INTERVIEW: Lisa Michelle Cornelius Stars In OWN’s A Sisterly Christmas And Talks Magic and The Holidays

Who doesn’t love a fun and heartwarming Christmas movie to celebrate to start the holiday season celebration? Lisa Michelle Cornelius talks to Defective Geeks about her movie, A Sisterly Christmas, which you can watch on the OWN network. Find out more below!

First of all– A Sisterly Christmas looks so heartwarming and magical! Can you tell our readers about this movie and your role as Vicky?

Yes! This film is about two sisters who’ve been at odds since their mother passed when they were teenagers. So their Aunt Debbie decides to send them on an all-expense paid holiday trip to a fancy resort so they can make amends and spend time together. My character Vicky LOVES Christmas and is all about it, even if it means being stuck with her “Scroogy” little sister Kristina (played by Deborah Joy Winans). To please their aunt, they both agree to go and end up having quite the adventure: swanky accommodations (above their pay-grade), handsome gents and a drama-filled run-in with their former high-school friend-turned-nemesis. Nothing brings people together like a common enemy [laughs], so the sisters are forced to find some common ground as they take on the ‘mean girl’ and try to have some fun along the way! 

How do you relate to Vicky’s character? What was it like playing sister to your co-star, Deborah Joy Winans?

I really loved my character Vicky because she is unapologetically herself. The things that would come out of her mouth– scripted and occasionally unscripted and ad libbed by me!– were hilarious and bold at times. While sometimes I feel she hides behind humor and her hyper-enthusiasm for the holidays (and boys!) to avoid confronting the grief or pain she feels about her mom and the severed relationship with her sister, I still appreciate that she genuinely tries to inject fun and happiness into every moment.

As for co-starring alongside Ms.Deborah Joy Winans? Talk about a dream come true! I was most definitely a fan of hers having binge-watched her series Greenleaf well before meeting her. As kismet would have it, A Sisterly Christmas was actually the second project she and I appeared on together! About a month prior, we shot a few scenes together on another film she starred in called A Colour of Love. So ,being cast as her sister in my very next role was a blessing. The majority of our scenes were together, so we had a lot of real “sisterly” moments, inside jokes and a lot of fun. 

What was the experience like for you to film this movie, and what was your favorite part of it?

It was really an incredible cast and crew to work with, and we truly had fun and so many jokes making this film. A bunch of the cast members are from Toronto, like myself, so I had either worked with or crossed paths with them before A Sisterly Christmas… so having that hometown connection from the jump was cool.

Troy Crossfield (the “Sexy Santa” to my Vicky) and I actually shared the stage as singers for a “Soul Sessions” show in Toronto the year prior! No spoilers, but ironically the dance competition was probably my favorite scene to shoot. I say ‘ironically’, because I do not think I’m a good dancer and was hella anxious having to do that scene at all, lol. I remember crashing Deborah’s trailer on lunch breaks to go over our choreo for it just ‘one more time’ [laughs]. But it turns out I was being ridiculous, because that scene was nothing but good vibes.  Besides, it wasn’t about Lisa Michelle… I knew Vicky would have eaten up that dance floor, especially with a competition involved… so I just let her take over and have fun with it. 

Do you have any favorite Christmas movies that you like to watch? What do you love about Christmas and do you have a particular wish for this upcoming holiday season?

I love watching those old stop-motion Frosty The Snowman and Rudolph Christmas movies. Instant Christmas nostalgia right there… I don’t think I’ve missed a year! My favorite part about Christmas though is cliche but true: it’s all about spending time with my family. I’m blessed to have a big one, and after not being able to do it up the way we usually do last year, I’m hoping this year can be different. We always have the best food (my immediate family is Jamaican, so ’nuff said there), loud, hilarious conversations and Boney M on the stereo. I’m always grateful for my holiday memories and experiences.

You’ve been a part of so many different shows, like The Handmaid’s Tale and Star Trek– do you still have a dream project in your mind?

I absolutely love comedy, but there’s a part of me itching to do an action film.  It doesn’t matter if I’m the ‘good guy’ or the ‘bad guy’… I just want to put my feet in the shoes of a badass, get in the best shape of my life and drive a story with both character and bold physicality. 

What or who inspired you to become an actor? What motivates you the most?

When I was about 14, we took a class trip downtown to see the musical Joseph & The Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. Donnie Osmond was starring in it at the time and it was the first professional stage production I had ever seen. I was BLOWN AWAY by the singing, dancing, music and lights… the energy between the performers and the audience was palpable.  So yes, Musical Theatre was my first love and I dove into that for a good while. But I truly love it all… film, tv and theatre. As an actor, I get a thrill out of stepping into new characters and co-creating with other souls to bring a story to life and making things happen. It’s new every time and with every take. Magic. 

Thank you so much for answering our questions! One last one: if you could have one super power, which would it be and why?  Hmm I would love to have Telekinesis – the ability to influence, control or manipulate matter.  So much of our earthly existence matters!  I’d be able to heal the body, build homes, create force fields and move annoying people out of my way [laughs].


Follow Lisa Michelle on Instagram.

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