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"Holiday Rush" is Trending on Netflix and it's About Time

  • By Denise Caputo

    Published November 30, 2019


    Netflix will be your home for the holidays with the heartwarming original film Holiday Rush, now streaming.

    Photo courtesy of Romany Malco

    Written by Sean Dwyer and Greg Cope White with Leslie Small directing, Holiday Rush stars Romany Malco (A Million Little Things), Sonequa Martin-Green (Star Trek: Discovery), Darlene Love, La La Anthony, Deon Cole and more in a film that’s sure to get you into the holiday spirit.

    The official synopsis from Netflix reads as follows:

    “Popular New York radio DJ Rush Williams (Romany Malco) has been spoiling his four children since they lost their mom (La La Anthony). Unfortunately, the kids share their pricey Christmas lists right when he loses his job."

    Ahead of the film’s release, we sat down with the creators and stars to get the inside scoop on what went into creating Holiday Rush.

    Director Leslie Small says the film is perfect for the whole family to watch together. He explained, “It's a film that highlights the nuances and struggles of family, but more importantly, it's a film that says no matter how difficult times get, if you have the right kind of connections within your family structure, you will survive and you will be victorious.”

    Photo courtesy of Romany Malco

    His overall goal for directing the film was to create an authentic cultural Christmas and take audiences on an explorative journey. In order to do that, Small needed to pay close attention to the details of the production.

    He explained, “In the black community, Christmas is sacred. It comes with a sound. It comes with a certain smell. It comes with a texture. I love cultural differentiation. I love to experience different cultures."

    He went on to say, "With this film, I wanted to take our audience on a cultural journey. Experience Christmas the way they do African American communities. Every detail was so important. How we decorated the homes, the music that we chose, our scoring, all of the details and the nuances of African American culture and Christmas in the African American community, which is birthed out of the Christian Church. The goal was to embrace that reality."

    Photo courtesy of Romany Malco

    Ultimately, his process for creating a holiday genre film was no different than any of his past documentary work. Small said, at its simplest interpretation, every story has a beginning, middle and end. The differences are simply in the details. 

    He explained, “Whether it's a documentary, television, or a feature, at the end of the day, they just have different textures of how you tell the story.

    My job is to understand the story that I'm telling, the characters that are involved in telling the story, and use those characters and all the technical aspects of what I'm doing to aid in that process.”

    He continued, “It's like going back, if you will, to Greek theater. There were an antagonist and a protagonist on the stage, and you told a story that starts with those two opposing characters.

    In my mind, I'm always analyzing from that perspective. What is my story? Who's my hero? What are his/her challenges and how do I deliver them as a victor at the end?”


    Photo courtesy of Romany Malco

    Film star Romany Malco was beyond excited to come on board for the film. As the production’s first choice for the leading role and the first actor to officially sign-on, he says Holiday Rush is truly something special.

    He explained, “It's a grounded, raw and real and funny family movie. It's energetically different. Holiday Rush is just a completely different experience than anything I've ever had movie-wise. You'll feel connected with an inner joy.”

    He continued, “I appreciate the fact that we're telling a story about a black, single father taking responsibility for all four of his children, no one is selling drugs or in jail. Folks are living normal, somewhat affluent lives." 

    He's making the transition from being an employee to getting to entrepreneurship. It's edgy. It's not all glossy like the typical Hollywood movie. We actually take the liberty of addressing some very real things. There's no filler.” 

    Photo courtesy of Romany Malco

    According to Malco, a big part of what helped make this film a stand-out production was the incredible cast. Housing so much talent under one roof could be challenging, but when it came to the Holiday Rush cast, Malco says it was like an instant connection.

    He explains, “It really felt like a family of business people. We understand that it's work, but we felt like a family.

    Everyone came together to do the best that they could in every scene. Everybody was just so cool, warm, and genuine with one another. We would help each other run lines.

    It was crazy how much fun we had. It was reminiscent of when I made my own movie Prison Logic, how cool the set was, and it just made me think I need to aspire to more of that.”


    Photo courtesy of Romany Malco

    Making his holiday film debut, Deon Cole also credits the immensely talented cast and their unique connection as the reasons why the film was a purely magical production.

    He explains, “We were all in awe of each other, and after a while, we started bouncing off of each other. It was almost like a ping pong where we just would just bounce off each other and just gel. It was just a connection. We began to better each other.

    Anytime you get a cast like that, where you could just better each other, then you're bound to have something magical happen. Everyone brought their love, their understanding and trust.”

    Photo courtesy of Romany Malco

    For Sonequa Martin-Green, despite also never having done a holiday film before, the decision to join the production was an easy one.

    In addition to feeling that instant family atmosphere, she said she loved the representation within the script. She explained, “I had never done anything remotely related to that genre, so I was very intrigued from the beginning,” she said.

    “Then I read the script that was written by Sean Dwyer and Greg Cope White, and I found it to be so authentic. I couldn't believe how raw and real it was. I loved that capacity for people from different backgrounds and cultures to tell stories from other cultures and backgrounds."

    Photo courtesy of Netflix

    She adds, "I appreciate the empathy that is necessary to tell a story that is not your own culture. I felt very represented. I felt that it was a mirror in a lot of ways, and it was a story that I could relate to and that it was also very familiar to me.”

    She continued.

    “We still, to this day, have a bit of a dearth of rich black family stories. We are seeing more of them, but not many, so it's always great to be able to show a black family in a place of privilege, and seeing how they navigate that as a black family, and how they try to remember where they came from, what it means to do that as a black family. I'm proud of telling that story because I think that's a very inspiring story to tell and to see. I love that I got to tell this story with these great people.” 

    Writers Sean Dwyer and Greg Cope White have quite a collaborative writing process and have worked together for several years. They have no fears or reservations pitching different ideas to each other and working in tandem to create their story.

    When it came to writing Holiday Rush, the pair set out to create a film that was the perfect mixture of funny, light-heartedness and reality.

    Photo courtesy of Romany Malco

    Dwyer credited Netflix for allowing the production to dive deeper into the characters’ storylines and allowing them to take their film to the next level.

    He said, “With Netflix, you can put a little more guts into a film. You can get a little deeper, a little darker, a little funnier. I like that. This film has a lot of very laugh-out-loud bits and very heartfelt bits.”  White added,

    “people will walk away from the movie knowing that they've just seen a real family tackle incredible problems and just get closer from it.”

    Photo courtesy of Romany Malco

    Ultimately, the cast and crew of Holiday Rush created a film that they hope will resonate with audiences as a holiday classic, as well as a movie with a greater message. For Martin-Green, she’s hoping the film opens up a critical dialogue with audiences.

    She said, “I hope that it encourages viewers to appreciate the people around them a little bit more. To appreciate those people that maybe they've been taking for granted. Also, there are some topics and things that we put in the attic of our hearts. I hope that it encourages viewers to open up a dialogue with their family and loved ones and talk about those things that are difficult to talk about.” 

    Photo courtesy of Romany Malco

    Malco corroborated with Martin-Green's thoughts. He further explained,

    “It’s not just a holiday movie that will give people “the feels.” We actually address real issues. One of the key messages in the film is that you cannot buy away your pain, and another is that you really have to learn to honor the people around you. Family is 98% related to blood relations. Families can be chosen as well. But with it comes responsibility and you have to be mindful of that.”

    Cole says the film will make audiences evaluate their own situations and examine their own morals. He said, “Morals are what drives this film, so therefore, I want people to watch the film and then look at their own situation and make adjustments for the better. That's all you can ask."

    He continued, "You put it out there. Hopefully people grab the message in it, while laughing, while feeling good. And, that's all you can ask for. The film has heart. It has a whole lot of heart, so get your families together, sit down and enjoy Holiday Rush.”

    Photo courtesy of Romany Malco

    Dwyer sums up the production perfectly. He says audiences will see that the film, at its core, is all about love. He said, “These people are bonded by love, and love gets them through this difficult stuff. Love, hope, and faith in each other are what get them through. I won’t spoil anything, but the movie does end on a fantastically high note that I think the audience will be elated by.”

    Be sure to catch Holiday Rush streaming now on Netflix.

    Photo courtesy of Romany Malco

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