Karen Malina White Co-star’s in Hallmark Channel’s, “Tis the Season to Be Merry”

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Say’s, “Love doesn’t always look the way you think it will look”

By Jessica Dupree

Edited by: LaShirl Smith

Photos by: Holly Dunphy

We first fell in love with Karen Malina White in the 90’s, watching her rise to become one of that decade’s television royalty. It was her emotional and brilliant performance in NAACP Award Winning Film “Lean on Me,” where young White starred as troubled, at-risk teenager Kaneesha Carter. Carter went on to co-star and appear on some of Hollywood’s most beloved Urban Classic productions such as “The Cosby Show,” “A Different World,” and “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.”

This Christmas, White returns to the big screen. She stars as a single, career-oriented, big shot book publisher named Sonia. Her character is caught off guard when confronted with love, while confronting an author about a unique scenario that could impact both of their careers. In search of the truth, something unexpected and beautiful happens along the way. While the film focuses on single men and women looking for love and relationship advice, White focuses on her rules for love and shares insight on relationships with HEART & SOUL.

According to the statistics published on Census.gov, nearly 50% of U.S. adults are single, and White is one of them. The Philadelphia native who admits that she has never married before, shares that she has been in love and in great relationships in the past. Not one to be bitter or hold on to past pain, White opened up about a card that she received from a friend some time ago after working on a film project together.

There was a quote from Maya Angelou on the front of the card that said, ‘Always have the courage to trust love one more time.’  “I’ve held that with me in my search to find my husband wherever he is,” says White. It’s about having the courage to find love one more time, and that’s a powerful quote for single people who are still in search of a partner or commitment. Keep trusting love.”

White says, that while Hallmark has a plethora of Christmas film’s this fall, what makes ‘Tis the Season to Be Merry’ special is seeing so many singles find love, fall in love, and be vulnerable. “My character, an older woman who is career-focused and is not even thinking about love or looking for it happens to meet this gentleman and stops and takes a pause. She realizes that maybe this is the moment of love for her,” says White. “She learns to never give up on love and I think that one takeaway for me is that love doesn’t always look the way you think it will look.”

Karen sat down with Heart & Soul to talk about her definition of love, how to recognize true love when you see it, and her three rules for dating and relationships.

What are your personal rules for love?

  1. Always have the courage to trust love one more time.
  2. Trust your heart. Your heart never lies to you. It feels what it feels, and I’ve never gone wrong when I trusted my heart.
  3. Be yourself – never try to pretend to be anything or try to be what you think the other person wants you to be.

What is your personal definition of love and how can a single woman know when she’s found true love?

Infatuation in that beginning honeymoon period is that love and that passion and excitement. Once you get past that period and you’re still interested in the person, you still find interests – you’re not bored and you’re not looking elsewhere. That’s when it’s love. When that initially passion dwindles, and you still find yourself wanting to be in that person’s company. I think, that’s love. Once you get past the infatuation period and you still find yourself wanting to be with that person. I think, that’s love.

Real love is when you go through some kind of adversity together and you get on the other side. When you genuinely care about that person where even if your life is inconvenienced and some way, you’re putting that person first and considering their needs. When you go beyond your feelings and you’re thinking about the other person that’s how you know it’s true love.

How do you typically celebrate Christmas each year?

This year and last year because of the pandemic, it’s been a little different but normally I travel from L.A. to Philadelphia, my hometown, where I was born and raised, and all my family is there so usually I’m on the first flight out on Christmas Day. I enjoy flying on Christmas Day because everyone is happy and its less people. And so, I’m traveling back home from already just getting excitement to see my family and just spend the day. We do a potluck Christmas dinner over one of my niece’s homes and we just get together and open presents and spend the entire day together into the next day Kwanza. And it’s just a wonderful time for family and I look forward to it every year and I love traveling on that morning because everyone is just in such good spirits and it’s good to go from the warm weather of California to getting some cool, crisp air on the east coast. So, it’s wonderful and a special time.

I usually make salmon. I make a baked salmon in the oven with capers and fresh dill and it’s usually what everyone wants me to make every year. My favorite gifts to receive are earrings. my sisters and my nieces pick out great earrings for me every year that I absolutely love. I’m pretty bad at picking my own earrings so that’s what I look forward to most from family – love, quality time, great food, and earrings.

Follow Karen Malina White on IG @karenmalinawhite