Kim Fields on Her Dazzling New Holiday Film ‘You Light Up My Christmas’: EXCLUSIVE
It’s the most wonderful time of the year. One of the most joyous parts of the holiday season is watching the many Christmas and holiday-themed films that play across various networks. This year, legendary actress Kim Fields is starring in and executive producing Lifetime’s You Light Up My Christmas.
As a part of Lifetime’s annual It’s a Wonderful Lifetime programming event — the Living Single alum stars as Emma Simmons, a real estate broker living in Pheonix, Arizona. However, just weeks before Christmas and a major turn in her career, Emma is called home to Cherry Creek to sell her family home.
Upon her arrival, Emma realizes that Cherry Creek is not the town she remembered from her childhood. Her late father’s Christmas light factory is suffering, and the once-festive town is losing its holiday edge. It also doesn’t help that crossing paths with her highschool sweetheart Ben (Adrian Holmes) — brings up feelings in Emma she’d thought she left in the past. Ahead of You Light Up My Christmas‘ premiere, Showbiz Cheat Sheet chatted with Fields about the film, why it was so important for her to step in as executive producer and that mini Facts of Life reunion in the film.
“I thought that the story was just great,” Fields reflected on when she first learned about You Light Up My Christmas. “Who doesn’t love holiday movies? Being a part of a movie that celebrates some really great themes about love, family, family business, and legacy was amazing. But, the big draw for me was the message of inner light. As a society, we’re all in this place of coasting through life. No real joy, no real light. There’s a variety of reasons for that — because of life itself, circumstances — loss. You’re not where you thought you would be. All sorts of things chip away at you and that joy and that light. Being a part of this movie reminds people to remember their inner light. I just thought it was so timely. And again, wrapping these things up, pardon the pun, but in a beautiful, Christmas packaging.”
As an executive producer, Fields had the opportunity to make sure that the film was more than just a fluffy holiday feel-good flick. She was also able to bring in her Facts of Life sisters Lisa Whelchel, Mindy Cohn, and Nancy McKeon to star in supporting roles. “Being able to have a voice and a seat at the table is really important,” she explained. “Having been in the industry for such a long time and getting to a certain level in my career, having that collaborative energy was fantastic. When you have that kind of voice — and I use this word very loosely, but that kind of power, so to speak, you are able to infuse other elements. I had a huge hand in casting and a role in the look and feel of my character, Emma. Being able to tap into my own personal history, nostalgia, memories, and family was amazing. I also had the great opportunity to say to the network, ‘I would love to have my Facts of Life sisters in this.’ That was really empowering and a lot of fun.”
If you know Fields’ work — you know that she has a heart for fashion and design — something that was able to infuse with Emma. “You don’t necessarily always see so many really beautiful outfits on Lifetime,” she explained. “Normally, you just see more plain things. My team works really hard and did such a wonderful job collaborating to create Emma, so much so that we dropped a digital short film called Designing Emma. It’s a huge behind the scenes experience, where we talk about how we created the character of Emma and all that went into it.”
Though holiday films often labeled as “girlie” or “cheesy” — You Light Up My Christmas subverts that. “The script was in great shape,” Fields revealed. “We did maybe two more passes to develop it further. Everyone loves Christmas movies, and you know what you’re going to expect going in, but we wanted to have some things that were unexpected. One of the biggest compliments that we all received early on was from Adrian Holmes, who plays Ben. He said this wasn’t cheesy. That’s great for a man to say about a Christmas movie. Being able to have a script that was really strong and solid with these strong characters and storylines –it just started snowballing. Next thing you know, we were going to Vancouver. It was fast and the actual filming was 15 days, I believe.”
You Light Up My Christmas is only the beginning for Fields in this new season of her career. “I just booked a huge project that will start early next year,” she said coyly. “It’s continuing my narrative, so to speak, in terms of my professional journey. There’s a documentary that I’m executive producing and directing that focuses on unsung female heroes in the civil rights movement. I’m very excited about that piece. It’s based on a book by Janet Dewart Bell called Lighting the Fires. There’s a couple of other things, a couple of biopics that we’ve got in early development right now. I’ve been feeling really creative lately to jump back into the spoken word space. I haven’t been there in a while and I’ve missed it.”
You Light Up My Christmas debuts Sunday, December 1st at 8pm ET/PT on Lifetime