Hallmark Movies & Mysteries Highlights Autism in their Holiday Celebration with Holly Robinson Peete’s Our Christmas Journey
Being a disability advocate and a sucker for all types of Hallmark and Lifetime movies and living in the suburbs of Philadelphia, it caught my attention when I saw long-time autism advocate and Philadelphia native Holly Robinson Peete discussing her new movie and sharing her connection to the film as well as her excitement over Hallmark’s decision to cast an actor on the autism spectrum to play her character’s son.
Our Christmas Journey premiered on the Hallmark Movies & Mysteries channel on December 4th 2021. Hallmark Movies & Mysteries’ website offers this somewhat vague synopsis of the film: “As a single mom (Holly Robinson Peete) and her teenaged son (Nik Sanchez) with autism come to a crossroad during Christmas, she must learn to let go so he can flourish as she finds her own heart healing in unexpected ways.”
The film follows a family made up of a grandmother and a divorced mom and dad with two children a daughter and a son with autism over Christmas exploring the option of a residential school for their son. The film did a fantastic job keeping the portrayal of autism authentic and I enjoyed watching the family dynamics and challenges especially over times of both transition and tradition, as well as the young man’s communication methods.
Holly Robinson Peete not only starred in the film, but also served as the film’s executive producer and has been very vocal about her overwhelming love for this film. Holly Robinson Peete and her husband, retired NFL quarterback, Rodney Peete have been long time autism advocates having an autistic son and starting the nonprofit organization the HollyRod Foundation to support families affected by both autism and Parkinson’s disease. Their son R.J. Peete, 23, is on the autism spectrum and works as a clubhouse attendant for the Los Angeles Dodgers, which Holly said is his “dream job.” In a statement, Holly Robinson Peete said: “I am making this movie for my son RJ, others with autism and their families. I am grateful to Hallmark for bringing this story to screen with authenticity, respect and hope.” Holly Robinson Peete said on Twitter about the movie: “I’m just overwhelmed w/ emotion because I have wanted to make a movie about an #autism family making transitions at #Christmas for a while.” She also wrote on Twitter about Nik Sanchez’s role in the movie: “There was not one chance I was going to executive produce a film about #autism without proper representation.”
Our Christmas Journey is a welcomed addition to Hallmark’s holiday lineup focusing on families and inclusion. To learn more about the film and see when it is airing head on over to: https://www.hallmarkmoviesandmysteries.com/our-christmas-journey