'The Great Holiday Bake War': LeToya Luckett and Finesse Mitchell on Magic of Filming OWN Holiday Movie (Exclusive)

LeToya Luckett is spreading some holiday cheer with OWN. Starring in a new Christmas movie premiering on Dec. 3,  The Great Holiday Bake War tells the story of former pastry school rivals Julian (Finesse Mitchell), and Brianna (LeToya Luckett) meet years later in a TV baking competition, the sparks – and the flour – fly! They both have their own plans for the winning prize money, but only one can win...unless they work together. While Brianna struggles to support her daughter Willow (Naomi Sogbein) and Julian longs to escape his mother's shadow, they learn that collaboration can create a new recipe for success – and love.  

Ahead of the film's premiere, the Destiny's Child alum and Mitchell dished on the hot and steamy love scenes they had to film early on in production. Furthermore, they chat about how several themes are interwoven into the script and their love of the season. Watch the full interview above. 

PC: So what was it like filming this holiday movie on OWN? I was just speaking with Eva [Marcille] and Devalle [Ellis] about their movie, and I was explaining to them how in recent years, we've really seen an uptick in holiday films with people of color as the leads. So that's been exciting to watch. How was it for you guys to be a part of it?

LL: Exactly what you said. It was a big deal because I grew up watching holiday films. And I didn't see a lot of people that look like me. So to be able to start in one, it's kind of like a dream come true. Christmas is my favorite time of the year. It was so cute, the other day, they sent us the clips of the preview and everything, and my daughter was on my lap, and I received it on my phone, and she was like, "Mommy, Christmas." I was like, "Oh, my God. Is happening. My daughter's going to get a chance to watch me in a holiday film and to be a lead." It's really cool because it's a story about a single mom raising her daughter and trying to figure it out, with all the hardships that come with that, and then finding love in a familiar place, it's just really cute. So this film means a lot to me. It really, really does.

PC: Finesse, your character, and LeToya's character's friend – your character's cousin is a part of the LGBTQ+ community. How important was it that we continue to see diverse representation on screen and in the film centered on the holidays, where obviously the goal is to bring everyone together?

FM: I read the script...It's so funny…I used to write, and give relationship advice in ESSENCE Magazine. Angela Burt-Murray was the editor of ESSENCE at the time. So when my agent sent me the script and I saw that Angela wrote the movie, I'm like, "Wow, this is coming full circle." So I wasn't surprised to see everybody represented in the movie and to see different types of blackness in the movie. It really excited me that LeToya was going to play the lead and that it would only take two and a half weeks to shoot.

So we went up to Canada, and we instantly hit it off. I realized that just trusting the director, Lisa France, because there were some days that were extremely cold, and doing the walking and talking and feeling tears coming out of your eyes because the wind is blowing. It was great that everybody was just like, "Hey, we're a team. We're going to get through this. We're going to get the shots we need, and it's going to look how it's supposed to look." So it was all around a great experience.

Finesse, you mentioned that you were excited to see that LeToya was going to be a part of the film, and I was a little shocked. You guys got a little hot and heavy. I said, "Not on the Oprah Winfrey Network." So how was it for you to have LeToya as your leading lady in the movie?

FM: It was exciting because I read the original script, and none of the kissing was in it, and I found out she wanted all that stuff in because she thought it would help the character more. It was exciting because her instincts were right. I think it made it a better movie.

LL: Not.

PC: LeToya, that's not how you remember it?

LL: No. It was all there. Now, what we didn't know was that our first intimate scene would be our first scene. Out the gate, the first action yelled or called, was on the make-out scene in the kitchen with the flashback. I was like, "I don't know this man. We just had chicken last night. Then we watched Oscars, real crazy Oscars. That's all I know. Then, it was like, "He's trying to touch my tonsils." That's all. There was no preparation really at all. Then suddenly, it was instant chemistry. It was kind of good because it kind of jump-started that chemistry.

PC: Got it right out of the way.

LL: Right out way. It became real personal, real quick.

PC: You guys started it off being merry under the mistletoe. I was like, "Wow."

FM: Right.

LL: Yeah. 

FM: And you know, when you shoot like that, it makes everything else pretty easy because now it's like you know each other, when you really don't know each other. Because right after that scene, I was like, "LeToya, you're late. Come on." You know what I mean?

LL: Yeah, right. Things developed really, really quickly. But it was cool. I'm so glad that we ended up having that chemistry early on, I feel like he made the rest of the filming process fun because we had to be funny in order for it not to be weird. We had to be that intimate that quickly. We only filmed this one in two weeks. We were making each other crack up all day long. So it was a lot of fun behind the scenes.

LeToya with your ex-husband in the film, being a part of the music industry and it being a Christmas movie, I was just assuming that I was going to get a special rendition of "Silent Night" at some point throughout the movie, but I didn't get that. However, when are you going to bless us with new music? Because your voice is needed. We miss your voice.

LL: Thank you. Well, I have a holiday song out. It came out right before the pandemic in 2020. So, OK. I guess I can promote it all over again. Because the world fell apart. That was a fake out, so that was a fake out promo thing with that song. So you can go find "Love on Christmas," on iTunes and anywhere that music is located. But yeah, I'll be doing some new music soon, probably sometime next year.