The Hallmark Channel’s “A Holiday in Harlem” premieres on Sunday, November 14 at 8 p.m. Eastern, with encores airing throughout the season. The movie stars Olivia Washington, Will Adams, and Tina Lifford. Read on to learn all about where the movie was filmed (was it really in Harlem?) and see cast stories.
If you miss the premiere, it will air again November 23 at 10 p.m. Eastern, November 27 at 2 p.m., December 2 at 12 p.m., December 12 at 10 a.m., December 17 at 10:01 p.m., December 25 at 8 p.m., and December 30 at 2 p.m. Eastern.
‘A Holiday in Harlem’ Was Filmed in Connecticut, Not Harlem
Despite “A Holiday in Harlem” taking place in Harlem, the movie was actually filmed in Connecticut under the working title “Christmas in Harlem.” It’s actually one of five Hallmark movies that filmed in Connecticut for this season, Audacy reported. Filming for this movie began September 4 and wrapped on September 25, according to a listing seeking extras.
Here’s a photo shared with director Keith Powell when filming wrapped.
Most of the movie was filmed in the Hartford, Connecticut, area, Andrew Gernhard told CT Insider. Gernhard owns Synthetic Cinema, which filmed the movie. He said transforming Hartford into Harlem took a lot of research.
He said, “We were able to find little bits of Hartford and East Hartford sections that match up with Harlem, and we recreated all that in Connecticut.”
They also filmed a scene involving Scoops & Sprinkles, whose brick-and-mortar store is located in Rocky Hill, Connecticut, CT Insider shared.
Scoops’ mobile ice cream cart was used for a block party scene in the movie.
Kim Aforismo, who owns the ice cream shop with her husband Shane, told CT Insider: “We were able to clear our event schedule to be able to have our cart on location for the weekend filming. Shane and I were lucky enough to also have the opportunity to be the ice cream cart vendors in one scene filmed this weekend.”
Filming was also done on Capitol Avenue in Hartford, Fox 61 reported, because the neighborhood resembled Harlem. Peter Haggerty, who lives on the street, told Fox 61: “This, you can see this block here, it could be many cities in the country. It could be Philadelphia, could be Boston, could be New York.”
Viewers will also recognize a food truck from Woodfellas Pizza & Wings, Fox 61 reported.
The home featured in “A Holiday in Harlem” was a Hartford brownstone owned by tv anchors Dennis House and Kara Sundlun. It was also featured in “One Royal Holiday” last year, Audacy reported.
House and Sundlun were competing anchors and fell in love when they were bidding over the same house.
Filming “A Holiday in Harlem” wasn’t always easy and sometimes required 15-hour days and frequently at least 12. They had to film under limited days, S. Patrick Burke shared, so that required long hours.
Director Keith Powell shared this next photo while filming in mid-September.
Washington and Lifford told TV Insider that they used holiday music to get into character, since they were filming in September.
Here’s a look at a call sheet from the movie.
Hartford was decked out for Christmas.
Here’s a post from Amanda Bray, who was chosen to be a background actor.
She wrote, “It was so much fun and was like a dream come true to see how movies are made and be a part of the holiday magic! Keep an eye out for Christmas in Harlem.”
There was a Christmas bazaar filmed for the movie too.
Matthews shared the video above from filming.
Meet the Cast
The synopsis reads: “After her grandmother, Mama Belle, turns away her usual gift delivery, expecting ‘presence over presents,’ jetsetting executive Jazmin heads uptown to Harlem for a quick visit. However, when Mama Belle is injured, Jazmin agrees to stay in the neighborhood and take over co-chairing their block’s annual Christmas Jamboree with her old best friend Caleb. A successful corporate fixer, Jazmin expects the job to be easy but quickly finds that she has a lot to learn about the community and her heart.”
Olivia Washington is Jazmin. She’s the daughter of Denzel Washington. Her credits include “The Tragedy of Macbeth,” “Great Performances,” “She’s Gotta Have It,” “In Reality,” “Chicago PD,” “Mr. Robot,” “Madoff,” and more.
Will Adams is Caleb. According to IMDb, “Holiday in Harlem” is his third credit. He also starred in a short called “Omakase” and had the role of Grip in an episode of “The Oval.”
Tina Lifford is Mama Belle. Her many credits include “Queen Sugar’ (Violet), “Filthy Rich” (Monique), “The Rookie,” “Cherished Memories: A Gift to Remember 2,” “Scandal” (Director Lowry), “A Gift for Christmas,” “Minority Report,” “Parenthood” (Renee Trussell), “Single Ladies” (Evelyn), “Drop Dead Diva,” “Friends with Benefits,” “Criminal Minds,” “Lincoln Heights,” “Mystery Woman,” “CSI,” “Family Law” (Judge Alice Kingston,) “Blood Work,” “JAG,” “The Temptations,” “Crisis Center” (Tess), “American Gothic” (Loris), “South Central” (Joan), “Love & War,” “Knots Landing” (Tina), “Days of Our Lives,” and more.
Lifford has been nominated twice for NAACP Image Awards for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series. She also was nominated for Outstanding Supporting Actress, Drama Series, in the Black Reel Awards.
John Earl JelksJohn Earl Jelks is Thomas. His credits include “Love Life” (Kirby), “On Becoming a God in Central Florida” (Judd), “The I-Land” (Professor Verne), “The Good Fight,” “True Detective,” “Da Brick,” and more.
Opal Alladin is Barbara. Her credits include “Madam Secretary,” “The Blacklist: Redemption,” “High Maintenance,” “The Affair,” “Person of Interest,” “Law & Order: SVU,” “Law & Order,” and more.
dL Sams is Coach Armstrong. Her credits include “For Life,” “Don’t Despair,” “Confetti,” “Orange is the New Black,” “Dietland,” “Homicide City,” and more.
Also starring are:
- Jill Knox (Catrina)
- Layla Capers (Jae)
- Santana Jackson (Eli)
- Dorcas Sowunmi (Len)
- Michael James Scott (Mickey)
- Johnnie Mae (Earlene)
- Eric Scott Ways (Kwame)
- Teren Carter (Sam)
- Michelle Liu Coughlin (Aimee Jacobs)
- Dante Jeanfelix (Slam Poetry Artist)
- Los Jones (Mail Carrier)
- Monique Matthews (Clerk)
- Thursday Farrar (Chef Mary Wells)
READ NEXT: Hallmark’s Christmas 2021 Lineup of Movies