Nikki DeLoach first got her big break after joining the All-New Mickey Mouse Club in 1993, and it's safe to say that was only the beginning. The actress has starred in several TV shows such as The Ringer, Awkward, 9-11, Grey's Anatomy, and CSI to name a few. Now, she's become a staple for the Hallmark channel, and for a very good reason, starring in movies such as Cranberry Christmas, Sweet Autumn, Love Takes Flight, Christmas Land, A Dream of Christmas and Reunited at Christmas, which she personally developed and executive produced. Now, the talented actress is starring in a special Christmas movie that focuses on the true meaning of family, hope and love.
DeLoach is set to star as a lead in Hallmark's Five More Minutes, which was inspired by Scotty McCreery's 2018 chart-topper of the same name. The movie stars DeLoach and David Haydn-Jones and follows Clara's (DeLoach) holiday wish of spending just five more minutes with her grandfather. To her surprise, Christmas proves once again that it can provide miracles, and out of nowhere a blue journal that belonged to her late grandfather turns up and tells a story of a past romance.
Wide Open Country spoke to DeLoach about her journey on the film. DeLoach says she felt connected to the script's story after the passing of her father.
"The script was sent to me about two days after my dad died, and I didn't touch it for a second," DeLoach says. "Then the night before the funeral, I just couldn't sleep. I didn't sleep at all that night and I was like 'I might as well just read the script' because they needed an answer pretty fast. I started reading it and I think I sobbed my way through the entire script, but obviously, I connected so deeply to it. The question was 'Is this too fresh?'"
Still, in deep grief, she was immediately attached to it. She kept receiving signs from the universe. She explained that Five More Minutes is a story of enduring love and how we may lose people in their physical form but that we never actually really lose them.
"They are always very close by and they leave signs to let us know that they're near," DeLoach says. "So, I'm reading the script and there's all these signs throughout, where one of the characters talks about his favorite thing to eat is barbecue sandwiches and that was my dad's favorite thing to eat. Then there were certain phrases that were used in certain things where I just went 'it isn't an accident that this script was sent to me. I think that there is something here that I need to experience as a person inside of the story.'"
Doing the film was a healing experience for DeLoach, saying she wanted others to find healing within themselves after going through a tragedy as she did. She noted, "I love doing movies where there is a blueprint for how to move through a situation. Whether it's grief or some other kind of creative wound that you are trying to work through."
Adding on to her Hallmark resume, DeLoach teamed up with her creative partner, Megan McNulty, to write Christmas for Keeps, set to debut on Dec. 18. The movie stars Ashley Newbrough, Ryan Rottman, Christa B. Allen, and Marielle Scott and is a huge milestone for DeLoach and Hallmark.
DeLoach was inspired by the teachers of her life, who made her the woman she is today. The movie follows a group of 29-year-olds who begin to ask questions about where their life is going.
"I have to say it's the first time I have true butterflies in my stomach...What we wanted to do for Hallmark was something very different, it's the first true ensemble movie they've done. Romance is not the A-storyline, we wanted to do "Big Chill" for Hallmark," DeLoach says.
This is exactly what the Hallmark audience needs: a touch of sparkle and love.
DeLoach went on to compare teachers to heroes, especially after the COVID-19 pandemic, which forced them to put on their capes to help children still get an education while at home.
As far as what is next for the actress, her main goal is to return to the stage in New York. She noted, "It's been a really long time since I've actually stepped foot on a stage. I mean you know it's where I started, obviously, because of singing and dancing and Mickey Mouse Club and all of that but it's been a really long time. I like to do things that scare me and challenge me, and I think it's really important to do that because humility, I think, is one of the best things in the world. I think we all need a giant dose of humility every single day."
But fear not, the fan-favorite actress will still be on Hallmark's radar. Believe it or not, people's love for Hallmark is one of the reasons DeLoach wanted to work with the network in the first place. She explained how her family, especially her grandmother, had always wanted her to do a Hallmark Christmas movie, so she quickly asked her agent to reach out to Hallmark.
Weeks after getting her first role in a movie, she said the reaction she got from her hometown was beyond unexpected.
"It was so big and warm and full of joy. It was different from any reaction I have ever received from them," DeLoach continued. "A big part of why I became an actor, and a big part of why I love working for Hallmark, is the way that their movies make people feel. I want to be a part of something that makes people feel happy and so being a part of that, it really means a lot to me."
Hallmark's Five More Minutes premiers on Saturday, Nov. 20 at 10 p.m. while Christmas for Keeps premieres on Dec. 18 at 10 p.m. Eastern Standard, both on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries.