Romcom Screenwriter Got Her Filmmaking Start at Parish

Alex Yonks celebrates as her holiday television movie airs on Discovery+

Young filmmaker Alex Yonks, whose new holiday romcom Candy Coated Christmas features Ree Drummond of The Food Network’s Pioneer Woman, got her ambitious start at Parish Episcopal High School.

“There was a lot of encouragement from the teachers, and it helped me develop into the filmmaker that I am today,” the screenwriter said.

She grew up playing competitive soccer then slid into creative entertainment at 14 when she began acting in school plays and local theater. 

But an independent film studies class at Parish Episcopal gave Yonks, as she puts it, “the creative space to take chances with zero risk.”

“It created an environment which was more akin to college and then life, which, as kids, was good to know,” she said.

Yonks switched from acting to writing while taking a class at Cathryn Sullivan’s Acting for Film studio in Lewisville. 

“Not connecting with any of the scripts I was given, on a whim, I wrote my own scene,” she recalled. “It turned out everyone loved it and really connected with it. And, full circle, I am now a guest speaker at one of their upcoming seminars.” 

She then had a couple of shorts accepted into the Dallas International film festival. 

“It just went from there,” Yonks said. “I kept writing and never stopped.”

But getting Candy Coated Christmas made was no piece of cake.

“It was a long haul,” Yonks said. “I wrote the whole script during the pandemic from Texas.” 

Development started in early 2020. The script did the rounds in early 2021.

“We had no idea if it was going to get made — very much hurry up and wait,” Yonks said. 

But when the green light came, filming commenced on location in Utah. 

“Shooting a Christmas movie in 100-degree heat was interesting,” Yonks said, chuckling.

As for future productions, the busy writer is developing several projects — a young adult book adaptation, a couple of other holiday-themed projects, and a few television pilots.

“One is set in Texas and is based on my life here,” Yonks said. “That one is very close to my heart.

“There aren’t many shows that depict the mundane, normal type of kid in Texas, middle America — places other than L.A. and New York,” she lamented. “That’s who I was and who I am today. That’s the kind of shows I try to write and to get out there.”  

She now splits her time between the Dallas area and Los Angeles.

“The way things are going, you can kind of work from anywhere, at least sometimes,” Yonks observed. “I love Texas. I still consider it my home. It’s part of who I am, and the kind of writer I want to be is rooted in Texas.”

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