TV & Movies

The Best Holiday Movies Starring People of Colour

Christmas isn't solely celebrated by white Christians, but you wouldn't know that judging from the majority of holiday film offerings


Holiday movies starring people of colour: A scene from 'The Preacher's Wife' featuring Whitney Houston and Denzel Washington

Whitney Houston and Denzel Washington in The Preacher’s Wife (Photo: Buena Vista/Getty Images)

What’s your favourite Christmas movie?

Send that question to your group chats and you’re sure to get a flurry of responses. These movies are revered for stirring nostalgia and joy,  focussing on (often cheesy) themes like family and togetherness. We can’t help but watch them, and quote them, endlessly. Case in point: who hasn’t seen Santa in a department store and yelled SANTA!!!! (Elf, 2006) or told someone to “Keep the change, ya filthy animal” multiple times each December (Home Alone, 1990)?

But along with the classics, don’t forget the cheesy Hallmark Channel movies that we lap up every season. The cable network told CNN that its 2017 programming drew 72 million viewers—even in the age of streaming!

But who are these films really made for? Take a look at any list of the “best” Christmas movies to watch, and you’ll notice a clear theme. From It’s a Wonderful Life (1946) to The Santa Clause (1994), holiday movies  rarely feature people of colour. Christmas isn’t only celebrated by white Christians (my family are Hindus and they are super into it), but you wouldn’t know that judging from the majority of holiday film offerings. Last year, the International Business Times found that Hallmark’s 2017 Christmas movies featured zero Black or Asian people as leads. And this year, some people are pointing out that other platforms have the same problem.

To be fair, it’s clear the above viewer hasn’t watched Netlflix’s  The Holiday Calendar, which features two Black leads. And Hallmark has some new offerings this year that actually include people of colour, like A Gingerbread Romance and Christmas Everlasting, starring Tatyana Ali. (But, talk about too little, too late, Hallmark. Take a look at this list, and you’ll see what we mean.)


So what are some great Christmas movies starring people of colour? Here are the best ones to watch this season, so you don’t have to wait for Hallmark to catch up.

Last Holiday (2006)

Queen Latifah plays a department store employee who finds out she only has a few weeks to live,  so she decides to go on a super extravagant holiday over the Christmas season. It’s a feel good comedy-drama packed with romance, so you know it’s a good pick for major feels.

The Preacher’s Wife (1996)

In this Christmas classic, Denzel Washington plays an angel who comes to help out a preacher and his wife. The preacher’s wife is played by WHITNEY HOUSTON!! Enough said.

The Perfect Holiday (2007)

Ok, so this movie didn’t get the best reviews—but neither did the goddamn Christmas Prince, and that didn’t stop some people from watching for 18 days in a row. If you’re in the mood for a typical, predictable plot about Gabrielle Union falling in love with a mall Santa Claus (Morris Chestnut), then you’re in luck.

Almost Christmas (2016)

This movie has everything, including a big, dramatic family reunion filled with laughs but also grief. It doesn’t hurt that it also stars Mo’Nique.

The Best Man Holiday (2013)

This movie, about a group of college friends who reunite over the holidays, has a super likeable cast including Regina Hall, Taye Diggs and Terrence Howard.  There’s the usual banter and *drama*, but there’s also heavy emphasis on the importance of friendship.

A Very Harold & Kumar 3-D Christmas (2011)

If this movie doesn’t bring you joy, I’m honestly not sure what will. In the third instalment of the Harold & Kumar trilogy, Kumar (Kal Penn) and Harold (Jon Cho) have grown apart. But when Kumar ends up destroying Harold’s Christmas tree, the two go on an adventure to find a new one.


The Vanessa Hudgens Christmas Movie on Netflix Is Everything You Want It to Be
We Need to Talk About This Character in A Christmas Prince: The Royal Wedding
The Best, Most Delightfully Cheese-Filled Hallmark Movies of 2018