Contrary to my mother’s belief that I am the best actress and the most gorgeous person ever and everyone should want to hire me to play leading roles that have been previously given to the likes of Jennifer Lawrence, Meryl Streep, and Jessica Alba, my door is not being broken down by every producer in Hollywood. I audition for parts, I bug my manager and agents as to why I’m not getting enough scripts to read or auditions to go on, and when I do go on auditions, I often find myself up against two very different kinds of women:
1) Women who were formerly models or 2) Women who don’t fit the bill of what’s “typical,” looks-wise, for an actress.
I love my career, don’t get me wrong. And as a “character actress,” although parts are more hard to come by, they also tend to be very interesting and rewarding. (I mean, I’m sure I’d tire very quickly of sex scenes with Hollywood’s hottest men and prancing around topless any time a script needs to set the stage for romance, don’t you agree?)
As you will see this holiday season, I was recently asked to do something in a movie that I’ve never done before: I was offered a leading role! A lead role has never happened for me, and I am honored to play the lead female in Lifetime’s upcoming TV movie, “The Flight Before Christmas” which will air on December 5 on Lifetime.
What’s cool is that this role was a role written for any leading lady, not a “frumpy” one, so I got the part just because they wanted me for it. It’s not an “ethnic” lead. It’s not a “zaftig” lead (that’s a euphemism for them wanting to cast a “plump” actress, which at my size in Hollywood, I fit the bill).
The film has me playing a half-Jewish (they think I can pass as half-Jewish!) young woman who has her plans to get serious with her boyfriend fall apart right before Christmas. She decides to fly home to be with her family and instead, meets a handsome stranger on the plane who is going through his own relationship struggles. The plane gets grounded because of bad weather, hijinks ensue, and romance becomes possible.
Being in a Christmas movie was a little bit strange for me. I’ve never celebrated Christmas myself; I come from a traditional Jewish home where we did not celebrate Christmas. I have celebrated Christmas with my sons’ grandparents who are not Jewish (my ex’s mom converted from Mormonism to Judaism and no longer celebrates Christmas, but my ex’s dad and his wife do still celebrate Christmas) but it’s never been a religious experience, just a sort of cultural one, I suppose. The movie sets featured lots of pretty lights and Christmas trees, and we made fake snow in the hills of the Disney Ranch where we filmed. It felt very wintery and Christmas-y. Lots of atmosphere actors (called “extras”) were in Christmas sweaters and such.
None of this is at all familiar to me, but I didn’t have to do anything outside of the realm of my understanding as an actor. They didn’t have me take communion, for example, or anything I literally have no clue how to do. Fun fact: For the movie’s “dress up” party scene, stylist Alison Kahn chose a blue dress for me as a nod to my Jewish heritage. So that’s kind of cool.
The lead actor, Ryan McPartlin (a former model, I’ll have you know, and an extremely funny and warm guy) and we had a blast filming this. I think that our chemistry is what will make you enjoy this movie. It’s safe for kids to watch—it will be the very first time I let my kids watch me on TV, as a matter of fact!—and there is no nudity, no cursing, no sexual innuendo, and nothing at all threatening or scary. It’s a lovely movie.
There’s a first time for everything and with this movie, I covered the following:
— first time as a lead
— first time doing a Christmas movie
— first time with a former model leading actor playing opposite me
— first time doing a Lifetime movie
— first time I’ll let my kids watch me on TV
I hope you enjoy “The Flight Before Christmas,” and I hope you can appreciate all of the firsts with me!