A couple months ago, I contacted an extraordinarily talented beauty who kept popping up in Hallmark films every time I turned around (or so it seemed). While she wasn’t certain when she might be able to carve out a few moments for this impending interview, Kate Isaac found some time recently to answer a few questions about her blossoming career and her experiences thus far in this business that has been an enthralling adventure where she has chosen to follow her heart every step of the way.
RH: Why did you decide to become an actress? What kind of training have you had?
KI: I’ve loved the arts for as long as I can remember and as a child was drawn to song and dance. Acting was a natural transition in my pre-teens when I started performing in musical theatre shows. It wasn’t until I turned twenty that I dedicated myself to the craft and started acting classes in Sydney, Australia, where I studied for four years. When I moved to Canada, I continued studying.
Your parents and brother went into music. What about acting caught your eye over a music career?
I guess I never really left the music scene entirely (I still sing occasionally – and play a little guitar). It’s just that music took a backseat to acting because that’s where I wanted to focus. Just last year, I had the great privilege of recording a wonderful little track with Eric McCormack for A Heavenly Christmas. It was revitalizing to be back in the booth and it has certainly inspired me to start singing on a more regular basis, so stay tuned!
Why did you leave your career in law?
I left my fledgling career in law because I realized in order to be happy, I needed to follow my heart – and my heart decided to firmly plant itself in the arts.
I think your first roles were in indie films. Why did you go the route of indie films? What are the benefits and challenges of indie films?
How I do love indie films! The film scene in Australia is not exactly ballooning, Indie films, however, seem to be steadily made and so I found myself able to jump into work through that medium. Indie film sets are great places for newer actors to cut their teeth and learn aspects of the filming process beyond acting. For veteran actors, indie films offer the opportunity to really explore and personalize the character. The flip-side is that indie productions are usually tight on budget and therefore time, so you often rush through the filming process and downsize the scope of locations to fit the budget / time restrictions.
How did you get connected with Hallmark? I think Cedar Cove was your first show with them. What do you like about working for the network?
Cedar Cove was indeed my first Hallmark show. I played Caroline, a war widow, who was also the best friend of the character Luke Bailey (played by Jesse Hutch). My character spent most of the time crying, actually. Luckily for me, the cast and crew were extraordinarily sweet and supportive – which is the case for every Hallmark production I have worked on. I guess the “Caroline” role was my “foot-in-the-door” with Hallmark. I do hope to keep working with them!
You appeared in two Hallmark Christmas movies this past year–Every Christmas Has a Story and A Heavenly Christmas. How did you get the role in each one, and what was your experience like while filming? What did you enjoy most about each role?
Every Christmas Has a Story was a delightful role that I booked through a regular auditioning process. We shot all of my scenes in one day (it was a long day!) and again, the cast and crew were so wonderful and worked extraordinarily long hours to get through the pages of the script. Side note, when I was little, Full House was one of my favourite shows purely because I adored “Aunt Becky.” So shooting Every Christmas has a Story with Lori Loughlin was one of those full-circle moments.
A Heavenly Christmas was a surprise actually. I didn’t audition for the role of “Becky,” but rather an alternate character. Production was unaware that I am also a singer, so when my agent mentioned that I would love to record Becky’s vocals, it became a perfect pairing. Funny how that happens sometimes. I had a brief scene with the legendary Shirley MacLaine (whom I adore) in A Heavenly Christmas. I have loved her characterizations for as long as I can remember, so it was beyond a treat. But the most wonderful thing about this film for me was recording the track “Together Now” with Eric McCormack. I didn’t realize just how much I have truly missed singing until A Heavenly Christmas. I’m beyond grateful for the experience.
You were most recently seen on the Lifetime version of Beaches. How did that role come about? What was it like doing a remake? Had you been a fan of the original? What has been the fan response to that film?
The role on Beaches was that of the Assistant District Attorney. Funnily enough, I have never been cast as a lawyer before, despite my earlier career choice, so it was pretty fabulous to walk in those shoes for a day. I am definitely a fan of the original Beaches. When we were kids, my sister and I watched it dozens of times. Fun fact: when I was twelve years old, I entered and won a singing contest singing “Wind Beneath My Wings,” so being on set for Beaches was another one of those full-circle moments. Alison Anders (the director) was just the best to work with; she has such fabulous energy, and working opposite Nia Long was delightful. As for fan response, I think the remake has been well-received, particularly by Idina Menzel’s fans – what a voice she has!
Any other upcoming works you can mention?
So glad you asked! I joined the Murder She Baked family this January for Murder, She Baked: Just Desserts, and what a fantastic experience it was! Working opposite Cameron Mathison and Gabriel Hogan was a blast. While I didn’t work directly with Alison Sweeney, I did spend a day on set with her and she is just as wonderful off screen as on. Director Kristopher Tabori and Producer Jonathan Axlerod were so great to work with too. I mean it when I say this was my favourite set experience so far, and I do hope to work with this cast and crew again. Spoiler alert: My character “Ava” is a pocket rocket, who would very enthusiastically say #TeamNorm.
I also made a return to the indie film scene in 2016, with a great romantic comedy (full-length feature), Nutshells, premiering this year. I co-star opposite Casey Manderson (Hailey Dean Murder Mystery, A December Bride, Once Upon a Holiday). The story focuses on Bill (Manderson) and his life choices in which his ex-wife Sally (my character) finds herself completely entwined. It’s a beautiful story and the cast are delights to watch. I’m really looking forward to its release.
You have done some writing of screenplays as well. Have you always been a writer or is this something that has been a more recent interest? Where do you get your ideas for your writings? Without giving away anything, can you comment on or mention any scripts that you may have under consideration?
I’ve always loved writing, but it’s really only been the past five years that I have been professionally pursuing writing opportunities. My ideas tend to be a combination of personal experience and wild imagination. I have two scripts under consideration at the moment. One a full-length feature, a drama/romantic comedy (fingers crossed I can say a little more about it in a few months) and the other, a web-series. They are quite different from one another, so it will be interesting to see what happens with each of them.
Is directing something you have done/want to do? Would the dream be to write, direct, produce and act–sort of do it all? Why or why not?
I would love to direct one day. I would want to have much more experience under my belt beforehand though. I think there is value in waiting for the ideal moment, and for me, I don’t feel it’s the right step at this time. The dream really at this stage is to write and act as much as possible. As for production, I have previously produced a few small pieces, including a play, but I feel my time is better served in acting and writing, for now at least!
What actors/directors/writers have been the most inspirational to you over the course of your life? Why?
This is a difficult one to answer. I draw inspiration from so many different people. The list is ever growing, but in the interest of being concise, I’ll narrow it down to the more “known” names.
Actor: Amy Adams, for her ability to fearlessly and truthfully play varied characters;
Director: Alexander Payne, for his prowess in telling stories honestly, simply and always with a touch of humour and usually when / where not expected – as is what happens in life.
Writers: Gina Gionfriddo (best know for her stage plays). She’s whip-smart, sassy and intellectual. Norah Ephron, for her biting and brilliant essays.
While I attempt to connect with each interviewee, there are certain ones who make the process virtually effortless, and Kate is indeed one of those exquisite and endearing people. She’s a writer, singer, a lover of indie films–an ecumnical champion of the arts! Not only that, but I grew up adoring Aunt Becky on Full House too! Kate is, in many ways, a woman after my own heart. She made the choice to leave her safe career where financial security was practically promised for a career where most of the time, you’re unemployed. (I stole that idea from an actor friend of mine who said that every time you finish a job, you are unemployed until the next one.) That takes incalculable courage, childlike faith, and steadfast determination. And yet, somehow in the midst of all the unknowns, Kate irradiates a sweet, wholesome, captivating sparkle of enthusiasm that permeates every role and every word that flows from her mouth and pen. There is a delightful innocence about her that is genuine and pragmatic, but the mischievous glint in her eye bespeaks of a nature that revels in unquenchable fun and exuberant laughter to be enjoyed by all. The journey she is undertaking is one for which she is abundantly grateful every day, and I have no doubt that she will never take a single thing in this profession (or life) for granted, for she recognizes and appreciates everyone and every experience that has landed her in the moment in which she now stands. Please be sure to watch Murder, She Baked: Just Desserts this Sunday night, March 19th on the Hallmark Movies & Mysteries Network. Additionally, I invite any and all of my readers who are willing to follow Kate’s journey via the links below. I, for one, can hardly wait to see what Kate’s future holds. Maybe Hallmark will cast her as a leading lady in the near future, eh?
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