Holiday Heart

For the cardiac arrhythmia, see Holiday heart syndrome.
Holiday Heart

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Robert Townsend
Produced by Robert De Niro
Brad Epstein
Steven Felder
Jane Rosenthal
Cheryl L. West
Written by Cheryl L. West
Starring Ving Rhames
Alfre Woodard
Mykelti Williamson
Jesika Reynolds
Music by Stephen James Taylor
Cinematography Jan Kiesser
Edited by Sabrina Plisco
Distributed by MGM Home Entertainment
Showtime Networks
Release dates
December 10, 2000
Running time
100 minutes
Country United States
Language English

Holiday Heart is a 2000 TV movie starring Ving Rhames, Alfre Woodard, and Mykelti Williamson. It was directed by Robert Townsend, 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 (Ving Rhames) is a homosexual black man who performs as a drag queen at a popular night club in the city. His mother trailed against him. 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 (Jessika Quynn Reynolds, in her film debut). Heart 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.

Yet, both Silas and Wanda leave Niki alone. Silas has to go away on a "business" trip, because Wanda starts to use to 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 tries to prostitute her in order to get more drugs. As a result of the incident, Silas leaves Niki in the care of Holiday. As an angry teenager, Niki begins to rebel, but Holiday lays down the law with some tough love.

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.

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.


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