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Inclusive Storytelling Is at the Heart of ’It’s A Wonderful Lifetime’ Holiday Lineup

The spirit of the season is alive with 1,200 hours of holiday programming.

Ali’s favorite Christmas activity is wrapping gifts. “I set aside a full day for it. I love giving presents!” She also loves watching The Santa Clause and caroling on Christmas Eve.
Ali’s favorite Christmas activity is wrapping gifts. “I set aside a full day for it. I love giving presents!” She also loves watching The Santa Clause and caroling on Christmas Eve.

‘Tis the season for Lifetime’s holiday movie lineup, It’s A Wonderful Lifetime. This year, the network rang in the holiday early, beginning on October 23, with 34 new movies and a commitment to diverse storytelling and inclusivity. We’re sharing a look at five films from the new slate, all available on Lifetime and at

Christmas Ever After features popular romance novelist Izzi Simmons who’s battling a case of writer’s block. Izzi is played by Tony award-winning actress Ali Stroker, who was paralyzed from the chest down after a car accident.

Ali, who was also the first wheelchair user to perform on Broadway, said of the role, “Representation is so powerful. It gives my community strength to see their stories on screen.”

“My disability has given me strength to persevere in a very challenging business,” she continued. “I think my wheelchair is a strength. It always makes me different, and it forces me to always be creative in my work and life.”

Of course, It’s A Wonderful Lifetime is all about holiday romance. Married IRL couple Ben Lewis and Blake Lee got to live out their real-life romance on screen in The Christmas Setup, Lifetime’s first original film centered around an LGBTQ relationship. “We’ve been together for a decade but never worked together. It was such a joy not having to manufacture chemistry,” said Ben.

In the movie, Hugo (Ben) and Patrick (Blake) connect during the Christmas season with the help of Hugo’s meddling mother, played by television icon Fran Drescher. “What this movie is addressing is a need and a desire for queer representation,” said Ben. “My hope is that the representation gets even deeper and more diverse within the LGBTQ+ spectrum.”

A Sugar & Spice Holiday tells the story of a Chinese-American family, with Suzie, played by Jacky Lai, following in her grandmother’s footsteps by baking and infusing her cultural traditions into her recipes. The creatives behind A Sugar & Spice Holiday included a trio of Asian women – director Jennifer Liao, writer Eirene Donohue and casting director Judy JK Lee.

“[This movie] was the first time I had ever read for a lead of a romantic comedy that was meant to explore Asian culture,” said Jacky. “It’s really nice to see someone who looks like you on screen.”

“There was a scene where Suzie’s grandmother passes away. I felt so empowered in that moment knowing that Jennifer, our director, really understood how important that scene was. That is a moment in our culture that is very important,” said Jacky. “It was really nice to know that people behind the camera really supported that moment and how authentic it needed to be.”

A Welcome Home Christmas is centered around Michael (Brandon Quinn), a military veteran who recently returned home. In the film, which first aired just before Veteran’s Day, Chloe (Jana Kramer) is in charge of organizing the town’s Army toy drive with Michael. Together, they recruit other veterans and active military personnel to help in the cause.

The cast of A Welcome Home Christmas was happy they could honor those who serve, especially during the holiday season. “There are so many people who don’t get to have their loved ones home because they’re fighting for our country,” Jana told Lifetime. Charlene Tilton, who plays Chloe’s mother in the movie, echoed that sentiment, saying, “It shows the sacrifices the people in the military make, and their families.” 

In Christmas Unwrapped, ambitious reporter Charity (Amber Stevens West) lands a career-changing story investigating Erik (Marco Grazzini), who is secretly giving gifts but claiming they came directly from Santa Claus himself. Executive produced by Tiffany Haddish, Charity eventually uncovers the true meaning of Christmas.

“What I love about this movie is that it’s not just about your typical romantic regular guy meets regular girl,” Amber told Lifetime. “It also has so much to do with believing in what you can’t see and having faith that things can be more magical and bigger than you can imagine.”

“Christmas is about who you spend your time with and the energy that you put into it and the energy you have around you,” Marco told Lifetime.

This year, Lifetime’s stories of love, family and holiday cheer are more inclusive than ever before, a welcome tradition that is made to last.

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