Keshia Knight Pulliam combines podcasting, acting in ‘Radio Christmas’

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LOS ANGELES, Nov. 8 (UPI) — Keshia Knight Pulliam has added many talents to her repertoire since debuting as Rudy Huxtable on The Cosby Show in 1984. Her Lifetime Christmas movie Radio Christmas takes advantage of her double threat. She not only plays a radio DJ, but she’s also a podcaster in real life.

“I actually have a podcast, Kandidly Keshia,” Pulliam told UPI recently. “So I’m very familiar with it because I actually did it at a station, in the booth, the whole thing.”

In Kandidly Keshia, Pulliam discusses family, philanthropy, philosophy and any subject to which she can apply her positive perspective. Her Radio Christmas character, Kara, runs a Christmas station year-round.

“I’ve done some of that, as well, like filling in on the radio station,” Pulliam said. “So it wasn’t my first time doing radio or podcast. I guess I had other experiences that prepared me for Radio Christmas.”

When an accident disables her big-city radio station, Kara is transferred to a small Bethlehem, Pa., radio station to broadcast her show. Kara thinks it is a disaster, but of course in the Christmas movie tradition, she discovers the small town is perfect for her holiday spirit.

“You know how sometimes blessings come in unexpected forms?” Pulliam teased. “She’s transferred to this little station and it becomes a really big blessing.”

Radio Christmas wasn’t filmed in Bethlehem, Pa., but rather in Winnipeg, Canada, in February. It still was winter, and the Christmas spirit lingered from the previous holiday.

“I think that it’s really hard not to be in the Christmas spirit when you’re doing one of these movies, when you’re surrounded by all of the decoration, the snow and the trees and the lights,” Pulliam said. “So, it was a lot of fun and, of course, my family travels with me when I work. So my daughter was there and she just loved seeing all of the decorations.”

Ella Grace Hartwell, Pulliam’s daughter with Edgerton Hartwell, turned 2 in January. Pulliam jokes that Ella Grace already is used to double presents.

“She celebrates Christmas and presents and parties for two months,” Pulliam laughed.

With a Christmas movie already in the can and on the air before December, Pulliam is preparing her family’s holiday celebration. She celebrates Christmas in Atlanta and invites Santa to visit.

“I found an amazing black Santa and he’s great,” Pulliam said. “He has the white beard, the whole thing. He comes and tells stories. He comes to the house, and that’s when we get our holiday pictures taken. It’s important for me, especially for my daughter, to see like kind role modelship.”

At 2, Ella Grace already shows signs of being a performer. Pulliam is ready to support her going into the family business.

“I would not be surprised if she does, but she has time,” Pulliam said. “She is definitely my child and it’s amazing. My mom and dad all the time are like, ‘Oh my goodness, that is you. When you were that age, she is the spitting image of you and the personality and everything.’ So there’s no doubt in my mind that she has it if it’s what she chooses to do.”

Pulliam’s Radio Christmas co-star reminded her of herself, too. Nine-year-old Nakai Takawira plays the daughter of Bethlehem radio station owner Scott (Michael Xavier). Not only does the young girl remind Kara that Christmas is about more than her radio show, but she also reminds Pulliam of her early days as a child actor.

“She was such a joy to work with,” Pulliam said. “I have a love and affinity any time I work with young people on movies, on television and what have you because I still remember what it felt like to be their age and to be working. It’s a joy. She was such a joy to work with.”

After Radio Christmas airs, fans can see Pulliam on stage in Set It Off in Washington, D.C. Based on the hit 1997 movie, Pulliam plays T.T., the role Kimberly Elise played in the film about four women who rob a bank.

Lifetime also filmed another movie with Pulliam called The Setup. The thriller, in which Pulliam’s character sets her sister up with a seemingly perfect guy, will air in 2020.

“I played so many different characters between now and February,” Pulliam said. “It’s like OK, what was my character’s name again? Kara, yes.”

Radio Christmas premieres Saturday at 8 p.m. EDT on Lifetime.