Interview With Actress Courtney Richter, “Chesapeake Shores”

By Ruth on August 28, 2016 in Interview, movie, television
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Even many months after its premiere, the Hallmark film Unleashing Mr. Darcy is a film that continues to resonate with viewers. I remember noticing the actress who played an impeccably convincing Felicity in that film, and lo and behold, she appeared in the pilot for Chesapeake Shores as well. This dynamically busy new mother, Courtney Richter, recently chatted with me about her unusual start in the world of acting, her recent and notable works including Hallmark, and what her future may hold.

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RH: The first time I saw you was in Unleashing Mr. Darcy.

CR: Yes, that was my first Hallmark project.

That film still has an incredible following. While it’s a great film, it’s amazing how many people still think so highly of it.

I know! It’s been wonderful! The fan base of it is incredible.

They really need to do a sequel to that one, I think.

{laughs} I know! I think everybody’s pushing for that.

You’re not the only one. I’ve talked to a lot of the cast.

Exactly. We all loved working together so much. It would be so much fun to come together again.

We need to get Teri Wilson, the author, on board.

Oh, Teri would do it in a second.

I think you’re right.  It’s funny. If I tweet about Unleashing Mr. Darcy, Teri usually sees it the moment it goes out. 

I know. She loves it. She’s truly such a fan of the Darcy franchise as it is. She loves Pride & Prejudice.

So how did you happen to become an actress? What’s your story?

Well, it was something I always wanted to do from the time I was a child. But when I was in grade twelve deciding whether I was going to go to the university for drama, then 9/11 happened. That made me kinda put the brakes on. I wanted to do something that could affect people more–something that was more helpful. So instead of applying to drama school, I went to be a police officer instead.  I did the training for two years, then the program, and I did about two hundred hours of ridealongs, and that’s when I realized I wore my heart on my sleeve a little bit too much to be an officer, and so I decided to go to law school instead. When I was applying to law school, I thought, “I need to travel to see the world before I hit this path.” So I started traveling, and when I was traveling, that’s when I realized you only live once and I wanted to do what I really loved which was acting. So I got into the full circle. Being a police officer is an amazing job. I just found doing the ridealongs it was too hard for me to go home at the end of the day with everything you see and deal with. I didn’t want to deal with putting people in jail. So seven years of school later,  I became an actor.

That is so interesting. You are the third actor I know of who began as a police officer or at least was training to be one.

I think it’s because as a police officer, you’re always changing. You never know what you’re going to have to be that day. Same with an actor. So I think it has to do with a person’s personality.

That is so interesting. I honestly never would have thought of you being a police officer. 

I know. I’m very different than the characters I portray. I grew up in a small town, and I grew up kind of like a tomboy with a lot of fishing and camping and sports.

There was a fan question that came in. They wanted to know if Lucille Ball is an inspiration to you, and I wasn’t sure why they asked.

I think it’s because I have a Lucille Ball picture on my twitter as my background. And yes, Lucille Ball is definitely an inspiration to me. When I was growing up, my mom was a big fan of hers, so I grew up watching  I Love Lucy with my mom. And it was this fiery redhead that made it kind of okay to be a klutz. And I’m very klutzy. {laughs} And she was a klutz, and Ricky still loved her for it. So it’s kind of the kindred spirit connection from one klutz to another which is why I have the picture of Lucy in the chocolate factory. That would have been me.

Well, I admit I didn’t even notice your background. But you have fans that pay attention.

Yes, that’s fantastic–pun intended. {laughs}

Another fan asked, “What has been your favorite role so far?”

It probably would have to be Felicity from Unleashing Mr. Darcy because it was just an amazing cast and crew to work with. Experience-wise, I would say that. That was my biggest role so far. I always had wanted to work with Hallmark which is why I moved to Vancouver.

I kind of figured that ’cause everyone I interview who has worked with Hallmark has nothing but good things to say about the network. The atmosphere is always so wonderful, and the people are so wonderful. The crew is top notch.

Yes, exactly, all those things. And the viewership. The fans are great. I did some live tweeting on Chesapeake and Unleashing Mr. Darcy. With all the movies of the week that come out, it’s incredible how much people have invested into the Hallmark programs. And the Hearties and the Chessies–it’s just amazing.

image2.jpgTwitter is something I fought for awhile, but I love the support of the fans as well.

Twitter is something I’m still learning. I’m not a pro with Twitter–I’m newish to it. I think I got on right before Unleashing Mr. Darcy. But if I can, I retweet or I comment back to people when I can.

Well, it seemed like to me that you were doing a lot more tweeting with Chesapeake Shores

I think I learned a lot from the premiere of Unleashing Mr. Darcy to get me ready for the premiere of Chesapeake Shores. I remembered that you had the early sneak peek of Unleashing Mr. Darcy. And I had a feeling you’d have an early sneak peek of Chesapeake Shores.

And I did see it early. And when I saw your character, I recognized you, but I couldn’t remember why. I often have the problem of remembering the face, but not the name. It seems to be a family trait that all of us remember faces but not always names.

Yes, I think I have the same trait. When I’m watching films or TV, I can place almost anyone–even if it’s a small part–I know I’ve seen them before, but I have to really think to try to remember the name.

The pilot of Chesapeake Shores was filmed last year some time, right?

Yes, we filmed in September. It actually was before Unleashing Mr. Darcy. The pilot was technically my first Hallmark, though Unleashing Mr. Darcy aired first.

And when it was filmed, Hallmark didn’t know if it was going to be an actual series, right?

Yes, exactly. It was kind of a backdoor pilot. It was being filmed as a movie of the week, possible pilot. And they weren’t sure at that point if it was going to be each book with a whole bunch of movies or if it was going to be a regular series based on the first book.

So since this was the first Hallmark thing you’d been cast in and this had been your dream to be in a Hallmark film, how did it come about that you got that role?

Oh, I was so excited. It was funny. I auditioned for it, and then after I auditioned for it, I found out I was pregnant. I started wondering how it was all going to work out, but then I booked the role I had auditioned for, and I thought, “Everything’s gonna be fine. I’m gonna work and be pregnant. It’s not that bad.” But I was so excited to be doing a Hallmark project.

Your role of Gabrielle is small in the pilot, but she is very memorable, I would say.

Oh, thank you.

And I’m not just saying that because I’m talking to you. Since she’s dating Abby’s ex-husband, she does not appear to be the nicest person. I mean, she’s trying to be Abby’s friend, but–

She’s kind of trying to keep the peace because she has to. She needs to use Abby for something.

So will your character return during this first season at all?

As of right now, she does not return this season. She’s in the New York part of the story, and she’s in the first book. I know the ex-husband comes back in. But when they were going back to shoot, it was two weeks before I was due with my daughter.

Not the best time to be filming. 

No, not the best time.  My agent had texted me, “When are you due again?” I told him, and then he’s like, “Oh, great, they’re going back to work like two weeks before.” So I think she’ll be referred to, but no unfortunately, she doesn’t return this season.

But maybe if the series does really well–and it seems like the fans really like it…Several of us were working hard to promote it as much as possible before it aired because so many Hallmark fans were concerned about the show. In fact, I had to convince my mother since she was concerned. She no longer is concerned. She loved the pilot!

Oh, good.

While my mom loves anything Hallmark basically, she makes it clear if it’s not her thing. And when she was watching the pilot, I tried to talk to her, and it was like, “Don’t talk to me.” 

That’s really great. I read about all that because there were people worried because of Cedar Cove being canceled. They had been attached to that show, and they were worried about getting attached to a new one. But I’m hoping people give it a chance. The acting, the story–they’ve done such a good job of keeping it family friendly. I think that’s why I’m so drawn to Hallmark because I want something like that–especially now my daughter can always watch and I don’t have to worry about it.

Same here. My daughter is thirteen, and she watched it also. And she enjoyed it. And my daughter will tell me if she didn’t like something because some Hallmark things are really boring for her. So hopefully if season two happens, maybe they’ll be able to bring your character back. 

Yes, there’s always a chance. She didn’t die or anything. She’s just in New York.

She’s definitely got to stay around because there have to be some issues with the Wes.

Yes, I know there are some issues with Wes. We’ll see. My character might get mentioned, but it’s going to be hard because the show is going to go into territory that the books don’t go into. It’s basically up to them, but I would love if she came back.

Did you read the Chesapeake Shores books?

I read the first book–the one that the pilot is based on. If I know I have an audition that’s on a real book, I always try to read it.

So did you read Unleashing Mr. Darcy also?

I did. I knew about that audition on a Saturday. So I read it over the weekend before I had to go audition.

That is so cool. I’ll be honest–I have not read either one. 

For me, I feel like it’s an extra tool. If it’s available as an actor, why not get as much information as I can for understanding the roles?

I think it’s wise as an actor to read the book. I know some actors say they don’t want to or need to read the book because they figure the movie’s gonna go a different direction. Or they just don’t have time. 

It might change now that I’m a mom. I might not have time to read the book. And the truth of the matter too is that both of these books are my kind of books. They’re romantic comedies in a book. So it makes sense for me to work on a film that is also the kind of film I would like to watch.

I also noticed you have been on Supernatural and Bates Motel. And I bring these up because many of my readers watch those shows as well. Hallmark fans do watch other networks from time to time. I know there are a lot of fans of Supernatural. And I’m sure that was a great experience–that is what I always hear.

The great thing about Supernatural is that Jensen {Ackles}, who is the lead, he was directing my episode. And my scene was with him and Jared {Padalecki}. It’s the first time I worked with an actor/director. That was really cool to see that and to see someone jump in between the roles as director and actor and how that worked. And they’re amazing. The first day’s scenes Jensen wasn’t in, so I just met him as director, and the next day I was working with him in the scene as well. The thing with Supernatural is it’s been on for so long that they’re such a well-oiled machine. They are a family completely, and they’re still warm and welcoming. They make every new actor feel super comfortable. Everybody knows what they’re doing very, very well. No one’s finding their feet . Every time you step into movies of the week, the crew’s just coming together. The actors are just coming together. It’s always new people, and it’s kind of like going through this marathon together. But with Supernatural, they know exactly what they’re doing. I remember that I was worried about the fact that I had a couple of lines in Latin. So I’m going over the Latin, and they’re already working on their lines for the next scenes. They’re just so good at their jobs and their characters.

That’s great to hear. I figure they have to be doing something right to be in their twelfth season.

Yes, and that’s the thing. They’re in their twelfth season, and they’re still warm and kind. And that’s twelve years of working with new actors every episode. Getting day players. Getting principals. Getting guest stars. They have huge fan bases. They’re big names, but they are the nicest and most humble people. It’s just fantastic.

With Bates Motel, I have also heard great things about the on-set atmosphere. Even though the show features a pretty crazy family, I’ve heard the actors are wonderful.

It’s true. I got to work with Nestor Carbonell–he plays Sheriff Romero. And he’s been on Lost, Batman, and more. He’s one of those actors who you recognize him, but you can’t remember why. It’s because he’s been in a million things. He was just so kind, humble and gracious right from when he walked in the trailer.  He came right up to me, shook my hand and asked if they sent me the full script. He wanted to talk through the scene. He filled me in on the episodes before in case I didn’t know what happened in those episodes. And he just sat there filling me in on everything that was going on and where the storyline was at. It’s so refreshing and so great.

That is so good to hear. And I think it is great that there are so many good people involved in the business. 

There are.

So often, all we hear is the negative. But I have been so happy to hear there are good people, and it’s not just Hallmark. There are good people outside of Hallmark too. I have met a lot of wonderful people in my interviews, and you are definitely one of them.

Thanks so much.

When I was looking through your upcoming works, I got excited because I recognized Rememory. I have interviewed several people connected with that film. So has this one been filmed?

Yes, we filmed that in January. It was the last thing I got to film before my belly started showing. This is an independent feature film. Peter Dinklage is the lead in it.

Is there any word on whether this is going to film festivals?

I imagine they will in time, but I am not certain of the path they are taking with it. Especially with it being the last work that Peter Dinklage and Anton Yelchin did together. I don’t know if you ever saw the movie Penelope.

I do not think so. 

While it’s a different kind of movie, it’s the same director {Mark Palansky}, and Peter Dinklage was in that as well. It did the rounds at all the festivals. And Rememory, I think, will appeal to an even larger audience.

I am a huge fan of independent films, and I am always happy to help promote them and support the people involved. So we will look forward to hearing more about Rememory

I think the great thing is because so many Hallmark films are filmed in Vancouver, when an independent feature films here as well, you get the opportunity to see a lot of faces and names you already know.

So when was your daughter born?

Oh, I had her May 25th.  I am back auditioning. And I did book a show. I filmed a show called  Aftermath.

Thanks to my interviews, I know about that show! That’s great! I’m looking forward to it.

Oh, yes, it’s going to be great. And if you’re interested, this is not a family-friendly film, but Below Her Mouth is an independent film–it is an all-female writer/director/producer film. And the director {April Mullen} was the director of the episode of Aftermath that I’m in.

That’s great that you’re back acting. But children do change things for sure. And being a working mom is tough.

Definitely. It’s harder than I ever thought it could be. It’s a new role, and it’s sometimes hard, but it makes some things easier at the same time because it takes some pressure off on some things. It used to be if I had  an audition, afterwards, I’d think about it all day. But I don’t have that time any more. I do the audition, and then I forget about it because I’m busy with the baby. It makes things like that nicer.

Being a new mom, you probably don’t have a lot of free time, but if you ever do have some free time, what do you like to do?

On my free time, something my husband and I are both big on is we’re both big football fans. So Sunday is football day. And since we’re in Vancouver, really anything outside is nice.

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I remember well when my daughter was born and all the struggles and joys of being a new mom, but Courtney has so immersed herself in that novel role with elation, determination, and lots of love. In addition to that, Courtney is continuing to pursue her passion of acting, and she is learning quite well how to balance her life as a mother and an actress. I think the thing that most impresses me, however, is Courtney’s commitment to help other people in whatever way she can. In her quest to inspire, comfort, and make the world a better place, she nearly gave up her true love of acting, but thankfully her fervor and drive brought her back. Interestingly enough, the cry of her heart is still to help others, and whenever she is on that screen doing what she loves almost more than anything in this world, she is offering a type of aid to others that just not everyone can provide. As she further maintains her dream of making wholesome and uplifting family friendly entertainment with Hallmark especially, she is able to use her magnificent prowess to stimulate, encourage, and even take us away from the negativity of this present-day world for just a while. No matter her role, she is committed to excellence, and she makes us experience the entire spectrum of the emotional rainbow as we watch her on our screens. Although Courtney will not be returning to Chesapeake Shores this season, I invite all of you to follow her at the links below so that you won’t miss a moment of this tender-hearted, humble, gifted lady’s works–past and present.

FOLLOW COURTNEY

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IMDB

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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About the Author

RuthView all posts by Ruth
42-year-old single mother of an active 13-year-old girl Born in Tacoma, WA; lives in Yelm, WA Entertainment Writer Available For Interviews and Reviews Substitute Teacher

2 Comments

  1. Carmen Rudnick September 1, 2016 Reply

    It’s nice to know I’m not the only one who struggles with Twitter sometimes lol Lovely interview!

    • Author
      Ruth September 1, 2016 Reply

      Oh far from it–thanks Carmen!

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