In the upcoming holiday film on Lifetime, Kirk Franklin’s The Night Before Christmas, Power star Naturi Naughton stars as Journee, mother to her estranged daughter Nia, played by Lorea Turner.
After getting caught in a blizzard on Christmas Eve, the two are forced to take refuge inside a church where a handful of other trapped parishioners are reeling from the cancellation of their annual holiday concert. As the combative mother-daughter duo tries to weather the wintry storm together, youth pastor Adam (Luke James) and a heavenly music teacher (Kirk Franklin) are there to help motivate the pair to reconcile their differences through music, faith, and love.
“Whether you’re a glass half empty or glass half full person, thanks to the relationship with Lifetime, there are stories out there that see you,” Grammy-winning Gospel artist and executive producer Franklin told The Root. “And we want to be able to tell your stories and we want to be able to shine lights on the moments you feel that you are living through alone. The holidays can be a very tough time for so many people and especially now in our country and our society where we continue to be more polarized day by day and the socioeconomic disparities between communities continues to grow and separate us even more. It’s good to know that there are people that want to be able to speak to what you’re facing and to give you hope this holiday season that Americans greatly need.”
On working with singers and actors like James, Naughton and longtime music collaborator Isaac Caree, who also stars in the film, Franklin shares that the excitement to bring the story to life was something that was palpable and present from the onset. Bringing a myriad of talents together in one place to show the power of community, hope and love through music is something the “Looking For You” singer knows how to do very well and was grateful to have the opportunity to do once more.
“Music is the rope in the water that you grab in the middle of the storm that can bring you to dry land,” Franklin said. “Everybody wanted to be there and everybody enjoyed collectively making this movie happen.”
That enjoyment and positivity is evident onscreen as are the overarching themes of connectivity, love and faith. Those ideals and more are just a few things Franklin hopes audiences take away with them after watching the film. And before wrapping up his interview, he also shared a message of holiday hope to help folks recenter joy and the spirit of the season.
“What you have does not make you who you are. Your happiness is not based on the tangible things that you can see,” he said. “Because if what you see is all you see, then you do not see all there is to be seen. If you have life and health and strength, if you have one individual that loves you regardless of what you face, you are contributing to this planet.”
He continued, “And more than anything, the Creator of the universe sees you, knows you, loves you and has not forgotten you and is fighting for you. You do not have to fight life’s battles by yourself. God’s love is not based on what you do right or wrong, it’s based on the fact that you are a son and daughter. And because of that, there’s nothing you can do to change your last name. You will forever be his.”
He concluded, “And so this holiday season, we just want to remind you through song and laughter and inspiration that God’s got you, we got you, and that the story is not over. This is just one page in the many, many chapters that say at the end ‘it’s gonna get better.’”
Kirk Franklin’s The Night Before Christmas premieres Saturday, December 10 at 8p/7c on Lifetime.