There is a soap star reunion happening in the Lifetime Christmas movie Sweet Navidad, and DAYS OF OUR LIVES star Camila Banus (Gabi) is at the center of it all! The actress leads the film alongside her former DAYS colleague Mark Hapka (ex-Nathan), it was directed by ONE LIFE TO LIVE’s Brittany Underwood (Langston), and OLTL’s David Fumero (Cristian) has a supporting role! The festive flick premieres Thursday, Nov. 17, at 8 p.m. ET on Lifetime.
In Sweet Navidad, Banus plays pastry chef Carmen, who works at a local coffee shop but dreams of opening her own Puerto Rican-influenced bakery just like the one her family owned on the island. Impressed by Carmen’s talents, hotel owner Victor (played by Fumero) invites her to apply for a position as the pastry chef for his hotel’s holiday gala. Despite having no formal culinary training, Carmen is hired for the position and is paired with Hapka’s Jax, a chef, to curate the perfect holiday menu. Of course, Carmen’s homegrown skills of cooking from the heart do not mix well with Jax’s culinary school training. But as they race to perfect their intricate menu before the hotel’s holiday gala, sparks fly between Carmen and Jax and they realize they might have more to learn from one another than they initially thought.
Chatting with the Hallmark Happenings podcast to promote her new project, Banus described the film as “a really wholesome, fun, Latino-inspired story that teaches the general public about a lot of Puerto Rican/Latin Christmas traditions, cultures… and then in between, has this really lovely friendship story of Jax and Carmen through cooking. It’s a wonderful rom-com Christmas movie that has this wonderful Latino-based storyline.”
Playing Carmen was quite a departure from Banus’ DAYS duties as scheming Gabi, and the actress shared that she had her pal Underwood to thank for the role. “It was her directorial debut,” Banus explained. “She read the script and told me I came to mind. She immediately called me and asked if it would even be possible to make that happen.”
Luckily, Banus was able to work out the scheduling between DAYS and the movie, which was filmed in the spring of 2021 in Los Angeles. “That doesn’t happen often,” she confessed. “It just felt like it was so much of me written in the script. This is my first lead in a film as well, so I’m really happy that it worked out that way.”
Working alongside her friends Hapka and Fumero under the direction of Underwood was a dream. “It was so nice to have that comfort of my friend being the director,” Banus said. “It was a blast to be a part of.”
You can watch the trailer for Sweet Navidad below, and then tune in to Lifetime to watch it or stream it online!