Interview With Actress Natasha Quirke, “When Calls the Heart”

By Ruth on February 12, 2017 in Interview, movie, television
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Devoted Hearties always notice and support every new actor who joins the Hope Valley cast in When Calls the Heart, and last year was no exception. As a member of the settlement outside of town, Nancy was introduced to us by the wonderful actress Natasha Quirke. At the end of last season, this character lost her husband, but it was a nice surprise to see Nancy return and become an integral part of Hope Valley in the Christmas special that aired back in December. Recently, Natasha agreed to answer a few questions about her beginnings in the industry, her role within this beloved show, and her general outlook on her chosen profession itself.

Photo Credit: Jana Benoit Photography

RH: What inspired you to become an actress? What kind of training have you had in acting?

NQ: I always wanted to be on stage from a very young age. I loved to perform for my mum, dad and siblings. I got a kick out of making them laugh. My mom enrolled me in speech and drama classes for a few years, and it went from there to The London Academy of Music and Drama, then to Colaiste Dhulaigh to study Drama and Theatre Studies in Dublin, Ireland.

When I was eighteen or nineteen, I had no clue that I wanted to work on TV; it was mostly on stage. That’s where I was happy; that is what I knew. I went on to study child psychology through the Open University in England and later obtained a BA (Hons) degree in Social Studies and ended up working with children, teens and families in the childcare system. This experience shaped me as a young woman. I loved working with teens and families.

But somehow, overnight, it changed.  A very dear friend who I had been in touch with told me to come gatecrash an audition. I was like, “No way, I can’t. Can I?” And the rest is history. Before I knew it, his agent signed me to her roster and within nineteen months, I was flying to Canada.

What was your first professional job? Please tell us how you got that job and what the experience was like.

I worked on a TV show in Ireland called The Tudors, and from there, a few indie productions and numerous shorts. I call each and every one of them professional. We are there to create something, bring the story to life, whether it’s on the set of a short film or a big budget TV show.  My experience has been different on all sets. Sometimes mostly wonderful and sometimes difficult.  The key is always to be sure you are prepared, have your scenes down and memorized, and be a pro. Then come to set ready to play in the sense that you are open to explore your character, to have fun with it, to be willing to take new direction from your director, and to be open to the many challenges that may arise on set. The beauty is observation and learning. No matter if it’s a short film or a feature, I bring the same professionalism. So far I have been very blessed. I’ve met some wonderful crew and cast and developed true friendships that I cherish. I’ve watched directors work and create beautiful results, and that in itself is a win-win

Courtesy of Hallmark

How did you land the role of Nancy Tucker in When Calls the Heart? What was it like joining a well-established cast towards the end of last season?

I auditioned early January 2016, and it was a director /casting director session. Neil Fearnley and Candice Elzinga were casting and it was a good day. Other ladies were in the waiting room, I was terribly unwell at the time and had a chest infection. I wondered how I would get through the audition. All I prayed for was that I wouldn’t cough in the middle of the take. For me, I tend to walk away from an audition, sometimes wondering how I did in the audition room. Sometimes it feels solid; other times it’s like, “What in the name of the Good Lord did I just do in there?” {laughs} and thanking my stars ’cause that will be the last time they will ever bring me in for an audition. I go home and I forget those negative thoughts, or at least I try to.

I heard within a few days that I was shortlisted and then my agent called with the good news. I was thrilled! I didn’t know at the time that my character had a principal role let alone she was coming back for more than one episode. On the set of last season was wonderful; cast and crew were absolute gems. I felt like I belonged very quickly; people worked hard and got the job done. Meeting my dear actress friend Eliza Norbury and then getting to share a scene with Brooke Shields was the highlight of being on the show last season.

When did you find out you would be back for season four? Without giving away any spoilers, what can we expect from your character this season?  Any romance?

I found out that I was returning in July or early August. In season four, you will see the return of Nancy and Harper.  You will also see Nancy’s struggle with losing her husband from season three and how that has impacted her everyday life and her belief system. Who knows about romance? That would be fun. Maybe if there is a season five, that would be nice for Nancy.

Natasha Quirke (Nancy), Eliza Norbury (Wilma), Jaime MacLean, Christian Michael Cooper (Timmy) Credit: Copyright 2016 Crown Media United States, LLC/Photographer: Eike Schroter

What do you like about working for Hallmark and especially this series?

As there are a lot of Hallmark shows filmed in Vancouver, this will be something I hope to work more on in the future. Working on WCTH has been wonderful. It’s a tight knit team and everyone cares about you. Everyone is there to work and be a pro and get the job done so they can move onto the next scene. I’m all about observing and watching, and this has been something I love doing . Seeing how all the different actors brought their characters to life. I loved the opportunity to play the role of Nancy. So many men and women experience loss when they lose their significant other. Portraying that loss and how we move forward from it was good. You always want to ensure you are doing justice to the character and getting it right.  We either have or will at some point experience loss, and it’s how we channel that to push ourselves forward. Having hope is the key.

 

How are you like Nancy and how are you different?

We share kindness, compassion and a strength in life. Thankfully, I have not lost someone so close to me, but I have loved and lost. When you have empathy and you experience a loss, you can bring that emotion up. I don’t have children, but I have nurturing qualities.. I would say I’m pretty similar to Nancy and I would probably react the same way she does at the beginning of season four.

Any other upcoming works you can mention?

At this very moment no, but I’m actively auditioning. It’s pilot season and while many shows are coming to an end, others are getting renewed and starting new seasons too. I’m currently in scene study class with Shea Hampton and continuously learning and working on my skill set.

 Any plans to eventually write, direct or produce in the future?

Most definitely, I’m writing a short and have been for a while. I get into it,  and then I walk away. This is a learning process. Writing is not merely coming up with an idea and running with five hundred pages. It’s structured and has a pattern. Right now, I’m back to basics looking at how scripts are actually written, why characters are certain ways in scripts, and why we have ups and downs. That’s why it’s so important to have a plan and take baby steps. I have friends that are great writers and they are teaching me the tools.

Photo Credit: Greg Massie Photography

What advice would you give to young people who are considering a career as an actor?

I used to work at a Film and TV school, and my job was to help people get into the school and encourage them to keep at it.

My advice would be to never give up on your dream. Actors will spend most our lives hearing “no” from casting or even from our family and friends, trying to convince us that this career is so unstable. The key is to find a common ground where you have an income coming in while you learn.

If you are blessed and have the financial support, then I would say to get into class right now. Do a full-time six month course, and from there, move into a scene study class, and then an on-camera audition class. As we have mostly US shows here, having a strong American accent is paramount to the booking.

Any younger or older actor who tells me they have done enough training and they don’t need to continue learning has already broken the reason for being an actor. An actor is constantly learning and growing, falling and lifting themselves back up again. Our job is to read, watch, observe, be technical and free, be prepared and then throw it all to the wind and be natural. No Olympian ever said, “I’m going to win by only training for one year.” You must be consistent. Larry Moss, a very well-known, amazing acting coach says that if you are not training eight hours a day for your craft, don’t call yourself an actor. He also says that reading plays is a must. He also noted that if you have not read a play in the last year, ” then you are lazy.” I watch his documentaries on YouTube, and they motivate me. Nothing is overnight when it comes to acting. It’s shouldn’t be about fame and being recognized.  It’s about your love for it, your constant need to learn, and the hope that you book your audition and you get to play and bring great scripts to life.

I would say also say to never give up. If after two or years you’ve still not “made it,”  DO NOT GIVE UP! Stick at it for another twenty years because it will take time.. Even when you think you’re ready for the lead role–and maybe you are–it absolutely takes time. There is a responsibility that goes with each role, and those that give in too soon are not listening and respecting the process.

Another last tip would be to be a part of lots and lots of short films. Even very well-known, working actors that I know act in short films.  It’s always work. Being in class or a group where you are pushing and encouraging each other to play, bring something different to your character is absolutely the best feeling. Working with your friends in the evening and weekends and working on your self-tape submissions. Every day, work on your craft and you will become someone undeniable to the casting directors. Be undeniably good and they will have to say “yes”, eventually!

If you could time travel to any time period, what time period would you choose and why?

This is not to warm my ego. I would go back to visit myself in school when it was between 1986-1997, and tell myself that I shouldn’t worry and that it will all work out. Maybe not the answer you would expect, but I truly believe in teaching our children, friends and loved ones to not sweat the small stuff or the big stuff. It’s going to be okay. Give more people hugs because scientifically, it’s actually proven that it helps us be positive and calm. We spend way too much time consumed with anxiety. Trust me–I’m one of those people .

Actually, now that I think of it, it would be amazing to go back to December 1918, where Republicans, represented by the reconstituted Sinn Féin party, won a landslide victory in the general election  to the British Parliament. They did not take their seats, but instead convened the First Dáil and declared the independence of the Irish Republic, which led to the War of Independence. I have complete respect for the men, women and children living in Ireland at the time. The history of Ireland is a fascinating and heart-breaking story. But that’s a whole other conversation.

Photo Credit: Greg Massie Photography

Upon reviewing Natasha’s answers, I realized what a special lady she is. Not only does she come from Ireland (which is a fascinating story in of itself), but her training has been intensive and consistent over the course of her time as an actress. She recognizes the fact that no one ever “arrives” in this business, and the moment one begins to get comfortable and potentially slack off, that is a recipe for disaster. She has remained humble, teachable, kind, and understanding through the whole of her life thus far, and I tend to believe that is why she radiates such a resplendent aura about her when she is on screen. While her signature red hair certainly sets her apart, her depth of character and devotion to upright principles causes us to fall in love with her as an professional and as a person. She is a welcome addition to the cast of When Calls the Heart, and I know we are anxious to see what’s in store for this remarkable character she portrays in this fast-approaching season. Additionally, she is fully cognizant of the joys and pitfalls of this business she joined herself to long ago, and that faithfulness to the continual honing of her craft engenders her to us fans even more. Be sure that you follow Natasha at all the links below because after all, we are ultra supportive Hearties. Furthermore, please tune in on Sunday night (consider this the first of my “countdown interviews”)–that is seven more days–to the Hallmark Channel and watch as When Calls the Heart returns for a triumphant season four!

FOLLOW NATASHA

Twitter

Facebook

Instagram

IMDB

AND DON’T FORGET TO WATCH NATASHA IN WHEN CALLS THE HEART BEGINNING SUNDAY, FEBRUARY 19TH ON THE HALLMARK CHANNEL!

 

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About the Author

RuthView all posts by Ruth

43-year-old single mother of an active 14-year-old girl
Born in Tacoma, WA; lives in Yelm, WA
Entertainment Writer
Available For Interviews and Reviews
Substitute Teacher

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