Lionsgate's I Still Believe, also starring Britt Robertson, opens March 20, 2020
KJ Apa movies from Riverdale‘s high school to concert arenas as Christian music mega star Jeremy Camp in his upcoming film I Still Believe — and PEOPLE has an exclusive first look.
The drama comes from the makers of the hit Christian film I Can Only Imagine, based on the story behind the group MercyMe’s song of the same name. Like that film, I Still Believe is a music-based film, telling the true life story of Camp, who lost his wife, Melissa, to ovarian cancer in 2001. The tragedy led him on a spiritual journey, which resulted in four emotional albums. He’s since been nominated for a Grammy Award and multiple American Music Awards.
Apa, 22, says he was drawn to the love story between Camp and Melissa (played by Britt Robertson in the film).
“Their love is seriously put to the test in this movie,” he tells PEOPLE. “I hope after seeing the love between Jeremy and Melissa the audience can sit there and think, ‘Wow, I hope that I can one day be in love like that.’ I mean that’s what I Still Believe is about: it’s about journeying through your biggest fears and disappointments and coming out still believing. I believe that anyone, everyone can relate to this film because it’s a story about love, loss, and hope.”
For the film, Apa, who says he hails from a “really musical household,” does all of his own singing. As he tells PEOPLE, he was “terrified” about that aspect of making the drama, despite occasionally crooning as Archie in Riverdale.
“I’m super uncomfortable when I sing,” he admits. “I went into the studio in Nashville — I did that first before we shot anything — and I think that really gave me perspective on the film. Having that sound and knowing what all that music is going to sound like before you go in is super important. It’s either going to boost your confidence and boost your morale or it’s going to be like, ‘Oh, man, that didn’t go so well, so what are we going to work with?’ Luckily, it couldn’t have gone better. I think people are going to love it.”
The film also stars Shania Twain and Gary Sinise and was directed by Jon and Andrew Erwin.
Lionsgate’s I Still Believe opens March 20, 2020.