Nikki DeLoach And Brennan Elliott Explore Faith And Grief In Hallmark’s “The Gift of Peace”

Grab the tissues for this one, y’all.

Brennan Elliott and Nikki DeLoach

©2022 Hallmark Media/ Allister Foster

Georgia native Nikki Deloach and her co-star Brennan Elliott are familiar faces to any Hallmark fan, but in their latest project, The Gift of Peace, they are chartering new waters. The faith forward film is the first production from Hallmark’s new franchise that is a partnership with Dayspring, the company popular for religious and spiritually inspired greeting cards and gifts. 

“I think Brennan and I both feel so honored. It’s the first collaboration with Dayspring. And they have been such a good partner in all of this. They come to faith in such a beautifully inclusive way. And to be a part of a movie, the first collaboration with Hallmark and Dayspring was a real honor,” Deloach told Southern Living when she and Elliott recently sat down with us. 

In The Gift Of Peace, which will air on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries as a part of their Miracles of Christmas lineup, DeLoach plays Traci, an artist who is grieving the loss of her husband. Two years after his death, Traci’s grief is clouding her creative abilities in her work, but it also really challenged her once devout faith. At the encouragement of a friend, she reluctantly joins a grief support group. The group meets at a church and they begin with prayer, which is something Traci finds difficult. She has lost her way in terms of her faith because her prayers were not answered. But she begins to form a connection with the group’s leader, Michael (Elliott) and learns that he too has lost a loved one. Traci participates in various Christmas activities with the group and her heart begins to heal and open up again. This is a beautiful story, but you will want to keep the tissues close by for this one, y'all.

DeLoach shared how she and Elliott both felt about telling this story. “Both of us are people of really deep faith. Have been our entire lives. So to be able to do a movie where the storyline was, we got to talk about what it looked like to find your faith again after loss. After going through a really dark valley and I think that anybody that walks a faith journey, they know that. Right? And I think it’s so relatable and such a beautiful thing…  This is something everyone will experience. If you haven’t gone through grief, you will go through grief.”

In fact, it is something that DeLoach knows first hand. The actress and producer shared with us that she lost her dad last July. “He was my North Star and the loss of him, yes it’s profound and also, I really and truly thought I would be the best griever that ever did grieve. I got all the books. I did all the things. I was like ‘I am going to do grief great!’ And then I got a year into it and was like I haven’t processed a single thing. I am stuck. Stuck. And that’s about the time that God dropped this beautiful movie into my lap.”

She continued, “and so much like Traci, the character that I play, I too was stuck in my grief. I wasn’t sure how to move forward creatively. Or what life looked like without my dad. And I didn’t know how to carry it. And so what I learned doing this movie and what I think everybody else will learn when they watch it, is that we’re not really meant to carry our grief in isolation. And when you can have the courage to open your heart up and share it with other people, share your story, you learn [that] everyone grieves differently. And that’s okay. Because like me, we tend to think, I must be doing this thing wrong. There’s no right or wrong way. Right? To do grief. So you learn that and you also learn that it’s meant to be shared with others. And when you share it with others, they help you carry it. And in the process of doing that, you will find healing. And you will also find joy and love and comfort at a time when you need it the most.”

Elliott, who has been very open about his wife’s battle with cancer, echoed much of his co-star’s sentiment.  “It’s a very special movie to both of us… Whether it’s the loss of a job or a death of a family member, or an illness, people are in pain. And it’s kind of taboo to open up your heart to other people that are either strangers or in a group setting because it’s a very vulnerable place to be. I have many, many, personal reasons why this was probably one of my most special movies. But it is a very special movie and people will really be affected by it. I think. Which just warms my heart to know that.”

Both stars are veterans to the Hallmark world. Not only do they appear on our screens regularly, they are also frequently traveling to fan conventions to meet and greet and form bonds with their fans in real life. The connections between this group of actors and their fans is unlike any other in the entertainment industry, and it’s something that both DeLoach and Elliott take seriously. 

“We have an extraordinary honor and privilege… It’s not just a job,” DeLoach said. 

She continued, “we are actually getting the privilege of being in people’s homes at a time when yes, they may be going through their toughest times or they may have the first week off that they’ve had all year long and they wanna just experience joy! Whatever it is, we have the honor and privilege of being in their homes with them. And when I tell you the stories that people have shared, the personal relationships that I’ve been able to form with people who watch our movies, it’s all the reasons that I got into this business in the first place. I wanna do it for the rest of my life because nothing I’ve ever done in my career makes people feel like what these movies make people feel. That is the Oscar.”

The Gift of Peace premieres on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries on December 10 at 10p.m. EST.

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