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Local Playwright's Movie 'Santa Goes Straight To The Hood' Airing Christmas Day

'Santa Goes Straight to the Hood' tells the story of a blind girl in tough circumstances who makes an unselfish Christmas wish in a letter she writes to Santa.

A local Cincinnati teacher's play jumped from the stage to the screen recently, and now his movie is getting a commercial television premiere early Christmas Day. Writer Willie James Jones' piece Santa Goes Straight to the Hood airs at 3 a.m on Fox 19. 

The movie tells the story of a blind girl in tough circumstances who makes an unselfish Christmas wish in a letter she writes to Santa.

"She also reveals other conflicting issues, you know, that reached a climax as she pursues that true reason for the Christmas season," he said.

Jones wrote the play while he was a teacher at Robert A. Taft Information Technology High School with a theme intended to "bring peace to the streets." The play was originally written and performed for audiences at the Kennedy Heights Arts Center about four years ago. Since then, it's undergone a lot of changes, like writing out characters and changing the point of view to the young girl's perspective for the movie.

Jones said the cast stars Wyoming Elementary School student Laila Lear and features local actors Heru Lasana, Veil Powel, Angelica Click and Tony Wynn.

Jones has written several local plays and movies, including The Last Encore and By the Time I'm Twenty.

He says he has no qualms about the early morning air time because he's often been up around that time watching TV, and he suspects plenty of people will be awake wrapping last-minute presents and cooking.

"I would like for this movie to get to a place where it will be seen every year, that it will become so enduring of a heartwarming story about this little girl. Because there are a lot of little girls — some with disability — somewhere in this town or across this country who will see this story and connect with it and feel with it," he said. "I know when I was a kid, I saw certain stories and I connected right with them. And I was glad it was made and I was glad that story was told. And I don't think there's very many stories like this, if at all, that have been told in a Christmas format."

Jones said anyone who is not up to see the live showing of the movie can">rent or buy it on Vimeo Christmas Day.

Correction 12/22/20: An earlier version of this article incorrectly listed the day the movie is airing. 

Jolene Almendarez is the granddaughter of Mexican immigrants who came to San Antonio in the 1960s. She was raised in a military family and has always called the city home. She studied journalism at San Antonio College and earned a bachelor's degree in Journalism and Public Communications from the University of Alaska Anchorage. She's been a reporter in San Antonio and Castroville, Texas, and in Syracuse and Ithaca, New York.