Christmas at Holly Lodge: Exclusive Interview with Sheryl Lee Ralph & Alison Sweeney

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It’s December and that means Hallmark is in full on Countdown to Christmas mode. Premiering December 3rd is an all new original movie, Christmas at Holly Lodge. We were fortunate enough to get a moment to chat with actress Sheryl Lee Ralph and actress/Executive Producer Alison Sweeney. Check out our interview below and be sure to tune in to the premier on Sunday!

Sophie Bennett (Sweeney) begins a new holiday tradition of spending every holiday at the Evergreen Inn and Ski Lodge, which she inherited from her parents. Evergreen Inn is a special place filled with people who cannot make it home for the holidays or who have had such wonderful experiences that it has become their home-away-from-holiday-home. This Christmas, Sophie will meet an unforgettable family, and her own life will be forever changed. Unbeknownst to Sophie, however, a major developer has his eye on her home and has sent Evan Hunter to evaluate the property. But when Evan meets Sophie, he suddenly finds himself extending his stay. The attraction is mutual until Sophie realizes the reason for Evan’s visit. Now Sophie devises ways to prank Evan with the hopes he’ll think the inn is a bad investment and go away. However, Sophie didn’t count on the “yearly Christmas miracle” to come for her – it’s love.

Sheryl Lee Ralph
What can you tell us about your character Nadine in Christmas at Holly Lodge?
Sheryl: I love Nadine. She is such a warm open character dealing with the loss of her husband and how to move forward.

What drew you to this role?
Sheryl: I love the fact that she chooses joy, she chooses happiness, she chooses to move forward dealing with her grief. I like that about the role.

Hallmark is a movie making machine around the holidays – is it part of your tradition to watch any of them?
Sheryl: It will be from now on!

With everyone in the holiday (and hopefully giving spirit) is there a charity you support that you would like our readers to know about?
Sheryl: I rescued my dog Zara from a shelter called The Little Shelter, and I think if people are going to buy animals as gifts this holiday season, please clear out the shelters first. So many wonderful animals just like children in need of a good home.
Also, for the past 27 years I’ve been producing the longest consecutive running musical AIDS benefit in the country, DIVA‘s Simply Singing! and I would love people to visit our website www.theDivafoundation.com. We are raising health awareness because health is your greatest wealth, and too many people don’t care about it until it’s gone.

Alison Sweeney
What can you tell us about your character Sophie in Christmas at Holly Lodge?
Alison: Sophie loves Christmas and the tradition of bringing people together to celebrate the holidays. She’s a true romantic.

You also star and Executive Produce the fabulous Murder She Baked movies with Hallmark – how is working on the holiday movies different?
Alison: I love Christmas and in working on this movie, I feel like I’ve gotten to celebrate it for the last 6 months! Definitely there’s the challenge of wardrobe and sets to contend with in making everything appear festive when the holiday is months away but the team working on the movie did an incredible job.

Hallmark has always been geared to women viewers but in recent years it feels like more women are involved behind the scenes as well. Your director was Jem Garrard (who has a pretty impressive directing resume in the music field) Are you starting to see more diversity, roles for women as well? Will we see you directing in the future?
Alison: I think Hallmark has always done a great job of giving opportunities to women and continues to do so. When I was identifying a writer and director for this project, I was thrilled to find talented women to add to the team. As far as my directing, I’ve loved the work that I’ve done in directing daytime and you never know what the future holds but for now I’m focused on acting and producing.

In the spirit of the holidays is there a charity you support that you would like our readers to know about?
Alison: I’m an ambassador for Stand Up 2 Cancer, Feeding America and the American Humane Association and encourage everyone to give where they can to the charities close to their hearts.

Christmas at Holly Lodge airs Sunday December 3rd 8/7c on Hallmark

Leah reads constantly, sing incessantly and watches TV what her Mother would consider an unhealthy amount. You can find her on twitter @IamPollyP or contact her via email at leah@nicegirlstv.com