I recently had the privilege to interview Andrea Brooks.
Brooks is a talented actress best known for her roles as Faith Carter on “When Calls the Heart,” and Eve Teschmacher on “Supergirl.”
Kurt Manwaring: Welcome! Before we begin, could you tell us a little bit about yourself and how you first got started in acting?
Andrea Brooks: My name is Andrea! I’m a Canadian actor, and I play the role of Faith Carter on Hallmark Channel’s When Calls the Heart and Eve Tessmacher on the CW’s Supergirl.
I began acting professionally at the age of fifteen. Prior to that, I was very much involved in acting and musical theatre.
I actually got my start in the business after attending an open casting call for figure skaters. While I didn’t end up working on that movie, by the end of the lengthy audition process, I found myself with an agent, and a keen interest in doing whatever it took to become a working actor.
While it has been a lot of work, that teenage dream seems to have worked out.
Kurt Manwaring: How did you get involved with figure skating? Were your parents a driving force, supporters in the background, or something in between? Do you still skate?’
Andrea Brooks: My mother was a competitive figure skater and later became a coach. My father and brother are also avid hockey fans and players. I guess we are a pretty typical Canadian family in that regard.
Most of my childhood memories involve being at the rink, and being VERY cold.
I don’t miss that part of the sport.
Unfortunately I don’t skate anymore. Once I got heavily involved in acting in my mid teens, skating took a bit of a back seat. I’ve actually gone to a few public skating sessions recently, and it’s a very strange feeling to be back on the ice.
I’ve been thinking of attending some adult drop in sessions, so perhaps I should buckle down and try to make that happen. My mom still skates once a week.
Kurt Manwaring: You began acting on “When Calls the Heart” after it had already been somewhat established. Was the cast and crew welcoming to you when you first came on board? Who was the first to really make you feel at home?
Andrea Brooks: That is true! I joined the show late in season two, and I remember hearing about an emerging “When Calls the Heart” fandom at the time.
Martin Wood directed my two episodes, and he’s always fun and fantastic to work with.
Daniel Lissing (Jack) and Max Lloyd-Jones (Tom) were also lovely. Most of my initial scenes were with them. The three of us joked around a lot, and that put me at ease.
I always say that joining a show late in the game feels a bit like moving to a new school as a child. You always hope you’ll fit in, but it can be pretty nerve wrecking.
I feel very fortunate, because every single cast member ended up being beyond lovely. I’ve become great friends with many of them.
Kurt Manwaring: You play the character of Faith Carter on “When Calls the Heart.” Would you tell us a little bit about your character and what is happening in her life right now?
Andrea Brooks: Playing Faith over the course of four (soon to be five) years has been quite a journey. We’ve seen her find love, lose love, move to a new town, make new friends, serve her community during times of illness, and leave behind a life of certainty and security.
Faith was the driving force behind building the Hope Valley infirmary, and she has made some very strong connections within the community given her nursing duties.
As of this moment, Faith has definitely found her footing in Hope Valley. She and Carson have developed a wonderful working relationship, the infirmary has grown, and she has made lots of friends.
There’s more to come as we near the end of the fifth season, so stay tuned!
Kurt Manwaring: Alfonso Moreno was the new showrunner for this season of “When Calls the Heart.” What did you initially think of him and how did your perception evolve over the course of the season? Did you ever approach him with thoughts about your character?
Andrea Brooks: Alfonso is a lovely person and a very talented writer and showrunner.
“When Calls the Heart” is demanding, in the sense that after a show has been on the air for this many seasons, fans have certain expectations.
Alfonso stepped in at the last minute, and he has done a fabulous job. He is very active when it comes to keeping the cast informed and I felt very lucky to have had a number of conversations with him about the direction of the season (not all showrunners make themselves this available).
In many ways, I think this season is one of the best yet, and that is in large part due to his talent and dedication.
Kurt Manwaring: Different shows have different personalities behind the scenes. Is the cast of “When Calls the Heart” goofy in between takes or all business? Could you share one or two stories from behind the scenes that provide insight into the personalities of the actors?
Andrea Brooks: Goofy? You bet! We have many jokesters on our set (both in front of, AND behind the camera).
Paul Greene (Carson) is probably the goofiest one that I work with on a consistent basis. I always appreciate his positive energy, but if you’re not careful he might just take advantage of your gullibility!
I have a video of him crouching behind a door, waiting to scare Eva Bourne (Clara). Luckily, Eva had a feeling Paul was out there, so after he jumped out to try and surprise her, she yelled, “Get outta here.”
I don’t think he was anticipating that.
I also have a video of Paul and Ben Rosenbaum (Hickam) conducting a science experiment in character with coffee.
That must have been a long day!
Kurt Manwaring: Your fan base on “When Calls the Heart” is incredibly passionate. What does the support of #Hearties mean to you and the other actors?
Andrea Brooks: I feel very lucky to be a part of such a positive community. Hearties tend to lead with kindness, and I’m very appreciative of that.
It always warms my heart when I receive messages and letters from fans who feel that I have inspired them in some way.
I’ve heard from so many nurse hearties over the years, and the fact that they have responded to the role of Faith means the world to me.
Kurt Manwaring: Which scene or episode of all the shows you have done has stretched your skills the furthest? Is there a particular acting challenge you would love to be able to take on someday?
Andrea Brooks: In certain ways, I feel that I have been challenged by every scene I’ve been a part of, and by every role that I’ve played.
When you work in television, the hours are long, but the amount of time you actually spend performing goes by terribly fast. Sometimes it’s hard to revisit scenes, because it’s so easy to pick apart your performance and wish that you had done something differently.
I’m not the biggest fan of watching myself act, because it’s very easy to fall victim to self-criticism.
When it comes to future challenges, I would love to eventually take more of an active role in the behind-the-scenes aspects of film and television making.
I love to write, and would love to one day direct and produce. I have so much respect for creators such as Donald Glover and Lena Dunham. I love the idea of bringing your own vision to life, so we’ll see what happens.
Kurt Manwaring: What is an aspect of Faith’s character you wish you better possessed in your own life?
Andrea Brooks: Neither of us are terribly talented in the kitchen, so we definitely have that in common.
Kurt Manwaring: What is one movie, TV show, and book you have thoroughly enjoyed this past year?
Andrea Brooks: Movie: “I, Tonya.”
TV show: “Big Little Lies.”
Book: “The First Bad Man,” by Miranda July
Kurt Manwaring: Let’s pretend Hallmark asks you to write an episode of “When Calls the Heart” in which the entire town is in serious danger and your character must take two others and go for help. What would the danger be, which characters would you take with you, what obstacles would they have along the way — and would you be successful in bringing help?
Andrea Brooks: Obstacle: a fire erupts after a cooking accident (presumably started by Faith).
Danger: the fire spreading.
Characters I would take with me: Abigail and Carson (those two always seem to know what to do in a crisis).
Second obstacle: getting water from the lake to put out the fire. (Hang on… this is starting to sound a bit like the wedding episode…)
Of course! This is Hope Valley after all!