While there’s still a long way to go towards broader representation in mainstream media, there are still great tales — both old and new — that tell holiday stories starring people of colour. Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey combines a genius toy maker with adventures in Black girl magic; the heartfelt holiday comedy Nothing Like the Holidays has an all-Latinx cast; and Lifetime produced their first Asian American-led Christmas film with the romantic comedy A Sugar & Spice Holiday. Along with favourites like The Best Man Holiday, here are a few more films giving space for people of colour in holiday movies.
In the family dramedy, the Meyer family comes together for the first time since losing their mother just under a year prior. Starring Danny Glover as Walter Meyer, father of four, Walter must keep it together to host Christmas for the first time without his wife. The film has a classic holiday feel with big dinners, drunk aunties, and a scandal or two, and Mo’Nique’s portrayal of Aunt May is reason alone to watch. Almost Christmas is available to rent on Prime Video and iTunes for $5.
Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey
Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey is the Netflix original holiday film of magical proportions. Toy maker and inventor Jeronicus Jangle played by Forest Whitaker after the conniving Gustafson played by Keegan-Michael Key steals his inventions book Jangle losing almost everything. Down on his luck he makes a deal to save his store but could lead to so much worse. Granddaughter Journey played by Madalen Mills must use magic and bravery to save her grandfather’s dream.
“With Jingle Jangle, Talbert has reimagined what a Christmas musical can do and what it can represent for Black girls in particular” says Aramide Tinubu of NBC News THINK. Starring a majority black and brown cast Jingle Jangle is a magnificent holiday adventure for the whole family.
A Sugar & Spice Holiday
This year, It’s a Wonderful Lifetime says “Christmas is for Everyone.” After receiving backlash on lack of diversity in their holiday films, Lifetime set out to produce films with inclusion in mind. Lifetime’s first Asian American-led holiday film A Sugar & Spice Holiday is directed by Jennifer Liao and stars Jacky Lai as Suzy Yung, a girl who goes back home for the holidays and is pushed into a gingerbread house competition. The romantic comedy stars Tony Giroux as love interest Billy Martin, and is a journey into family traditions and falling in love. It’s a classic romantic comedy for the family.
Black Nativity is a holiday musical about reuniting with long lost family members. Jennifer Hudson plays a single mother, Naima, who reaches out to her parents after many years to help with her son. Her son Langston, played by Jacob Latimore, is then pulled into church by his grandfather Reverend Cornell Cobbs (Forest Whitaker) as they put on a Christmas pageant. This musical drama has a star-studded cast, complete with Angela Bassett, Mary J. Blige, and Nas. With Hudson and Mary J’s vocal talents on deck, Black Nativity is perfect for music lovers at the holidays. You can rent Black Nativity on Prime Video for $5.
Nothing Like the Holidays
Starring John Leguizamo and Luis Guzmán, the Rodriguez family comes together for Christmas like they always do — but amidst all the laughs and quality time, they’re told that their mother, Anna Rodriguez (Elizabeth Peña), and father, Edy Rodriguez (Alfred Molina), are splitting up. The film shows what siblings will do when family is everything, and is a tender-but-hilarious comedy with a full Latinx cast. Watch Nothing Like the Holidays on Amazon Prime, free with subscription.
Christmas in the Clouds
Set on a Native American-owned ski lodge, this 2001 film is a story of mistaken identity and falling in love. Resort Manager Ray Clouds (Timothy Vahle) tries to prepare for the arrival of a guidebook critic (M. Emmet Walsh), but is given wrong information and confuses another guest, Tina Littlehawk (Mariana Tosca), for the critic. Of course, this quickly evolves into a story of romance.
With a majority Indigenous cast, starring Graham Greene, Timothy Vahle, and Sheila Tousey, Christmas in the Clouds is a charming holiday film. The satirical comedy of Native American stereotypes in the film may not stand the test of time, and hopefully we can continue to see more Indigenous storytelling in modern film, but you can watch the full film on Tubi TV.
How to Ruin Christmas: The Wedding
When Tumi Sello — known as the reckless sibling — uncharacteristically comes home for the holidays, it’s not only for Christmas, but for her sister’s wedding. After destroying things a week before the big day, Sello has to scrounge around to make it all better in this South African Netflix original series starring Busi Lurayi and Thando Thabethe. It’s a witty comedy about tradition, African family values, and getting your life together.
The Best Man Holiday
Sequel to the 1999 film The Best Man, the full cast comes back for a holiday weekend reunion with more drama, laughs, and certainly some tears. In this rare case, the sequel is just as good as the original, only with its characters all grown up. Main character Harper (Taye Diggs) has a baby on the way with his wife, Robyn (Sanaa Lathan), and Harper hopes to rekindle his lost friendship with Lance (Morris Chestnut), whose wife Mia (Monica Calhoun) has brought everyone together for a special announcement. The film is surprising and great for a holiday watch party. You can rent The Best Man Holiday on Prime Video.
The Whitfields home for the holidays with their mother, Ma’Dere Whitfield, played by Loretta Devine, and the whole family is full of antics for the holiday season. When Lisa, played by Emmy and Golden Globe and Academy award winner Regina King, suggests the siblings sell off the family laundry business, there’s a whole lot of family drama with a bit of good times and laughter as well. Plus, Idris Elba. You can watch This Christmas streaming on Netflix.
The Snowy Day
Based on the classic children’s book The Snowy Day written by Ezra Jack Keats, the Prime Video original film tells the story of Peter on his adventures in the snow. The Snowy Day has been the foundation of Black childhood for decades, and seeing the story come to life is just as fulfilling. Voiced by Narrator Laurence Fishburne, Donielle T. Hansley Jr. as Peter, and the talented Regina King as mum, you can watch the classic story told through animation on Prime Video.
Jesus Christ Superstar Live in Concert
Originally airing on NBC, the live production of Jesus Christ Superstar starred a Black lead as Jesus, performed by John Legend. The popular production won Legend his EGOT status (that is, Emmy, Grammy, Oscar, and Tony). The concert dawned elaborate industrial sets and beautifully choreographed scenes, and the performances were expertly sung with Broadway superstar Sara Bareilles as Mary Magdalene. If you’re looking for a powerful, groundbreaking musical with a star-studded cast of people of colour, you can view the full concert on Daily Motion this holiday season.