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Deborah Joy Winans photo courtesy of Derek Blanks

*Can you imagine a member of the Jackson family who didn’t want to sing? (Even LaToya tried.) How about a Bush or Clinton who didn’t want to be president? (Too soon?)

Deborah Joy Winans, one of gospel music’s Winans dynasty and one of the breakout stars of OWN’s Greenleaf, never wanted to sing. She spent decades eschewing it, in fact, in favor of acting.

I know — it’s hard to believe.  Heck, that family even had singing in-laws!  

As the superb series’ first season prepares to wrap up next week, and OWN releases an accompanying soundtrack album, I had to catch up with Winans and ask her about this “no singing” thing.

“My dad [Carvin Winans, one of the original Winans group] and mom never wanted to force us into the singing thing,” Winans, 32, told me. “They wanted us to find our own path. Singing was just never a passion. Since I was a little girl, I felt that acting was what I was called to do.”

Winans acted on that calling, ultimately earning Bachelors and Masters degrees in theater. As she performed in workshops playing CeCe Winans for the stage play Born For This, Winans caught the eye of a woman in the audience who would guide her towards God’s purpose for her life — and her own heart’s desire.

“I was at a point of asking God whether acting was what He really wanted me to do,” Winans recalled. “Oprah Winfrey came to one of my workshops, and a couple of months later she reached out to Uncle BeBe, who co-wrote Born For This. Oprah told him she was interested in me for the role of “Charity” on Greenleaf, and asked him to help her contact me.”

Read more of the Michael P. Coleman feature including a video scene of Deborah Joy Winans’ ‘Charity’ at EURThisNthat.