Is Candace Cameron Bure Really the Christmas Queen? Breaking Down Hallmark's Roster of Leading Ladies

Hallmark Channel has assembled a stacked roster of leading ladies for their Countdown to Christmas programming, led by Candace Cameron Bure

By Tierney Bricker 30 Nov, 2019 11:00 AMTags
Watch: Candace Cameron Bure Tells Why People Love Christmas Movies

Looking for some girl power this holiday season? Just turn your TV to the Hallmark Channel and keep it on through the New Year. 

Over the course of its decade (and counting) run, Hallmark has quietly assembled a surprisingly stacked line-up of leading ladies, most of whom return each year to lead a Christmas rom-com during their Countdown to Christmas programming.

One of its go-to moves it to cast a familiar face—whether they're a former child star the public watched grow up or an actress who appeared on a hit teen drama—playing into the "nostalgia factor." While other networks are going with revivals to capitalize on the trend, Hallmark is just going for star power...and it's working, especially for their wildly successful Countdown to Christmas programming, which is celebrating its 10th anniversary this year after continuously making the network the highest rated cable channel in the fourth quarter for the last several years.

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Breaking Down Hallmark's Roster of Leading Ladies

"We're all about creating traditions and celebrating family and celebrating who people want to spend time with, whether it's a romantic relationship or a friendship or a parent or a sibling," Hallmark exec Michelle Vicary previously told E! News. "Why couldn't we recreate that as a television experience? We know our audience would like to see these people because they are iconic television stars who they can relate to, who they aspire to be like or that they feel like are family or friends and would like to see more of them. When we strategically cast them that way, our audience said, 'Yes, that's exactly what we want.'"

Hallmark

And no star represents the Hallmark Channel brand better than Candace Cameron Bure, the Full (and Fuller) House lead, who has become the network's golden girl, leading their Countdown to Christmas (C-to-C in our households) charge and starring in the hit Aurora Teagarden film series.

Her latest film for Hallmark, Christmas Town airing on Dec. 1, marks Candace's eighth Christmas outing, but she's not the only female lead to hit her eighth film in 2019, with Party of Five and Mean Girls star Lacey Chabert also returning (and heading to Rome).

Hallmark; E! Illustration

In our imagination, the creative teams behind the Hallmark Christmas movies assemble at the beginning of each year for a leading lady draft of sorts, bringing scouting reports, comparing stats and eyeing a star to lead their film. (We kind of love that these movies tend to be all about the female lead, and also love to imagination the network's top ladies staging their own fantasy football-esque draft to choose their male co-star for their movie each holiday season. Dibs on Andrew Walker!)

So we decided to do our own scouting report of sorts, rounding up many of the female leads who have starred in multiple Christmas films for the network over the years (and limited our list to stars who have one debuting this 2019 season).

Candace Cameron Bure

Movies: Moonlight & Mistletoe (2008), The Heart of Christmas (2011), Let It Snow (2013), Christmas Under Wraps (2014), A Christmas Detour (2015), Journey Back to Christmas (2016), Switched for Christmas (2017), A Shoe Addict's Christmas (2018), Christmas Town (2019), If I Only Had Christmas (2020)
Signature: Career-focused (and well-dressed) professional who must re-discover the true spirit of Christmas…while falling in love.

Come on, do we even need to explain? Hallmark loves CCB more than Buddy the Elf loves maple syrup and their viewers love her even more. Bure's Christmas films consistently rank as the highest rated original movie annually, always landing the coveted end-of-Thanksgiving-weekend slot. Oh, and she hosts the Thanksgiving week festivities, too.

"It's been not only a privilege but an honor to work with her because she knows how to build her career and her brand, and that's what we do for a living too," Hallmark exec Michelle Vicary told E! News of their Christmas Queen. Long may she reign!

Lacey Chabert

Movies: Matchmaker Santa (2012), A Royal Christmas (2014), Family for Christmas (2015), A Christmas Melody (2015), A Wish for Christmas (2016), The  Sweetest Christmas (2017), Pride and Prejudice and Mistletoe (2018), Christmas in Rome (2019), The Christmas Waltz (2020), It's Time For Us to Come Home for Christmas (2020)
Signature: She has the range, but her go-to seems to be sweet and overworked young professional who has to find her voice…while finding love.

Without question, Chabert has appeared in the most Hallmark movies overall, showing up on Christmas and Valentine's Day, as well in in June Weddings, Fall Harvest and other eventized programming since 2010. She starred in four films in 2019 a.k.a. she's a leading lady for all seasons and occasions. 

The Party of Five and Mean Girls star plays into the nostalgia the network loves to tap into, and was picked to host the 2019 Christmas: A First Look special. She's a friendly and familiar face viewers love to spend time with, so if anyone could take Bure's Christmas crown, it's her.

Danica McKellar

Movies: Love at the Christmas Table (2012), Crown for Christmas (2015), My Christmas Dream (2016), Coming Home for Christmas (2017), Christmas at Grand Valley (2018), Christmas at Dollywood (2019), Christmas She Wrote (2020)
Signature: Uptight professional who is either trying to get a promotion or plan an event…while falling in love.

The Wonder Years star majorly taps into the nostalgia factor for Hallmark fans. Plus, McKellar also brings a certain seriousness and sensitivity to her characters, who often start off as very career-focused and closed off to love. 

Nikki DeLoach

Movies: Christmas Land (2015), A Dream of Christmas (2016), Reunited at Christmas (2018), Two Turtle Doves (2019), Cranberry Christmas (2020)
Signature: A warm, approachable and capable working single parent who doesn't think she's ready for romance...while falling in love. 

DeLoach is arguably Hallmark's most underrated leading lady, always delivering a heartfelt and warm performance. You believe everything she says, even when it's cheesier than a bowl of Velveeta. And the network clearly noticed the chemistry between DeLoach, who has served as an EP on several of her films, and Michael Rady, pairing the two in back-to-back films in 2019. Please Hallmark, can we have some more of this delightful duo?!

Jen Lilley

Movies: The Spirit of Christmas (2015), Mingle All the Way (2018), Angel Falls: A Novel Holiday (2019), USS Christmas (2020)
Signature: Spunky young woman, usually either a tech entrepreneur or chef/baker, who enjoys banter…while falling in love.

It's clear Lilley—who brings a bit of a different flavor to the Hallmark roster with a sassy edge—is one of the network's newer favorites, landing some pretty big movies in the C-to-C line-up as well as in the other seasonal programming events. 

Holly Robinson Peete

Movies: Christmas in Evergreen (2017), Christmas in Evergreen: Letters to Santa (2018), Christmas in Evergreen: Tidings of Joy (2019), Christmas in Evergreen: Bells Are Ringing (2020), The Christmas Doctor (2020)
Signature: A strong-willed and independent woman who slowly learns letting her wall down doesn't make her weak...while falling in love.

After serving as a constant in the Christmas in Evergreen franchise as the beloved mayor Michelle, Peete finally took on the lead role in not one but two movies in 2020. We love to see it. 

Jill Wagner

Movies: Christmas Cookies (2016), Maggie's Christmas Miracle (2017), Christmas in Evergreen: Letters to Santa (2018), Christmas Wishes and Mistletoe Kisses (2019), Christmas in Evergreen: Tidings of Joy (2019), The Angel Tree (2020)
Signature: Tough yet sensitive tomboy whose had her heart broken and will slowly let her walls down…while falling in love.

Yet another super underrated lead, Wagner is consistently good and impossible not to root for, even with the most ridiculous circumstances. For some reason, her charisma works even better for us in the Fall Harvest offerings, but we always look forward to the Teen Wolf alum's Christmas offering.

Ashley Williams

Movies: Christmas in Evergreen (2017), Christmas in Evergreen: Letters to Santa (2018), Northern Lights of Christmas (2018), The Christmas Wish (2019), Christmas in Evergreen: Tidings of Joy (2019), Holiday Hearts (2019), Never Kiss a Man in a Christmas Sweater (2020), Christmas in Evergreen: Bells Are Ringing (2020)
Signature: Exhaustingly cheery yet likable Christmas-obsessed small town girl who unexpectedly charms everyone she meets...while falling in love.

The quirkiest of the roster, we love when Williams gets a little weird. And how likable is the How I Met Your Mother star? Well, Hallmark tapped her for three different films for the 2019 C-to-C slate, including an appearance in the Christmas in Evergreen franchise that was launched off of her charisma two years ago. And she returned for that film series' 2020 outing as well. 

Katrina Law

Movies: Snow Bride (2013), 12 Gifts of Christmas (2015), Christmas with the Darlings (20200
Signature: A career-minded woman out to earn that scoop or promotion no matter the cost...until she falls in love.

OK, true Hallmark fans know that Snow Bride is a an underrated classic. Like, people are ride or die for this movie a la DC fans for Zack Snyder's Justice League. So it was refreshing to see the Arrow alum return to C-to-C after a five-year hiatus. 

Taylor Cole

Movies: Christmas in Homestead (2016), Christmas Festival of Ice (2017), Unlocking Christmas (2020)
Signature: A strong-willed and determined woman set on achieving any goal she sets out to accomplish..while falling in love. 

Though she took a bit of a breather from the C-to-C programming, Cole has been a staple in many of Hallmark's other seasonal events and fronts the Ruby Herring Mysteries franchise. 

Alicia Witt

Movies: A Very Merry Mix-Up (2013), Christmas at Cartwright's (2014), I'm Not Ready for Christmas (2015), Christmas List (2016), The Mistletoe Inn (2017), Christmas on Honeysuckle Lane (2018), Our Christmas Love Song (2019), Christmas Tree Lane
Signature: The red hair, the lip-bite and slightly sarcastic tone...all while falling in love. 

Talk about a versatile and reliable lead: Not only has Alicia starred in many movies for the network over the years, she's also provided music for several, produced some and even wrote her first film for Hallmark. 

"This one I wrote the story to, so it's based on my original idea," Witt told Media Village of her 2019 omovie. "It'll be my first produced thing as a writer, which is very exciting, and I'll be writing an original song to perform on camera as the character sings. I love that Hallmark was the first to step forward and actually make it happen. They're open to listening to their actors. It's been wonderful working with them as a producer and developer."

Kimberley Sustad

 Movies: The Nine Lives of Christmas (2014), A Godwink Christmas (2018), Christmas By Starlight (2020)
Signature: A quick-witted and relatable woman who helps a Christmas-averse dude see the brighter side of the season...while falling in love.

Yo, why is there not more respect put on Sustad's name? She's starred in three holiday movies (and appeared in several others in major supporting roles!) and co-wrote her 2020 outing with co-star Paul Campbell! If anyone's earned a gold star for Christmas cheer, it's her. 

Jessy Schram

Movies: A Road to Christmas (2018), A Nashville Christmas Carol (2020)
Signature: A down-to-earth and determined young professional out to prove herself in her industry...and fall in love.

There's something very girl next door about Schram, which might be because the network tends to but her in their more country-themed outings. 

Autumn Reeser

Movies: A Bramble House Christmas (2017), Christmas Under the Stars (2019), A Glenbrooke Christmas (2020)
Signature: Capable and cute fighting for a cause...while falling in love.

OK, it's impossible not to immediately root for The O.C. vet, it just is. Bonus points for the chic and very on-trend bob, too. And her 2019 offering with Jesse Metcalfe introduced some much-needed freshness to the typical Hallmark lead: She was a foster mom (not a divorcee or widow) with a great job and a relatable problem: she was in debt due to medical bills. Like, it all still worked out in the end, but progress!

Rachel Boston

Movies: Ice Sculpture Christmas (2015), A Rose for Christmas (2017), Christmas in Angel Falls (2017), A Christmas in Tennessee (2018), Check Inn to Christmas (2019), A Christmas Carousel (2020)
Signature: Uptight professional who is either trying to get a promotion or plan an event…while falling in love.

One of the Hallmark's mainstays, Boston isn't as tied to the Countdown to Christmas programming as some of the other vets, but can always be counted on to deliver a subtle and sweet performance.

Merritt Patterson

Movies: A Royal Winter (2017), The Christmas Cottage (2017), Christmas at the Palace (2018), Picture a Perfect Christmas (2019), Chateau Christmas (2020)
Signature: Young creative professional mulling over major life and career decisions...while falling in love.

Another newcomer who really nails the whole girl-next-door-who-will-help-bring-your-groceries-into-the-house vibe Hallmark viewers can't resist. 

Brooke D'Orsay

Movies: Miss Christmas (2017), Christmas in Love (2018), Nostalgic Christmas (2019), A Godwink Christmas: Second Chance, First Love (2020)
Signature: Rocking amazing Blake Lively-esque hair…while falling in love.

More of a newcomer to the C-to-C line-up, D'Orsay brings a sunny disposition and friendliness to all of her holiday-hued roles, though she's yet to snag one of the prime timeslots.

Catherine Bell

Movies: Home For Christmas Day (2017), Christmas in the Air (2017), Meet Me at Christmas (2020)
Signature: A slightly buttoned-up and closed-off woman learns to relax and enjoy the most wonderful time of the year...while falling in love. 

Not only has Bell been starring in the network's hit series The Good Witch since 2008, but she's also served as an executive producer on all of the original movies she's starred in. If there's a 

Lindy Booth

Movies: Christmas Magic (2011), The Sound of Christmas (2016), Rocky Mountain Christmas (2017), Swept Up By Christmas (2020)
Signature: A sweet-natured and kind librarian or teacher who is determined to preserve the spirit of the season...while falling in love. 

After a three-year break, Booth returned for the 2020 season to remind us all that she is one of the network's most versatile female leads.

Jodie Sweetin

Movies: Finding Santa (2017), Entertaining Christmas (2018), Merry & Bright (2019)
Signature: Slightly goofy and awkward young professional looking to save Christmas…while falling in love.

You love to see Sweetin following in her on-screen big sis and Fuller House co-star's steps, joining the roster of Hallmark Channel romantic leads. While she's not quite at Candace's status, she's landed pretty big movies and prime airtimes. But she's mysteriously missing from the 2020 line-up. How rude!

Erin Krakow

Movies: A Cookie Cutter Christmas (2014), Finding Father Christmas (2016), Engaging Father Christmas (2017), Marrying Father Christmas (2018), Sense, Sensibility, & Snowmen (2019), When Calls the Heart's annual Christmas specials
Signature: Playing her When Calls the Heart character or Father Christmas franchise character…while falling in love.

"They're loyal, they treat us well, and they hire us year after year. It feels like being part of a family," Krakow told TVOVermind of being part of the Hallmark fam. "And the fans are so passionate and engaged." And she would know better than anyone, thanks to the small-but-fierce following When Calls the Heart has amassed. 

Kellie Pickler

Movies: Christmas at Graceland (2018), The Mistletoe Secret (2019)
Signature: Southern charm and singing…while reluctantly falling in love.

Um...at least the American Idol alum's singing voice sounds great?

Jessica Lowndes

Movies: Merry Matrimony (2015), A December Bride (2016), Magical Christmas Ornaments (2017), Christmas at Pemberley Manor (2018), Rediscovering Christmas (2019)
Signature: A young professional woman who was once dumped so she focuses on taking the next step in her career when she unexpectedly meets a guy. She usually ends up revealing a surprisingly good singing voice...while falling in love.

For some reason, the 90210 vet felt like an unexpected addition to the Hallmark fam a few years ago, but she's proven to be a solid lead. Alas, she's M.I.A. from the 2020 slate, probably because she starred in a Lifetime rom-com instead.