Theirs is a Thanksgiving story that warmed the hearts of many and for some, restored their faith in humanity. This beautiful story of friendship and family is about to reach more people as Netflix is reportedly making a movie about it.
It was an accidental Thanksgiving text invite that brought two strangers together—Wanda Dench and Jamal Hinton—in 2016, which started an annual tradition that is now on its sixth year.
Just over a week after Thanksgiving, Hinton announced on Instagram that the streaming giant is turning their heartwarming story into a feature film.
“We thank every single one of you for your love and support in our journey the last six years. We can’t wait to tell our story on the big screen,”Hinton wrote on Instagram with a photo of him and Dench.
Their story began in 2016 when Dench sent a text message to his grandson’s number, inviting him over to the family’s Thanksgiving dinner in Mesa, Arizona. However, she didn’t know that her grandson had changed phone numbers and Hinton, new owner of the number, received her message.
“Thanksgiving dinner is at my house on Nov. 24 at 3 p.m. Let me know if you are coming. Hope to see you all,” Dench said in her message.
Then a 17-year-old high schooler, Hinton once said in an interview that upon receving the text message, he thought his grandmother changed her phone number but just to be sure, he asked for a picture.
“Grandma, can I have a picture?” he texted. Dench then sent her photo and when Hinton confirmed she is not his grandmother, he sent his selfie and responded, “You not my grandma.”
While at it, Hinton thought he might as well ask the person on the other line if he could still come to Dench’s Thanksgiving dinner. “Can I still get a plate tho?”
To which Dench replied, “Of course you can. That’s what grandmas do… feed everyone.”
Hinton posted their exchange on Twitter, which went viral. Dench reportedly received hundreds of messages from people asking if she could also save a plate for them, as Hinton forgot to blur out Dench’s number in his post.
Dench kept her promise and invited Hinton to their family Thanksgiving. Their yearly Thanksgiving dinners have been documented by local news outfits, which updated everyone who had been following their story. In 2017, Dench also invited Hinton’s girlfriend Mikaela to their dinners.
Every Thanksgiving dinner is not complete without Hinton’s mandatory selfie with Dench and their loved ones. They have formed a beautiful friendship that goes beyond Thanksgiving, as seen in Hinton’s social media pages with photos of their families hanging out in Spring of 2019 and checking out a pumpkin patch in Arizona.
“Blessed to have such wonderful people in our lives,” Hinton captioned one post.
The COVID-19 pandemic did not stop their yearly tradition, however, 2020’s Thanksgiving reunion was bittersweet as Lonnie passed away in April 2020 due to COVID-19.
In honor of Lonnie, they had a small Thanksgiving together with family and of course, Hinton and his girlfriend, according to CBS 5 News. They also continued the “selfie” tradition, with Dench’s children who held a portrait of Lonnie.
According to an exclusive report by Variety, Abdul Williams (Salt-N-Pepa, The Bobby Brown Story) is writing the screenplay, The Thanksgiving Text. Netflix has yet to reveal the director and the cast of the film.
In a joint statement sent to Variety, Dench and Hinton said, “We are excited to share our story with the world. We hope it inspires more people to reach out and make connections that they wouldn’t ordinarily make.”
They added, “We are so blessed to find a genuine friendship brought together by God from a mistaken text message.”
Indeed, theirs is an inspiring and moving story that needs to be told and retold.