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Tampa teen stars in a Disney Christmas movie

“Christmas Again” is ‘Groundhog Day’ with a holiday spin. It premieres Dec. 3.
Tampa's Ashlyn Jade Lopez and James McCraken in 'Christmas Again.'
Tampa's Ashlyn Jade Lopez and James McCraken in 'Christmas Again.' [ Courtesy of Disney/Jean Whiteside ]
Published Nov. 18

TAMPA — All Ashlyn Jade Lopez wanted for Christmas when she was 8 was an Elf on the Shelf.

She wrote Santa multiple letters, constantly reminded family of her wish, and went to bed on Christmas Eve hoping she’d find one under the tree.

“I did, but it was the last present I opened,” said Lopez, now 16. “I named him Fred from my favorite cartoon, Scooby Doo.”

If the Newsome High School junior could relive any Christmas, she said it would be that one, but not over and over and over again as happens to her on-screen sister in the movie Christmas Again, which premieres on Disney+ and the Disney Channel on Dec. 3.

IMDB.com says the movie is about “high-spirited” 11-year-old Rowena “hoping to add more spunk to her Christmas celebrations when her parent’s divorce is going anything but smoothly.”

The holiday does not go as planned, so Rowena asks a neighborhood Santa to grant her wish.

“She wants to do Christmas over again,” said Lopez, who plays the older sister, Gabby. “But she ends up doing it again in a continuous cycle.”

Think Groundhog Day, but it’s Christmas.

“I’ve actually never seen Groundhog Day,” Lopez said.

But she has seen every Disney princess movie and spent her early childhood dreaming of becoming one.

“My favorite is Beauty and the Beast,” she said. “But that’s because I thought I looked like Belle.”

Tampa's Ashlyn Jade Lopez (left) and Scarlett Estevez in 'Christmas Again.'
Tampa's Ashlyn Jade Lopez (left) and Scarlett Estevez in 'Christmas Again.' [ Courtesy of Disney/Jean Whiteside ]

Lopez broke into acting at the age of 4 when she portrayed a raccoon in a local production of The Bear Went Over the Mountain.

“I didn’t have any lines, but I thought I stole the show,” she laughed.

Her big break came in 2014 when she was cast as Young Nadia in an episode of on The CW network’s The Vampire Diaries.

Related: Tampa’s Daniel Roebuck to star as Grandpa Munster in ‘The Munsters’

Since then, Lopez has amassed 37 credits, including The Wrong House on the Lifetime channel.

But what she really wanted, Lopez admits, was a Disney project.

She auditioned for Stuck in the Middle, Bizaardvark, Descendants and more.

“Ever since I was 11, I’ve been auditioning for Disney,” she said. “I’ve always gotten pretty far, but I never booked one. This time, I was just the right one.”

As for Fred the elf, he still hides during the Christmas season.

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“I’ve found him on a chandelier, holding the remote, on the toilet paper,” Lopez said. “He is part of our Christmas tradition.”

Other traditions include Christmas Eve dinner at her grandparents’ house.

“Black beans and rice, pulled pork and Cuban bread,” Lopez said. “We always have that.”

And, throughout the season, she watches her two favorite Christmas movies.

Elf and Home Alone,” Lopez said.

Now, she wonders, how many will make Christmas Again a part of their holiday tradition.

“It’s amazing,” she said. “I’m excited.”