Posted on December 26, 2018

Hallmark: No More Whitewashed Christmas, But It Could Make the Yuletide Gayer

Hanh Nguyen, IndieWire, December 25, 2018

Hallmark’s famed Christmas movies have been known for revisiting the same stable of stars — which until recently, hasn’t left much room for faces that aren’t white. But this season, the brand has made an effort for diversity. It’s no longer a whitewashed Christmas on Hallmark, though it still has a way to go for a truly inclusive winter wonderland.

Previously, people of color were only relegated to supporting roles such as the sassy best friend or goofy co-worker. Though to be fair, Hallmark did occasionally cast biracial white-passing actresses like Jessica Szohr, Katrina Law, Alexa PenaVega, or new duchess Meghan Markle as the romantic lead. A few years ago, Hallmark even had a partnership with Mariah Carey, which resulted in her appearing in and directing “A Christmas Melody,” about putting on a school’s Christmas pageant.

But after that brief partnership ended, inclusion hadn’t really been prioritized until recently. Last year tested the waters with “Christmas in Evergreen,” which starred Holly Robinson Peete in a main, but not leading, role. The actress also starred in her own reality show “Meet the Peetes” that debuted this year on Hallmark.

The 2018 Christmas lineup, which features a total of 38 movies, finally made the leap to feature four women of color in starting roles: Jerrika Hinton, Christina Milian, Tia Mowry-Hardrict, and Tatyana Ali, the last of whom has the honor of starring in this year’s Hallmark Hall of Fame movie “Christmas Everlasting.” {snip}

Hallmark’s closest Christmas rom-com competitor Lifetime (which delivers 14 movies this season) has featured inclusive casting for years, in addition to interracial couples. {snip}

“There was work that needed to be done, and we felt that we made a really good effort this year,” said Crown Media’s executive vice president of programming Michelle Vicary. “We continue to look at expanding our roster of talent to be reflective of the U.S. population.”


One area that is underserved across all networks is the lack of LGBTQ representation in its Christmas movies. {snip}

In a Times-Standard story decrying the lack of LGBTQ characters in holiday movies, a statement from Hallmark reads, “There are no forced values associated with our networks with the exception that we want to provide a quality viewing experience for every member of the family … We are not an issues-oriented network: our goal is for every viewer who comes to us to feel happier and better because they watched.”


In its most festive move for inclusion yet, Hallmark recently announced that it won’t just be looking at Christmas for next year’s holiday slate. “We put two Hanukkah properties into development on our plate that we hope we’ll hope to get to air in 2019,” Vicary confirmed, {snip}.