Interview With ‘Maybe Next Christmas’ Creator and Director, LJ Lameck and Philaye

The holiday season is upon us, and Hustle and Soul Magazine recommends that our readers watch holiday season films with purpose and meaning, such as ‘Maybe Next Christmas‘. Maybe Next Christmas has an all-star cast including Dominique Stango, Antoine Tate, Tiaramy Maloy, Monece Starling, Arabia Little, and more. This film is about three women who own a coffee shop being forced to spend their first Christmas away from home, but Black Girl Magic saves the day!

Watch the trailer here: 

Tammy Reese of Hustle and Soul Magazine obtained an exclusive interview with Creator and Writer LJ Lameck, along with Film/TV Producer, Writer, Actor, and Director, Philaye.


LJ Lameck is a filmmaker from South Sudan, raised in Nashville, Tennessee. On a journey to become an actress, she discovered that she had a bigger passion for working behind the scenes. She started her film career with her web series, “Kete”, she then went on to produce her short film, “Maybe Next Christmas” with Philaye Films. She now has multiple films and series in development across genres, and looks forward to continuing to tell Black women’s stories!


Philip Johnson also known as Philaye is a Film/TV Producer, Writer, Actor, and Director from Detroit. Based in Los Angeles, Philaye creates films and shows primarily focused on bringing unique creative light to the Black LGBTQ+ community. With a Bachelor of Business Administration from the University of Michigan, Johnson has been building Philaye Films into a studio providing Black creatives opportunities to be paid to do what they love to do. He was the 2022 recipient of the Speak Out Influencer of Excellence Award and ATL Black Pride’s Creative Communication Award. His thriller short film, “The Unhinged” was selected by the 2022 Las Vegas Black Film Festival, and has held packed-out screenings in 3 US cities. He also Executive Produced and directed the “Maybe Next Christmas” short film. With multiple films and series in various Producing phases, Philip is excited to continue to share all of the unique stories with the world!

I understand that this film is about Christmas and Black Girl Magic which I am so here for. Please tell me more about the film and why you wanted to bring this film to the masses.

Philaye: When LJ pitched this film to me I really wanted to bring this film to the masses because I felt it was very relatable. I’ve personally had a couple of disappointing Christmas days when I was away from home. With that, there are many reasons why you have to lean on your friends instead of your family at times. I am happy we get to show this film to the world. 

LJ: The film is based on me when I lived in LA and had to be away from family. One of the things about finding yourself, is you do have to go through separating from your family. I also feel like the black family dynamic we’re so used to having some people no longer have anymore. I thought that this would be so beautiful to showcase friendship and normalize that it’s ok to be with your friends on Christmas.

What made you want to be a filmmaker?

LJ: For me, all of my films center around Black women. We deserve more films that show all sides of us without struggle. I am very big on showing Black women not struggling. Not saying that we don’t, but I want to show the happiness that we have. 

Philaye: I hone in on what my big passions and interests are in terms of working. With my business degree, what I’ve found is that I’m really passionate about being able to help alot of visions come to life and use my business knowledge to move projects forward. I have the skills to raise funds which I love the most. When it comes to writing, acting, and directing, I get in where I fit in and have fun with it. I start with producing as the base of it all.

In what ways do you keep your mental health balanced while navigating in this industry?

Philaye: I try my best to get 7–8 hours of sleep per night. I focus on making sure that I’m good and that I’m taking care of myself.  With so many projects, and working in finance keeps me busy. So it’s good for me to have energy for everything and not let stressful things in life take over. 

LJ: I don’t let things get to me as much as I use to. Especially after understanding the industry for what it is. I focus on meditation and finding things that make me happy. Today I got a Spongebob Ice Cream because that was something I had when I was a kid and it made me happy. Yesterday, I watched Soul Food over again and remembered how much I loved this film as a kid. I understand who I was as a kid, I understand who I am as an adult. I find the medium so that I am not in my head as much. 

Why do you think it’s important for audiences to watch ‘Maybe Next Christmas’?

LJ: It’s important for Black women to understand that we’re all navigating through life and seeing certain things in our family for what it is and that’s ok. So many girls that I see and speak to suffer from depression. They talk about having to cut off their families or feel that they’re failing in life. I tell them no, you’re good. Lean on your friends.

Sometimes we shut out the ones who really do love us because we’re looking at the bigger scheme of things and we hang in the background wondering what our family thinks. Meanwhile or most of the time they may have negative things to say, but your friends are here and they’re routing for you. Lean on to them and understand that we’re not perfect and it’s ok to be a hot mess, just forgive yourself in the process of being that hot mess. 

Philaye: My family has had some passings this year, and I do not have the best family situation. I have friends who also have difficult family dynamics. We as Black people go to laughter and different things to help with stuff, but most of us have some really bad stuff in our family that bogs people down. So leaning on friends is a very big message and important for me right now. 

At our recent Atlanta screening I really needed to see the film that day, even though I’ve seen the film a million times. I connected with it that particular day because of how I was feeling about some other stuff. Being that I have felt the impact of the film, I feel other people can definitely relate. 

Audiences can watch now on Shien TV, Mometu, EmBlazeTV, Roku, Apple, iOS, and Android. More screenings will take place next year as well as more film projects. Stay tuned!

Keep up to date on social media:

LJ on all social media platforms: @thefilmmama

Philaye on Instagram and TikTok @Philaye 

Philaye on Twitter @PhilayeFilms

Tammy Reese

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