childhood and undergraduate years
He attended Northeast State in DeKalb County, through a full tuition theater scholarship, acting in the Broadway musicals Annie and Big River. He was first introduced to film by working as a production assistant and background extra on Dawson's Creek (Joshua Jackson, Katie Holmes, James Van Der Beek) and Tim Burton's Big Fish (Ewan McGregor, Steve Buscemi, Danny DeVito). He paid the rest of his way through college by working as a bookkeeper in his hometown bank and on the college landscaping crew. Having a close relationship with his parents and brother, he later transferred in-state to Auburn University where he and his brother were roommates.
At Auburn, Lingerfelt worked as a barista at a local–owned coffee shop, and gave away his television during his junior year to dedicate more time to self-development. He completed a BA in Marriage & Family Counseling with independent studies in 19th Century British Literature and Financial Planning. He served in the student government as Vice President of The College of Human Sciences, joined the university lacrosse team, and they won two consecutive conference championships. During his summers, he volunteered with international humanitarian organizations, leading to relief work in Jamaica, teaching English in Romania, medical relief teams in Mexico, and he finished his senior internship at a homeless men's soup kitchen in Scotland.
After graduation in 2006, he counseled genocide refugees in Uganda and taught English at Made-in-the-Streets; a street children's rehab farm in Kenya. While there, Lingerfelt created a low budget documentary titled Made in the Streets of Africa. He was awarded the Lily Endowment for his work, and the documentary was used in human rights and social activist courses at universities across the states, including Fuller and Princeton. For the documentary, Lingerfelt used a Walmart videotape camera, natural lighting, and taught himself FinalCutPro.
Lingerfelt continued his humanitarian efforts (Egypt '07, Mongolia '08, Syria, Israel, Palestine '10, Liberia '11). In 2010, he served as an American representative at the Institute of Middle Eastern Studies Conference in Beirut, Lebanon. The focus of the conference was cross-cultural dialogue among Christian and Muslim youth peace movements. In 2011, he wrote, produced, and directed a documentary on microlending in Liberia for Atlanta's Peachtree Presbyerian Church, which the church used at their annual humanitarian missions galas.
Following Liberia, Lingerfelt served as the keynote speaker at the Kiwanis Conference in Birmingham, 2012. His topic was microlending and ethical methods in humanitarian efforts.
While working across the southeast in film production, he spent 2010 – 2018 helping his family run Fyala Security, which provides security guards to high schools and hospitals. His father created the company in 2004 and Lingerfelt launched a cyber security division in 2016. Lingerfelt managed the company from his phone and laptop. He resigned from the company in 2018 when he was invited to join a financial firm in Newnan, Georgia as a financial adviser.
He spent five years writing his first novel, The Mason Jar, an inspirational epic, romance. He self-published and released it in December 2011 after being rejected by eight literary agents. The novel sold over 5,000 copies within two years, and went on to become a national best-seller in 2014. HarperCollins and Amazon offered contracts to purchase The Mason Jar and a sequel novel, but Lingerfelt refused since he couldn't keep the film rights. Best-selling novelist Diana Bold said she was "blown away" by The Mason Jar. Award-winning children's book author Nicole Weaver wrote, "Lingerfelt's novel reads like one, long, beautiful poem." And author Lee Wilson called Lingerfelt the intersection of Nicholas Sparks and C.S. Lewis.
In 2012, Lingerfelt finished an internship in film production at the Emmy-award winning company Revolution Pictures. Lingerfelt went on to work on production teams for The Song, Yellow Day, and Sweet Home Alabama. During this time, he wrote the screenplay for The Mason Jar, after reading over a dozen screenwriting books recommended by Hollywood executives. In December 2013, Lingerfelt was flown to Beverly Hills for table talks concerning The Mason Jar feature film, but it was later passed on for Tom Hanks' film A Hologram For The King and Martin Scorsese's Silence.
Lingerfelt went on to win the 2015 Nasser Entertainment screenwriting competition in Studio City, California, and he wrote and directed his first short film titled, Summer Leaves: A Love Story In DeKalb County, that December. The film was made on a $0 budget with volunteer cast and crew, and was accepted into three international film festivals. The film starred Sandra Lafferty (Walk The Line, The Hunger Games) and Katrina Despain (Pitch Perfect). Carl Lauten, director of The Cosby Show and Spin City wrote a letter to Lingerfelt, calling the short film, "exceptional."
Lingerfelt's second novel Alabama Irish, the sequel to The Mason Jar, was released in book stores world wide on March 31, 2016. Alabama Irish is currently trending with greater reviews and sales than The Mason Jar.
The Huffington Post publishes a number of Lingerfelt's articles while he divides his time between Atlanta, Nashville, and Los Angeles. His writings have also been featured in A New Mode, Thought Catalog, The Elephant Journal, Elite Daily, Good Guy Swag, and The Good Men Project. Lingerfelt keeps readers briefed at his blog, Love Story from the Male Perspective, which garnered 5.2 million views in 2013 alone.
In April of 2016, he received the DeKalb County, Alabama's Top 40 Leaders Award by The Time's Journal.
In March 2018, after being recruited by a financial advising and wealth management firm, Lingerfelt passed the financial licensing exams, the Series 7 and Series 66. He joined the firm as an adviser in Newnan, Georgia, which is also the home of Pinewood Studios. Lingerfelt currently lives in Newnan, just south of Atlanta.
If you would like to write James Russell Lingerfelt or book him for a speaking engagement, see Contact above. He is represented by The MacGregor Literary Agency.