Keegan-Michael Key: Diverse cast is part of the magic of Netflix Christmas film

Laura Harding, PA Deputy Entertainment Editor
·2-min read

Keegan-Michael Key has said the diverse cast of his new Christmas film is “part of the magic”.

The Friends From College star appears opposite Forest Whitaker, Phylicia Rashad, Anika Noni Rose and Ricky Martin in the Netflix musical adventure Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey.

He told the PA news agency: “The first thing that excited me about it was the music, and at that point in time I hadn’t done a musical since high school.

“In my life I’ve sung in bands, I definitely sing in the shower, I’ve done whole albums in the shower, so the music was the first thing.

“Then tied with that would be the story, which is was what took precedent over anything else, it wasn’t about it being black people, it was about it being humans interacting with each other, and reigniting hope and reigniting love.”

Discussing the inclusive casting of the film, directed by David E Talbert, he said; “I see it as significant, to me it’s part of the magic.

“I like David’s boldness and bravery and foresight, which is ‘We should be doing this too, people of colour should be doing this as well,’ and then it shows us as human.

Keegan-Michael Key as Gustafson (Gareth Gatrell/Netflix)
Keegan-Michael Key as Gustafson (Gareth Gatrell/Netflix)

“There is amazing production design and costume design in this picture that is unbelievable and that gives you a sense of that, there’s Kente cloth (a Ghanaian textile, made of handwoven cloth strips of silk and cotton) woven into the Victorian dress and all of those details.

“It’s really well balanced that we get this nice human story – it’s set in what one would say is a very Anglo environment, but it’s informed by this African American experience, and I think the fusion is magical.”

His co-star, Dreamgirls actress Anika Noni Rose added: “What shocks me is when there is no diversity in a cast, so for me it was looking at life the way I know life to be.

Madalen Mills and Anika Noni Rose (Gareth Gatrell/Netflix)
Madalen Mills and Anika Noni Rose (Gareth Gatrell/Netflix)

“I think that is one thing that is going to make this film universal, that is going to make people excited to see it and be a part of it, because it will remind them of friends and family, both by blood and chosen, and holiday love.

“We all have holiday tables, holiday dinners, we open presents next to people who sometimes look like us and sometimes look nothing like us but we are connected by the love and the spirt of the season and that is what  is being shown with Jingle Jangle.”

Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey launches on Netflix on January 13.