “Way Down Approach” is based on the idea that people who struggle with disordered eating should look for a spiritual solution to those challenges.
Shamblin Lara founded Remnant Fellowship church in Brentwood, Tennessee, in 1999 with Weigh Down participants as core members and was the primary leader of the church. HBO Max’s docuseries, “The Way Down: God, Greed, and the Cult of Gwen Shamblin,” chronicles Shamblin Lara’s rise to prominence and describes in detail a culture of control and spiritual abuse at the church.
The docuseries portrays Shamblin Lara as someone who began with biblical principles and good intentions, but who came to lead a ministry characterized by brainwashing and manipulation. Former members report child abuse, eating disorders, depression, and suicidal ideation. In a statement responding to the docuseries, the church said, “Remnant Fellowship categorically denies the absurd, defamatory statements and accusations made in this documentary – yet another Hollywood attack on religion.”
Gwen Shamblin Lara was one of seven people who died in a plane crash on May 29, 2021. Among the deceased was her husband, former “Tarzan” actor Joe Lara, as well as Remnant Fellowship church leaders David Martin and his wife Jennifer, Jonathan Walters and his wife Jessica, and Shamblin Lara’s son-in-law, Brandon Hannah.
Lifetime’s minute-long trailer portrays Gwen Shamblin Lara’s ministry and influence. At one point, she tells her followers, “This demon isn’t food. It’s sin.” Elsewhere in the trailer, the character says, “Satan does not give up,” “I’ve always had what I would call a crush on God,” and “Your stomach doesn’t need food. It needs God.” Another scene shows a man standing with his wife and son. He tells Shamblin Lara, “We’ll follow you wherever you lead us.”
Jennifer Grey, who plays Gwen Shamblin Lara in the film, has been teasing the movie on her Instagram page. “Up to no good in Montreal,” she said in one post.