This summer, Hallmark has been premiering a whirlwind of “Summer Nights” movies, and a couple of weekends ago, I had the glorious opportunity to view the début of For Love and Honor, starring the fabulous James Denton, but also starring opposite him, the enchanting Natalie Brown. In spite of her very busy schedule, I recently caught up with Natalie, and she answered some questions about her career with a specific focus on her current Hallmark offering plus a nod to her other upcoming roles as well.
What inspired you to become an actress?
Though I didn’t start acting professionally until my late twenties, even as a little girl, I’ve always loved people and telling stories. Being an actress provides me with opportunities to both work with and tell the stories of unique and intriguing people.
What kind of training have you had?
I studied fine arts in high school and university, but always made drama one of my fields of study. Once choosing to focus on it as a career, I started taking a variety of acting classes from myriad teachers, everything from Meisner to mime, and haven’t stopped since!
As you have played a wide variety of roles in your career, do you have a favorite kind of role and/or a type of role you’d like to play that you haven’t yet?
I’ve had the benefit of working in both comedy and drama, and most recently, horror, and love the diversity and challenges they all bring. I’ve never worked on a sitcom, nor have I done theatre professionally, and after having danced for years, I would love the thrill of working again on a stage for a live audience.
What do you like about working for the Hallmark network?
Any Hallmark script I’ve read or movie I’ve seen tell stories that are so relatable. The challenges and struggles that the characters go through are very real issues that we’ve all experienced at one point or another, whether it be love, loss, or second chances, and it’s wonderful to be able to see those themes resonate with audiences.
Since your character in Be My Valentine is an excellent softball player, do you share your character’s talent?
My father wishes! He was a Phys Ed teacher, athlete, and coach for many years, but I spent my early years studying dance, so although I’m not entirely uncoordinated, an athlete I am not. My dad actually visited me on the set of Be My Valentine, and gave me some helpful tips, so, as Billy Baldwin taught me to say, I did manage to take “a couple of good hacks!”
How did you get involved with For Love and Honor? Do you have any relatives in the military?
I was asked to come in and read with James Denton, who is also one of the film’s producers. It was a chemistry read, and it was the same morning as my last day on this season of The Strain, and I wasn’t sure I’d be able to make it or have my lines memorized enough to read with him! Fortunately, timing worked out, and it helped that I could really relate to Caroline’s character. And of course, James was so great to work opposite from, everything worked out!
Although I don’t personally know anyone that has served in the military, I honor all who have.
What I loved about this story was that regardless of differences, if you have mutual respect, a willingness to listen, and an openness to compromise, the best results can be achieved.
What was it like working with James Denton and his son? What was the atmosphere on set like?
James is simultaneously one of the most professional and fun-loving actors I’ve had the pleasure of working with. He’s also extremely inclusive and collaborative and puts everyone on set at ease. Must be that southern charm! Seeing him work with his son Sheppard was really special, as it was his first time acting for the camera, and like his father, he was such a pro! They both shadowed military people, and they brought such dedication and precision to their roles, it gave the movie the realism and pride that was so important to telling a story of this nature.
The chemistry you and James had was perfect and entertaining. Hallmark is so good about great chemistry casting. Why do you think the chemistry was so good between you two?
Thank you! As I said, James made it easy. He encouraged everyone’s input, which allowed us to be creative and bring our best to our respective roles. I’ve also been told I can be really easy to get along with, so how could we not hit it off! 😉
Any other upcoming works you can mention?
I just completed the first season of a miniseries called Channel Zero: Candle Cove for SyFy Network. It’s a psychological horror anthology that airs September 28th. And we’ve just completed Season 3 of The Strain, which premieres on August 28th on FX Networks.
Do you have any aspirations to eventually write/direct/produce?
I loved creative writing in school, and produced events in my twenties, so I would love to bring that experience to collaborating on a film or series.
I think there’s something really magical about uniting several people’s visions: the writer, the director, the actors, the costume designer, the art director, etc, and manifesting it into a shared, cohesive finished product and story is an exciting prospect.
Are there any issues you feel very strongly about? Any charities or causes you support?
Many of the most important people in my life have been touched by cancer, so I support a number of initiatives, both larger foundations and grassroots personal fundraising efforts, that offer support to those affected by the disease. Some of which include Standup2Cancer, the Canadian Cancer Society, Princess Margaret Hospital, as well as many other Indie-a-Go-Go campaigns.
No doubt Natalie is a gifted actress who remains humble, sweet, and friendly in spite of any success she has experienced. I adore the fact that she mentioned how people have told her she’s easy to get along with (albeit I know she wrote that a bit tongue in cheek–it can be difficult to be serious when touting your positive qualities to the whole world) because it means that she is aware of who she is, and though she is not one who would ever boast about her accomplishments, knowing that you are essentially a quality person is always an asset to any human being, and that definitely includes actors. Additionally, I am enthralled with the fact that she supports cancer charities as it is a personal issue for her. In her position, it would be easy to cast charity work aside and focus on the emboldening of her career, but her heart won’t permit such chicanery. As she continues to portray diverse roles with style, grace, elegance, and even grit when necessary, there is no uncertainty in my mind that Natalie’s star will continue its steady ascension. As I have been woefully unfamiliar with her up until now, I plan to actively search for her works from this moment on. Not only is she a “pretty face,” but she has been blessed with brains, skill, and a determination to unobtrusively persist in her quest to behold the ultimate fruition of all of her dreams and goals. As she perseveres in her career, be certain that you follow her at the links below so that you may witness each step on her stunning journey to fulfill her aspirations.