By Marie-Louise Gumuchian
LONDON – Part inspired by his own life, actor Aml Ameen says his directorial debut “Boxing Day” is different from other festive films: it is the first British Christmas rom-com led by a majority Black cast.
As well as directing and co-writing the movie, Ameen plays Los Angeles-based British author Melvin, who returns to his London home for Christmas to introduce his American fiancee Lisa to his British-Caribbean family.
Things get bumpy when Lisa meets Melvin’s ex-girlfriend, now a famous pop star, and still a very close friend of his family.
“It’s a film about my family and how we do things and inspired thoughts from my life. And then it’s .. very clear that it’s the first one with a majority Black cast and that’s quite a monumental, historic moment,” Ameen told Reuters.
The film provides plenty of laughs as well as typically festive London scenes. In a nod to popular Christmas film “Love Actually”, Melvin turns up at Lisa’s window with large messaged cards.
“In British cinema history we don’t actually have much… that has a majority Black cast that doesn’t deal with trauma, and this is one of the things that deals with our joy,” said Ameen, known for “Yardie” and “I May Destroy You”.
Little Mix singer Leigh-Anne Pinnock makes her acting debut in the movie, playing Melvin’s former girlfriend Georgia.
“Being on stage (as a singer) is a form of acting… you’re telling a story through the song, but acting in a film is very different,” she said. “I just put my heart into it and went with it … I loved it.”
The film also stars “How to Get Away with Murder” actor Aja Naomi King as Lisa and Oscar nominee Marianne Jean-Baptiste as Melvin’s mother.
“Boxing Day” hits UK cinemas on Friday.