The holiday season is the perfect time of year to curl up on the couch with your favorite hot drink and tune in to a good movie.
Actor Brooks Darnell is making sure you have that last part covered with his latest project.
Starring opposite The Real co-host Tamera Mowry-Housley in her return to acting after a seven-year hiatus, Darnell is confident he’ll draw audiences in for the long haul with his portrayal as Marcus in the upcoming Hallmark holiday rom-com, A Christmas Miracle. With a resume that includes a 2012 summer blockbuster and most recently, a recurring role on CBS’s The Young & The Restless, the charmingly talented entertainer has a journey that’s taken him deep into his passion for acting.
“I came to L.A. from Toronto off of the success of Total Recall and just delved deeper into the work itself,” Darnell told ESSENCE. “Often times when you do a blockbuster like [Total Recall], you want to go the opposite direction in the next project but, what I really wanted to do was to make sure I was ready for the art house circuit or the indie circuit. To really just immerse myself in what film is—not so much what it is today but, what it was and I think, what its’ getting back to. It led me to do a lot of plays and study with some great coaches and in turn, that mentality actually helped with other things. It helped with finding who I was as an artist and with growing and just becoming a better all-around individual. And I think that lends itself very well to where I am now and the choices I make as far as the projects I want to do.”
Darnell describes his character Marcus in A Christmas Miracle as “that guy you look for when you start a new job,” and says one of his favorite parts about bringing the character to life was getting the opportunity to portray a Black father figure who has a positive influence on not only Tamera’s character Emma, but also on her young son.
“What I really love about Marcus is that he compliments everything that is good and bad about Tamera’s character Emma,” he says. “I end up becoming a father figure [for her son] and I think that’s what I enjoyed the most about it. I became a positive influence on her life, as well as her son’s life. So, more so than just a story about a nice looking guy who comes into her life, it’s very important for people to get to see a Black man being a role model for a kid who really looks up to him. For me, that’s what I really enjoyed about it.”
On screen, Darnell and Mowry-Housely bring a natural chemistry that’s sure to tug at the heartstrings of viewers. When the pair first met at the table read for the film, the proud Ohio native’s initial impression of his co-star was nothing but positive.
“She was there before me as soon as I walked in and we didn’t even go to the handshake, we just went straight in and hugged,” he recalls. “And I had never met Tamera before but, obviously, I grew up watching her and her sister, so I did know of her. Her personality is exactly what you see; it’s exactly how she is. She is genuinely a positive person and I think that’s the dynamic that works so well and the viewers will see it in the movie. We were laughing before the takes, we were laughing during the filming and we were laughing after.”
During a recent episode of The Real, Mowry-Housely dished on what it was like sharing an on-screen kiss with her handsome co-star.
A true student of his craft, Darnell has dabbled in theater, film and television, with his love for all three playing an equal role in his evolution as an actor.
“For me, its all about the work and what I’m doing and how I’m translating how I’m feeling on screen. I really put what’s going on with me into the work so, I’m just happy for whatever comes across that allows me to express myself.”
Responding to what he knows now that he wishes he’d known before he chose his career path, Darnell says he’s learned to take the good with the bad and appreciate it all as part of what’s kept his journey authentic.
“The ebbs and flows the happy and sad times—go with all of it,” he says. “Because sometimes the happy times end up being sad ones and the sad ones end up being happy. And you have to have it all to be successful. Not just on set, not just with this project, but the stamina that you have to have to be able to be yourself and be authentic on camera day after day regardless of what you’re going through off camera.”
A Christmas Miracle premieres Thursday, November 14 at 9PM EST on Hallmark.