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Interview: 'Duck Dynasty's Al Robertson in OKC

Al and Lisa Robertson of "Duck Dynasty"
Al and Lisa Robertson of "Duck Dynasty"

Al and Lisa Robertson of "Duck Dynasty"
Al and Lisa Robertson of "Duck Dynasty"
Alan Robertson, one of the stars of A&E's hit reality TV show "Duck Dynasty," is in Oklahoma City tonight, Sunday, Oct. 4, to kickoff Oklahoma Christian University's annual Lectureship.

In an interview on the OC campus, 2501 E Memorial Road, Robertson, oldest son of Duck Commander's Phil Robertson and his wife Kay, talked about his latest book "A New Season: A Robertson Family Love Story of Brokenness and Redemption." The book, written with his wife Lisa (the couple have been married 30 years), includes details of  their past troubles -- for him a wild past as a teen; for her, being sexually molested as a child, having an abortion as a teenager and having marital infidelity.   
Robertson was frank about the book, released in January, and the public's response to it. His candidness came as no surprise since he and his spouse were very forthcoming in the book about their troubles.

Here, the affable minister shares his thoughts about "A New Season," "Duck Dynasty" and other projects from the Robertson clan that are coming down the pike. A new generation of Robertsons are getting involved with the show, he and his wife have a couple's  devotional  coming out soon and his dad Phil is going to part of a documentary. Intrigued? Read on:

Q: Why did you decide to write your book "A New Season"?

A: We had been doing our testimony for about 10 years. We’d probably been five or six years removed from Lisa’s affairs and all the really really difficult things and we had a lot of healing. But we quickly saw that God was going to use us to help other people simply because of all the people people kept sending to us -- ‘Somebody's having trouble so send them to Al and Lisa, they made it.’ We started working with folks so we kind of put our story together in a testimony form. We did that at our Celebrate Recovery at our church and that just led to other things so we started going around kind of doing that. People kept saying, you guys need to write a book, so it was always kind of part of our plan, I think. When I made the transition to Duck Commander and had a little more time to focus on things like that, then that afforded us the opportunity to sit down and write the book. Really, the timing of it was great because of the popularity of the show, we could sort of get it out in a national way because otherwise people may not have known who we were.

Q: Was it difficult to write about the more troubled aspects of your past?

A: You know, we say it was the hardest thing we’ve ever done. Like I said, we were used to doing it in testimony form to share, but it was the hardest thing we’ve ever done because when we sat down with Beth (Clark) who actually wrote the book, we basically had to not only tell the story but relieve every emotion. So for basically a week of our lives when we were preparing for the interview for our book , we went back through everything we were feeling at that moment, everything we were thinking at that moment. When we got through it, we were exhausted, we were emotionally and physically exhausted. It was the hardest thing we’ve ever had to do at that level but we knew the reader had to understand what we were thinking, what Lisa was thinking, what I was thinking, if they were really going to understand and connect to it.

Q: The books been out for a while and you probably have an idea about the aspects of the book that seem to particularly resonate with people. Can you talk about that?

A: Depending on the audience, you’ll have a different twist. We spoke up in Canada and had the books there. It was interesting, there for whatever reason, it seemed to be that a lot of women had never talked about things that had happened in their lives. We’re signing books and somebody is pouring their hearts out to Lisa while you are trying to process the line, so it was kind of ministry/book signing. A lot of them had been sexually molested or abused and they had never talked about it in their entire life and the fact that it was just us, we were Americans, we were Canada  -- I don’t know what it was, they felt like they could talk to us because I think we just said it out loud and that you could recover, you didn’t have to live as that victim your entire life. I remember that one in particular. One of the aspects that we’ve been really talking about a lot this last year is the abortion part of Lisa’s story. She had an abortion at 16. I wasn’t around so it wasn’t my child  but that’s a part of our story. We speak at a lot of pregnancy centers raising funds and things like that. We get a lot of invitations like that and I think that component of the story is the reason why. So it’s been interesting in those settings, we get a lot of questions about that. How do women recover emotionally from that. Of course a lot of it is how do you not feel the guilt longtime and Lisa addresses that even when she speaks. Those have been great because the answers for us have been great because we always find the answer in Christ and a lot of times when you’re speaking to an audience especially publicly like that, they don’t even know about that. They wonder how they can get there so your’e kind of building them a bridge to show them through Christ all things are possible, so that becomes the message for that. Those are a couple of components that have really resonated with readers.

Q: There seems to be a tendency for people to put their ministers and preachers on a pedestal and to me that would make it that much harder for ministers and preachers to come out and say, Hey I did this' or 'I’ve had to deal with this.' Did you ever think about that?

A: I certainly agree with you that that happens a lot. For us, it never did, I guess, because I never saw myself as a typical preacher even though I went to school and I preached. I never viewed myself that way. I guess I always thought of myself as more of a man of the people and kind of out of that product because of my family, we were very evangelistic. So I never felt that way personally but I see it and you're exactly right. When we speak a lot we’ll have a lot of ministers, pastors and a lot of their wives, especially, that it’s hard for them to approach us but when they do, they really pour out, they don’t feel like they have anybody they can talk to. They’re not even telling us everything but I can tell that there’s something from our story that’s their story and they feel very isolated. And I understand why. I’ve said before, I don’t think it’s meant to be this way, but now that I’m in this TV personality world, the preacher and his wife are sort of the mini celebrity in any little congregation because everybody’s interested in them. He’s up there all the time, he’s up every week (preaching) so it almost builds itself up so that they really can’t be real and tell you what they’re really struggling with because then, they wouldn’t be popular any more, like a performer does, they kind of hide behind stuff. I just think it builds itself up that way and it’s unfortunate because it would help their people a lot more by being real. I know Lisa and I have, in our own church (White's Ferry Road Church of Christ in West Monroe, La.). You’d think the last place in the world that would want to hire me was the place where all this happened, the church, and yet they ask me every week, 'we’d love for you to come back' and that’s because they respect me, because of being authentic. So I wish there were pastors, preachers and their wives that could do that more. There are some organizations that really try to help provide that for them, but if they could do it inside those churches, I think you’d see churches that were much more authentic and real instead of trying to look like everything’s great but on the inside, everything’s not great.

Q: What do you and your wife hope to accomplish through the book?

A: I hope that someone reads our book, it blesses 'em, it makes 'em sad but at the same time makes 'em glad, because there’s some sad stuff in there but that they are so impressed by it and moved by it that they’ll give it to somebody else. Of course, I want to sell books and I hope people buy it, but it’s not just that. That person (the person who buys the book) is going to know some couple that I could never personally get to but the story can get to them. I hope that it’s one of those things that it kind of regenerates itself that way, that it winds up in a lot of people’s hands who feel hopeless and can find a way to hope because that’s where we were. That’s why we did it, that’s why we told the story. I was doing an interview with Sean Hannity (radio and talk show host, host of Fox News Channel’s Hannity show) on his radio show  and he looked at me in all seriousness and said 'Why would you write this? You guys are popular. You’ve got a TV show' and he really didn’t know. In his mind, he’s like ‘Ya’ll are crazy.' I said well, Sean because we love people. We want people to feel hope because there’s a lot of hopeless people out there. He said 'Well, I respect that. I could just never do it' and he was being fully honest and I think that’s the way a lot of people think. They say 'God love you. I don’t know how you do it.' But if everybody felt that way, we would be in a very hopeless situation. Somebody has to risk by putting themselves out there. I’m glad we were able to do it. It helps us every time we see somebody get helped.

Q: How are things going with the show?

A: We just finished airing Season 8. Season 9 will begin fairly soon. I haven’t heard an exact date.  We’ve already filmed it so we know we’ve got 10 more coming. Of course, now we’re kind of into that second generation on the show because John Luke and Mary Kate got married on the last episode so it’s been interesting to see kind of the shift to that next generation being involved on the show. Sadie, obviously, is a huge star. Everybody loves her. It’s going to be interesting to see where we go from there. It’s not official yet, but we’re hoping we’ll probably hear soon that we’re probably going to do some more episodes, hopefully next year. We’re just going to keep on rocking and rolling. I think everybody’s happy probably but Dad. I think he’d rather go back to the woods and do his thing, but he’s on board, he’s sticking with us. But he’s like ‘Al, I’m sick of this.' I said 'I know Dad, just keep hanging in there.' I’m enjoying it. I was on seven episodes last season that just aired and I think I’m on seven or eight this year so out of the nine or 10 we do, so definitely they’re sort of  increasing my role on the show which is great. So I’m enjoying it. It’s still fun.

Q: What kind of projects are planned for the future?

A: Missy has a book releasing next week about  Mia, her daughter who has a cleft palate. I think it releases Tuesday. Corey has a book coming out about parenting, a book she did with her mom, which is exciting. Lisa and I have a new couples devotional book coming out next February. I think it’s going to be called “Duck Commander Devotional for Couples.” We just finished it. We’re doing the final edits now so that is some of the literary stuff we have coming. Dad is actually filming a documentary that my cousin Zach (Dasher) has written, my cousin who ran for Congress last year, a brilliant guy. He’s kind of our politico in our family. He’s written a wonderful documentary called “Image Bearers,” at least that’s the working title. I’m really excited to see where it goes. In our off season, we’re going to get that done.

Q: Can you talk a little bit of the message you will share for the OC Lectureship audience?

A: Their theme is "Opening Acts" which is about the Book of Acts. They’ve got some wonderful things and speakers going on. I’m kind of the kick off guy. You know, I am an opening act so I’m kind of the perfect guy to give the overview  because I seem to be the opening act for most of the family. I’m going to be doing Acts Chapter 1 tonight. Really, to me the most pivotal moment in our history as Christians was when Jesus left and basically turned it over to us. When he says to his disciples ‘here you go.’ That was the 'opening act' and so that’s what I’m going to be talking about tonight. It was a thrilling and exciting time in history when you read about it in Acts 1 and 2 but the beautiful part is in 2015, all these years later, we’re still doing it. We’re still reaching people, we’re still putting it (the Gospel) out there. That’s what my message will be.   

Carla Hinton

Religion Editor

  

Carla Hinton

Carla Hinton, an Oklahoma City native, joined The Oklahoman in 1986 as a National Society of Newspaper Editors minority intern. She began reporting full-time for The Oklahoman two years later and has served as a beat writer covering a wide... Read more ›

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