Netflix’s new movie Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey follows the life of inventor Jeronicus Jangle, a quirky genius toy inventor plagued by misfortune who has to tap into his own magic to awaken the dormant power within.
David E. Talbert and his wife Lyn Sisson Talbert are the alchemists behind the streaming platform’s first live-action film. What else, other than the power of Black love, could bring this enchanted tale to fruition?
Supported by an all-star cast, including Forest Whitaker, Anika Noni Rose, Phylicia Rashaad, and more, Jingle Jangle is immersed in soul-celebration music performed by some of the most notable voices of our generation. Accented by culturally celebratory styling the creators coined as “Afro-Victorian,” and choreography and hairstyles showcasing the ingenuity of the diaspora, Jingle Jangle is a timeless period piece about reinvention in the face of impossible odds.
David serves as the writer and director on the project and Lyn was the producer. They worked together to manifest a dream that’s been incubating in the couple’s imaginations for 20-plus years.
“It started in ‘98 after [Lyn] and I got married, and that’s when I started writing it,” David, famed playwright, told ESSENCE.
“And I just I think my inner child, Lyn’s inner child, you know, needed this. And as I got older and life happened, it kind of devolved into as much of a story for children as it is for adults.”
Lyn, a theater and film industry vet, was tasked with shaping the story into a visually moving Christmas odyssey for the ages.
“It was about, ‘How do we see this world?’” Lyn said of her creative process.
“And with this amazing story that David created, the palette was just endless and it was, ‘How are we going to infuse it with something so unique and so original in the world of period piece, choreography and visual effects?’ It just opens so many things up.”
With artistic freedom and the Netflix budgets to back their wildest dreams, Lyn and David molded a holiday film that plays out as a love story to the Black experience.
“The one thing that I love about this the most is that this is an original story. It’s not a remake of one, It’s not the Black version of one. This is ‘Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey,’” Lyn told ESSENCE.
“We have many stories to tell and many ways to be seen for who we are, and that needs to be showcased just like how it is in everyday life.”
David told ESSENCE not seeing little black boys reflected on screen in his favorite childhood classics motivated him to create his own legacy in the genre. Representation means ensuring our unique brand of magic is highlighted in whimsical fairy tales, too
“The images that are embedded in all of our minds are what we saw as a child. I can’t get Willy Wonka out of my mind because I was a six- or seven-year-old sitting in front of my grandmother’s black-and-white television watching it,” David explained.
“It’s important for us to have images of magic and wonder of people that look like us, because I don’t want my son growing up and thinking that only little white kids are magical.”
While carving out space to celebrate us both professionally and personally, the director/producer pair still manage to leave endless heart space to celebrate one another. Despite being married for more than two decades, Lyn said watching her husband direct the film introduced her to a new side of the man she loves.
“I just saw a different David Talbert on set, being in an environment that I always imagined him in. To actually see it in reality, I would have to take a moment because you’re just reminded of the blessings that come,” said Lyn. “I just continue to be moved by what he’s able to give to the world, and what we’re able to give to so many people.”
David credits his wife for his professional resilience, telling ESSENCE he’s excited for the industry to learn who his wife really is.
“When you’re married to a Black woman and she is your producing partner, there’s nobody that’s going to cheer you on quite like that,” David said.
“I mean, when she loves something that I do, it’s like the whole world loves it now. She is also someone who wants to see the best version of you. It makes me bulletproof.”
Jingle Jangle: A Christmas Journey is now streaming on Netflix. The soundtrack is now available.