Ja Rule*Ja Rule was fortunate enough to catch a break after spending almost two years in prison for illegal gun possession thanks to screenwriter Galley Molina, who empathized with his struggle.

“People used to ask, ‘Well, you know he’s a felon?’ And I would say, ‘Well, so am I,'” says Molina, a 44-year-old pastor who served five years for drug trafficking.

“I know his heart. I know what type of dude he is and he was probably one of the most professional guys on the set.”

It seems that Ja Rule can relate to the struggles of his character in the film “I’m in Love With a Church Girl,” he’s a high-level drug dealer trying to break away from his lifestyle after falling for a good girl. The church-going good girl is played by Adrienne Bailon, formerly of Cheetah Girls and 3LW, with Stephen Baldwin, “Sopranos” actor Vincent Pastore, and Michael Madsen as co-stars in the film.

“I’m in Love With a Church Girl”, which will release on Oct. 18 in more than 500 theaters in the U.S., was produced by Molina and Grammy-winning Christian singer Israel Houghton. The film is based on Molina’s life and Ja Rule was cast in the film while his possession charges were still pending.

“This role was very different for me,” said Ja Rule, whose film credits include “The Fast and the Furious.” ”I’ve done a lot of films that all have been pretty edgy. I played thug characters, but with this character, even though I play a thug somewhat, he’s really a guy going through a transition.”

While serving his time, Jeffrey “Ja Rule” Atkins said he gained 30 pounds, read many books, earned his GED and was pushed to earn an even higher education by x-New York State Comptroller Alan Hevesi and ex-Tyco International CEO Dennis Kozlowski.

“It’s really minimum — all of the fame, the movies and the music. When you’re behind that wall, all that becomes very minimum,” said Ja Rule, who burst onto the music scene in 1999 and released back-to-back multiplatinum and platinum albums. “I was more focused on getting my mind right, getting my body right, more thinking about my family. Those are the things you cherish.”

Ja Rule has definitely had his fair share of success in the music industry; with number one hits, awards and Grammy nominations under his belt. While he never plans to stop recording, he would like to focus his time and energy on TV and film.

“I love music, it’s my passion,” said Ja Rule, who independently released “Pain Is Love 2” during his incarceration last year but put up subpar numbers. “This is my second wind right now, and I’m happy to be home, but I think as I’m getting older, my passion is leaning toward doing more television and film. Music is my heart, but I see television and more movies in the next stage of my life.”