After streaming services and rival networks launched their own holiday programming — and seasonal rom-coms — many actors and actresses have signed deals with Great American Family or Netflix, but several Hallmark Channel staples told Us that have no plans to find Christmas spirit elsewhere.
“I don’t think anybody does Christmas the way Hallmark does. There’s a magic to it, No 1. Also, you know, they were the very first ones that got put me in a Christmas movie. And they’ve been so good to me,” Nikki DeLoach exclusively told Us Weekly at the network’s Countdown to Christmas event in New York City in October 2022. “So for me, it’s like, ‘Why would I go anywhere else?’ These people are my family — all the actors, our executives, our creative executives are my friends. And, you know, there’s something about the Hallmark audience I will say that is unlike any other audience.”
Jonathan Bennett, who stars in 2022’s The Holiday Sitter as one-half of the network’s first leading gay couple in a Christmas movie, gushed about the support he’s received.
“Getting to executive produce The Holiday Sitter and tell the story was a dream come true,” the actor said at the time. “What’s so special about Hallmark Channel is the fact that their stories lead with love and family and that’s what The Holiday Sitter is and they were so supportive of this journey from the moment I had the idea to bring it to fruition. They supported the journey wholeheartedly and wanted to make sure that we told the story in the best way we could.”
Bennett noted that his 2022 film gives “everyone everything they want. … Yes, [it’s] an LGBTQ+-led movie, but it’s not for just LGBTQ+ people. The Holiday Sitter is a movie for everyone just like Hallmark Channel is for everyone. And Christmas is for everyone.”
Hallmark Channel’s efforts to diversify the network come after former CEO Bill Abbott came under fire for pulling an ad that featured a same-sex couple. Shortly after the network put the ad back on the air, Abbott’s exit was announced. He later took over GAC Media — and brought stars including Candace Cameron Bure and Danica McKellar with him.
After Cameron Bure signed an exclusive deal with Great American Family in spring 2022, the channel launched its Christmas programming around the Full House alum. That November, she faced backlash for comments when speaking about her decision to leave Hallmark.
“It basically is a completely different network than when I started because of the change of leadership,” Cameron Bure told WSJ. Magazine. “My heart wants to tell stories that have more meaning and purpose and depth behind them. I knew that the people behind Great American Family were Christians that love the Lord and wanted to promote faith programming and good family entertainment.”
When asked whether the new network will feature any LGBTQ+ stories, the former child star said: “I think that Great American Family will keep traditional marriage at the core.”
Abbott doubled down on her remarks, adding: “It’s certainly the year 2022, so we’re aware of the trends. There’s no whiteboard that says, ‘Yes, this’ or ‘No, we’ll never go here.’”
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Scroll through for more from the actors and actresses of Hallmark Channel on why they love the network: