Are y’all ready for a new holiday classic? Kirk Franklin’s The Night Before Christmas touches on topics that hit many close to home, such as mending relationships, grief and dealing with the loneliness of the holiday season. Christmas movies typically have a straightforward and cookie-cutter plot, but that is not the case with this heartwarming film.
In this movie, an estranged mother and daughter Journee (Naturi Naughton) and Nia (Lorea Turner) are forced to take refuge inside a church where a handful of also-trapped parishioners, are reeling from the cancellation of their annual holiday concert. With the help from this unlikely yet spirited group of strangers, Journee and Nia band together to help the church salvage not only their holiday traditions, but also their show-stopping Christmas day performance, despite the raging storm outside.
Kirk Franklin has executive produced Kirk Franklin’s A Gospel Christmas and now the upcoming film debuting this December on Lifetime, Kirk Franklin: The Night Before Christmas starring Naturi Naughton, Lorea Turner and Luke James.
MADAMENOIRE sat down with Kirk Franklin to talk about his upcoming movie and how to deal with stressful holiday situations by uplifting and inspiring others.
Kirk Franklin: How are you doing?
MN: Good. I’m doing very well. How are you?
KF: I’m doing good.
MN: Awesome. Well, I wanted to say congratulations on the new film. I saw the uncut version and it was amazing. I’m big on the holiday movies. It’s like a little tradition that my family does. I feel like this film hit it 100%. It had the perfect balance of that classical holiday feel with the new generation twist with social media. So, I just think it’s amazing.
KF: Thank you. Thank you so much.
MH: How was it being the executive producer of this film and then also starring in the film?
KF: Well, I didn’t star in the film. I made a cameo. I don’t want to make it bigger to what it was, man. I don’t want to get in the way of all the real actors and the real actresses, but to be invited for another opportunity from Lifetime. To be able to tell stories that are very unique for us as a community and to be able to have that level of representation exists on screen, in front of the camera, behind the camera, African American writers and directors and producers. It’s just a very beautiful thing.
So for me to be a part of that and to be part of the game changing opportunities, especially Lifetime. They worked so hard to do it, and I really want to celebrate them. Because you can see the intent is something that is not just smoke and mirrors. It’s not just the boardroom conversation, but there is an active push to be able to have all walks of life on the camera. Then for me to be able to also bring to the table songs and messages of hope from coaches and subcultures that don’t always get a chance to see vertical aspirational inspirational commentary happening on screen, is something that I’m very passionate about.
I think that this movie, especially because I was able to be there from the beginning, to be original and have the origin of the story begin with several types of stories that I wanted to try to tell. Lifetime wanted to know what my ideas were. From this idea, they loved it. So, we found a writer, director and someone to help us flush out what this could be. Then it was also very important to me to make sure that this movie, outside of all the other movies that Lifetime does so brilliantly, that we do speak to the realities that sometimes the marginalized communities may go through.
Right now, where our country is economically, it’s not just minorities that are going through these moments, right? So, to talk about some of the challenges of loss and hurt and hopelessness and how do we get through that and allowing music to be the saving anchor. That kind of keeps us all coming back to believing. I think that this one got it right and I feel good about it.
MN: Yes, absolutely. You knocked my next question out. Having the film touch on different topics, you know, it has that romance, it touches on homelessness, it touches on grief, losing a loved one, and it also touches on not having the best relationship with your child. That’s not seen in every typical holiday movie. It’s all cookie cutter. Oh, we’re in the snow, we’re stuck. That’s it. How are we going to get home?’
MN: You’re rescued.
MN: It has that grasp, it has intention, it has purpose in it. And it’s just amazing to see. It’s a beautiful film. So, do you have any advice as we approach the holidays on any of those topics for people out there dealing with homelessness, losing a loved one or relationships?
KF: Yeah. Even in the darkest of times, especially during the holidays when people really feel forgotten, is that a lot of times there are people in challenging situations, and it’s so easy to believe that you are forgotten. And so hopefully these type of stories, these type of characters can inspire someone to want to reach out to people that may be stuck in situations to encourage them to be reminded, ‘Okay, I’m living comfortably right now this holiday season. What can I do to be able to pull someone else up?’
It’s a great quote from Dr. Martin Luther King, “we talk about a man pulling himself up by his bootstraps, but what about a man that has no boots?” Sometimes in our country, that is becoming more the haves and have nots, sometimes the have nots don’t get a chance to be showcased to remind the haves that inside of these subcultures and the silos and some stuff you live in, that it’s always important that the blessed things be passed down.
MH: Right. I love that. It’s great advice. Do you prefer being behind the scenes, creating, or do you like being on the camera a little bit, popping up in there?
KF: I enjoy it all. I just enjoy creating. I am so grateful that all these years God has been so super kind to me that I get that I’m blessed with these types of opportunities. I’m so extremely grateful and don’t want to take any of it for granted.
MN: So, Mr. Grammy Winner, did you have any songs, any musical selections that you’re like… I need this. This has to be on the film. That’s it. We need it.
KF: Well, you know, I wrote all original songs for the movie, so every song you heard those are all-original songs that I wrote, and even in the last movie, but probably more of this movie if I think that I wrote more originals. So yeah, all of the songs that you hear, like the duets and the endings, you know, all of the stuff that you’re hearing, the song at the piano, all of those moments, those are all original moments. Specifically, before this movie.
MN: It was giving! I need this one Spotify now. I need the whole album today.
KF: Thank you.
MN: Well, I just have to say, I’m so excited for everyone to see this film. It is so good. And thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us.
KF: Well, no, thank you. And thank you for giving us the opportunity to speak to your amazing audience. We really appreciate it.
Kirk Franklin’s The Night Before Christmas starring Naturi Naughton and Luke James premieres Saturday, Dec. 10 at 8 p.m./7 p.m. CT on Lifetime.
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