Brooks Darnell on Hallmark’s First Kwanzaa Film, Vacation Heritage, and his Many Different Skills

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As everybody is aware of by now, Hallmark networks have been tackling totally different sorts of content material, and this 12 months, we’re handled to a have a look at Kwanzaa with Vacation Heritage.

Brooks Darnell stars alongside Lyndie Greenwood and Holly Robinson Peete as Griffin, the mayor of a small city who helps an area household and his ex-girlfriend have a good time Christmas and Kwanzaa.

We spoke with Brooks about starring within the film and a lot extra.

I learn up on you and found that regardless of your appearing expertise being acknowledged early, you went to high school for pre-med on a soccer scholarship.

Sure, I did. Sadly, as a result of let me let you know, that is loads of work. And I’ve two youthful brothers who even have two levels every. And that was type of the factor in our household, was it is not sufficient to have a bachelor’s diploma.

It’s important to have a grasp’s or a Ph.D. And so they each have their grasp’s. Yeah, that was the large factor for me was going to high school to be a health care provider as a result of I figured, hey, they take advantage of cash from the professions my mother gave us to select from.

Good previous mother.

Yeah. Effectively the loopy factor is now my mother’s an actress.

Oh, you are kidding?


Did she get into it by you?

Sure and no. It was inspiration and encouragement. And I am the one one she informed at first. After which, even now, we nonetheless speak, and I type of level her in the fitting course. She’ll most likely transfer out to L.A. and actually give it a go. Yeah, she’s performed about ten commercials.

Wow. That is actually thrilling.

Yeah. At 60-something.

You’ve got a proficient household.

Yeah. Effectively, pay attention, I used to be the black sheep for some time as a result of, like I informed you, it was all about faculty. However now it is a bit of bit totally different.

You have performed fairly just a few of those TV motion pictures now. What do you want about working on this style?

It makes individuals smile. It is heat and makes individuals smile. And here is the factor, they watch them over and time and again. And that is what I like about it, is it is one thing you’ll be able to actually get one thing from each time you watch it. And it makes you’re feeling good. I believe that is why individuals come again to them.

I believe that is why with The countdown to Christmas, they will play all of our motion pictures. It is only a enjoyable time, and you’ll sit again and let the films occur to you rather than actually specializing in what is going on on. You simply have enjoyable with it.

That is a great way to place it. You possibly can let the film occur. And so they do. That is precisely the way it works.


So inform me about Heritage Vacation and your function as Griffin and the way you bought concerned, and all that enjoyable stuff.

So my workforce referred to as me and mentioned, “We have now a film for you.” Effectively, really, it got here from the community. The community despatched it over, after which my workforce mentioned, “We have now a film for you. Do you wish to do it?” And I mentioned, “Effectively, ship it over.”

I learn the script, and I used to be like, ” what, that is one thing we’ve not seen on Hallmark earlier than.” Or no less than I have never seen.

Me both.

So I mentioned, to start with, to be the primary to do one thing, I am all the time with that. There’s an opportunity, however Hallmark is household. In the event that they assume I can do it, then I am like, “Cool. I can do it.” And so they informed me who my costars have been. And I used to be like, “Holly, are you kidding me? Come on.” So it was a no brainer.

After which Lyndie, I used to be like, “Undoubtedly a no brainer.” After which [director] Alfons [Adetuyi], I knew his work going into it. I appreciated the script. I believed it was nicely performed. We have been in a position to cowl two holidays in 90 minutes.

I used to be like, that is very arduous to do. However we did it nicely. And you may actually really feel Kwanza, however you can too really feel the heat and the enjoyment and the historical past of Christmas. It is only a good film.

What was it like working with each Lyndie and Holly?

Nice. Nice. Holly is tremendous, tremendous humorous. I did not notice how humorous she was till we labored collectively. She had me cracking up the entire time.

I often give my forged a present or a welcome or one thing like that, and I purchased each of them a chocolate cake. And that ended up being my title all through the entire film from Holly was chocolate cake. I suppose it helped that I’m chocolate.

So for those who look on one or two of our posts, that is what the little piece of chocolate cake is, is she was calling me chocolate cake all through the entire film.

Oh, that is cute.

Yeah. And he or she had a track again within the day referred to as Holly Do not Care, in order that was her nickname for me, Holly Do not Care. And I used to be chocolate cake. And we simply bonded and had a good time. And Lyndie and I … It is not troublesome, however you do not have sufficient time to bond with one individual on a few of these motion pictures.

However I ended up bonding with each of the ladies on these motion pictures, they usually have been simply pretty. I name Lyndie, Lyndie-Poo. It was simply that type of household factor.

Griffin has it fairly troublesome within the film, interacting with three generations of sturdy girls. He holds his personal, although.

I simply did what the script informed me to do and let it lead me, and simply be beneficiant and accepting and welcoming. After which it simply took care of itself. I believe that is what it’s a must to do when you’ve, once more, sturdy girls that you just’re main with, that you’ve simply to be beneficiant and giving and simply let the script do its factor.

I actually like that the story incorporates each Christmas and Kwanzaa. Such as you mentioned, you hadn’t seen something prefer it. Neither had I.

Yeah, no. And it does it nicely. It is one factor to take a stab at it after which say, “Okay, we missed the mark.” But it surely does it nicely, and you actually really feel like … For those who like Kwanzaa, you get sufficient of it. For those who like Christmas, you get your fill.

So it is necessary, and it’s actually performed nicely. And it is nicely acted, and it is nicely lit. It is well-directed. Manufacturing did it proper. All the things is nice about it.

And do you have a good time each holidays? Do you have a good time Christmas and Kwanzaa?

I do. I attempt to have a good time them as evenly as potential. However loads of the films that we watch are Christmas motion pictures.

Oh, positive.

This’ll be good to have the ability to begin celebrating Kwanzaa movie-wise as a result of loads of the films we watch are the classics, they usually’re primarily Christmas. But it surely’ll be good to have this one to placed on the mantle to say, “Okay, we acquired to observe that Kwanzaa film too.”

Actually, I did not know quite a bit about Kwanzaa, however I actually loved studying about it and seeing it. Every time I see one thing, it helps me. And seeing the traditions and the meals — I really appeared up floor nut stew as a result of it appeared wonderful.

Yeah. Pay attention, we’re the identical. We’re most likely all placing the identical stuff within the stew. The season is similar. However yeah, similar right here. I discovered some stuff on the film about Kwanzaa.

I discovered some extra of the rules as a result of I solely knew just a few of the rules, or remembered just a few. My mother mentioned, “We taught you all of that stuff.” And I am like, “Yeah, however.”

Yeah, that does not work that manner.

Yeah. So relearning issues and letting issues sink in a bit of bit extra, particularly going by it within the film. It helps, and it feels good. Similar factor with Hanukkah.

I discovered a bit of bit about Hanukkah from a few of my buddies and have a good time Hanukkah with them. It is good to know as a result of I believe what occurs is you notice that it is type of all the identical, simply seasoned totally different.

Proper. Proper. I used to be impressed with the seven rules too. What little I did know didn’t embrace these. What a pleasant technique to incorporate group and all these values. It is actually spectacular.

Yeah, which is essential. It is crucial, particularly these days, with the disconnect with social media and stuff. I believe it is crucial to have these rules on the core of what you do.

Did you’re feeling such as you have been doing one thing particular, making a film with this twin vacation course?

Oh, in fact. After all. And it is much less, I believe, in regards to the twin vacation. However it’s each of them, and being dealt with proper. what I imply? And so they’re dealt with by the lenses that they are purported to be dealt with by. Kudos to Hallmark for having a Black director, for having a Black forged, to get the texture of it proper, from the conception, the writers.

I believe these issues are necessary. Denzel mentioned it greatest, it is not colour; it is tradition. May anyone that was white have performed it? Sure. May they’ve performed it nicely? In all probability.

However there might have been some cultural components that will not have been hammered dwelling or which will have been missed. So I believe that is the necessary factor to recollect. It is not colour, it is tradition.

What are a few of your favourite traditions for each holidays?

Bushes. Placing the tree up. Ever since I used to be younger and stepped on loads of needles, I do not do actual timber anymore. Placing the tree up. We have been simply speaking about that on this film as we speak, your number-one Christmas film of all time. And mine must be Dwelling Alone 2. Effectively, I mentioned Dwelling Alone 2 is a 100. And Elf is 99.995.

Yeah, I am an Elf woman.

You are an Elf woman?

Oh, I like it. It makes me smile. Makes me cry.


Once they’re singing that duet collectively, oh.

Oh, within the bathe? Yeah.

Sure. There’s a lot to like about that film.

Pay attention, each time I am going up an escalator, I acquired to do the Elf.

[laughs] Do you?

[laughs] Each time. Everyone that is with me is like, “Dude. That is so previous.” I am like, “I acquired to strive it. I acquired to see what number of steps I can get.”

But it surely’s so fantastic. I believe what actually hits dwelling about that film is that he has these contemporary eyes. And there is all the time one thing so fantastic about anyone who can see issues for the primary time.


And it reminds you the way fantastic our world actually is when you’ll be able to see anyone actually having fun with and studying about it for the primary time.

Proper. Proper. And it is necessary. It is necessary to remind us of that. And decelerate. That is what the vacations are about, is slowing down and appreciating what you’ve and who you’ve and the place you’re, and never attempting to get extra issues, however admire what you do have. And I echo your sentiment. I believe it is crucial.

And what are you most wanting ahead to this vacation season? I do know you want placing up the tree. What else?


Relaxation. Oh, that is all the time an excellent one.

Relaxation, relaxation, and I acquired a brand new amp. Effectively, really, I acquired a classic amp from 1968. It is at present being labored on now. And I will go plug my guitar in, and I am going to spend so much of time with that.

Oh, good. You play guitar too? Like I mentioned, ridiculously proficient.

Effectively, thanks. Thanks. Thanks. My neighbors might say one thing else.

What do you usually do along with your guitar? Do you play for individuals — family and friends?

I’ve. I’ve. However beginning to file and going to place an album out right here shortly.

Oh, good.

Yeah. Simply scratching an itch that I’ve had perpetually however by no means actually nourished. And it is one thing that I’ve all the time wished to do repeatedly and by no means actually took the time to take it as critically as I ought to.

After which, lastly, I did a few 12 months and a half in the past and realized this might’ve been a special trajectory had I taken it critically earlier. However I am quite a bit higher than I believed I might be, and I decide it up quite a bit sooner.

But it surely’s simply calming too. It is simply the sounds and creating one thing from nothing. The instrument itself is so previous, however there’s all the time one thing new to be taught and to do with it.

What’s your style of music? What are you writing?

Blues rock.


Like Hendrix, Prince, Stevie Ray Vaughn, Deep Purple. That type of factor.

Ah, very good. And also you’re placing this collectively now, this album you are going to do? Are you going to sing as nicely?

After all. After all.

Wow. How thrilling.

After all. After all. Yeah. Yeah, I’d do one thing over at Hallmark with it.

What’s your timetable? Oh, you can do an unique track in a film?

No, like a film about that.

Oh, good. Even higher.

Discovering your love and discovering it in music. I do know Hallmark has performed it earlier than, however they’ve by no means performed it with a Black man. [laughs]

[laughs] You bought that ace within the gap. And when will you’ve a file out in order that they will see what you are able to do?

Quickly, really. I really simply wrote just a few songs whereas I used to be right here. So I will return and file them. Effectively, really, I’ve acquired to seek out individuals to accompany them with me. After which I would like just a few different issues. Want some keys. One among them has a trumpet. So I acquired to discover a participant for that, anyone that I believe can pull it off. It will be out. I will be sure that I tag you guys once they come out.

So the one factor that was lacking then from Heritage Vacation is your musical showcase.

No, I really play the guitar within the film.

You do? When?

I do. There’s a bit of spoiler. It is a campfire factor, and I am strumming on the guitar.

I simply watched it, however I do not bear in mind seeing it. After all, I used to be double-tasking, writing questions on the similar time.

Ah, I see. I see. Yeah, once we’re all sitting by the hearth. I overlook the track. Truly, I did not even understand it. I needed to be taught it on the day. But it surely’s a traditional Christmas track, however I did not know the phrases to it.

I will should maintain an eye fixed out for that, then.

Yeah. It is simply an acoustic factor. It is a fast, acoustic factor. For those who blink, you miss it. But it surely was there.

Effectively, apparently, I blinked. I blinked, Brooks. I apologize for blinking.

That is my precise guitar. I’ve it on set with me on a regular basis. It is right here with me as we speak. And I performed it in that film.

Oh, good. And what are you doing subsequent? Exterior of writing your script for a musical for Hallmark, writing an album. What else are you doing?

I’ve a graphic novel that I simply purchased the rights to.

Oh, for God’s sake. Are you kidding?

No. No. No. It is just like the Black Mad Max.

Oh my gosh.

A little bit bit totally different from Hallmark. However that’s going to be the factor. That is going to be enjoyable. I am a giant George Miller fan. So that is what I have been toiling on for the final, I might say, 4 or 5 months, is that this album and that.

I hear they’re calling you to set. Have a Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas.

Vacation Heritage premieres tonight at 8/7c on Hallmark Channel.

Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a workers author and critic for TV Fanatic. She’s a member of the Critic’s Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, conversing with cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of tv and movie with anybody who will pay attention. Comply with her on Twitter and electronic mail her right here at TV Fanatic.

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