This past year has been a good one for real-life couple Kyle Dean Massey (pictured above, left) and Taylor Frey (right). In October of 2021, the married couple welcomed (via surrogate) daughter Rafa Massey-Frey, and they are helping spread the joy of parenthood with their Forming Families Foundation. Now they are rounding out 2022 fulfilling the professional dream of working together on-screen in the Lifetime movie A Christmas to Treasure. "We'd both worked [separately] with the writer/director Jake Helgren before," Frey explained in a joint exclusive interview with MediaVillage. "In our industry, a lot of straight couples get the opportunity to work together and play off one another. It's great, it's fun for them, [but] Kyle and I have never had the chance to work together amongst the hundreds of projects that we've done as actors.
"We'd also both worked with The Ninth House (the production company) who are just so pleasant to work with and create fantastic product in their stories," he continued. "So, when Jake approached us about this, we were just excited to work with this team again, and honestly to play opposite each other for once."
"Taylor really said it," Massey agreed. "We've never had the opportunity to work together. Jake wrote this with us in mind. It's rare that happens, either. So, the fact they did that, and created the storyline specifically for us, was really exciting."
In the film, the couple portrays former childhood best friends Austin Craig (Frey) and Everett Matthews (Massey), who despite their young attraction never saw a romance come to real fruition. After years of estrangement, and harboring residual bad feelings, they find themselves reunited (along with four of their former best friends) after Ms. Marley, a beloved older guardian, passes away. Famous for her holiday treasure hunts, before her passing she organized one last adventure for the gang, this time promising real treasure was to be found. As the gang uncovers clue after clue in their hunt, Austin and Everett unravel the reasons behind their estrangement, and gain a greater understanding of each other.
Embarking on the project, the husbands didn't give thought or have any additional conversations about navigating the experience working together. "We really didn't talk about [it]," Massey recalled. "Taylor is such a great actor, so I was just excited to see how he worked on set. He's so cool and calm and everyone on set loved him. It was really fun to be like, 'Oh yeah, that's my husband, he's great.' These movies are made quickly, and you don't have a lot of time to get wrapped up in anything other than getting good takes, hitting your marks, learning your lines, and giving a good scene. Taylor was a terrific scene partner and made it easy for me."
"Although I do recall one instance when I didn't say a line exactly as written," Frey added with a laugh. "I think Kyle was waiting for those final words and said, 'Wait, you didn't say it exactly.' I was like, 'I know, but just keep going. I'm not gonna say [them].'"
"I was wondering, 'Is this a dramatic pause? What is this?'" smiled Massey. "I was probably legitimately confused."
The chemistry between the couple off-screen is undeniable, so when it came to that translating to a potential on-screen couple, they both simply assumed it would work. "We have good chemistry in real life and have been married for some time," Frey explained. "I joke a lot about him being my first, but the truth is we're in it together forever."
"We've been together for over 10 years and married for six," Massey added. "We're so comfortable around each other, and our lives are so intertwined at this point. These two characters are coming together after not seeing each other for 15 years, so finding those initial sparks again was something we certainly had to think about -- just recreating that initial magic of first falling in love with somebody."
"One of the first scenes we shot was the final scene," Frey recalled. "It's an integral part of the story, and I was truly excited to see what Kyle brought. I love playing opposite people who surprise me or are so present that you just feel any choice is the right one. Kyle certainly did that for me. [With each] "Action!" we were just looking forward to seeing what each other did and that so much fun."
Not lost on either actor is the importance of the project in terms of inclusivity and diverse storytelling on television for the LGBTQIA+ community. "We feel really, really privileged and lucky to be the people in these shoes telling these stories," Frey said. "We wish more of this was visible when we were kids as it would have been life-changing for us. This is one of three LGBTQIA+ movies out of all the movies Lifetime's done, and just one out of 26 this season.
"It's really great that Lifetime is taking a chance getting this out there," he added. "There's a lot at stake on the business side; they love the movie and are excited [about] it. Do I wish there were more? Of course. But I'm not going to be greedy. I got to shoot opposite my husband, and bring my daughter on set, which was a magical experience I'll always be grateful for.
"And it's important," he added in closing. "Especially now with [other networks] alienating people like us in stories and showing hate in the media. It's a very important time for these stories to be told. We're just so grateful to the production company, Jake, and to Lifetime for creating this as it will be an important thing for many, many, young people."
A Christmas to Treasure will be telecast Friday, December 16 at 8 p.m. on Lifetime as part of their It's a Wonderful Lifetime programming event.
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