Duck Dynasty's Robertson family open up about faith, family and the struggles of fame in a new short film released yesterday.
'I am Second' seeks to share personal testimonies of how God has been faithful in times of trial and adversity. The Robertsons' addition to the site features Phil, Miss Kay, Jep and Reed Robertson sharing honestly about the struggles they have faced in the past, including alcohol and drug addiction and suicidal thoughts.
The Robertson family - Phil, Miss Kay and their children and grandchildren - are the focus of 'Duck Dynasty', the hit American reality TV series. The family live in West Monroe, Louisiana, and became extremely wealthy from their homegrown business, 'Duck Commander.' In addition to making products for duck hunters, they are also devoted Christians.
Head of the household Phil came from very humble beginnings, but the business he began as a young man, after marrying Miss Kay at just 17 and 16 respectively, has grown exponentially. They now make around $45 million a year.
But before the business began, Phil struggled with drug and alcohol addiction after experimenting at college. It came as a shock to his young wife, who says "Phil, who had never drank before, started drinking...it was scary to me."
Things spiralled out of control, and Phil was constantly in trouble with the law, sometimes going away into hiding for two to three months at a time, leaving Miss Kay and their three young boys at home alone. That is until, during what Phil describes as his "lowest point", he forced them to leave.
"That's when I seriously began to contemplate, it there a way out of all this?" he says.
His wife then reminded him of a man who had once come into the bar Phil owned to tell him about Jesus. Phil had forced him to leave at the time, but Miss Kay suggested that he meet with him now.
Phil remembers, "He said 'What do you think the Gospel is?' And I said 'I guess I don't know'. I didn't even know what the Gospel of Jesus was.
"So when he went through Jesus coming down...dying on the cross, being buried and being raised from the dead, I'm like 'How in the world did I ever miss that?'
"I was blown away when I heard Jesus died for me. It's simple, but profound," he says.
That day, Phil gave his life to Jesus, was baptised, and began to turn his life around.
Within years, the business he began following his conversion became worth millions of dollars, and is now run by his four sons. They became the stars of 'Duck Dynasty' in 2012, which premiered its third season in August with 11.8 million viewers, becoming the No 1 non-fiction series telecast in US cable history.
But the family's struggles didn't end when their financial problems were over. While the Robertsons have been praised for their family friendliness, the newly released 'I am Second' film reveals that since becoming a household name in America, they have dealt with some huge issues.
Son Jep became addicted to drugs and alcohol as a teenager, "I pretty much did anything that was put in front of me," he says.
It wasn't until, led by Phil, his family staged an intervention that Jep decided he needed to change the way he was living. "Dad said 'Son, are you ready to change your life?'" he remembers.
The pressures of fame have also resulted in grandson Reed considering suicide. "Twelve million people watch us every year...every week, actually. I guess that's part of the pressure that's on me. I started getting really cynical and looking down on other people, and before I knew it, no one was there. Nobody.
"That eventually led to thoughts of suicide," confesses Reed. "I hit rock bottom."
He got so far as writing a suicide note, but after confessing to his youth pastor, his parents found out. They worked through the issues, and he recommitted his life to God.
"I was finally free of doubts, of having an attitude, of being cynical. I remember being so relieved," he says. "Jesus brings that relief."
The family are certain that their fame, though difficult at times, is a gift from God. "You know the way I look at it, God had a plan for us to do what we do, to say what we say, so other people can come to know Jesus," says Jep.
"It all comes back [to Jesus]," finishes Miss Kay.
To see the full film, visit www.iamsecond.com/therobertsons