Who's the priest in the Black Eyed Peas music video?

When you watch the Black Eyed Peas' new video version of "Where Is the Love?" the first person you see after frontman will.i.am is Father Don Woznicki, a priest from the Archdiocese of Chicago.

A random phone call landed the priest in the video. On a hot July day in Los Angeles, where Father Woznicki ministers to the entertainment industry, the priest answered his phone at Christ the King Parish in Hollywood.


"It was from will.i.am's studio, which is about three blocks away," the priest told the Catholic New World, Chicago's archdiocesan newspaper. "They said would you be interested in being in a Black Eyed Peas video? My initial thought was that I'm not a good dancer. But I said sure."

In 2008, with the permission of Chicago Cardinal Francis E. George, Father Woznicki moved to Los Angeles to develop a ministry to the entertainment industry. He is currently going through the incardination process for the Los Angeles Archdiocese.

The Black Eyed Peas were filming a new version of "Where Is the Love?" to raise awareness of the violence going on in the nation and world and to raise money for 16 charities around recent tragedies such as those in Dallas and Orlando, Florida. The first version of "Where Is the Love?" was released following the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

The video features dozens of celebrities, including Justin Timberlake, Kendall Jenner, Mary J. Blige and Jamie Foxx. It also includes other figures, like Dallas Police Chief David O. Brown and religious people such as a rabbi and Father Woznicki.

The day they called, the band's producers asked Father Woznicki to come right over to the studio for the filming. He arrived at the studio all sweaty from the blistering heat.

They showed him clips of the video they had so far and then asked him to sit in a chair.

"I thought they were just kind of testing me out but he (the director) goes, 'OK, let's do a take,'" said Father Woznicki, ordained a Chicago priest in 2002. "Something in me said I need to go through all the legalities of this. But then there was another part saying I needed to roll with this or I'm going to miss this opportunity for the church."

It all happened quickly.

"One minute I'm in my office kind of stressed over some things and I'm sweating. The next thing I know I'm driving back and I've just been in what could be a big video," Father Woznicki said.

It was a personal choice to have a priest at the beginning of the video, said will.i.am.

"I've altered the lyric and it says, 'Mama, mama, mama, tell us what the hell is going on. Why can't we all just get along?' The reason I wanted to put a priest right after I'm addressing my mama is because Mom brought us up with religion. We were Apostolic and I didn't want a random image when I'm talking to my mom," will.i.am told the Catholic New World.

Faith is important in his family and he was asking his mother why religions are fighting one another.

"And if I'm going to show an image there I'm going to show how we were raised. I don't want to have a random person. I don't want to have a random celebrity. That's a personal thing for me. It's like building blocks to how I was configured."

The lyric that's playing when Father Woznicki's image appears is, "Would you practice what you preach? Would you turn the other cheek again?" Will.i.am added the word "again" on this version.

"The Bible says to turn the other cheek. OK, how many times?" he asked. "From that perspective, I don't get why we still fight. You're supposed to turn the other cheek as many times as you are supposed to."

Will.i.am believes it was a "call from above" that prompted the group to do a new version of "Where Is the Love?" now when the world has seen so much violent tragedy.

Back in 2001, his grandmother played a big part in guiding will.i.am and Black Eyed Peas to respond to 9/11. They had a tour that started Sept. 12 and considered postponing it because of the attacks. His grandmother told him they were given gifts by God as musicians and were called to respond in some positive way.

"My grandmother would always pray for us. I would always call my grandma when I would get on a plane and ask my grandma for prayer," he said. "So prayer in my family is like breathing for us. I don't want to speak for everybody in the group. I grew up in a very spiritual family."

His grandmother has since died, but will.i.am said he felt "the same type of anointing, the same type of guidance" around this version of the song. He considers her his "guardian that is pushing me to do this version as well."

He sees a world than now more than ever needs love, because "we're all connected with devices and disconnected with this device that's keeping us alive that's called our heart, both physically and spiritually," he explained.

All religions "are guiding you to live a better life. For some reasons, religions can't get along and church and state feud. State and media amplify something that's been happening for centuries," said will.i.am.

"If God has rules, then let God be the judge of that. We can't. I practice what I preach by doing as much as I can," he said, adding that one of his grandmother's prayers in particular sticks with him. "She'd always say, 'Forgive us for the sins that we've done, sins of omission and sins of commission–that you told us to do and we did not do, and those that you told us not to do and we've done, forgive us from those sins.'" That was one of the prayers that sticks with me that my grandma always said."

Having a video where various religious people can appear together asking the same question–"Where is the love?"–is a positive start, he said.

"It was important to have those figures in the video as well as police officers and folks that served in the military as well as celebrities and common folk," he added. "To have a balance of people in pursuit of love to ask the question how did we get to the place where love is absent."

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