From Brandon: “I was adopted at age six, been raised in Covington, TN.   Currently working for Smith and Nephew and have my own place in Bartlett, TN by the Wolfchase Mall.   I love acting, meeting new people.   Very athletic and love my cars.

Jeff Yarbrough got me into helping him doing scenes with him and now I wish I was a Hollywood star.   In the movie Christmas ride I played one of the teen spirits.   I had a great time with the cast members.   It was really nice to just get out there and meet new people.   I wish the best to come for the movie.”

Brandon Ray Connell

Brandon Ray Connell

Meet Christmas Ride Cast: J D WHITE

Christmas Ride is my first Movie Role. I play James. He is a bad guy. I am a Small Role Actor/Stagehand in Community Theater. I have been involved in 55 Plays, 43 of them have been in the Historic Ruffin Theater in Covington, Tennessee. I am employed at Covington Care Center. I have also worked with many Christian Music Artists. I really enjoyed being part of Christmas Ride. It was like being in a big happy Family. I enjoyed cutting up with the fellow actors.  I grew up in Covington and now living in Atoka TN. I am a member of First Assembly of God in Brighton.

J D White plays James in Christmas Ride.

J D White plays James in Christmas Ride.

Happy Fourth of July

American Flag waving in a breeze. (Word Press says Safari and Internet Explorer browsers may not be able to fetch this video.) You can always visit this URL and see it:


What is your acting background?
Christmas Ride is my first acting experience.

Where are you from?
I am from Covington, TN

What has been your biggest challenge in the production?
As I’m not a seasoned actor, I got a little nervous working with professional actors and crew members.

What are your personal career goals for your future?
I am currently going into my sophomore year in college and I’m planning on going to study film/video production at The University of Memphis. I am very thankful for the opportunity I’ve had to learn more about film-making while on the set of Christmas Ride.

Who is your biggest inspiration?
Olan Rogers, Joshua Pursely, and Thomas Gore are three Memphis graduates who were in a sketch comedy group called “Balloonshop” on Youtube. They are currently working on separate film projects. Many other Youtubers and internet film companies are also big inspirations for me choosing a film career.

What have you learned from being in this film so far?
I have learned that acting requires a lot off repetition as directors film many shots in many angles in order to perfect a scene.

What is your favorite movie and why?
My favorite movie is Pokemon: The First Movie. I became a fan of the Pokemon franchise at a very young age and have grown with it. The first Pokemon movie, in my opinion, has the perfect mix of serious aspects and comedy. It carries a great message and has a great soundtrack too.

What location(s) did you enjoy filming in and what was unique about that place?
Well, its not everyday you get to go into the Sheriff’s office. We filmed in the Justice Center for two nights. It was fun hanging out in the courtroom and the Sheriff’s office. While we were there, Brandon and I texted some friends telling them we were in jail.

We also filmed on the side of the road with a police car at night and at a house in a local neighborhood. I’m pretty sure that we all had fun adventures in every filming location.

What stands out in your mind about some of the other actors in the film?
They were all great! It was interesting seeing how actors get into their characters.

What technical aspects of the filming were new to you?
I was fascinated by how important the lighting and sound are to the scenes.

What kind of work do you do when you aren’t filming?
I currently work part-time at McDonald’s.

How did you get involved with Christmas Ride?

Dustin Higdon

Dustin Higdon

I was actually working on a video project with Brandon Connell for one of my classes. Brandon got a call from Jeff Yarbrough asking if Brandon was interested for a role in Christmas Ride and if he knew anyone who would also be interested in a role . We both said yes.




Today’s interview is with Donald Drew Russom who plays the role of JOSH as an adult in CHRISTMAS RIDE.
What are your personal career goals for your future?
My personal career goals are to become a successful Screenwriter and Director. Graduate school is my short term, but for the long haul, I want to write something than be the one to bring it to life.

Who is your biggest inspiration?
I have many inspirations, but I would have say that my biggest inspiration would have to be Alfred Hitchcock. He is one of the few Directors that when I watch one of his films I find something new or different from any other film. He was willing to experiment, and in doing so his name has become part of film terminology.

What have you learned from being in this film so far?
I’ve gained some experience as an actor rather than a Director of a production.

What is your favorite movie and why?
I actually don’t have a favorite movie. I like all genres plus I try to expand my knowledge of films by watching as many diverse films as I can.

What is your acting background?
For the most part I have no acting background. I played a role in my 9th grade play and in a few projects, but those were because I didn’t have anyone else to play the role. Although I have been attending Forrest Pruett’s Indie Acting Studio for quite some time now, and it has really helped me get inside the mind of an actor.

Where are you from?
I live in the suburbs of Lakeland, TN.

How did you get involved with Christmas Ride?
Karen Francis sent me a message through Facebook asking if I could help out with the film.   So I didn’t want to miss an opportunity.

What has been your biggest challenge in the production?
The only big challenges were the time constraints that the actors and myself were under. We all had other places to be after the shoot.
Donald Drew Russom


My name is Frank Deslauriers and I play Paul Davenport in the upcoming film “Christmas Ride”.

Frank Deslauriers plays Paul Davenport in CHRISTMAS RIDE

Frank Deslauriers plays Paul Davenport in CHRISTMAS RIDE

My character seems to represent how life goes on and a new beginning for characters who have suffered tragedies in their life with dignity and reverence.  I learned from this film the power of forgiveness and  all things happen to us or a reason and that God puts challenges before us not as a punishment but as obstacles to be overcome and learn from.

This is my first film although I have acted in a number of plays at the Ruffin Theater in Covington, Tennessee including Romeo and Juliet, The Hobbit and the upcoming You Can’t Take it With You.  I was able to get the part of Paul Davenport in Christmas Ride by luck and circumstance.  My son and I went to be extras in the wedding scene and the next thing I know I was asked to play Paul.  Obviously I jumped at the chance and thoroughly enjoyed it.  It was quite different from stage acting.  Film acting seems to require much more nuance in a role since there are more closeups and takes than stage acting.  One scene can takes hours to film which allows for obtaining the best shot.  On stage there are no directors saying “cut, let’s do it again”.  There are no “do overs” on stage.  My “day job” is as a trial attorney and I have found that acting and trial work are very similar.  To be successful both require credibility and belief in what you are doing.  It also doesn’t hurt to be a bit of a ham.
I have not been acting long but it has become a passion and I plan to continue doing it as long as I can be wheeled on stage or in front of a camera.  I consider Tom Hanks to be my favorite actor due to his versatility and everyman quality.  If I have a favorite film it would probably be Forrest Gump.  I also enjoyed Saving Private Ryan, probably because my life long hero, my father, was a career soldier who fought and was decorated for his service to his country.   Because of his military career I lived everywhere growing up including Germany for about half my childhood.  I have always felt that people who are always the new kid either become very shy or very outgoing as a way to fit in.  Obviously, I chose the outgoing path.   Acting is the perfect outlet for this.
Finally, I would like to thank Karen Francis for her guidance, patience and kindness during this production.
This series of articles  is for distribution, reproduction, sharing through social media.  More about the film CHRISTMAS  RIDE may be found on ,,  For further information about Frank, he may be contacted at his law firm  901-476-5356.




Here is the interview response of Linda Willis Peckenpaugh who portrays a mourner in CHRISTMAS RIDE, a new film being produced in TN by Art Promotions with cooperation of Yarbrough Media Productions.

Linda Willis Peckinpaugh places flowers at a roadside memorial for victims of a car accident.

Linda Willis Peckenpaugh places flowers at a roadside memorial for victims of a car accident.

Linda tells us:
“My acting background is being in the community play Oklahoma, Hee Haw benefit shows and a music video, The Devil Whipping His Wife.

I grew up in Ripley, Tennessee. My mother left my father and me when I was a baby. My father couldn’t take care of me on his own so he left me with his sister. She and her husband adopted me and gave me a good Christian life. I lived in Ripley until my husband died then I sold my home and moved in with my daughter in Collierville, Tennessee. My son lives in Germantown so they wanted me to live closer to them. I met a guy who promotes southern gospel music while singing with my gospel trio and later married and we live in Dyersburg Tennessee.

My involvement in Christmas Ride happened when I met Jeff Yarbrough through my friends that needed him to film their music video that I was in. I saw this opportunity on his facebook page and wanted to be involved in this Christian film.

My biggest challenge has been time and waiting on scenes to be filmed, but the wait is worth it to get a good film right.

My future personal goals, since I’m retired, are to continue singing for the Lord and being involved in Christian service.

My biggest inspiration is Jesus! As I look back on my life, I see how He has taught me wisdom and strength to overcome life’s challenges. He has given me a gift of music to use for His glory. I’ve learned when I trust and wait on His timing He provides for my good and His glory.

I’ve learned from being in this film that I’m thankful there are Christian people that want to make films that get God’s word out for the public to see and be inspired.

My favorite movie Sargeant York. I remember seeing this with my dad when I was a child. I like this true story of a poor unsaved Tennessee man turning his life around for the Lord and becoming a hero. My favorite part was when he and his dog went to the top of a mountain. He took his Bible and was reading scripture regarding, ”Rendering to Ceasar what is Ceasars’ and to God what is Gods’.”

What I want for my birthday is just to enjoy being with my family and friends. At my age material things don’t matter anymore. Time is too short to want for material things that do not fulfill.

I want to thank Karen for writing this Christian based film. We need more Christian movies.”

Linda Willis Peckenpaugh

This article is available for reprints and redistribution.   More  About CHRISTMAS RIDE at  (Please “Like Us”  there) and more pictures on


In the coming months, I will try to feature each cast member of CHRISTMAS RIDE.

One pair in our cast is very unique in that they only married since the auditions were held. Yes, formerly known as Linda Willis, an actress in many films around Memphis, and David E. Peckenpaugh, have tied the knot. Congratulations!

David Peckenpaugh with wife Linda.  David plays the role of Sheriff in CHRISTMAS RIDE

David Peckenpaugh with wife Linda. David plays the role of Sheriff in CHRISTMAS RIDE

In answer to my questions, here’s what David Peckenpaugh shared with us:

“My acting background consists of being in school plays, community Hee Haw shows and solo comedy acts in the community. I grew up in Finley, TN on a farm. . . .

I got involved in CHRISTMAS RIDE when my wife-to-be, Linda, wanted to go and just be an extra. I went with her to watch and was asked to read a part. The Sheriff‘s lines were so close to my heart I got emotional reading it and fell in love with the story.

My biggest challenge was remembering the lines at my age and the story bringing back memories of losing my son.

My goals for the future are to continue to promote Southern Gospel Music, booking groups and being master of ceremonies for concerts. I love trying new adventures in my life since retiring and starting a new life with my new wife.

My biggest inspiration is God who inspires me to reach out and try new things because I know He is always with me.

I have learned a lot about being in a film that it is really hard work and a lot of time goes into it. I didn’t realize that each scene has to be filmed from all angles. It has been a great experience being in this Christian film.

My favorite movie is Blue Hawaii. I love the scenery and Elvis’s music.

I just had my birthday in January 2013 and my son asked me what I wanted. I told him at this age I don’t need anything but to be with my family and friends, and enjoy being together.

Thanks for the opportunity being in this film. I feel the Lord brought me to this to continue helping me with the loss of my son so I can help others in their grief.”

Thank you, David, for putting your heart into this role! –Karen Francis

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