Holiday Film Guide: 40 Films With Black Talent To Watch During The 2021 Season
Photo Credit: Hallmark / Lifetime / VH1
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Holiday Film Guide: 40 Films With Black Talent To Watch During The 2021 Season

It's time to get in the holiday spirit! In order to do so, Shadow and Act has put together a guide of new, made-for-TV holiday films with Black talent in lead roles that are airing on cable networks.

This list only includes holiday films on basic cable networks and will not include any on premium cable or streaming services.

Dive into the list below:

A Chestnut Family Christmas

Photo: OWN

Network: OWN

First airdate: Nov. 30 at 9 p.m.

Description: When a talented pastry chef (Meagan Holder), currently working as a live-in cook, accidentally commits to hosting her family for the holidays, she poses as the wealthy homeowner in order to impress them and to remove the “black sheep” burden she has been carrying her whole life. All seems to be going well, until everyone’s secrets are exposed and relationships begin to unravel.

A Christmas Dance Reunion

Photo: Lifetime

Network: Lifetime

First airdate: Dec. 3 at 8 p.m.

Description: Successful attorney Lucy Mortimer (Monique Coleman), along with her mother Virginia (Kim Roberts) returns to the Winterleigh Resort to help celebrate the hotel’s final Christmas season. Once there, Lucy is reunited with the owner’s nephew and her childhood Christmas Dance partner, Barrett Brewster (Corbin Bleu). Though the resort has fallen on hard times and has stopped most holiday events, Lucy leads the charge in recreating the beloved Christmas traditions, including the popular Christmas Dance, to bring together new families and new hope to the resort. Now, Lucy must decide if she’s willing to take a risk on love and partner up once more with Barrett for what could be the last Christmas Dance.

A Christmas Treasure

Photo: Hallmark

Network: Hallmark

First airdate:  Nov. 7 at. 8 p.m.

Description: Christmas in Pine Grove will be extra special this holiday season as the Webb family plans to open a 100-year-old time capsule that was buried when the town was founded. While enjoying all the town’s festivities surrounding the big reveal and continuing to work at her family’s newspaper, Lou (Jordin Sparks) finalizes her plans to further her writing career by moving to New York after Christmas. But after opening the time capsule and finding her grandfather’s old journal, she begins to question whether she should move or stay in Pine Grove to carry on her family’s legacy. Having also met charming chef, Kyle (Michael Xavier), who is also at a crossroads while visiting Pine Grove for the holidays, only makes Lou doubt the future she had planned even more. Sparks sings two classic Christmas songs in the movie, covering “This Christmas” and on the piano, “Oh Holy Night.” Her original song from her 2020 Christmas album Cider & Hennessy, “Oh, It’s Christmas,” will also be part of the movie.

A Christmas Wish

Network: BET+

First airdate:  Nov. 30.

Description: Roz McKenzie, a single mother, is calling upon a miracle so she and her daughter can survive Christmas. The film stars Noree Victoria, Nadia Simms, Blue Kimble and Javon Johnson. It is written and directed by Christopher Nolen.

A Fiancé for Christmas

Photo: Hallmark

Network: Lifetime

First airdate: Dec. 9 at 8 p.m.

Description: Perpetually single Sawyer (Amanda Payton) makes a fake wedding registry, hoping a shopping spree with a scan gun will be the ultimate retail therapy. But when the registry is discovered and the whole town throws her a surprise bridal shower, she’s too embarrassed to tell the truth. Instead, she finds a fake fiancé to help her navigate through the lies and holiday festivities. However, as real feelings develop between Sawyer and her fake fiancé, they may turn into the real deal after all. Adam Gregory and Marie Osmond also star.

A Holiday in Harlem

Network: Hallmark

First airdate: Nov. 14 at 8 p.m

Description: Business executive Jazmin Carter is known for two things: turning fledgling businesses into profit producers and avoiding Christmas in Harlem, the neighborhood where she grew up. The film stars Olivia Washington, Will Adams and Tina Lifford.

A Rich Christmas

Photo: BET+

Network: BET+

First airdate: Nov. 4

Description: A spoiled and ungrateful socialite learns a valuable lesson one Christmas after her mega-rich father forces her to work at the first property he ever owned – a family homeless center. The film stars Bill Bellamy, Vanessa A Williams, Tyler Abron, Brandee Evans and Denise Boutte. It is directed by Victoria Rowell and written by Shateka “SJ” Johnson.

A Sisterly Christmas

Network: OWN

First airdate: Dec. 7. at 9 p.m.

Description: Starring Deborah Joy Winans and Kendrick Cross, two sisters, one who loves Christmas and everything that comes with it and the other who can be the scroogiest of Scrooges, receive an early Christmas gift: an inheritance that takes them on a once-in-a-lifetime luxury holiday vacation. Their Christmas proves to be more than they bargained for when they run into their childhood rival, now a Broadway star who digs in on these sisters, testing their resolve as women and their bonds of sisterhood.

A Picture Perfect Holiday

Photo: Lifetime

Network: Lifetime

First airdate: Nov. 13 at 8 p.m.

Description: Fashion photographer Gaby Jones (Tatyana Ali) is eager to make a name for herself and finally gets her chance when she lands a coveted job at a magazine. Encouraged by an editor (Dina Meyer) to attend the annual Christmas Photography Retreat in the small town of Pine Falls to ramp up her skills, Gaby reluctantly signs up despite not being a huge fan of the holidays. When she arrives, she learns her rental has been double booked with wildlife photographer, Sean (Henderson Wade) but soon discovers there’s more to a photo than what you see through the lens.  As the two fall for each other, their life choices start to get in the way and the two must decide if they’re willing to take a risk in order to share a picture perfect holiday together. 

An Ice Wine Christmas

Photo: Lifetime

Network: Lifetime

First airdate: Nov. 12 at 8 p.m.

Description: One of Philadelphia’s top wine sommeliers, Camila (Roselyn Sánchez) goes home to the magical vineyards of Evergreen, NY, to take part in the town’s annual Ice Wine Christmas Festival and harvest. While there, Camila spends time with her mother Sunny (Maria del Mar) and sister Beth (AnnaMaria Demara), who manages the local winery for Camila’s former ice wine mentor, Henry (Richard Fitzpatrick). But Camila discovers changes are coming as Henry plans to retire, scaling down the Christmas Festival.  Beth also recently hired wine specialist Declan (Lyriq Bent) who plans to take the operation to full year production. Believing in the importance of preserving the magic of ‘Christmas in a bottle’, Camila shares with Declan her passion for Christmas and what an authentic ice wine harvest can bring.

Baking Spirits Bright

Network: Lifetime

First airdate: Nov. 21 at 8 p.m.

Description: Mira Varma (Rekha Sharma) takes pride in her family’s business of making fruitcakes, despite the decline in its popularity of once being America’s most-gifted holiday confection. When Mira’s parents decide to hire Brady Phillips (Dion Johnstone) and his high-powered marketing company to boost sales for the holidays, Mira must fight to hold onto the heart of the company she loves so much.

Christmas Deja Vu

Photo: BET+

Network: BET+

First airdate: TBD

Description: A woman with a downtrodden life who hates Christmas longs for the life she could have had as a singer. She meets an angel who grants her wish. The film stars Amber Riley, Loretta Devine and Blue Kimble. It is written and directed by Christel Gibson

Christmas For Sale

Network: BET+

First airdate: TBD

Description: A young real estate agent pretends to be a billionaire's yoga instructor on a holiday ski trip to gain a lucrative real estate listing, but she ends up falling in love with the eccentric and charming gentlemen. It stars Nadine Ellis, Aaron Spears and Shanti Lowry. It is written by Camara Davis and directed by Michael Mayhall.

Christmas in Harmony

Network: Hallmark

First airdate: Oct. 29

Description: A company merger pushes Harmony Matthews (Ashleigh Murray) out of a job at Suprasonic Records and back to her hometown. Mama (Loretta Devine) couldn’t be more thrilled to have Harmony back home and to help with the church’s annual Holiday Hallelujah Chorus. Celebrity Melo D Star (Michelle Williams) is a client of Harmony’s and threatens to leave unless Harmony is back. Harmony has the perfect idea to showcase Melo D. Star and reinstate her career but when things go south, Harmony is tricked into auditioning for the lead solo in the chorus — directed by her scorned high school sweetheart, Kyle Noah (Luke James). By Christmas Eve, Harmony and Kyle could be singing a different tune and harmonizing in the key of love.

Christmas In My Heart

Network: Hallmark Movies & Mysteries

First airdate: Oct. 23 at 10 p.m.

Description: With Christmas fast approaching, concert violinist Beth (Hemmens) returns to her hometown after the recent passing of her mother, the elementary school’s beloved music department head. She crosses paths with Katie (Maria Nash, “Elinor Wonders Why”), a young, promising violinist and daughter of country music star Sean Grant (Macfarlane), who’s been living a quiet life there since his wife’s passing. Sean’s mother-in-law Ruthie (Ralph) wants him to move on with his life, but he’s still coming to terms with his loss and hasn’t been inspired to create new music. Eager to sharpen her skills for the town’s upcoming recital dedicated to Beth’s mother, Katie finds a creative way to get Sean to hire Beth as her tutor, despite his skepticism about the value of formal music instruction. As their lessons progress, Beth and Katie connect over their love of classical music, and Katie’s confidence grows. Although Beth and Sean are sometimes at odds with each other, they learn that the power of music and friendship can have significant healing properties, especially at Christmastime.

Dancing Through the Snow

Photo: Lifetime

Network: Lifetime

First airdate: Nov. 19 at 8 p.m.

Description: Michael Foster (Colin Lawrence) is a firefighter and devoted single father to 8- year-old Lily (Bianca Lawrence), an aspiring ballerina. After a video goes viral of Michael and Lily doing an adorable ballet routine, Michael becomes the most eligible bachelor, as women everywhere want to date this adorable Dad. However, the only woman Michael has eyes for is Lily’s ballet teacher, Olivia (AnnaLynne McCord). Will Michael be able to dance his way into Olivia’s heart?

Hip Hop Family Christmas

Photo: VH1

Network: VH1

First airdate: Dec. 6 at 9 p.m.

Description: Hip-Hop's most famous family agrees to participate in a live Christmas television special to address negative press and soften their image. Produced by Jamie Fox and Datari Turner, it stars Keri Hilson, Ne-Yo, Terrence J, Serayah, MC Lyte, Redman, Valarie Pettiford, Jodi Lyn O’Keefe, Demetrius Shipp Jr, Billy Sorrells, Jonathan Kite, B. Simone, Jess Hilarious, Niatia ‘Lil Mama’ Kirkland, Vena E., Vanessa Simmons and Tank.

Kirk Franklin's A Gospel Christmas

Photo: Lifetime

Network: Lifetime

First airdate: Dec. 4 at 8 p.m.

Description: When Olivia (Demetria McKinney), a young assistant pastor, gets assigned to be a lead pastor at a new church a month before Christmas, she’s fearful she can’t manage the transition, including getting the choir ready to open the town’s annual Winter Jamboree. Banding together with her new congregation, Olivia discovers a new home for herself, and even finds a little Christmas romance along the way! Featuring a special appearance and songs written and arranged by Kirk Franklin.

Let's Get Merried

Network: VH1

First airdate: Dec. 13 at 9 p.m.

Description: A bachelorette weekend at a Christmas-themed adventure park gets all kinds of holly jolly when a hard-partying, down-on-her-luck, holiday-hater decides to get married. That day. To a man she has yet to meet. But first... drinks! Produced by Eva Longoria, it stars Mishel Prada, Xosha Roquemore, Tahj Mowry, Nicolette Pearse, Nicole Power and Savannah Basley

Maps and Mistletoe

Photo: Lifetime

Network: Lifetime

First airdate: Dec. 3 at 8 p.m.

Description: Emilia Martin (Humberly González), a cartographer of school maps, has plans for a cozy Christmas at home until her boss has a last-minute project for her, designing a novelty treasure map of the North Pole. Emilia decides to seek out the expertise of North Pole explorer Drew Campbell (Ronnie Rowe), who reluctantly agrees to help her. As the two work closely, they discover more than either of them ever expected.

Merry Liddle Christmas Baby

Photo: Lifetime

Network: Lifetime

First airdate: Nov. 27

Description: This holiday, the Liddles have much to be merry about! Jacquie Liddle (Kelly Rowland) and her husband Tyler (Thomas Cadrot) are preparing for the arrival of their first baby.  Meanwhile, Jacquie’s sister Treena (Latonya Williams) and her husband Julian (Jaime M. Callica) are thinking about adopting a baby themselves, and spirited, fashionista sister Kiara’s (Bresha Webb) relationship with Chris (Nathan Witte) is heating up.  With Jacquie’s family expanding in ways she could never have expected, the Liddles are headed for a crazy Christmas filled with merry mayhem and lots of love and laughter.

Merry Switchmas

Network: BET+

First airdate: Dec. 9

Description: The holidays take a wrong turn when identical twin sisters agree to switch places for one night only at their parents’ Christmas party. With their boyfriends, a feisty great-aunt, and others tangled in their charade, the sisters end up finding out more about their family and themselves before the night ends. But the real question is whether the sisters can eventually make things right with their family and boyfriends when the truth comes out. The film stars Valarie Pettiford, Thea Camara, Peter Parros, Rachel Aladdin, Rebekah Aladdin, Joseph Harold and Joel Harold. It is directed by Chris Nolen and written by Gabrielle Collin.

Miracles Across 125th Street

Network: VH1

First airdate: Dec. 20 at 9 p.m.

Description: After battling drug addiction, a Harlem rapper returns to his family’s church to confront his past on Christmas Eve. Directed and written by Nick Cannon, it stars Cannon, Lil Kim, Chrisette Michele, Kierra Sheard-Kelly, Tommy Davidson, Bruce Church aka “Bruce Bruce,” Luenell Campbell aka “Luenell,” Fred Hammond, Karen Clark Sheard, Akon, Cameron J. Wright, Vena "Pretty Vee" Excell, Marsha Warfield, Ashley Adair, Bobb’e J. Thompson, Santwon McCray, Airean Josiah aka AJ Boogie, Jarun Jones aka YM, Connor Finnerty, Golden Cannon, AJ Bernard, Destiny Renee Boyd, Cosme Flores, Rahja Fuller, Todrick Hall, DC Young Fly, Jim Jones, Rickey Smiley and Teyana Taylor

Miracles in Motor City

Photo: Lifetime

Network: Lifetime

First airdate: Nov. 28 at 8 p.m.

Description: Amber Dupont (Tia Mowry) bites off more than she can chew when she takes charge of her church’s annual Christmas pageant and inadvertently promises to deliver a special performance by Motown Legend Smokey Robinson. When her best friends secretly enlist Amber’s former flame Eddie (Mark Taylor) to help – the pair reconnect in a quest to find Smokey and convince him to appear. With the clock ticking, family, friends, and superstar Smokey Robinson come together to stage the most special pageant yet.

Mistletoe in Montana

Photo: Lifetime

Network: Lifetime

First airdate: Dec. 17 at 8 p.m.

Description: Welcome to Paradise Ranch, where city slickers get to be cowboys and cowgirls. Merry (Melissa Joan Hart), who owns the ranch has been unlucky in love, but that’s about to change when a single father, Mark (Duane Henry), and his two kids book the ranch for Christmas week.  Adventure is on the menu, the holiday spirit is everywhere, and love is in the air.

My Favorite Christmas Melody

Photo: Lifetime

Network: Lifetime

First airdate: Dec. 5 at 8 p.m.

Description: Once a promising singer-songwriter, Abby (Mýa) now finds herself writing uninspired jingles for commercials. As she heads home for the holidays, she’s enlisted by the local high school music teacher to help save the school arts program. In the process, Abby rediscovers her voice and regains the confidence to go after her dreams and lets the possibility of love in too.  Rainbow Sun Francks also stars.

Our Christmas Journey

Network: Hallmark

First airdate: Dec. 4 at 10 p.m.

Description: As a single mom and her teenaged son with autism come to a crossroad during Christmas, she must learn to let go so he can flourish as she finds her own heart healing in unexpected ways. The film stars Holly Robinson Peete, Lyriq Bent, Nik Sanchez and Aloma Wright.

Saying Yes to Christmas

Photo: Lifetime

Network: Lifetime

First airdate: Nov. 30 at 8 p.m.

Description: A magical Christmas wish makes a career-obsessed June (Erika Prevost) say “Yes” to every invitation while she’s home for the holidays. But when an old flame, Blake (Romaine Waite) joins her hectic schedule of Christmas activities, past feelings are reignited. June must choose between saying yes to her career and life in the city or to her heart in her hometown.

Soul Santa

Photo: BET+

Network: BET+

First airdate: TBD

Description: When an unlucky businessman gambles away the mob’s money, he is forced to go on the run and hide out as a shopping mall Santa Claus. The film stars David Mann, Tamela Mann, Brooke Monroe Conaway, Christopher Gurr and Ross Fleming. It was directed by Terri Vaughn and written by Greg Anderson

The Bitch Who Stole Christmas

Network: VH1

First airdate: Dec. 2 at 9 p.m.

Description: In the draggiest Christmas movie ever made, a workaholic big-city fashion journalist is sent to a Christmas-obsessed small town to dig up a story when she finds herself in the middle of cut-throat housewives, a high-stakes “Winter Ball” competition, and a sinister plot that could destroy Christmas fore-evah! From MTV Entertainment Studios and World of Wonder, it stars RuPaul, Krysta Rodriguez, Andy Ridings, Michelle Visage, Ginger Minj, Brooke Lynn Hytes, Peppermint, Jan Sport, Jaymes Mansfield, Latrice Royale, Gottmik, Morgan McMichaels, Porkchop, Carson Kressley, Ross Mathews, Chad Michaels, Heidi N Closet, Kelly Mantle, Kimora Blac, Laganja Estranja, Manila Luzon, Mayhem Miller, Pandora Boxx, Raven, Rock M. Sakura, Kylie Sonique Love, Kim Petras, Charo and Anna Maria Horsford.

The Business of Christmas 2

Photo: BET+

Network: BET+

First airdate: Dec. 2

Description: For the Franklin family, Christmas will never be the same without their father, Oscar. As their mother hesitates to let love in again, the children struggle to see beyond their own career and relationship problems. They must get outside of themselves and forgive each other for the mistakes of the past in order to remember that there is no Christmas without family. The film's stars include Daphne Maxwell Reid and Jennifer Freeman. It was directed by Tim Reid and written by Camara Davis.

The Jenkins Family Christmas

Photo: BET+

Network: BET+

First airdate: TBD

Description: After burying their father earlier in the year, Baneatta and Beverly attempt to carry on his Christmas traditions without strangling each other – but when an unknown half-sister arrives at the family festivities, more than just Christmas presents are opened. The film stars Regina Taylor, Kim Coles, Tammy Townsend, Robert Gossett, Ashley Love Mills, Anthony Chatmon II, Derek Chadwick, Bailey Bass, Thomas Miles (“Nephew Tommy”) and Monti Washington. It was directed by Robin Givens and written by Christopher Oscar Pena and Joy Kecken.

The Santa Stakeout

Photo: Hallmark

Network: Hallmark

First airdate: Oct. 24 at 8 p.m.

Description: Starring Tamera Mowry Housley and Paul Campbell, Tanya is a police detective who is reluctantly partnered with fellow detective Ryan to solve a recent string of heists taking place during high-profile holiday parties around town. They go undercover as newlyweds Tasha and Rupert, moving into the vacant house next to Mr. Miller, the jovial chair of the community’s Christmas committee…and the prime suspect in the case. As Tanya and Ryan partake in the neighborhood’s holiday happenings to keep up appearances and crack the case, they get swept up in Christmas. Before they know it, their cover story as a couple in love starts to become reality.

Under the Christmas Tree

Photo: Lifetime

Network: Lifetime

First airdate: Dec. 19 at 8 p.m.

Description: Marketing whiz Alma Beltran (Elise Bauman) and Christmas tree whisperer Charlie Freemont (Tattiawna Jones) cross paths when Charlie finds the perfect tree for the Maine Governor’s Holiday Celebration – right in Alma’s back yard. While they initially spar, romantic sparks soon begin to fly between the two women as the enchanting tree and some Christmas fairy dust from the town’s pâtissière extraordinaire (Ricki Lake) bring out the best in them and spark each other to take leaps of faith and fight for love and Christmas magic.

Welcome to the Christmas Family Reunion

Network: Lifetime

First airdate: Nov. 29 at 8 p.m.

Description: Event planner Amy (Michelle Argyris) helps rising singer Tiffanie Christmas (Asia’h Epperson) plan her holiday family reunion. Along the way Amy must navigate some challenging family dynamics, especially amongst Tiffanie’s aunts as well as her own growing feelings for Tiffanie’s cousin, Calvin (Alonzo B. Slater). Will she be able to pull off an amazing Christmas family reunion? Vanessa Williams, Wendy Raquel Robinson, and Catherine Haena Kim co-star.

Who is Christmas Eve

Network: Bounce

First airdate: Nov. 21 at 8 p.m.

Description: Eve Simmons (Paige Hurd) was abandoned as an infant on the steps of a church 30 years ago on Christmas Eve. Now, struggling to move forward with her life, she embarks on a search to uncover the mystery of her birth with the help of her boyfriend Curtis (Romeo Miller) and famed investigative genealogist Pam Slaton (Juliana Harkavy). The movie is inspired by actual events from Slaton’s real-life cases, and she serves as a producer.

Writing Around the Christmas Tree

Network: Lifetime

First airdate: Dec. 25 at 8 p.m.

Description: Mikaela (Krystal Joy Brown) a successful romance novelist who has had bad luck in love, visits a quaint bed and breakfast for a Christmas writer’s retreat near a snowy lake town each year. Upon arriving, she meets dashing writer, Levi (Curtis Hamilton) who soon convinces Mikaela that she shouldn’t be writing about love, if she doesn’t allow herself to get out and actually experience it.

You Make It Feel Like Christmas

Photo: Lifetime

Network: Lifetime

First airdate: Nov. 20 at 8 p.m.

Description: Emma (Mary Antonini) is a talented designer who finds herself too busy to return home for the holidays after her work catches the eye of design guru Kate Marguiles (Stephanie Sy), much to her father, Tom’s (Alex Poch-Goldin) dismay. When her ex-boyfriend and childhood best friend Aaron (Michael Xavier) returns home after active military duty, he makes it his mission to get her home to celebrate their Christmas traditions.

Adventures in Christmasing

Photo: VH1

Network: VH1

First airdate: Nov. 29 at 9 p.m.

Description: Parker Baldwin, a highly successful and meticulous talk show host who plans everything to a T, finds her Christmas plans upended when her network persuades her to spend three days in the wild with superstar adventurer & television survivalist Finn Holt for a holiday television event. The two butt heads until they find themselves stranded together in the wild with no food, unreliable shelter and no form of communication. Unexpectedly impacting each other, they come to realize life is the greatest adventure. Exec produced by Kim Fields, it also stars Art Rutter and Timothy Johnson; Meghan Hooper, Josh Van Houdt and Janee Dabney

A Christmas Stray

Network: OWN

First airdate: Dec. 14 at 9 p.m

Description: Starring Rhyon Nicole Brown and Andra Fuller, a tightly-wound corporate executive, finds himself hopelessly stranded in a small mountain town on Christmas Eve, unable to shake the adorable stray dog who ran him off the road, and irresistibly drawn to the free-spirited, local veterinarian who is sorely in need of some Christmas magic herself.

Shadow and Act is a website dedicated to cinema, television and web content of Africa and its global Diaspora. With daily news, interviews, in-depth investigations into the audiovisual industry, and more, Shadow and Act promotes content created by and about people of African descent throughout the world.

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