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Wingman Wednesday

Jack Turner

JackTurnerFeatured
Copyright 2017 Crown Media United States LLC/Photographer: Steven Ackerman

Yes, we’re counting the days until wind chills are no longer a factor in our daily clothing choices and Nor’easters are Nor’more, but until then we’re embracing the sentimental glow of the season – warming ourselves at the foot of the fireplace, indulging in home-cooked comfort foods, and of course, settling in under a heavy blanket and watching Hallmark Channel’s Winterfest programming event.

Premiering Saturday on the network, “One Winter Weekend” tells the story of a surprise romance that develops between two unlikely people, played by Taylor Cole and Jack Turner, who find themselves double-booked and snowed in together while on their own individual weekend away in the mountains.

We recently sat down with Turner to discuss reuniting with his “My Summer Prince” costar, why he would hang out with his character Ben in the real world, and the reason he left his job at Google after five years.

TrunkSpace: This isn’t your first time working with Taylor. Was coming together on this movie by design or was it a bit of a surprise for you?
Turner: Taylor was working with the production team a little bit and was able to suggest some names and it ended up coming my way. I was really happy to get it and it was great to have the chance to work with Taylor again – she’s brilliant to work with. It was also fun to get the team together after “My Summer Prince,” which is probably one of my favorite times on set.

TrunkSpace: On-screen chemistry is so important to the success and believability of Hallmark Channel movies. Because you two have worked together in the past, did that allow you and Taylor to jump right into the material and hit the ground running?
Turner: Yeah, totally. I think that chemistry comes from really good listening. I think that that’s the majority of what chemistry is on camera. When you trust that someone’s going to be there and be prepared and be ready to listen to you just as much as you’re ready to listen to them, then it takes a lot of the pressure off and no one’s just thinking about their side of things. It becomes a very interactive acting experience. I think that definitely having worked before and trusting each other the way we do, we could sink very quickly into daily routines of running lines on the way to set, running lines on the way home, and then, “See you tomorrow morning.” It was all very straightforward.

TrunkSpace: And in that, it must give you a sense of comfort off-camera as well – a sense of ease within the job itself?
Turner: Definitely. Simple stuff that makes things really easy. There wasn’t a grocery store nearby and Taylor had a car and I didn’t, and so when she was on set, she’d let me use her car so I could go and get groceries. It’s simple stuff – some surprising teamwork that makes those kinds of experiences even more enjoyable.

TrunkSpace: From our understanding, working on Hallmark Channel productions is an extremely efficient process, which makes sense given how many new movies the network airs each year. From an acting standpoint, how does that efficiency impact what you’re doing as a performer?
Turner: I personally like it. There’s not too much time to overthink things and so you trust your instincts and maybe get some direction to try some different options in takes, leave it behind and move on to the next thing. This film was a 15-day shoot, but my days were condensed into 10. I shot my side of things, the scenes that I was in, in 10 days, which is a very quick shoot for a film. I like that a lot because you just get in that rhythm and it’s very focused.

TrunkSpace: That also must allow you to pursue more projects throughout the course of a year when you’re not committing yourself to a six week or longer shoot?
Turner: Totally. I’ve been quite lucky with the shoots I’ve done. I’ve done more condensed shoots in terms of the amount of time that I’ve been on them. I’d love to do an extended TV show, but it’s also great for me to… I only came to this five or six years ago, so I’m getting loads of varied experiences through lots of different sets and lots of different roles and that’s very enriching.

TrunkSpace: When it comes to your character Ben in “One Winter Weekend,” is he someone who you could see yourself hanging out with in the real world? Was it easy for you to connect with him?
Turner: It definitely was easy to connect with him. He’s a CEO of a company but almost reluctantly so. He started the company, it went public, and he’s beholden to the board of directors and the shareholders. He has a bit more of an entrepreneurial mentality, combined with an easygoing nature, and isn’t strictly business. I think he’s become a bit jaded that his baby isn’t his. His vision isn’t really being fulfilled anymore and the company’s products aren’t being innovative and he needs a weekend away to get some perspective on some of the issues he’s been having in the company and also in the press, and then of course, he meets Cara.

TrunkSpace: And the conflict then arises because she is essentially the press, right?
Turner: Exactly right. Good research.

At the beginning of the film they both book the same chalet and neither of them are happy about it. To ease the tension, their friends that they’re with suggest that no one talks about work for the weekend because we’re all going to be sharing space together and it should just be a fun time.

Copyright 2017 Crown Media United States LLC/Photographer: Steven Ackerman

TrunkSpace: Hallmark Channel programming continues to grow in popularity. Why do you think that is?
Turner: I think it’s really family friendly, simple entertainment. Simple is the wrong word, but in contrast, simplicity can be elegant in that you have characters who are dealing with very relatable problems, and over the course of the film and the obstacles that they go through, they learn something that is universal about themselves and come out the other side. It can be a very clear learning experience for the audience as well as the characters. I think they’re quite elegant in the ease that the scripts and the films have.

TrunkSpace: You have one of the more interesting journeys in becoming an actor that we’ve read about. Firstly, you studied psychology and we have to imagine that having that knowledge must be pretty beneficial in an industry where there are so many different types of personalities?
Turner: Definitely. Both in terms of the characters you play and also on-set dynamics. That’s where professionalism really comes into play and I was fortunate that I worked at Google for five years and had a heavy dose of professionalism there. I feel like I have good training, if you like, for working in film and TV. The funny thing about the psychology degree is that the way psychology has gone for the last 15 or 20 years, it’s become very scientific. The degree was almost closer to neuroscience or neuropsychology rather than observable human behavior. In a way I feel like acting school, which I did at night while I was working at Google, and then working in film and TV, is the education in psychology I always wanted and also the expression of what I’m interested in.

TrunkSpace: Like you mentioned, you worked at Google for five years, which is a company that a lot of people are running towards, not from.
Turner: (Laughter) I know. Google is a great job, so I like to joke that it was a series of unforgivable mistakes leaving that place.

TrunkSpace: And it was while you were there that you planted the seed for what would ultimately become your acting career?
Turner: Yeah, it was. I thought I’d go to an acting class for a couple reasons. Partly because of the psychology background and because a few really close friends and family said it could be a good fit as a hobby. I also thought it might help me at work. A lot of the executives do actually use acting coaches in order to help them dealing with different personalities or in helping themselves. Maybe some people need to be more assertive, some people need to listen better, some people need to present with more authority, or maybe even less authority. Acting can be really helpful for executives.

So I went to a class and just instantly fell in love with the rooted but spiritual nature of it. I just fell in love with it and became hooked and did a two-year class while I was in San Francisco at night, two or three nights a week. Then came a time where I was prepared and ready to leave the fold of Google. There’s no regrets, but it was a very difficult decision.

One Winter Weekend” premieres Saturday, January 20 (9 p.m. ET/PT) on Hallmark Channel.

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Wingman Wednesday

Dewshane Williams

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Photo: Dewshane Williams Credit: Copyright 2017 Crown Media United States LLC/Photographer: Steven Ackerman

Yes, we’re counting the days until wind chills are no longer a factor in our daily clothing choices and Nor’easters are Nor’more, but until then we’re embracing the sentimental glow of the season – warming ourselves at the foot of the fireplace, indulging in home-cooked comfort foods, and of course, settling in under a heavy blanket and watching Hallmark Channel’s Winterfest programming event.

Premiering Saturday on the network, “One Winter Weekend” tells the story of a surprise romance that develops between two unlikely people, played by Taylor Cole and Jack Turner, who find themselves double-booked and snowed in together while on their own individual weekend away in the mountains.

We recently sat down with “One Winter Weekend” star Dewshane Williams to discuss staying warm on location, being welcomed into the Hallmark Channel family, and why it’s important to learn on the job.

TrunkSpace: From what we understand, this is your first time working on a Hallmark Channel movie. Did you go into the production with a certain set of preconceived notions/expectations and how did those views change by the time that the film wrapped?
Williams: You’re correct, this is my first time working with Hallmark Channel. I had no idea what to expect; however, I kept an open mind to the experience which was beneficial to my process. I was able to evolve creatively as a result, which is exactly what I was hoping would happen. If there’s anything I’ve discovered it’s that romantic comedies can be a lot of fun to work on.

TrunkSpace: One of the things that Hallmark Channel is known for is creating films that establish a feel and tone of a particular season, ultimately putting the audience in that seasonal moment. As far as the technical aspect of making a movie is concerned, was that element of the process new to you and does it ultimately play into how you approach your performance at all?
Williams: I’m from north of the border (Canada) where it can get pretty cold during the winter. For me, shooting in the freezing temperatures of Winnipeg, or the Kananaskis Mountains, was fairly simple. Wear layers, and you’ll be fine. Our wardrobe department was the best. They took care of us by making sure we had the appropriate gear. They’ve got these things we call “hot shots,” which are incredible! You put them on and they heat up for several hours; keeping your muscles and vital organs warm.

TrunkSpace: As far as your character Sean is concerned, can you give us a little insight into who he is as a person and how you “found” him in your own personal discovery process?
Williams: Dr. Sean is an affluent, supportive, free spirit. He’s the kind of friend you want to have in your corner. Sean also has a great sense of humor, which is infectious. We share a number of characteristics in common, and so I was able to understand where he was coming from rather easily. I’m grateful I got the opportunity to bring him to life.

TrunkSpace: Was there a particular scene or moment that you’re most excited for people to see in terms of your performance as Sean?
Williams: All of it! Typically, I don’t watch the things I’m in as I’m rather self-conscious – most actors are – however, my intention is to watch this film. Gary Yates did a wonderful job directing us, so I’m curious to see how it all turned out.

TrunkSpace: We have been amazed at how passionate and engaged the Hallmark Channel fan base is, especially via social media. Did you have any idea how popular Hallmark Channel movies were when you signed on for “One Winter Weekend” and now that you’ve been a part of one, what do you think the draw is for all of those “Hallmarkies” who continue to tune in with each new film or series?
Williams: I had no idea how passionate Hallmark Channel’s fan base was! That’s a great thing to hear; hopefully the film lives up to their expectations. I recently attended the TCA 18 event in Los Angeles with Crown Media, and it felt like I was being welcomed into a family. Maybe that’s it? There’s a warmth to the network that’s universal. It feels like you’re welcoming a family member into your home.

TrunkSpace: It feels like there is so much negativity and chaos going on in the world every time you turn on the news or check your Twitter feed. Do you think that part of the appeal of a film like “One Winter Weekend” is that, as a society, we’re just looking to feel good? In a way, they’re a bit of a throwback, are they not?
Williams: Definitely. Globally there’s quite a bit of negativity out there. If we can provide viewers with stories that help them believe in a better world, or warm their hearts; we’re responding to that negativity in a creative way. “One Winter Weekend” will make you feel good while watching it. That was one of our intentions.

TrunkSpace: Prior to your work on “One Winter Weekend,” you appeared in a number of science fiction and action projects. Was that by design? Did you have an interest in those genres that lead you down that path, or did fate step in and point you in that direction?
Williams: Prior to “One Winter Weekend” I’ve done a number of science fiction and action projects, you’re right. I think it was both by design and fate. As a boy, I was always interested in sci-fi and action. Getting the opportunity to combine both on a show like “Defiance” or “The Expanse” was a dream come true. Some of my biggest influences in film/TV are Denzel Washington, Jamie Foxx, Steven Spielberg, and Will Smith, respectively. All of those names have an extensive background in science fiction/action projects… maybe I’m subconsciously following their lead?

TrunkSpace: A number of the series you have appeared on have built passionate fandoms, both due to their source material/character origins (“Supergirl”) and their originality (“Defiance”). Do you think social media has allowed series like those we mentioned to build on their fandoms in ways that shows of the past were unable to do? What is your relationship with social media and the fans who reach out to you via the platform?
Williams: I’m very fortunate that the fandoms I’ve encountered so far in my career have been wonderful. They really care about the shows we’re making and that’s apparent to us. “Defiance” and “Supergirl” fandoms, we see you and appreciate your enthusiasm. I think fandom organization is much easier than it used to be prior to the internet, and that definitely allows certain shows/films to thrive. The audience is a very important part of what we do and so I try my best to engage them online when I can. I haven’t been on Twitter in a while, but I’ll return sooner than later!

Williams in Defiance. Photo By: Joe Pugliese/Syfy

TrunkSpace: You studied your craft in school, but how much have you learned through the act of doing that you could have never discovered in a classroom? Is it important for people to strike a balance between training and hands-on experience to find success as an actor?
Williams: I went to an arts school in Toronto, and one of my school mates once gave me some great advice. I was in-between acting classes and I reached out to Nina (Dobrev) asking her for some advice on the craft. Her response has always stuck with me. She said, “Some of the biggest things I’ve learned happened while working on set.” That’s proven to be true for me as well. Understanding how to efficiently communicate with my crew/director in the workplace was one of those skills I’ve been able to develop. You can only learn so much in the classroom, or during training. At some point, you’ll have to take those skills and apply them while in the work environment. As a general rule in life, balance is key.

TrunkSpace: You started out acting for the stage. Does that medium still call out to you and do you continue to perform in theatrical productions?
Williams: Yes! The stage calls me from time to time. I would love to produce and star in some theater. Maybe Shakespeare? I had a chat with a friend of mine last month who wanted to do a little play, so I might do that if the scheduling is right. Would you come?

TrunkSpace: Count us in! Have your aspirations/goals changed from when you started out acting to where you are now?
Williams: Yes. My aspirations have evolved since I first started acting, as I’m constantly growing. I would love to offer more to the industry, and hopefully I can provide opportunities for others as well. I’m interested in writing and producing. directing is also something I would love to explore. Over the years my appreciation for the other departments that make up our community has grown immensely.

TrunkSpace: We’re a few weeks into 2018. Did you set any resolutions for yourself in the new year and if so, how are you doing with them thus far?
Williams: New year, same me. I’m trying my best to grow creatively, have new experiences, and read a couple more books. That hasn’t changed since last year.

One Winter Weekend” premieres Saturday, January 20 (9 p.m. ET/PT) on Hallmark Channel.

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Wingman Wednesday

Rukiya Bernard

RukiyaBernardFeature3

Yes, we’re counting the days until wind chills are no longer a factor in our daily clothing choices and Nor’easters are Nor’more, but until then we’re embracing the sentimental glow of the season – warming ourselves at the foot of the fireplace, indulging in home-cooked comfort foods, and of course, settling in under a heavy blanket and watching Hallmark Channel’s Winterfest programming event.

Premiering Saturday on the network, “One Winter Weekend” tells the story of a surprise romance that develops between two unlikely people, played by Taylor Cole and Jack Turner, who find themselves double-booked and snowed in together while on their own individual weekend away in the mountains.

We recently sat down with “One Winter Weekend” star Rukiya Bernard to discuss her “One Winter Weekend” highlights, why her character’s story delivers a great message for women, and the crossover between the Hallmarkies and the Helsingers.

TrunkSpace: You’ve worked on multiple Hallmark Channel movies throughout the course of your career, the most recent being “One Winter Weekend.” Do you continue to return to the Hallmark Channel fold because of the people involved, because of the characters you get to portray, or a combination of both?
Bernard: I think it’s a combination of both. I enjoy doing lighthearted comedies and Hallmark gives me the chance to do that.

TrunkSpace: For the viewer, the end product – the completed film – is what becomes memorable, but for those who work on a project, there’s an entire experience involved. What for you were some of the highlights of your time on “One Winter Weekend?”
Bernard: There were a number of highlights in this movie such as eating fondue for work, figuring out how to do things while both hands were incapacitated and getting to know the cast. We’d go out after work whenever possible and it was great getting to know them.

TrunkSpace: When you first got a sense of who Megan was, what initially drew you in, and did you begin to enjoy different aspects of her personality as you spent more time with her?
Bernard: When I first got the role of Megan I enjoyed her free spiritedness, which contrasts nicely with her REALLY good work ethic. It’s maybe too good to her detriment. I enjoyed her playful side and that really drew me in.

TrunkSpace: What is Megan’s journey throughout the course of the film? Did you get to tackle something within the performance that you have yet to onscreen?
Bernard: Megan’s journey is one of learning to stand her ground and go after what she wants in life. I loved that aspect of her story. I think it’s a great message for women to hear – for everyone to hear, actually.

TrunkSpace: Hallmark Channel movies continue to grow in popularity and draw massive audiences week after week, season after season. As someone who has worked on multiple productions, what do you think the draw is?
Bernard: I think the draw is they are easy to watch and people know what to expect. They’re never going to make you uncomfortable and they’ll always put a smile on your face. Now more than ever, I think we need that and I think that’s a huge part as to why the numbers are increasing week to week.

TrunkSpace: As a star of “Van Helsing,” you’re no stranger to passionate fandoms. What we didn’t realize until we started really diving into Hallmark Channel content was that the films have their own really passionate fandoms called the “Hallmarkies.” In your experience, how do the Hallmarkies compare to some of the genre fandoms like what you have experienced firsthand with “Van Helsing?”
Bernard: You know what’s interesting is some of the Helsingers are Hallmarkies too! I was shocked to see the crossover when I started getting messages from fans. It makes me laugh as “Van Helsing” is a horror show – very dramatic and tragic with lots of blood and gore – it’s vampires! And then my Helsingers will change channels and enjoy a MOW I’m in with lightness and everlasting love and lots of fun shenanigans. I love it!

Photo: Rukiya Bernard, Taylor Cole Credit: Copyright 2017 Crown Media United States LLC/Photographer: Steven Ackerman

TrunkSpace: Speaking of fandoms, you have made two appearances on the series “Supernatural,” a show whose fan base continues to propel it forward, currently into its 13th season. You first guested in season 7, and just returned for season 13, playing two entirely different characters. What is it is like getting to play two characters within the canon of one popular series? Although not entirely rare in the “Supernatural” world, it is relatively rare in the industry as a whole, correct?
Bernard: Yes, it is rare to be invited back onto a show and I was honored that it happened. The SPN fans are super loyal too. It was fun playing both characters who were quite different in that, though both were counseling types (season 7 I played a fraudulent psychic and season 13 I played a grief counselor), the characters were very different and had different demises – I never died in the current season.

TrunkSpace: One of the great things about “Supernatural” is that from a storytelling standpoint, it’s this perfect mix of the fantastical and the relatable. In your season 13 episode, “The Big Empty,” you portrayed a shapeshifter who was dealing with some really heavy, human circumstances and emotions. That sort of perfectly sums up the unlimited potential of acting in terms of where you can go with the craft, does it not? Getting to play a “monster” who, in the end, is the victim, is a theme as old and as relatable as the story of Frankenstein, but at the same time, it’s not something you get to do while sitting in a cubicle at an office.
Bernard: (Laughter) Yeah, it’s not an average day at the office – though if you watch “Van Helsing,” my character Doc is a “monster” grappling with finding and proving her humanity again, so maybe it is another day at the office for me. I think the constant in all the characters I’ve played is that they are presented as one thing and through the journey they go on they endeavor to change. I love playing those characters because I think people need to see that it’s possible to change if you want to.

TrunkSpace: You have received both fan acclaim and critical praise for your work on “Van Helsing.” As you look back over your time on the series, what memories bring a smile to your face, both professionally and personally?
Bernard: I have many fond memories. “Van Helsing” is my first television series and I’m lucky that we’ve been picked up for a third season. When I think about my first few days on set, I was so nervous and was convinced that I was going to get fired, but I think back on those days now and they make me laugh. I also think about the friendships I’ve made and how lucky I am.

TrunkSpace: From what we read, your mother was an art store owner. Did you grow up in a creative environment where your own creative endeavors were supported and nurtured?
Bernard: You’ve done your research. Yes, my mom owned Toronto’s first African art store and though she wasn’t an artist she was a huge supporter of the arts and really helped encourage my artistic desires. Both my parents did. My dad was a graphic artist before becoming an entrepreneur and he’s a really good singer, too. I think I get my artsiness from him.

Bernard in Van Helsing. Photo by: Dan Power/Helsing S1 Productions/Syfy

TrunkSpace: Have your aspirations/goals changed from when you started out acting to where you are now?
Bernard: Not really. I just think my goals are more well-rounded because they now include my family and balancing my dreams and aspirations with my kids and my husband. We aim to support each other with the varying things we want to do in life.

TrunkSpace: We’re a few weeks into 2018. Did you set any resolutions for yourself in the new year and if so, how are you doing with them thus far?
Bernard: I didn’t set any resolutions. I kind of have a fear of them as they set you up for failure. However, I did decide to work out more even when I can’t get to the gym and have crafted workouts I can do at home and while I’m on the road. No excuses this year!

One Winter Weekend” premieres Saturday, January 20 (9 p.m. ET/PT) on Hallmark Channel.

Season 2 of “Van Helsing” arrives on Netflix today.

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Wingman Wednesday

Alicia Witt

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Photo: Alicia Witt Credit: Copyright 2017 Crown Media United States LLC/Photographer: Kailey Schwerman

Once you’ve trimmed the turkey, got stuffed on stuffing, and crammed yourself with cranberry, take some time to relax with “The Mistletoe Inn,” the latest offering from Hallmark Channel’s Countdown to Christmas programming event. Starring one of our favorite multi-hyphenates, Alicia Witt, the movie debuts Thanksgiving night, making it the perfect final course for those looking to kick off the holiday season with a full heart… and stomach.

We recently sat down with Witt to discuss the strength of the Hallmark fandom, why she could relate to her character’s quest for creative confidence, and how she makes her music accessible for all listeners.

TrunkSpace: You’ve had a really diverse year, from “The Mistletoe Inn,” to “The Exorcist,” to “Twin Peaks,” and “Supernatural.” Has that always been the dream, to be able to do as many different types of roles and genres as possible?
Witt: Yes, that was always my reason for wanting to be an actor, is to play characters that are different from me, and play as many different kinds of roles as possible. I feel like I really get to do that at this point. I think it keeps me busy, and it keeps me on my toes. I get bored if I play the same role over and over again. I think about the last couple of years in particular, but really the entire time I’ve been doing this, there have been so many different kinds of roles that I think I’ve kept it challenging for myself.

TrunkSpace: Many of those television shows mentioned have massive fandoms, but truth be told, Hallmark’s fandom easily rivals them.
Witt: Most definitely. The interesting thing is that, for example, when I was on “The Walking Dead,” I did a lot of the conventions around that show, and I was so pleasantly surprised and thrilled to find that almost every other person that would come up to me, they were happy to have seen me on “The Walking Dead,” but they were most excited to talk to me because of the Hallmark movies. So, there’s actually a really big crossover audience as well, particularly for the Christmas films, because people who might watch something different during the rest of the year, pretty much everyone tunes in to Hallmark at Christmas because it’s such great family programming, and such great holiday programming.

TrunkSpace: You can’t have darkness without light, so for fans of “The Walking Dead,” tuning in to Hallmark Channel is a nice balance.
Witt: That’s exactly the thing. They’re both equally valid sides, and I try to live my day-to-day life more like the characters that I play in the Hallmark movies – more positive and more light. But I love exploring the darker side of things, too, because that is a very real element of the world in which we’re living. Yeah, you can’t have the darkness without the light, that’s so true. The job I’m working on right now, “The Exorcist,” which I actually just wrapped, is also a great example of that. It explores that side of us that we don’t talk about all that often, but it’s in there. I feel like these Hallmark Christmas movies celebrate all that’s special about the holiday season, and the coming together of families, and sometimes what’s challenging about that, but also what’s so important, and why it is the warmest time of the year.

TrunkSpace: It must feel extra special to have “The Mistletoe Inn” premiering on Thanksgiving, a night when so many families are already together?
Witt: I was so excited when I found out that was the night we’d be premiering. My movie last year, “The Christmas List,” also premiered on Thanksgiving and this makes me very happy and proud, and I know families are already together on that night. My family and friends in Nashville will all be together. We’re having a big joint dinner that we’re making together, and we’ll all be watching the movie for the first time together when it airs, and then I’ll be live tweeting and sharing that with the viewers for the very first time. I’m seriously so excited to see it. I’m not very big on watching my own work for the sake of watching my own work, but I love sharing these movies with people because they are so much fun, and I’m gonna be laughing as hard as anyone when we watch it.

TrunkSpace: Television moves at a breakneck pace as far as production is concerned. Because things happen so quickly on a movie like this, does that force you to come to set even more prepared in terms of knowing and connecting with your character, in this case, aspiring romance writer Kim?
Witt: This applies to everything that I do, but I tend to just absorb the script and think about the character while I’m working out or listening to music. The character just starts to find me and I figure out who she is and how she’d react to things. But it’s not so much a logical process as more of an intuitive one. When it comes to the lines, I actually learn those on the day. I happen to be really fast at learning lines, and I find that they’re a lot fresher if I don’t think about them too much. So, I let the character sink in for a few weeks beforehand, and then the lines themselves I don’t think too much about.

TrunkSpace: Was there something about Kim from a performance standpoint that you have yet to do with a character in the past? What was it that drew you to her?
Witt: She reminded me a lot of myself when I was starting out as a singer/songwriter. Because I could relate to her sense that she had this talent that, on one level she knows that she’s good at writing, and she knows that she could do it seriously and have a book deal and all of that, but because she’s a grown up living in the real world, with a real job and all of that, she needs that extra boost to get the confidence to start doing it in earnest. And at the beginning of the movie she doesn’t quite have that yet, and it’s not being helped at all by the fact that she’s been dating this real piece of work, known as Garth, who I just love that character so much in the movie. He takes himself way too seriously and believes that his work is more important than Kim’s and actually dumps her within the first five minutes because he’s decided he needs to date a more serious writer, and his career’s moving up and hers isn’t. I actually dated a singer/songwriter very similar to Garth when I was just starting out as a singer/songwriter. I had wrote a song called “About Me,” that I’ve released, that I actually wrote after that guy broke up with me.

TrunkSpace: So there was a real connection to the character as far as her journey was concerned.
Witt: Oh, I totally related. For me, it was quite a few years ago, but it kept bringing me back. I kept having flashbacks of this guy that I had dated. There was a lot that… like when Zeke (played by David Alpay) is giving Kim feedback on her writing, I could relate to that vulnerability of receiving feedback for the first time on my songwriting, or my performances. When you’re first starting out it feels like such a rejection that, if every song you write isn’t a potential hit, then you should just quit and not write songs anymore. And that’s not the way it works, you have to write hundreds of songs before you start becoming a good songwriter. Many of those songs nobody will ever hear, and it’s the same way with writing. You have to be willing to make mistakes, and write something that isn’t perfect to get to the point where you are good. So I felt like that was a real parallel and something that I could relate to in Kim.

TrunkSpace: You mentioned having a similar experience hearing feedback on your songwriting for the first time. Do you write primarily from a personal space, or do you take a more storyteller’s approach?
Witt: I have done that, the latter, but most of the time it is personal experiences and things that I am feeling. And it can be just a moment, it could be a passing feeling that I have for someone or for a situation, and you turn it into a song. If you were to tell that person, “This song’s about you,” they might be confused, and they might not get it. But, people can inspire a song without the entire story of the song being 100 percent accurate to what the real scenario is. It’s all over the place, and some of the songs I’ve written are about some of the things that have happened to people I know, and sometimes just things that I’m imagining.

TrunkSpace: So can criticism and feedback be more difficult to hear because you tend to write from such a personal space?
Witt: I think it was in the beginning. Now, I don’t take it personally because it really isn’t. I mean, to make a song something that other people, who haven’t had your specific experience, can relate to and apply to their own lives, you do need to adjust them sometimes. Sometimes it’s not good to have them be too specific. Other times you need the opposite – you need to make it more specific. 
There are moments when you put something into a song that didn’t happen at all, that’s got nothing to do with what your true experience was with it, but sometimes that’s gonna make for a better song that more people can access.

TrunkSpace: And that’s the beauty of music, an entire group of people can each find something different in a single song and relate to it in a different way.
Witt: Yes, completely. That’s what I love most about music.

TrunkSpace: And you have a new EP in the works, correct?
Witt: It’s due out soon. I did this Kickstarter campaign, which just was such an honor, and the album is done and it’s ready, and I’m just trying to figure out how best to release it because it’s produced by Jacquire King, who has an extraordinary track record. And it’s safe to say they’re the best recordings I’ve ever been part of, and I just want to do the best that I can by them and figure out if they’re going to be distributed by a label, or if I self-release again, or what. So far, my music career has pretty much been self-generated, though I’m trying to explore the possibility of finding the right person to help me with it, but if that doesn’t happen I will just self-release it again, and book a tour, and get going with it. I can’t wait to share it with everyone, though.

TrunkSpace: Finally, Alicia, as people plan to gather around with family and watch the premiere of “The Mistletoe Inn” tomorrow night, what do you believe it is that continues to draw people to Christmas movies like this one?
Witt: I think that at this point, when you tune into Hallmark Channel, especially at Christmas time, you know that you’re going to see programming that will make you smile, make you feel good no matter what’s going on in the wold, or in the news, or in your own family. And at this time of year, even though it is the time for families to get together, and in theory it’s all warm and fuzzy, there’s sometimes a lot of tension. You have family members who don’t see each other all year long and then they get together and they may not get along the way that we would like, but Hallmark can actually help make that better. I hear this a lot from people who come up to me all year long and tell me that my movies have helped their families to grow closer at the holidays. And it’s just a great channel to leave on and help you get in the mood. At least the ones that I’m a part of, I try to find some kind of offbeat humor in every one of them. And there’s a few moments that I’ve seen in this one that especially make me smile. They let me be a little bit goofy and silly, and I have as much fun making them as I do watching them. I’m really proud to be on yet another one this year.

The Mistletoe Inn” premieres Thanksgiving night on Hallmark Channel.

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Wingman Wednesday

Alexa and Carlos PenaVega

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Photo: Carlos PenaVega, Alexa PenaVega Credit: Copyright 2017 Crown Media United States LLC/Photographer: Fred Hayes

For all of those who made watching Bing Crosby’s “White Christmas” an annual tradition, the holidays and dancing go as well together as ribbon and wreaths. In the new movie “Enchanted Christmas,” premiering Sunday on Hallmark Channel, real-life couple Alexa and Carlos PenaVega tap into that nearly 65-year-old classic to once again put festive frolicking into the spotlight, and warm the holiday-loving hearts of viewers in the process.

We recently sat down with the PenaVega pairing to discuss how their comfortableness with each other enhanced their onscreen chemistry, why they’d work together on every project if they could, and what makes Hallmark Channel the best in the business.

TrunkSpace: So much of the success of Hallmark Channel holiday films relies on the chemistry of the two leads at the center of the story. Do you feel like you had a leg up on that because of the actual chemistry that exists between the two of you?
Alexa PenaVega: I have to say that Carlos and I are the goofiest, dorkiest public couple out there. (Laughter) But it’s really fun and entertaining to watch, so I think it really does help. There are little quirks that you just can’t write into a script that happen naturally when you’re married, and we were able to add that to the project.

TrunkSpace: From what we’re told, things can move pretty quickly on one of these films – you get the job and you’re shooting before you know it. Again, having the existing relationship must have allowed you to really hit the ground running.
Alexa PenaVega: 100 percent!
Carlos PenaVega: And Hallmark is amazing. Unlike most other projects, they’re really flexible with the script, which really led to Alexa and I…
Alexa PenaVega: We were able to explore.
Carlos PenaVega: It really led to, because of our relationship as a real married couple, bringing things to the screen and to life that you normally probably couldn’t get.

TrunkSpace: How did it all come together? Was one of you cast first and then the other brought in?
Alexa PenaVega: It was actually Hallmark. They knew how much we’d been wanting to shoot a film together, and we actually had a film set up last year, “Destination Wedding,” and unfortunately Carlos’ shooting schedule didn’t allow it so he had to drop out. But, when this one came up, they were like, “We think this is great, the timing is right, and you both will be able to dance.” And I love dancing!

So, they really presented it to us and were really looking for a project for us to do together. And we couldn’t be happier because our goal… if we could make it happen, every project we could do would be together for the rest of our lives.

TrunkSpace: You mentioned the dancing side of “Enchanted Christmas,” which seems like a great throwback to classic holiday films like “Whit Christmas,” something we don’t see much of anymore.
Alexa PenaVega: I totally agree. And you know, we shot this in Utah and everybody was so friendly and it blows my mind how much Hallmark movies just nail that Christmas holiday spirit – they have it down. And I think the script was special. Rick Garman did such a good job with it and more than anything, we had a director, Terry Cunningham, who just wanted that chemistry to be right there, up front. He’s like, “Look we have the script, the script is already good, but what you guys can bring to it will just transform it into a very beautiful project.”

This is my favorite Hallmark project that I’ve done thus far.

TrunkSpace: Because of that extra element of dance that was layered into your performance, did you have more time to shoot this than you normally would?
Alexa PenaVega: No, we wish. (Laughter)
Carlos PenaVega: (Laughter) Not really, no. We had about a week of rehearsals in the middle of filming.
Alexa PenaVega: For about eight dances.
Carlos PenaVega: Thankfully the magic of TV…
Alexa PenaVega: Editing!
Carlos PenaVega: You can have different angles that you can edit and it all looks great. (Laughter)

Photo: Carlos PenaVega, Alexa PenaVega Credit: Copyright 2017 Crown Media United States LLC/Photographer: Fred Hayes

TrunkSpace: So in terms of your characters, what did they offer you from a performance standpoint that you have yet to tackle with previous projects?
Carlos PenaVega: Definitely the dancing, for sure.
Alexa PenaVega: Yeah, we never had to put that into a project.
Carlos PenaVega: It was interesting. Alexa and I had never been on sets where… the call sheet is like one, two, three, four… we’d never been the one and two. So as actors, normally the one and two set the tone for the entire production. They’re the ones in every day. So as an actor, it was really interesting coming in, in that position, where it was like, “Hey, you know what, I’m setting the tone with my wife,” which was really cool. She said it to me… “It’s the best experience I ever had working on a project.”
Alexa PenaVega: Yeah. Ever, really.
Carlos PenaVega: It was cool to come in and kind of just, I don’t want to say run the set, but we set the tone from day one.
Alexa PenaVega: We both had experiences where we worked with other people who really… it takes one rotten egg in the bunch to kill the whole vibe on set. So, to be working with my husband… it did not feel like work. We had fun every day.
Carlos PenaVega: She said it in one sentence. I said it in three. (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: Christmas is for spending time with family and building memories. Here you two are, shooting a Christmas movie as a family and building memories in an entirely different way. It almost sounds poetic.
Carlos PenaVega: Yeah. I like Christmas. Alexa LOVES Christmas! And Hallmark is amazing about families. Ocean was on set every day and the experience of just having him…
Alexa PenaVega: That’s our little boy.
Carlos PenaVega: Just the experience of having our family there and then having a good time… I think yes, that’s gonna to stay with us forever. But what’s amazing about film is that it also lasts forever. We’re always going to be able to go back and watch this. Our kids are going to go back and watch this.
Alexa PenaVega: Yeah, and we also worked with a team that I would love to work with again and again. Terry Cunningham and our producing team, they are incredible. It was unreal. Normally when producers come on set, people are like, “Oh boy, the producer’s here! Here we go!” Ours, her name was Cindy Bond, was so kind and loving to everyone, but also got work done, worked super hard, and nobody had to yell. Nobody ever had to get angry. It was just a pleasant experience for everybody.

They genuinely care. It’s not like these productions where it’s like, “Okay, we’re gonna slap this together and we gotta go.” They genuinely care about the happiness and quality that they’re putting out there and it shows. It really does show.
Carlos PenaVega: We haven’t had the craziest careers for years and years, but we’ve worked for some really big studios and companies, and I will say, Hallmark is my favorite. It’s Alexa’s favorite. They care about their talent. They care about their movies.

Enchanted Christmas” airs Sunday on Hallmark Channel.

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Wingman Wednesday

Victor Webster

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There’s no better seasonal experience for the senses than autumn, and with the Fall Harvest programming event currently underway at Hallmark Channel, the network is making sure we all get to participate in the sights and sounds of the season.

Starring Victor Webster and Jill Wagner, “A Harvest Wedding” tells the tale of a lost love only to be found again, set against the backdrop of a New England town ankle-deep in fallen leaves and swirling with crisp air that tickles the lungs. The movie premieres Saturday at 9 pm ET/PT.

We recently sat down with Webster to discuss why he loves the Hallmark experience for both he and the audience, what drew him to the character David Nichols, and why he always arrives on set fully prepared.

TrunkSpace: You’ve trained in martial arts for years. Do you look at acting in a similar way in that, you’re training and working hard to always get better?
Webster: Yeah, I look at acting like I looked at playing sports. For me, you’ve got to work really hard and you’ve got to put in the effort. You can’t just walk on the court and expect to be able to shoot three-pointers and free throws. I take it very, very, very seriously. I wouldn’t say that I’m a naturally gifted actor. I’m not, by any means. I’ve got to work hard at it and I take it very seriously.

TrunkSpace: You’re currently starring in the new Hallmark Channel original film “A Harvest Wedding.” Television is known for its fast-paced production schedules. Does that work and preparation come into play even more so on something like that where you’re wrapping a project in such a short period of time?
Webster: We work 12 hours a day on camera, plus we show up an hour early, and we’ve got an hour for lunch. We’re there 14 hours a day. Sometimes, depending on the movie, you’re working six days a week, so the schedule’s pretty crazy. You’ve got like 10 pages of dialog a day you have to memorize on top of it, so you’ve got a lot of homework to do. You have to be focused and you have to come prepared. The Hallmark movies are such a well-oiled machine, that if you’re the cog that’s slowing up the whole machine, that’s never a good feeling.

TrunkSpace: You’ve worked in the science fiction world, which is known for having loyal fandoms, but there is a fandom of loyal Hallmark Channel viewers that rivals the passion of science fiction fans. Has that been your experience?
Webster: I was walking through Central Park the other day, and I had a woman come up to me and she was freaking out because she watches every single Hallmark movie there is. I love doing these movies because everybody can watch them. If you’re a child, or a grandma, or a mom, or like one of my buddies that watches Hallmark movies, it’s like it doesn’t matter, there’s something for everybody. We have so much negativity going on in the world right now, it’s nice to sit down and have two hours of something beautiful and positive where there’s always a happy ending.

TrunkSpace: One of the things the network is always great at is painting a picture of the season that the viewer is currently in and making the movies feel like a part of what they’re experiencing seasonally at that exact moment.
Webster: Yeah, the world that you’re in at the moment is a part of the Hallmark world. You’re right. It’s like you’ve been immersed into a virtual reality. Even if not, if you’re in California and you know that it’s not fall out, you watch one of those movies and for those two hours that you’re watching a movie, you feel like you’re in that world with the trees changing color and the leaves falling. They always shoot them so beautifully, even from the aspect of the cinematography, it’s just a beautiful addition.

TrunkSpace: You’ve starred in a number of Hallmark Channel movies. What was it about this particular character that drew you in? Was there something that he offered you from a performance standpoint that you haven’t had a chance to experience yet?
Webster: The last one that I did for them, I played a guy in a suit, and he was an MBA. This one was a guy that worked on a farm, that worked with his hands, who had dirt under his fingernails and drove a tractor. Playing those kind of characters that like to get their hands dirty, there’s always something that is fun to play because that’s more closer to who I am. Being able to wear dirty jeans and a T-shirt, versus a suit and tie, which I’ve also done because I was a stockbroker – going back and forth between those roles and doing something different each time is one of the things I love about acting.

Photo: Jill Wagner, Victor Webster Credit: Copyright 2017 Crown Media United States LLC/Photographer: Brendan Meadows

TrunkSpace: We talked about the production schedules a bit, but does that expedited process force you to look at your own performance differently as well?
Webster: Yeah. You don’t have the luxury of not being prepared. I’ve worked on some bigger movies, where people come and it feels like they’re literally learning their lines while they’re on set. When you’re shooting 10 pages a day and you’ve only got three weeks to shoot it, you better come prepared. Otherwise, you’re never gonna get a good take, you’re never gonna get a good performance because you’re just gonna be trying to memorize your lines. That’s such a disservice to the people that want to go home – the crew that wants to go home and see their families at the end of the night, or to your co-star that did three hours of homework after a 14-hour day to go home and memorize for three hours. You need to come prepared. I take this very seriously. No matter what I’m working on, I always do, but yeah, for sure, it requires everybody to be on their game.

TrunkSpace: You said it yourself, these productions are like a well-oiled machine. In your experience, have you seen any companies or networks that are able to pull off what Hallmark Channel does?
Webster: Never. It’s an anomaly. The only other way to compare it is to compare it to a TV show that’s been on the air for 10 years because they’re doing the same show. The thing that’s completely different about this is you’re doing a different movie with different actors, different writers, different directors, different locations. Honestly, my mind is blown on how they keep it all together and they do such a good job and they do over 100 movies a year.

TrunkSpace: As you look over your career as a whole, are there any characters that you wished you had a chance to spend more time with?
Webster: The character that I played on the TV show “The Lot” for AMC, which was about what went on behind the scenes at 1940’s film studio. I really, really wish that I, more than anything, had been able to delve into that. I wish I could go back with what I know now and replay that character because I was so green and fresh, and there was such an opportunity to just do so much more with that character than what I did. I felt like I did a good job, but with what I know about acting and life in general right now, I feel like I did a disservice to that. I could go back now and really bring that character to life, and he’s a very, very messed up character with lots of colors and facets.

A Harvest Wedding” premieres Saturday at 9 pm ET/PT on Hallmark Channel.

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Wingman Wednesday

Andrew W. Walker

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Fall is in the air, leaves are on the ground, and pumpkin-flavored everything is lining the shelves of grocery stores across the nation. With the changing of the seasons upon us and the turning back of the clocks just around the corner, Hallmark Channel has kicked off its Fall Harvest programming event, featuring a number of movies meant to up our autumn intake.

Premiering this Saturday at 9 pm ET/PT is the romantic comedy “Love Struck Café” starring Sarah Jane Morris and Andrew W. Walker. We recently sat down with Walker to discuss the importance of on-screen chemistry, how the fall season plays into the film’s storyline, and why watching Hallmark Channel reminds him of gathering around the television with his family when he was younger.

TrunkSpace: You’ve worked on a number of Hallmark Channel films over the years. How does “Love Struck Café” differ from the others you’ve starred in as far as performance and where you were able to go with your character?
Walker: Well, these things always rely on the chemistry between myself and the lead female. Sometimes these things take a little longer to develop over the course of the 15 days, because these are such quick shoots that you really need to kind of hit the ground running.

TrunkSpace: Hammering something like this out in 15 days is really impressive.
Walker: It’s crazy. Usually you get the job maybe a week before you go to shoot it, so you have about a week by yourself and then you meet your leading lady and then you have two days with that person before you actually start shooting, so it really is no time at all. I think something that really helped on “Love Struck Café” was, Sarah and I had been introduced through a friend. She was working on a show called “Brothers & Sisters” and a girlfriend of my wife and mine worked on that show as well. So we had met her a long time ago and she’s just a great person. We had a rapport.

By day three we really started to get in the groove, and then once that happens we’re able to play and have a lot more fun, and just really challenge each other as well. I like it when I’m questioned on my decisions and where I’m bringing my character and where we came from and where we’re going. Sarah’s like, “Hey, let’s talk about where we came from today. Let’s go back in the script.” So we were working in the makeup trailer. We were working on our lunch breaks. Even when our day ended, we would meet up for maybe an hour-and-a-half or so and just talk through the next day and just make sense of what’s happening.

And with this, it’s a lot more playful, I think. It’s more broad of a range than the other Hallmark’s that I’ve done. I just had the ability to play around a lot more.

TrunkSpace: When you arrive on set and hit the ground running, is the script itself still being massaged throughout the production process?
Walker: Being massaged throughout the process, every day. The framework is there, but the meat of it all, we could change it up, almost as much as we’d like. Obviously that could be a slippery slope. You start changing things here and there in the plot, and then you get stuck in the editing room at the end. So we’ve got to keep it within the confines of everything, obviously. But yeah, we had the ability to change it up and add things that we felt necessary, where we felt necessary.

TrunkSpace: Hallmark Channel is one of the few networks that is continuing to grow its viewer base and their original programming continues to grow in popularity. Why do you think that is?
Walker: I think it’s a real positive spin. We deal with so many issues nowadays, between religion, politics, and environment, I think that it’s a great way for people to escape. And it’s a classic story. Hallmark has their formula. They are telling classic, Humphrey Bogart-like stories – different versions of classics that we all have grown up to love.

I remember sitting down every Sunday back in the day with my parents to watch the Disney movies that would be airing on Sunday night. We’d go to church in the morning, we’d go for lunch with the whole family, and then I would go play soccer or football or whatever, and then at night we’d all sit down with our TV dinners and sit there and watch these Disney movies. That’s what the allure is, just bringing people back to what we had back in the day, and I think that’s super important. I think that it’s nice to see that families want to sit down and watch these movies together, because they’re also movies that the whole family can watch together.

Photo: Sarah Jane Morris, Andrew W. Walker, Cassidy Nugent Credit: Copyright 2017 Crown Media United States LLC/Photographer: Bettina Strauss

TrunkSpace: Hallmark Channel is also really great about connecting audiences to the feel and emotions of the seasons that they’re in through the seasonal content that they produce. “Love Struck Café” is part of the Fall Harvest programming event. How does that play into the story?
Walker: I would say everything you’d imagine fall would embody is basically in the film. We go to a pumpkin patch. We go on a wagon ride through an apple orchard. We enter a pie baking contest. It’s actually not a pie, but it’s basically an apple baking contest where the town gets together and bakes the pie. So, leaves are falling on the ground. It’s cooler weather outside. It’s all of the above.

TrunkSpace: When you’re shooting these movies out of season, does it throw you out of whack personally? Are you thinking about celebrating Christmas in the summer?
Walker: I just came back from shooting one for Lifetime right now. I was in Winnipeg, and it was torture. (Laughter) We had these big winter jackets on and stuff.

Psychologically it doesn’t throw me necessarily, because I just jump into it. And the set decorators – they always do such a great job at really doing it up and making sure that everybody feels like the holiday that they’re going to portray. Maybe physically it throws me a little bit off whack because I’m wearing three layers and I’m sweating, supposedly in the winter. (Laughter) But no, you can get into it really easily. It’s just all imagination. It’s fun. I get imaginative.

TrunkSpace: Outside of acting, you’re also producing, recently having finished up a science fiction film called “Oxalis,” right?
Walker: Yeah, we actually just submitted to Sundance and we submitted it to Tribeca, so we’re just crossing our fingers and hopefully it gets picked up somewhere.

TrunkSpace: Was this your first time producing a feature?
Walker: Producing a feature, yes. I produced a documentary about seven years ago called “Stolen Seas” and it was based on pirates in Somalia, but this is my first feature that I’ve ever produced.

TrunkSpace: One of the things that people always seem to be drawn to, at least for those of a particular personality type, is the problem solving aspect of producing. Is that something that you found yourself being drawn to?
Walker: Yeah. I own a business with my wife in Los Angeles. We have a cold-pressed juice business and we’ve had it for about five years now, so I’ve always enjoyed bringing people together in collaboration. With my business, I’ve definitely had to resolve many, many conflicts, but I do love that aspect of it. I just like bringing people together. Like with movies, if you cast it right, you don’t have to do that much. You just have to sit back and let people do what they do.

See Walker do what he does this Saturday when “Love Struck Café” premieres on Hallmark Channel.

When an aspiring architect returns to her small town to complete a land deal for her developer boss, she reconnects with her former sweetheart, a widowed single dad now, and discovers the surprising reason he broke things off with her all those years ago.
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Wingman Wednesday

Sarah Jane Morris

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Fall is in the air, leaves are on the ground, and pumpkin-flavored everything is lining the shelves of grocery stores across the nation. With the changing of the seasons upon us and the turning back of the clocks just around the corner, Hallmark Channel has kicked off its Fall Harvest programming event, featuring a number of movies meant to up our autumn intake.

Premiering this Saturday at 9 pm ET/PT is the romantic comedy “Love Struck Café” starring Sarah Jane Morris and Andrew W. Walker. We recently sat down with Morris to discuss what drew her to the character, why she enjoys the breakneck pace of television production, and how oftentimes rekindling an old romance means having to accept a lost love for who they are now as opposed to who they were in the past.

TrunkSpace: “Love Struck Café” premieres this Saturday on Hallmark Channel. Do you have any rituals for screening your projects when they first debut?
Sarah Jane Morris: No, not really. I’m trying to just get the word out as best as I can so that people see it. This is actually my first Hallmark movie. It’s one of the first things that I’ve done that I feel like my kids can watch. (Laughter) Although, they don’t want to see me kissing anyone. They’ll have to duck out for at least one part of it.

I’m going to do some live tweeting, and I actually have a couple of friends that might come over and watch it. Every once in a while I’ll do that. I’m excited.

TrunkSpace: One of the things that Hallmark is so good at is painting the picture of a particular season…
Sarah Jane Morris: Which is always fun when you’re shooting winter in the middle of summer. (Laughter) This was actually not too bad. We were doing fall. We were late summer shooting for fall, so it was light jackets and sweaters and stuff, but I wanted to burn my coat by the end. (Laughter)

TrunkSpace: You mentioned how “Love Struck Café” was your first Hallmark project, which are known for having fast-paced production schedules. Did that force to alter your approach as far as performance was concerned?
Sarah Jane Morris: Oh yeah. It’s funny, I was thinking about that a lot when we were shooting this movie, which was 15 days. There were some big, huge budget features like “Deadpool” that were shooting in Vancouver at the same time as us. We had one day where it was kind of a big scene, so it took most of the day to shoot. I was like, “Man, I don’t know if I would be super excited to be spending a week on one chase scene in a movie.” (Laughter)

I think I kind of love the breakneck pace of television. You have to come in really prepared, which isn’t always easy because sometimes you’re not getting the material until right before you start shooting, or it changes right before. But you’ve got to kind of come in and be prepared and ready to have curveballs thrown at you, and be able to change it up on the fly. It’s challenging in a different way.

TrunkSpace: Being able to wrap a project in 15 days as opposed to three months also gives you time to pursue other projects and characters, which must be nice?
Sarah Jane Morris: Oh yeah, definitely. For me, it also gives me a lot of time to spend with my family. I’m a nearly full-time mom when I’m not working. I feel really lucky that I can go and work, fast and furious to get it done, and then come home and be with my family. I can be the mom that I want to be for them, and that they want for me to be, but they still get to see me as a working mom.

TrunkSpace: From a performance standpoint, what was it that drew you to the character Megan Quinn in this particular movie?
Sarah Jane Morris: Most of the stuff that I’ve done, I feel like in the past leans towards the pretty heavily dramatic. With some of “The Night Shift” I definitely got to play up a little bit of quirkiness with that character, but this was just fun to be kind of a goofball a little bit. I don’t know if it will come across that way in the end, with the final product, but it was a fun opportunity for me to bring my kind of goofy, weird side to a character, and not just have to play the straight romantic, dramatic actress that I often have to. Nobody was dying, so it’s kind of a nice emotional break. (Laughter) The last episode of “The Night Shift” that I shot in the summer, it was kind of an unpleasant head space to be in for that period of time, because it was a downer. This was just fun. It was nice and light. I like getting to play with my comedic side a little bit. I don’t get to do that very often.

Photo: Credit: Copyright 2017 Crown Media United States LLC/Photographer:

TrunkSpace: So much of the success of these films comes down to the chemistry between the people at the core of the story. Was on-screen chemistry something that you and your costar Andrew W. Walker discussed prior to shooting?
Sarah Jane Morris: Well, it was funny, because after I was hired they told me who the male lead was going to be. I looked him up and I was like, “Gosh, I don’t know if I know this person.” Then on the first day I got there, I was waiting in the lobby with the director – we were going to walk to dinner, the three of us – and Andrew comes walking up. He walks right over to me and gives me a big hug. I was like, “Oh, okay. I don’t usually hug people I don’t know yet, but okay.” (Laughter) He was like, “No, we’ve met.” I was like, “Wait, we have?” And he starts reminding me that we actually met a couple of times, but it was 10 years ago. He and his wife are best friends with Emily VanCamp, who I was on “Brothers & Sisters” with for three years. As soon as he reminded me of that I was like, “Oh my gosh, yeah!” Then it was just like, “Okay, good people. We’re off from here!” It was great.

He’s done a lot of these Hallmark movies. I think the very first scene that we shot was a scene in the movie where he and I kind of run into each other again. I was like, “Oh, he knows how to really connect in that romantic chemistry type of way.” He goes for it and I was like, “Okay, this is gonna be easy.” I just had to let my guard down and go for it as well.

We had a great rapport. It was easy to play up the chemistry between the two characters. It was never awkward or anything like that, which was nice. We got along really well, so it wasn’t having to cycle feelings of frustration, or annoyance with my costar ever. (Laughter)

We actually did have a conversation pretty early on about how there wasn’t a ton of conflict in the writing between the two characters. We wanted to play up the conflict a little bit.

TrunkSpace: In terms of their backstory?
Sarah Jane Morris: The backstory, and just that they’ve changed – they’ve grown up and changed who they are as people. They always had a relationship where they sort of pushed each other’s buttons, even as kids. But now as adults, it’s different. He’s kind of needling me about the guy I’m dating, and the career path I’ve chosen. It’s not exactly what he let me go to pursue. I’m not really fulfilling that dream.

You want to kind of think that he’s sort of bugging her and that this may not work out. They may have changed too much for this to work out.

Find out if it ultimately works out this Saturday when “Love Struck Café” airs on Hallmark Channel!

When an aspiring architect returns to her small town to complete a land deal for her developer boss, she reconnects with her former sweetheart, a widowed single dad now, and discovers the surprising reason he broke things off with her all those years ago.
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Wingman Wednesday

Meghan Ory

MeghanOry_Wingwoman_wednesday
Photo: Meghan Ory Credit: Copyright 2017 Crown Media United States LLC/Photographer: Ricardo Hubbs

Before the summer draws to a close, we’re going to be taking some time to visit the shores… “Chesapeake Shores.” The Hallmark Channel original series recently returned for season 2 and with it, even more critical acclaim.

We sat down with O’Brien family member Meghan Ory to discuss what drew her to the series, the post-hiatus rowdiness on set, and why Jensen Ackles hit her in the head with a two-by-four.

TrunkSpace: As far as your character Abby is concerned, did you spend time with Sherryl Woods’ books or did you want there to be separation between the television world and the literary world that already existed?
Ory: Yes, unfortunately I chose not to read the books, although I can’t wait to do so at some point. I was told when we started filming that the series wouldn’t follow the books exactly and I wanted to be able to look at the series scripts with fresh eyes. Sherryl is lovely though and has been very encouraging and supportive; which is so important as I want to do this world and character she created justice.

TrunkSpace: Usually it is the genre shows that attract the rabid, die hard fans, but from what we have seen, “Chesapeake Shores” has that as well. What is it about the series that has turned people into diehards as opposed to casual viewers?
Ory: Well, that is a million dollar question! I wish I knew. We spend our time filming in this little bubble and have no idea how what we are doing will be received. It is very exciting that people are enjoying the stories we are telling and the O’Brien family as much as we enjoy making it.

TrunkSpace: Most television is high concept these days. Everything has a spin to it. What’s nice about “Chesapeake Shores” is that it feels like a bit of a throwback… a family drama ABOUT the family. From an acting standpoint, does that allow you to focus more on character and performance than something that is steeped in a high concept world?
Ory: Yes, that is something that drew me to “Chesapeake Shores” in the beginning. In the same vein as shows like “Parenthood” and “This Is Us,” it is really nice to be able to delve into the details of these characters. I think it allows us as the actors and the audience to become intimate with these characters and spend time with people you enjoy.

TrunkSpace: In a series about family, what was it like returning to your on-set family after the hiatus between season 1 and season 2? Is it a bit like going back to school after a summer vacation?
Ory: (Laughter) Yes, it definitely is. It is certainly quite loud and rowdy on set for the first few weeks back. It’s hard to get our work done!

TrunkSpace: There’s something else that connects a lot of your castmates other than being on-screen O’Briens. Many of you have also guested on “Supernatural.” You grew up in Canada and started your career there. Is it a bit of a rite of passage to appear on that series with it having been on the air so long now?
Ory: “Supernatural” has definitely made its way through the Canadian actor pool. My episode of “Supernatural” was quite funny actually. I worked with Jensen years before on “Dark Angel” and our characters were in love, then when I appeared on “Supernatural,” I was evil and he had to hit me in the head with a two-by-four. It was quite the reunion. I think the fans got a kick out of that one.

Photo: Treat Williams, Meghan Ory Credit: Copyright 2017 Crown Media United States LLC/Photographer: Ricardo Hubbs

TrunkSpace: In the episode you appeared, “Adventures in Babysitting,” you played a vetala. In a world where everything has been done and done again in film and television, it has to be pretty cool to have played one of the only vetalas to ever appear on screen… and quite possibly… that ever will appear? That’s Trivial Pursuit question territory!
Ory: I’ve never thought about that, very true though! It was definitely a fun character to play. I always enjoy playing a good villain!

TrunkSpace: We talked previously about passionate fanbases. You spent multiple seasons on the series “Once Upon a Time.” Do you think that series/character will stay with you forever? Will people always remember you as Ruby?
Ory: I loved that show from the first time I read a script for it. You could just tell it was a very unique and special world. It was a great opportunity to get to play the same character in different scenarios of life, so it was always interesting and exciting. Once will always have a special place in my heart and as I have said, you never know when Red might pop up again!

TrunkSpace: When you tap into a passionate fanbase, those fans then want to know everything they can about you. Is it getting increasingly more difficult to maintain a private life as a public figure due to the social media/instant gratification age? How do you strike a balance between the two worlds?
Ory: There are pros and cons to everything. It is so nice to be able to connect and communicate with fans and hear how they are liking what we are creating. For me, I feel like limiting the amount of social media I have makes a difference. I had to get off Twitter years ago, but really enjoy Instagram. I think it’s good to maintain a bit of mystery!

TrunkSpace: You have been acting professionally for some time now, but what aspect of the process still excites you the most and feels as fresh as it did on your very first acting gig?
Ory: It may sound cheesy, but anytime I am on set and the director says, “Action,” I am as excited as the first time I heard it. I feel very fortunate to have a job that I enjoy going to every day.

Photo: Jesse Metcalfe, Meghan Ory Credit: Copyright 2017 Crown Media United States LLC/Photographer: Ricardo Hubbs

TrunkSpace: You have played so many interesting characters over the years. Are there any that you wish you could have spent more time with and could have seen developed out further, and if so, why?
Ory: That’s a great question. I always feel a little sad every time I finish a show and have to say goodbye to that character. They become a part of your life. I would have enjoyed seeing what a second season of “Intelligence” would have looked like. I loved playing that character.

And I will always be interested to see where else Adam (Horowitz) and Eddie (Kitsis) take Ruby on Once, if they chose to. Lana (Parrilla) and I used to joke that the evil queen needed a pet wolf!

TrunkSpace: With the new season of “Chesapeake Shores” now reaching viewers, what do you hope fans will walk away with when the season finishes up?
Ory: I don’t want to give anything away but the finale of season 2 is going to shock a lot of people, I think. I hope viewers finish the season feeling satisfied and hungry for a season 3!

“Chesapeake Shores” airs Sundays on Hallmark Channel.

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