A Family Thanksgiving With Daphne Zuniga

A Family Thanksgiving With Daphne Zuniga

Hallmark Channel Movie A Family Thanksgiving Debuts Nov. 6


Whether we’re ready or not, the holiday season is almost upon us. That means lots of family-friendly movies with warm-fuzzy stories to enjoy on TV. And that’s what the Hallmark Channel has to offer, starting off with A Family Thanksgiving starring Daphne Zuniga.

The holiday-themed original movie premiering Saturday, November 6, was a perfect fit for Daphne, who reveals she has something in common with the role she plays in A Family Thanksgiving. Like her character Claudia, a career-driven attorney, for a long time Zuniga put her career before family, never marrying or having children. And by her own admission, spending much of her life in the make-up trailers and on movie sets.

In the new movie, Claudia has an epiphany. And so has Daphne, who is best known for her work on Melrose Place and One Tree Hill. She says she now “loves being around family,” particularly at Thanksgiving time, and has made her niece and nephew a growing part of her world.

“I have no regrets at all about the life I’ve chosen,” says Zuniga who turns 48 on Oct. 28. “But at the same time, I’ve learned to strike more of a balance between my work and family because I’ve come to realize how great it is.”

Over the years we’ve met Daphne at various network and press events, going back to her days playing Jo Reynolds on the set of the original Melrose Place in 1992. Show business has been a big part of her life, but she’s never acted like a “Hollywood party girl.”

In fact, she has seemed like an old fashion girl, which made her recurring role on the series American Dreams, based in the 1960s, perfect for her. Her other credits include ABC Family’s Beautiful People, Nip/Tuck, and another Hallmark Channel movie Mail Order Bride.

Daphne says she has a lot to be thankful for this holiday season. She loves being a working actress. And she loves her latest Hallmark project, because she got to work with the Oscar-winning Faye Dunaway.

A Family Thanksgiving is about Claudia, a career-driven attorney who lives alone and doesn’t have much time for her family, except an occasional visit with her sister Jen (Gina Holden), a stay-at-home mom.

As Thanksgiving Day approaches, Claudia is prepared to work through the holiday on a big case. But then…“Poof,” a mysterious woman (Faye Dunaway) magically transforms her from a lawyer into a minivan-driving mom with two little kids and a husband (Dan Payne), to make her see what she’s missing.

“As a career woman myself and having never had a family of my own, I obviously clearly understand the perspective of Claudia,” Zuniga says. “I loved the idea when it came to me. But I worked with the writer [Emily Baer] to make sure the message wasn’t that this woman should have had kids and regrets it.”

Instead, it shows what her life would be like if she’d made a different choice. Zuniga says, “It really warms up her soul. But the message as I see it isn’t that being a career woman automatically means you’re making a mistake. It’s that working hard and getting more does not in itself give you a perfect, happy life.”

She points out that some people say that single women are the happiest group there is. “I feel perfectly happy and fulfilled. And I have children in my life. I have my sister’s kids, a niece and nephew. Plus, my boyfriend has kids, and I love interacting with them.”

Zuniga says she strives to strike more of a balance in her life with work, and being with family at Thanksgiving is a priority now.

The Hallmark Channel’s A Family Thanksgiving, premiering Nov. 6, may wind up becoming a holiday classic for working women. 

Margie Barron has written for a wide variety of outlets including Gannett newspapers, Nickelodeon, Tiger Beat and 16 Magazine, Fresh!, Senior Life, Production Update, airline magazines, etc. Margie is also proud to have been half of the husband & wife writing team Frank & Margie Barron, who had written together for various entertainment and travel publications for more than 38 years.