The Featured Presentation

Megan Park

Photo: Megan Park Credit: Copyright 2018 Crown Media United States LLC/Photographer: Kailey Schwerman

Fresh starts and new beginnings. That’s what spring is all about. For Megan Park and Jonathan Keltz, stars of the new Hallmark Channel movie “Once Upon a Prince,” which caps off the network’s Spring Fever programming event this Saturday, that meant portraying characters in search of their own individual do-overs. Landscape architect Susanna (Park) has recently discovered she’s not in her boyfriend’s long term life plans while heir to the Cambria throne Nate (Keltz) must appease his mother and find a Cambrian bride. Serendipity brings their two lives together, but it’s love that will place them on the same path.

We recently sat down with Park to discuss seasonal pitfalls, why she enjoys being a part of the Hallmark family, and what her pillars of happiness are.

TrunkSpace: Your new Hallmark Channel movie “Once Upon a Prince” is set to serve as the icing on the Spring Fever programming event cake. We’re located in the Boston area where spring hasn’t exactly decided to show up yet. What are some seasonal elements of this movie that will help us feel that we’re putting winter (and snow!) behind us?
Park: Brrr, I’m sorry it’s still cold in Boston! I’m in California where it feels like summer all the time so I especially appreciate the seasons and the fresh start they give people. I think springtime is super romantic and this movie perfectly captures that. The energy of new beginnings is such an exciting feeling and I think because it’s all about two people deciding to start anew, there’s so much gardening and beautiful florals in this movie, viewers will hopefully be inspired by that and forget about winter!

TrunkSpace: Hallmark Channel productions are great at putting the viewer in the spirit of a particular season, but as is the case with this movie, you shoot during a very different position on the calendar. Were there any logistical issues that the production had to overcome to help put the audience in that April showers/May flowers mindset?
Park: SO MANY! It was totally worth it but we shot the movie in Canada in the middle of the winter and this was supposed to be spring. We were dealing with rain, freezing temperatures, gale force winds all while wearing spring clothing and trying to look like we weren’t freezing. Production was great and they had heaters for us and I literally was wearing an electric heated vest with a battery pack underneath my wardrobe in half of this movie and they did wonders hiding it all!

TrunkSpace: You’ve worked on numerous Hallmark Channel productions over the course of your career. What is it that keeps you coming back and working for this particular company on these particular types of productions?
Park: I always come back and work with Hallmark because it’s always such a wonderful experience. The scripts are feel-good, the stories are feel-good and that makes the viewers feel good, which I think it’s much needed in this world. Plus, the network and the executives are really amazing, smart, genuine people and I love being a part of the Hallmark family.

TrunkSpace: How did this experience differ from your previous Hallmark Channel experiences? Did the character/story put you in a position to take a different approach?
Park: I’m always playing someone different and the story is different so each experience feels totally different in a good way. This movie was really FUN. The story is such a common fantasy – you meet someone and you fall in love with who they are, their heart, and THEN you find out they are royalty. I got to just have a good time with this one and lean into the fantasy.

TrunkSpace: We recently chatted with your costar (and onscreen prince) Jonathan Keltz. He had mentioned that the two of you had known each other for years prior to reconnecting on the project. Did having that familiarity with your costar allow you to hit the ground running and find that in-story chemistry?
Park: YES! When I signed on to the movie, Jonathan was attached already and I was thrilled. It’s always fun to meet someone new but there’s something special about already having a history and built-in chemistry with someone. Jonathan and I have known each other since we were both teenagers in Canada but we hadn’t hung out in a few years so it was extra special to reconnect and there was a sense of familiarity that was really nice. He’s a wonderful person.

TrunkSpace: In the movie you play a landscape architect, which is not a profession you often see represented in film/TV. From an outside perspective, one of the things that would be fun as an actor is getting the opportunity to inhabit not only different characters but different professions as well. Did you pick up on any interesting landscape architect tidbits by playing Susanna and what are some other memorable on-screen trades that you’ve had a chance to temporarily take on?
Park: It IS fun to get to play so many “different” jobs as an actor. My mom is an amazing gardener and has a green thumb – my sister too actually! I did NOT get that gene. I have a hard time keeping a cactus alive and since we were filming in the winter in Canada all those flowers you see are FAKE everywhere (shhhhh), even tied into the trees, so I can’t say that I learned a LOT about gardening but I do appreciate it even more now.

Photo: Jonathan Keltz, Megan Park Credit: Copyright 2018 Crown Media United States LLC/Photographer: Patrick Shaw

TrunkSpace: As far as your actual career is concerned, was acting a choice or the only choice? Was this the path you always anticipated taking?
Park: Acting chose me. I have NO idea why at six years old I was soooo determined to get the role of Gretl (von Trapp) in a local production of “Sound of Music,” but something about it all just made sense to me. I still remember that audition and then getting the role. I was totally hooked and honestly never looked back. It’s a really demanding and unique job. Lots of high highs and low lows, but it’s all I know and I really love it. I recently started writing and directing as well and it’s given me a whole new appreciation for the business and a fun different side of my brain to explore. I can see myself doing a lot more behind the scenes stuff in the future as well.

TrunkSpace: As mentioned, you’re also a writer and director, with a number of projects in the can and a number of others in development. Are you finding it increasingly more difficult to focus on your acting career as you expand upon your behind-the-scenes experience?
Park: I’m not finding it more difficult to focus on acting. I think it’s added to my knowledge and understanding as an actor. Since I started directing and writing, it’s given me a new skill set to approach a script, a scene, the way I communicate with other actors and directors. It’s more of a 360-degree understanding of the business and I think it’s helped me in front of the camera as well.

TrunkSpace: What is the ultimate dream for you, and, are you currently living it?
Park: Wow, what a question! I feel incredibly lucky to be healthy, have a partner who is my best friend and endlessly supportive family and friends I adore. I think those are the pillars of happiness for me so yes, I am living my dream. I have a LOT to be grateful for.

TrunkSpace: If someone came to you with a time machine and offered you a chance to have a glimpse at what your career will look like 10 years from now, would you take the futuristic peek?
Park: No, part of the fun is not knowing. Life unfolds as it’s supposed to and I think it’s most magical to live in the moment and not know what the future holds just yet.

Once Upon a Prince” premieres April 7 (9 pm ET/PT) on Hallmark Channel.

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The Featured Presentation

Albert Tsai

Photo By: Wes Klain

Albert Tsai may be considered a child actor, but this young adult displays more maturity than most of the actual adults we know, and that’s not excluding ourselves. With an impressive career that has already spanned half a decade, the 13-year-old has mastered the art of making people laugh, which he has done opposite industry heavyweights like Malin Akerman and Ken Jeong through his early work in “Trophy Wife” and “Dr. Ken.” His latest project is the Mark Feuerstein-created sitcom “9JKL” airing Mondays on CBS.

We recently sat down with Tsai to discuss his love for entertaining, how he’s always absorbing knowledge while on set, and why individual episodes represent their own contribution to a show’s overall story.

TrunkSpace: You’ve been acting professionally for a long time now. What is it about entertaining that you personally enjoy most?
Tsai: I love making people laugh, making people happy, and that’s why I love doing comedy. I love acting because I feel like I get to play different roles and be in different lives, almost like being a different person, and playing different kinds of characters. That’s what I really love about it, and also, exploring the different stories and scripts that I get.

TrunkSpace: You mentioned getting to play different types of roles. With that said, what is your process for finding a character? How do you connect with them?
Tsai: Whenever I get a new character, I always like to look at the little description, kind of a breakdown of what the character is that they give me. I’ll look at that and then read the lines that I have in the script and just imagine what the character would be like in real life and form his personality almost. Then, after I meet with the director or producers or writers, I will take in their notes and kind of mesh it.

TrunkSpace: Do you ever get into a situation where you think you have a character figured out, and then you meet with the creative team and they give you insight that you didn’t consider?
Tsai: Yeah, of course. I always like to incorporate what the director or writers think because they have a hand in also creating the character. It’s just a medley of all of our notes and who we think the character is.

For example, for Ian in “9JKL”, a major part of his personality is that he is a precocious latchkey kid who sits in the lobby a lot. He’s quite mature because he talks with all the adults that come in and out of the lobby. Also, he’s a cinephile, a movie buff, so he always likes to talk about different movies or plays or whatever.

TrunkSpace: “9JKL” is another sitcom in a series of great sitcoms over the course of your career. Do you wish to maintain your path in the comedy space or do you hope to branch out and do some serious drama?
Tsai: I love comedy, like I said earlier, and making people laugh, but I think also it would be great if I could do maybe some action or adventure stuff, like a feature film. I think that would be great, and it’d be a new experience for me because those characters are different. I feel like they’re developed more heavily also, so that would be a very interesting experience for me.

TrunkSpace: And we would imagine that the timing is different? You’re not having to find a joke within the dialogue.
Tsai: Yeah, like it’s not taken beat by beat. I feel like dramas or action and adventure, feature films in general, they’re more plot driven. It’s all about advancing the story and getting to the resolution.

TrunkSpace: We actually saw that you’re producing a project right now, which is not something you tend to see a lot of 13-year-olds doing. Is that something you’re hoping to continue doing in the future?
Tsai: I’ve always been interested in the behind-the-scenes part of things. Ever since doing my first show, the ABC family comedy “Trophy Wife,” I’ve been interested in how the entire production team – the director, the writers, the cast – how we all put together a TV show and we all do our part. I’ve always loved learning about directing or producing, and I think that would be great for me to do in the future. It’d be a lot of fun.

Pictured Albert Tsai as Ian Photo: Eddy Chen/CBS ©2017 CBS Broadcasting, Inc. All Rights Reserved

TrunkSpace: “Trophy Wife,” “Dr. Ken,” and now “9JKL” are all shows with incredible talent both in front of and behind the camera. Do you look at your jobs as an education as well, having the opportunity to learn from all of these successful people within the industry?
Tsai: I’m very curious about what happens on set, so I always like to learn from everybody and everything that’s happening during my projects. For example, “Trophy Wife” was a single-camera comedy, and “Dr. Ken” was a multi-camera comedy. They both had different aspects to them that I learned from. I think it’s great that I’ve done different types of projects and I’m very grateful for it.

TrunkSpace: In terms of “9JKL,” how does the show and character differ from other work you’ve done? What is exciting about it for you?
Tsai: Well, my previous shows, they’ve both been family comedies, and I’ve been part of the family. I played the main characters’ son. Now I’m outside of the family, so it’s kind of a different character perspective and almost a different experience when delivering the lines and how this character, Ian, interacts with the other characters.

TrunkSpace: Would you say the comedy itself is tonally different from previous comedies you’ve worked on?
Tsai: A little bit because I feel like because the main family is all adults, it’s slightly more adult-driven even, but there’s still those family dynamics that are really fun.

TrunkSpace: You worked on “Dr. Ken” for over 40 episodes. Over 20 on “Trophy Wife.” Is it fun for you to play the same character over an extended period of time?
Tsai: Because I feel like, especially with comedies, how each episode is kind of its own isolated story – I mean, they all interlink, but they’re their own story arcs – I feel like even though I’m playing the same character, getting the script every week is really exciting for me because it’s a completely new story. We might find out a new part of the character’s personality, or something really fun might happen. I feel like each episode is its own piece of the entire TV show’s story.

“9JKL” airs Mondays on CBS.

Featured image by: Wes Klain

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