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Demetria McKinney finds church and love in 'Kirk Franklin's A Gospel Christmas'

Posted by Iesha Marie on December 8, 2021 at 8:15 PM

That Demetria McKinney commandeered a pulpit in “Kirk Franklin’s A Gospel Christmas” on the Lifetime channel enabled the multi-hyphenate entertainer to revel in the roots that defined her childhood: the church, holiday season gatherings and, of course, her music.

The TV star, singer, songwriter and theater performer trades in her customary flowing tresses and provocative outfits for a bun hairdo and monochromatic business suits to play Olivia, a young Chicago pastor. Olivia is thrust into unexpected drama when she is reassigned to a new church in Texas just a month before Christmas.

Olivia is ambushed emotionally when she is immediately tasked with organizing the church choir for the town’s annual Christmas jamboree with only weeks to spare.

“You fail the jamboree, you fail the church,” an elder bluntly barks at Olivia.

Amid enormous pressures of being a new pastor and circumnavigating around strong church personalities, all while trying to inspire the congregation, the unmarried Olivia unwittingly stumbles into romance with fellow parishioner Ashton, played by Chaz Lamar Shepherd.

McKinney said she thoroughly enjoyed the experience of losing herself in Olivia because of the challenge of playing a single female pastor at a church with old ideas of how to operate.

“Playing the Olivia in this amazing movie was so close to home. I’m a deacon’s kid. So we were in church almost as much as I was in school,” McKinney told rolling out. “So there was a hierarchy, there was a tone that was set by the elders, there was definitely expectancy.”

The incandescent McKinney is a veteran at churning out enthralling movie fare revolving around the church and Christmas. In A Stone Cold Christmas, McKinney played a rapacious, soul-sucking and money-grubbing parasite who is forced to reexamine her wayward mentality after she runs into a forsaken boyfriend during the holidays. In Church Girl, the main character is a preacher’s kid who detours from her rigid upbringing and becomes a rebellious hellion. And Tyler Perry’s “Saints and Sinners” centers around the dichotomy of mankind’s desire for a closer relationship with God but who must also stave off the temptations of the flesh.

McKinney believes that interweaving romance into “A Gospel Christmas” makes for a great Lifetime holiday TV experience. It helped to humanize Pastor Olivia while empowering her as she works through her insecurities and job demands.

“Playing opposite of Chaz was super cool. I thought that the romantic aspect was a very important part of the story,” McKinney told rolling out.

“I thought [romance] just brought the humanity back to the character. We look at pastors and deacons as superhumans. But they have feelings, they have needs, they have emotions, they have setbacks. And I think that her being human was what allowed the romance to spark.”

“Kirk Franklin’s A Gospel Christmas” was directed by Erica Sutherlin. Executive producer Franklin scored the entire soundtrack.

Article by: Terry Shropshire

Categories: About Demetria McKinney, Interviews, Plays/Shows/Movies

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