I recently had the privilege to interview Cindy Busby. She is a talented actress best known for her portrayal of Ashley Stanton on “Heartland” and can be seen on Hallmark Channel’s new movie, “Marrying Mr. Darcy.”
Kurt Manwaring: Welcome! Before we begin, could you tell us a little bit about yourself and “Marrying Mr. Darcy”?
Cindy Busby: I’m a French Canadian actress originally from Montreal. I love making people laugh, traveling, animals, and cooking. I started acting in my elementary school plays when I was 10 and I have been a professional actor for 15 years. I’ve never wanted to do anything else.
“Marrying Mr. Darcy” is the sequel to “Unleashing Mr. Darcy,” based on the book written by Teri Wilson. It begins 6 months after the first movie when Elizabeth and Donavan get engaged. Throughout the movie, my character, Elizabeth Scott, is challenged by family wedding expectations and finding her voice during the wedding planning. She starts to question whether her and Donovan’s differences are too much to overcome.
Kurt Manwaring: What was your first professional audition and what surprised you about the process at the time?
Cindy Busby: My first professional audition was for an MTV show called “Undressed” and I had no idea what I was doing because I’d only ever auditioned for plays. Haha!
I remember being very nervous. When I walked out of the room, I was like “Ummm, what just happened?” I got a call two days later from my agent saying I’d gotten the part, but I couldn’t accept the job because it conflicted with my school exams, so they offered me a different role.
The part that surprised me the most is that an actor will put in hours of work on developing a character, memorizing lines and getting ready, but the audition itself is only about three minutes. Actors are always given call times, which is your scheduled audition time, but 90 percent of the time it runs late.
Kurt Manwaring: Do you see any dramatic differences in yourself as an actor now compared to when you first started out?
Cindy Busby: To say I see a difference is an understatement, haha! I’ve grown so much as a person and a performer over the years. To this day, I still take on-going acting classes when I’m not working. It’s important to fine tune your instrument no matter what level you’re at.
The biggest difference I’ve noticed is my confidence. I’ve learned to trust my instincts on set and during auditions, and most of all, have fun doing it. It’s important to not take anything personally and know that the television and movie is a business, after all.
It’s also so important to treat everyone on a set with the utmost respect because whether you’re a background actor or the director everyone is just as important as the next in the making of any project.
Kurt Manwaring: One of your first major parts was the role of Ashley Stanton on “Heartland.” How did your character evolve over time?
Cindy Busby: Being on a series for several years gives you the opportunity to create a character that evolves and grows as a person like anyone would in real life.
At the beginning of the “Heartland” series, Ashley was a competitive, bratty and spoiled rich girl, who wasn’t always so nice to those around her, which was a product of her environment.
Over time she fell in love and paved her own path no matter what her mother’s expectations were. I love creating characters that people can relate too.
We’re always so much more than meets the eye and I love understanding human behavior. Ashley is still one of my all time favorites.
Kurt Manwaring: Did you have a hand in what the writers did with your character on “Heartland”?
Cindy Busby: The writers on “Heartland” were fantastic and wrote really well for me and how I interpreted the character. I didn’t really have much say in the writing, but they were always open to ideas and changes from any of the cast.
Kurt Manwaring: Many people aren’t aware you had a guest star role on “When Calls the Heart.” What are some of your memories as you look back at your brief time on the set?
Cindy Busby: Marlise Bennett was such a fun character. I’d auditioned for “When Calls The Heart” a couple of times before, but I really connected to this one.
I love playing characters that seem hard on the outside and soft in the middle. I like to break down judgments and ideas that the audience might have the first time they meet someone. Dressing up in period costumes was something I really looked forward to.
Most of all, getting to act in a scene with Lori Loughlin was a dream come true. Growing up I was a huge “Full House” fan, and she did not disappoint. She’s as kind as she is talented.
Kurt Manwaring: Is your co-star Ryan Paevey serious or silly behind the scenes? Of the two of you, who would be more likely to get the other into trouble off camera?
Paul Greene: Ryan can be really silly and never takes himself too seriously, while always remaining a consummate professional. He’s very engaging and always has fun stories to share. I’d say we’re both pretty well behaved, but I’d probably be more likely to get us into trouble. 🙂
Kurt Manwaring: Where did your character leave off at the end of “Unleashing Mr. Darcy,” and what challenges might she face in the sequel?
Cindy Busby: At the end of “Unleashing Mr Darcy,” Elizabeth falls in love with Donovan and it’s insinuated that they will pursue a relationship with one another.
The biggest challenge Elizabeth will encounter during the sequel is balancing her hopes and dreams while still meeting the expectations of the New York Darcy family legacy.
Kurt Manwaring: What kind of interaction did cast and crew have with Teri Wilson, the author of the book upon which these movies are based?
Cindy Busby: Teri Wilson, the author and mastermind behind the Hallmark “Darcy” movies, has been so incredibly supportive and present from the beginning. The cast and crew got to meet her on the set of both movies when she came to visit to say hi. She also made a cameo in both movies so see if you can find her!
Kurt Manwaring: One of your fans won the chance to ask you a question. Nicole Wheeler (Hebron, KY) asks, “If you had not decided to become an actor, what would you be doing instead and why?”
If you had not decided to become an actor, what would you be doing instead and why? 😊👌🏻
— Nicole Wheeler (@Nicole5Wheeler) May 14, 2018
Cindy Busby: Thanks for the awesome question, Nicole! If I hadn’t decided to become an actor I would have become a professional organizer/clutter specialist. I get excited about organizing my own things as well as other people’s. I’m a practical person when it comes to ‘stuff’ and finding a place for it. I’ve never been an advocate of just keeping things because ‘I might need it in 2 years from now’. Hahaha!
Kurt Manwaring: Let’s say Hallmark asks you to do another Christmas movie for 2019, but they ask you to pick your male co-star and director. Who would you choose and why?
Cindy Busby: That’s a good one! I think I’d pick Andrew Walker as my co-star because he’s also originally from Montreal and I met him recently at the Hallmark TCA’s and he was a really great guy.
I would choose Monika Mitchell as our director. I worked with her on “Date My Dad.” I loved how she challenged me to think outside the box and her calm confident energy.