Glee’s Amber Riley To Star In UP Premiere Movie ‘My One Christmas Wish’ Posted by Wilson Morales
June 23, 2015
UP has announced that actress/singer Amber Riley (“Glee”) has been cast to star – and sing — in the lead role in the original UP Premiere Movie My One Christmas Wish (working title), an emotional drama inspired by the real-life story of driven, straight-A college student Jackie Turner, whose loneliness during the holidays drives her to post a heartbreaking want ad for a family at Christmas on craigslist.
Production began this week in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada on the holiday drama produced by Entertainment One Television and directed by James Head (“R.L. Stine’s The Haunting Hour,” “The Dead Zone”). My One Christmas Wish will air exclusively on UP this November as part of the network’s annual “Everything You Love About Christmas” programming schedule.
The ensemble cast includes Matreya Fedor (UP’s My Mother’s Future Husband, “Cedar Cove”), Priscilla Faia (“Rookie Blue,” “Psych”), Ali Skovbye (Further Adventures in Babysitting, The Gourmet Detective), Ken Tremblett (My Life as a Dead Girl, “The Whispers”) and Jarod Joseph (“The 100,” “Wayward Pines”). Spyder Dobrofsky (Enough About Jack, Mom’s Day Away) wrote the screenplay.
Jackie Turner is a straight-A college student, who was abused, abandoned and starved as a child. Although she has resolutely turned her life around, the holidays are still very painful for her. Facing another lonely holiday break on campus, Jackie takes an ad on craigslist for My One Christmas Wish – a family for Christmas – and even offers to pay $8 an hour. To her surprise, responses flood in. Among the numerous heartfelt invitations and letters of support, she also hears from other young people struggling with the same overwhelming emptiness that comes with spending the holidays without loved ones. Moved and inspired, Jackie decides to throw a big Christmas party – with the last-minute help of her advisor, friends and support group – to find families for all those troubled folks who emailed her, and finds one for herself as well.
“My One Christmas Wish is the emotional, inspiring real-life story of abuse survivor and accomplished college student Jackie Turner, whose heartbreaking ad on craigslist led to an outpouring of love and support for her online,” said Barbara Fisher, svp, original programming, UP. “What distinguishes Jackie is that she channeled all of that social media support into a modest, real-world Christmas party for the lonely people who responded and those who wanted to support them. We are delighted to have the NAACP Image Award-nominated, multitalented, recent ‘Dancing With The Stars’ winner Amber Riley starring in the film.”
Riley, best known for her role of “Mercedes Jones” on FOX’s Golden Globe and SAG Award-winning musical comedy “Glee,” recently won season 17 of ABC’s hit competition series “Dancing with the Stars” alongside her partner Derek Hough. She got her first big break when Ryan Murphy cast her in the pilot “St. Sass.” Although the pilot was not picked up to series, she was able to use that experience to land a role on the television series “Cedric the Entertainer Presents.” Riley has performed in numerous theater productions, including “Alice in Wonderland,” “A Midsummer Night’s Dream,” “Into the Woods” and “Mystery on the Docks” with the Los Angeles Opera. In November 2012, she made her New York stage debut to rave reviews in New York City Center’s Duke Ellington’s Cotton Club Parade. “(Riley) offered a note-perfect take on “Stormy Weather.” – Entertainment Weekly.
Riley has received two individual NAACP Image Award nominations for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy series for her work on “Glee.” In 2011, she was nominated for a second Teen Choice Award for Choice TV: Female Scene Stealer and in 2010 received the Most Popular Geek Award at AOL’s 1st Annual Geek Awards. Riley previously served as an Ambassador for VH1’s Save the Music Foundation and as a member of Seventeen Magazine’s Body Peace Council. She is currently in the studio working on her debut solo album.
In December 2013, the real-life Jackie Turner, a straight-A William Jessup University student in Rocklin, CA, north of Sacramento, couldn’t bear spending one more Christmas alone, so she turned to the Internet to find some support. “I am looking to rent a mom and dad who can give me attention and make me feel like the light of their life just for a couple of days because I really need it,” the then 26-year-old wrote in her craigslist ad. Turner got an overwhelming number of responses from people eager to invite her in. The emails from others spending the holidays without loved ones particularly touched her. So, she invited each person who emailed her about yearning for a family to a meeting at William Jessup. There, she paired up the lonely individuals with people who were willing to lend some support. Her story got local and national attention, starting with “CBS Sunday Morning.” In May 2015, Turner graduated Summa Cum Laude from William Jessup University with a degree in Pastoral Ministry. She was also the recipient of the Faculty Choice Award for Most Outstanding Student. In addition, she was a Presidential Scholar, named in Who’s Who Among Students in American Universities, and member of the Phi Theta Kappa Honor Society.