When the dysfunctional Walden family decides to get together for Thanksgiving for the first time in five years, one can only expect that mayhem, familial clashes and truths will emerge. “Family Thanksgiving,” premiered exclusively on Roku followed by Amazon, VUDU and Hoopla is a classic comedic tale of love, self-realizations and family acceptance. It was written and directed by feature film newcomer, Jeanelle Warren. and distributed by Maverick Entertainment.
Says Warren, “I wanted to capture all the emotions of a Black family Thanksgiving gathering—the chaos and drama as well as the joy when they come together after five years. The Waldens are a reflection of my own experiences and stories within my family. It was on a family Thanksgiving cruise when I began writing the script and the process was so authentic that the first draft was finished in two weeks. Because the story is based on my family, along with my family and members of the production staff being involved in its development, it only made sense to take helm of the production. It was challenging to assume the roles of both producer and director on set, but I knew that I could do it and be proud of the finished product,” he said.
The film follows the Walden clan as the new family matriarch, Great Aunt Edna, feels that it’s finally time for the family to get together for the holidays after the death of her sister. Edna’s niece and nephews, Delle, Brian, and Claudia, have been missing the family get-togethers, but the feeling is not the same without their mother. Claudia’s son, Elliott, is the oldest of her four children and has been experiencing financial hardships due to a gold-digging girlfriend. He sees salvation in the last-minute holiday invitation from his rich great-aunt as he believes she is dying. Ellie, the only girl of the four, makes her way back home with the best intentions and is on the verge of her big break into the entertainment industry—but runs into an old high-school crush and faces unresolved confrontations with her mother which make her feel like an adolescent again. Byron, Brian’s son, is excited to come home and introduce his…friend, Patrick, to the family for the first time.
The Family Thanksgiving cast includes among its stars Coco Brown (Claudia), Anika McFall (Monica), Austin Freeman (Michael), Imani Monae (Delle), Prince Oliver (Byron), Terrell Majettte (Brian), Jacob Jenkins (Jaylin), and Valerie Burgos (Rosaline). The movie introduces actors, Tracy Mazyck (Elliot), Jokella Herbert (Ella), and Loretta Foster (Aunt Edna).
Concludes Warren, “I’m hoping that all families, not just Black families, can see themselves in “Family Thanksgiving” as the dynamics and challenges presented transcend race. I’m also excited to join the bourgeoning group of Black and female film directors. As I continue to hone my craft, I look to these women for inspiration and reflecting their excellence.”
According to Warren, she was born in San Diego and has been writing since age six. A graduate of Alcorn State University with a degree in Business Administration, she moved to California in 2016 to pursue a career in the entertainment industry. After writing, directing and self-funding several short films and producing numerous others, she began to focus on screenwriting and directing her first feature film.
Executive Producers for Family Thanksgiving include Nikki D. Pope and Ronald Van Pope and Jeanelle Warren, Derrick Hammond, and Angela Burris serve as producers. The film is distributed by Maverick Entertainment.