Phylicia Rashad, Madalen Mills & Anika Noni Rose Interview: Jingle Jangle

Families looking to get a jumpstart on their holiday cheer with Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey, which is currently in select theaters and will land on Netflix November 13. In the Christmas story, a toymaker and his granddaughter team up to create a magical invention.

The granddaughter Journey is played by newcomer Madalen Mills, and the generational tale includes her mother and the delightful narrator – played by Anika Noni Rose and Phylicia Rashad respectively. The actresses spoke to Screen Rant about the joy of the story and family dynamics within.

You’re the narrator of this story. Can you talk to me about what drew you into the story? 

Phylicia Rashad: It’s beautiful. It’s Christmas, and it’s beautiful. That’s what did it.

Madalen, it seems that Journey has an idealized version of her grandfather in her head. What does Journey think about Jeronicus after meeting him, and how does she want to bring the magic back to him?

Madalen Mills: I feel like when Journey first meets Jeronicus, it’s a bit of a letdown. But then again, she believes in him more than he believes in himself, which I think is incredibly special and essential to the story of this movie. Because you always have to have that one person that believes in you, and Journey is that for Jeronicus.

Throughout the film, she really helps him get back to that state of wonder and that state of belief that everything is possible if you just believe. It’s a really special relationship between Journey and Jeronicus in the movie.

Anika, I want to congratulate you for getting the Princess at the Frog ride at Disneyland. Now, Jessica is the daughter of Jeronicus, and he pushes her away. Can you talk to me about how their relationship mends in the film?

Anika Noni Rose: Well, it’s been many years since Jessica has seen her dad. And so, I think what I congratulate her for is not killing his image and his space for Journey, and allowing her to make her own relationship. Because I think that’s very hard when you are coming from a place of hurt, and it’s important for parents to be able to do sometimes.

And I think that when she makes her journey to see him again, there is fear, there’s residual hurt, but there’s also a small bit of hope. And I think that it is that hope, plus the gift that is Journey, that allows them to have that reconnection and to meet where they used to meet – they met together with science, created with magic.

I think that there was nobody in the world that Jessica believed in more than her father. So for that to break was devastating for her. And what a gift that the person that I brought into the world is the new connection that bring things back together.

Phylicia, you hit it right on the head: this story is beautiful, and it really is an instant Christmas classic to me. But it’s layered in so many different ways with great music, brilliant acting, and diversity, which is truly celebrated in this film. What are you hoping audiences take away from this film? 

Phylicia Rashad: I just hope people enjoy it. I hope people enjoy themselves and fall in love with Christmas again; really fall in love with Christmas and not commerciality. Christmas.

Madalen, you have a large task here. There’s a couple musical numbers you have. Can you talk to me about preparing for that and some of the challenges that went into that?

Madalen Mills: It was definitely different than Broadway, because when you’re on Broadway, everything’s live. If you mess up, or if you hit the wrong note, then that’s what you do. And you continue on. But recording at AIR Studios in London was actually really fun. I really enjoyed being a in a recording studio; it was a great new experience.

I always make sure that I know the song, I’m confident in my preparation, and I just try my best. It was a lot of fun.

More: David Talbert and Forest Whitaker Interview for Jingle Jangle