Kyla Pratt stars in "No Time Like Christmas," the first movie in Lifetime's Christmas season. Photo courtesy of Lifetime
LOS ANGELES, Oct. 27 (UPI) -- Lifetime's Christmas movie No Time Like Christmas stars Kyla Pratt as a woman who is so focused on her career that she neglects her personal life. Pratt feels the reason many Lifetime and Hallmark Channel Christmas movies tackle that theme is that many viewers are living it.
"It's also a very real thing," Pratt told UPI. "As a woman nowadays, you want to be able to do it all, and sometimes people feel like they have to put their career first."
From her first television roles as a child actor (One on One, Dr. Doolittle), Pratt has taken her career seriously. That also gave her an early start on learning how to balance it with real life.
"I started when I was 8 years old," the 33-year-old said. "I was told a couple of times, 'Oh, make sure you do this and do that first before you get settled and have kids.' I'm like, 'No, I can do it all.' So I think that that's a dynamic that is real out here."
Now Pratt has two daughters, eight-year-old Lyric and six-year-old Liyah, with Danny Kilpatrick. She feels it's important to be a role model without compromising her dreams.
"It's been a challenge, but like I always say, 'No complaints. It's just facts.'" Pratt said. "I've always said I wanted to do it all, trying to balance spending time with my babies and working at the same time, but I also want my kids to see their mom living her dreams so they don't be shy at living theirs."
In No Time Like Christmas, Emma (Pratt) has 16 days to prepare for a major advertising presentation. She spends it at a Vermont bed and breakfast where she plans to buckle down and work. However, she runs into her old flame Fletcher (Edward Ruttle) there. The film makes no mention of their different races.
"The fact that this is a movie with different races and it's not even mentioned, we're all people," Pratt said. "People fall in love with other people. I think it's an absolutely wonderful thing."
Despite all her efforts to focus on work, Fletcher ropes Emma into helping him with his community Christmas play. Pratt ends up singing "Silent Night" in the film.
"It was very scary," Pratt said. "It was the first time that I actually had to sing in front of people. I love singing, but it's not what I do professionally, so it was frightening. 'Silent Night' is such a beautiful song, and I think it came out great. I think we had a lot of fun doing it."
Pratt had only the three weeks of filming to practice. For her, the key was resting her voice before she sang.
"I'm a very loud person, so I tend to talk and lose my voice a lot," Pratt said. "So, I was trying to restrain myself from being all excited and loud and yelling all the time."
No Time Like Christmas includes an original song called "Time Slipping Away." Pratt sings that, too, and felt the original demo was a tough act to live up to.
"I felt so much pressure having to make sure that that song was sung the way that I originally heard it, from the lyrics, from everything," Pratt said. "They had someone record the demo and I basically had it on my phone and just listened to it throughout the entire time shooting."
That musical takes Emma's time away from work. In Pratt's life, it's often acting that pulls her away from vacation.
"I duck out a little bit," Pratt said. "It's mostly anything that I can do via email or via text message, but I always make sure that my kids have my devoted time. They don't know what I'm doing if I duck out. They might think mom went to the bathroom."
Lifetime will air new Christmas movies every weekend between now and Dec. 14. No Time Like Christmas helps kick off the season this weekend.
"Everybody's like, 'Your movie's premiering in October. That's too early,'" Pratt joked. "I was like, 'Well, dammit. We're starting early this year.' Kicking it off this year. Gotta start Christmas early."
The Pratt house loves Christmas season, too.
"Christmas in my house is full of love," Pratt said. "I think it's a time of year where we just have to sometimes pause and take time to spend with each other and cozy up around the fire and have a little warm drink with the heat on and tell Christmas stories. I've already got the cinnamon broomsticks up in my house."
When the family decorates their Christmas tree, Pratt said the kids use recent Disney and Nickelodeon ornaments, but she keeps a box of classic Hallmark ornaments, too.
"Hallmark card stores have a lot of ornaments where there are people of color who are the angels," Pratt said. "There are people of color who are the different characters. That was amazing for me growing up because I saw representation of myself on the Christmas tree, so I enjoy those. We still have a couple of those."
Lyric and Liyah get in on the gift giving too, although Pratt prefers they make homemade presents for Mom and Dad.
"I always tell them I like them to make me gifts," Pratt said. "So most of my presents are pictures that they've drawn for me or little things that they've made in class like a little bracelet or a little necklace or something like that."
No Time Like Christmas premieres Sunday at 8 p.m. EDT on Lifetime.