The Hallmark Channel is living up to its promise for more diversity in its 2020 holiday films. With the release of the network’s upcoming “Countdown to Christmas” lineup, the company shared more information about the channel’s first holiday movie with an LGBTQ storyline.
“The Christmas House” will star Jonathan Bennett as Brandon Mitchell, a gay man. He is anxiously awaiting news about adopting a child with his husband, Jake (Brad Harder), as they are summoned home for Christmas with the Mitchell family.
Fans may remember Bennett from his performance in the 2004 comedy film “Mean Girls” as the hunky Aaron Samuels, love interest to Lindsay Lohan’s character. He has also appeared on the tv show “Veronica Mars,” the Food Network’s “Cake Wars,” and in numerous holiday-themed movies, including Hallmark Channel’s “Christmas Made to Order.”
Bennett’s latest Hallmark Channel role is groundbreaking for the actor, who is openly gay. The actor expressed his thanks for the network’s willingness to diversify its cast and its storytelling,
“There are no words right now, only gratitude to everyone at @hallmarkchannel for this opportunity, and to @robertbuckley for creating this character/story and being a true ally to the #LGBTQ community.” he tweeted in reply to the Hallmark Channel’s official preview announcement.
There are no words right now, only gratitude to everyone at @hallmarkchannel for this opportunity, and to @robertbuckley for creating this character/story and being a true ally to the #LGBTQ community. https://t.co/T3yFJ6SCrE
— Jonathan Bennett (@JonathanBennett) September 23, 2020
Earlier this year, Hallmark Channel representatives vowed to be more inclusive with their movie plots and the characters represented on the small screen. In recent years, it has faced criticism regarding how its feel-good movies ignore other faiths and do not include enough non-white leading characters.
“Diversity and inclusion [are] a top priority for us, and we look forward to making some exciting programming announcements in the coming months, including announcements about projects featuring LGBTQ storylines, characters, and actors,” said George Zaralidis, VP of network program publicity at Hallmark’s parent company, Crown Media Family Networks, in a statement from July.
The 40-movie 2020 slate will celebrate Hanukkah and has several movies featuring interracial main couples, which is a first for Hallmark. It also features Black actresses Holly Robinson Peete and Rukiya Bernard in “Christmas in Evergreen: Bells Are Ringing.” Tamera Mowry-Housley also stars in “Christmas Comes Twice.”
“The Christmas House” is scheduled to debut on the Hallmark Channel on Sunday, Nov. 22 at 8 p.m. ET as part of the network’s annual “Countdown to Christmas” movie marathon. However, you can watch the new holiday movies starting on Oct. 24 with Julie Gonzalo and Ronnie Rowe Jr. in “Jingle Bell Bride.”
Are you excited for the holiday movie season to debut?