Hollywood’s been buzzing about the new family holiday movie that’s hitting theaters in 2016.
Gabrielle Union, Danny Glover and Mo’Nique are starring in A Meyers Christmas, produced by Will Packer and written by David Talbert. The film is centered around an estranged family that reunites for Christmas for the first time in years after the mother passes away.
Union is executive producing and playing one of Glover’s daughters in the film. Her character is a stark contrast from her older, more successful sister (played by Kimberly Elise). In the film, Union’s character faces her first holiday season with her family after a divorce and is struggling with the workload and the price tag of finishing law school. However, her character won’t be lonely this Christmastime; an old flame in the neighborhood re-enters the picture and gives her character some much-needed attention.
While on set in Atlanta, Union talked to us about her excitement for the project and on being one of the movie’s executive producers.
“It makes me look at scenes completely differently. So what looks great on paper, it’s like, how are we going to shoot that? Who are we going to cast?”
Union went on to say that her character has been a fun, new challenge from her other recent and more somber film role in The Birth of A Nation that chronicles Nat Turner’s 1831 slave rebellion.
“I love that she’s athletic. I love that she’s a little complicated. Playing perfect people is the most boring thing ever. Give me the mean girl who finds the light than the perfect chick who feeds the homeless and gives blood.
“I appreciate the journey as a viewer, as an audience member and as an actor.”
This is the second time Union is working as an executive producer on a film, as she produced Lifetime’s With This Ring earlier this year. She’s also an executive producer for her hit BET show, Being Mary Jane, where Union plays a sexy and successful (though highly flawed) TV news anchor.
Talbert said A Meyers Christmas is a departure from past Black family holiday movies like This Christmas and Soul Food; it revolves around a family patriarch to show the love Black men have for their wives and families. Talbert, the writer and director of 2013’s Baggage Claim, said he was inspired by his own personal journey as a new dad.
Glover said he connected to his character and the intent behind him because of the love and appreciation he has for his own father, as well as the strong, vivid romance between his parents.
“My dad was my best man, the coolest cat I ever knew.
“The story resonates so much, the idea of this family,” Glover said, smiling in his actor’s chair. “I remember what my father went through…he loved my mother. It was the love of his life.”
Mo’Nique plays an older aunt in the family, the sister of the family’s deceased mother. Considering her recent work in heavy indie dramas like Interwoven and Blackbird, her part is a big, exciting return to comedic films.
“She is a more mature woman because she’s seen a lot more life and she just has a no tolerance personality,” Mo’Nique tells us backstage. “I think that she’s Nicki grown up.”
“She will hurt your feelings to get you to hear what she’s saying and she’s going to love you through your situation. She may call you a dumb ass. She may call you a monkey. But she’s got to do that to get your attention and to get it done.”
A Meyers Christmas is being produced by Universal Pictures and Will Packer Productions; Packer is coming off of Ride Along and Straight Outta Compton success. This is the first film that Talbert and Packer have collaborated on. Alongside Union, Lyn Sisson-Talbert and Preston Holmes are also executive producing the film.
Also starring in the film are Nicole Ari Parker, Jessie T. Usher and newcomer, DC Young Fly, a comedian, music artist and social media star based in Atlanta.
“I think the freshness is the cast…and just seeing faces you love doing things in a different way,” Parker says. “But the story itself—it’s familiarity that’s the thing that’s going to make it win.”
“You end up playing off of the people around you and fill in that vibe that they’re coming with,” Usher said. “That’s what really creates the family dynamic.”
See images and video of the cast kicking it on set below: