Holiday Heart

Holiday Heart is a 2000 television film directed by Robert Townsend and starring Ving Rhames, Alfre Woodard, Jesika Reynolds, and Mykelti Williamson. It aired on the cable TV channel Showtime, and was distributed on DVD by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer. It was based on a play by Cheryl L. West, and involves a gay drag queen befriending a single mother and her daughter and trying to protect them from the criminal environment around them. It was nominated for a Golden Globe Award, for Woodard's performance, among other award nominations.

Holiday Heart
Theatrical release poster
Written byCheryl L. West
Directed byRobert Townsend
StarringVing Rhames
Alfre Woodard
Mykelti Williamson
Jesika Reynolds
Music byStephen James Taylor
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
Producer(s)Robert De Niro
Brad Epstein
Steven Felder
Jane Rosenthal
Cheryl L. West
CinematographyJan Kiesser
Editor(s)Sabrina Plisco
Running time100 minutes
Production company(s)MGM Television
Tribeca Productions
DistributorMGM Home Entertainment
Showtime Networks
Original networkShowtime
Original releaseDecember 10, 2000


Holiday Heart (Ving Rhames) is a gay African American man who performs as a drag queen at a popular nightclub in Chicago. He is talented, tough, compassionate, and a dedicated Christian, despite his sexuality. After his boyfriend dies, he befriends a down on her luck, drug addicted, single woman, Wanda (Alfre Woodard) and her young daughter Niki (Jesika Reynolds). Holiday offers them a stable home and becomes a much-needed father figure for Niki.

However, things go astray when the mother becomes addicted to drugs again and after a series of bad relationships, starts one up with a successful drug dealer Silas (Mykelti Williamson) who is as homophobic as he is chauvinist. Silas gives Holiday money and insists, with some threats, that he stay out of their life, which Holiday agrees to do before preparing to move to Paris.

Wanda and Holiday have a fight, and Holiday reveals that he was raped in jail. He was sent there after killing a man to protect his mother.

Niki is then left alone. Silas has to go away on a "business" trip, because Wanda starts to use too much of his product, and she becomes a prostitute to feed her drug addiction. Holiday steps in to take care of Niki and raises her as his own daughter. Under Holiday's guidance, Niki is baptized at the local Church, and graduates from elementary school with honors.

Soon after, a more friendly Silas reenters their lives, and is thankful for what Holiday has done. He has been getting a house in Florida ready for Wanda and Niki, but is still earning a living by selling drugs. Holiday and Silas become a sort of "odd couple" as Niki begins junior high school, with Silas more willing to respect and tolerate Holiday.

After bringing Niki along on one of his illicit sales, she runs away and bumps into her mother, who is in a dosshouse turning tricks. A man shows interest in Niki and Wanda agrees to prostitute her in exchange for heroin. However, Niki escapes as the man beats Wanda in anger. Silas finds Niki and leaves her in the care of Holiday.

As an angry teenager, Niki begins to rebel, and Holiday loses his temper and slaps her. Right before Christmas, Wanda appears at the gay nightclub where Holiday works and wants his help in getting clean and sober. The two walk to Holiday's car, with a bike for Niki, only to be attacked by some of Wanda's former drug associates. As a former boxer, Holiday manages to beat them up, but not before one of them runs over Wanda with their car, killing her.

The film then shifts to a few months later, where Niki is home from "spring break" and visiting her mother's grave with Holiday. Silas has returned and informs Niki and Holiday that when they get back from a trip to Paris, he has a surprise waiting for them.



  • Holiday Heart, Showtime promotional VHS, 2001

External linksEdit