*As December lights, eggnog, and sugar cookies have become synonymous with this time of the year, one man is rapidly establishing himself with the holiday season on the small screen, actor Jaime Callica.
In the last few years, Christmas movies have been a refuge for family-friendly entertainment and have grown quite the following in that time. Hallmark Channel and Lifetime Network have been at the forefront of December entertainment with enough content to create their own streaming service.
Canadian-born Callica appears in several films this holiday season, including Lifetime’s “Merry Liddle Christmas Baby,” with singer/actress Kelly Rowland.
Callica’s resume in the last few years has some in the industry labeling him “the new king of Christmas” — a label Callica is happy to accept.
“I love it,” he told Zenger. “I’m the person that if you watch anything that I’m in, and I can get a moniker or title or such, who doesn’t love Christmas?
“Christmas is a phenomenal time for most people, so if they are calling me the king of Christmas, I’m taking it.”
Callica’s workload could also earn him another moniker: the hardest working man in showbiz. Despite the lockdowns and working between the United States and Canada, Callica has enjoyed a frantic work pace that keeps him motivated even if those close to him think he is overworked.
“In 2021, Since my second Disney Plus movie, entitled ‘Under Wraps,’ the longest gap I’ve had off was two weeks. I’ve gone from job to job, which is such a blessing, and I feel so fortunate because the reality is, especially during COVID, I know a lot of actors who haven’t worked at all.”
Callica has no plans on letting up anytime soon.
“I like to keep my foot on the pedal because I’d like to get to the realm where I am doing big blockbuster theatrical movies. But I never want to abandon TV movies and TV shows.
“I like to work. I feel more alive when I’m on set”
Callica’s busy schedule was years in the making. Getting the recognition he receives today was anything but easy. It wasn’t that long ago that the actor was struggling to find a job despite putting in the time to earn one.
“Between 2013 and 2016, I had booked about four jobs, and at one time I went more than a year between bookings despite auditioning four to six times a week. The prayer was, please Lord get me another job.” Callica said.
Coming from the Christian faith, being a recognizable figure during the holiday season means a lot to Callica for a number of reasons. Giving nontraditional families a window into life for the ideal family unit is an important aspect of the roles he portrays.
Callica, an only child, was raised by a single mother. While he is extremely close to his mother and maintains a strong bond with his friends, the importance of providing nontraditional families with the escape of the perfect holiday is not lost on him.
“One of the things that I really enjoy is replying to fans on my Instagram, and I get a lot of questions about these issues from people who tell me that their mom passed away when they were young, and they never had a female role model growing up.
“I get a lot of messages from people who say that it’s [movies] their windows into something that either they never experienced or lost due to some measure of tragedy, and it gives them a lot of joy to be able to watch these movies, and Christmas movies are pretty wholesome,” Callica said.
Traditionally, Christmas movies have appealed to more conservative households, industry insiders say, but networks such as Hallmark want to expand their outreach.
George Zaralidis, vice president of communications for Crown Media Family Networks (the parent company of Hallmark), said: “Diversity and inclusion is a top priority for us, and we look forward to making some exciting programming announcements in the coming months. We are committed to creating a Hallmark experience where everyone feels welcome.”
Lifetime, BET and OWN networks have made an effort to produce more Christmas content for black families starring majority black casts. Callica has performed in a few of these shows, and says he has noticed a greater appreciation from black audiences who are becoming bigger fans of the genre.
“I am definitely seeing a huge uptick in support from the black community because studios are finally giving content that is more representative, but there is still a long way to go.
“Black family content might make up about 2 percent of the slate, not including a network like BET, but if you look at a network like Hallmark or Lifetime, we aren’t where we should be in 2021. But they are making an effort, and their viewership is starting to reflect that.
“So, a lot of people who didn’t watch before because they didn’t see content that was reflective of them are watching now, and I can feel [it] because I get the messages. I see the Tweets and I read the DMs, so it is nice that we are making movies now with people that look like us and have similar experiences.”
Callica now feels like he is exactly where he needs to be at this point in his career. While many actors are tempted by the idea of working behind the scenes as producer or director, Callica loves being in front of a camera and has no plans to give that up, considering how long it has taken to reach this point.
“I’m really happy with where I am right now. I love acting. There is no part of me that wants to split the focus of that right now. There is still room for me to get better as an actor, there are a lot of networks that I have yet to work for and people I have yet to work with.”
In addition to “Merry Liddle Christmas Baby,” which was released on Nov. 27, Callica can be seen in “A Chestnut Family Christmas,” which airs on OWN on Nov. 30, and “A Christmas Proposal,” which releases on CBS on Dec. 12.
Edited by Judith Isacoff and Kristen Butler
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