Interview With Actress/Writer/Producer Kate Hewlett

By Ruth on March 13, 2017 in Interview, movie, television
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Thanks to Jane Moffat, I discovered a wonderful show last year called Backstage TV, and from the moment I watched it, I was hooked. As I began to examine the people involved with the show, I discovered a wealth of talent of which I was previously unaware, and one of those people happens to be Kate Hewlett. This is a woman who has truly “done it all,” or practically has, and I was thrilled when she took some time recently to answer a few questions about her career within the entertainment universe.

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

KH: My brother David {Hewlett} inspired me to become an actress, despite repeatedly telling me “Do not become an actress!”  Seeing the career that he had and the humility and humor he maintained throughout it all gave me faith in the business!

I completed a three-year drama degree at Queen’s University in Ontario, a three-year acting program at the National Theatre School in Montreal and the TV-writing program at the Canadian Film Centre.  I guess I must like school or something…!

It looks like your first notable work as an actress was in Dark Water.  How did you get involved with this film?  What was that experience like? 

I auditioned for Dark Water through my acting agent, got a callback, and that was it!  I got to sing and improvise at the callback, which was really exciting… and the director Walter Salles (one of my idols) was there.  Such an amazing experience.  Then I got to set and didn’t know anything about anything. Huge learning curve.  But working with Jennifer Connelly and Camryn Manheim right out of the gate was quite an experience. They were both really kind.

I notice you were on multiple episodes of the series 11 Cameras. What was that series like as far as filming and your character? 

​11 Cameras was so ahead of its time.  I think if it had come out five years later, it would have been a huge hit.  The entire show was shot via web cam (well, through high quality cameras made to look like web cams)​ so we got to talk to the camera directly.  I absolutely loved it.  Plus, it was one of the strongest casts I’ve ever worked with.  We all shared a green room and we shot an episode a day, so it was a pretty crazy experience… but very positive. Got to spend time with Deb Grover, Joris Jarsky, Alan Van Sprang. It was heaven!

Andrea was one of my favorite characters to play.  I was a gamer, very intelligent, nerdy, desperately in love with a friend who didn’t know it.  So much drama!

with brother David in A Dog’s Breakfast

You were also in A Dog’s Breakfast.  What memories do you have of this film?

I tend to block out all experiences working with my brother. So I remember nothing.

(Okay, okay…it was a blast.  We shot the whole thing in one house in Burnaby, mostly in the rain, and it was the first time David and I ever acted together. He also directed and wrote it, so he got to be the boss man.  I also got to act with Mars, David’s amazing dog, who is still going strong all these years later.  Oh… and Paul McGillion!  I got to kiss that handsome face. Is it bad that I talked about Mars first?)

You were on four episodes of Stargate Atlantis.  This show still has an incredible following. Why do you think the fans are still devoted to this show after all these years?

Stargate is old-school sci-fi and I don’t think there’s anything like it on TV these days.  I keep hoping they’ll come out with a new one to satisfy the fans and give the Hewletts some work.​

You are also known for Still Life: A Three Pine Mystery. What was that experience like? 

with Gabriel Hogan, Still Life: A Three Pines Mystery

​Man, I wish I had some juicy stories to share with you… but that experience was ALSO a great one.  One of my favorites, actually.  The cast (Deb Grover again!) was a total dream.  Every day with Nat Parker was a master class in acting.  And shooting in and around Montreal was like coming home.  Louise Penny’s books are rich and emotional, and the characters are fully realized.  It was such a pleasure to dig into the character of Clara.  I loved her.  I wish we had been able to make more Three Pines movies.​

I also learned one important lesson on that movie:  Gabe Hogan and I can’t work together.  We have a giggling problem.

You guest-starred on many other shows. What have been some of your favorites? Why?

​My best experience guest-starring was on Saving Hope.  I have never felt so welcome as I did on that set, mostly because of Eric Johnson and Julia Taylor Ross.  I also got to work with Jordan Pettle on a script written by his brother Adam Pettle, both of whom I adore.  Pretending to give birth to a baby for twelve hours could have been a huge nightmare (not as much as actually giving birth for twelve hours, obviously…), but this crew and cast made the whole thing a total pleasure.  And I had broken up with my fiance two days before, so I was pretty raw!

I had a recurring role on Remedy, so I’m not sure if that counts, but the episode of Remedy where my character had her own storyline was another favorite experience.  The writing on that show was so strong — it was like being in a play again.  And I love the way Greg Spottiswood runs a show.  He treats television like theatre — gives it the same respect, values rehearsal, gives honest feedback.  It was both terrifying and fun.

What is the first thing you wrote for TV/film? How was that experience and how was it received? 

​My short film, She Said Lenny, was my first foray into film/TV writing.  It was loosely based on my stage play Humans Anonymous, and it gave me the opportunity to act with my BFF (do people still say that?) Michelle Giroux​, who I’ve known since I was four.  We won a big award!  It was thrilling!  And it inspired me to apply to the CFC for TV writing, which totally changed my life.

You are a consulting producer and writer for Backstage TV. How did you get involved with that show? What has your experience been like with this show?

​The showrunner Lara Azzopardi and I worked together on Martin Gero’s The LA Complex and we had a total “showmance.”  I adore Lara.​  We vowed to work together on every project for all-time ever.  When Backstage was greenlit, she asked me to come on-board as her right-hand woman.  Best experience of my life.  She will also be directing my feature film, The Swearing Jar, shooting later this year and produced by my sister-in-law Jane Loughman!  (David finally got something right.)

Why do you think Backstage TV has resonated so much with the fans? 

Backstage never talks down to its audience.  We made a grown-up show for kids, not a kids’ show.  It’s got humor, heart, real relationships, relatable characters, heartbreak, love, loss… and some kick-ass dance, original music and visual art.  I would watch this show, even if I wasn’t working on it.  (Well, I would shame-watch it in the basement and wonder why I’m so obsessed with a tween soap.  But still.)

Also, the cast is out of this world.  They have so much discipline and commitment.  More than most adults!

Do you have a favorite episode or two of Backstage TV?

​I love Lauren Gosnell’s episode in Season One where Vanessa is finally able to dance again.  It is a stunning episode.​  And the season finale is AMAZING, written by Lara herself.  But honestly, there’s not a weak episode in the bunch.  The writers are so strong — Lara, Lauren, Matt Schiller (funniest man alive), Scott “structure god” Oleszkowicz, Floyd Kane, Adam Bradley, Jennifer Pertsch, Jill Girling and Lori Mather-Welch… all so talented.

As far as my episodes go, I’m really proud of “Dig Deeper,” because I wrote the lyrics as well as the episode, and I was given some really juicy storylines to delve into.

Any other upcoming works you can mention? 

​My feature film The Swearing Jar (based on my play, which was up for a Governor General’s Award a few years back, but lost to superhero Nicholas Billon!) will be shooting this summer.  We’re looking for cast right now and trying to cobble together the rest of the funding…but it’s looking good!

Who in the business would you like to hang out with for one day if you could hang out with anyone?  Why?

Emma Thompson, Emma Thompson, Emma Thompson.  And Julie Andrews.  Together.  For tea!​  Emma (I’m calling her “Emma” so that it sounds like I know her…) has my dream career, combining writing and acting, choosing great projects, keeping a good head on her shoulders and doing amazing work while maintaining her humility and wit.  I love her.  I keep writing roles for her in the hopes that it will pan out someday!

What advice would you give to other women considering a career in the entertainment industry? 

​Oh boy…this is a big one.  Okay, I’m getting up on my soapbox.  Is it steady?  Yep.  Okay, here goes:

YOU ARE GOOD ENOUGH THE WAY YOU ARE.  I was told by a talent agent to lose twenty pounds when I was twelve years old.  Twelve!  It’s disgusting.  That happened over and over again throughout my teens, twenties, even into my early thirties… and usually I listened, tried to change myself, couldn’t…and felt like a failure.  But it’s ridiculous!  My career has never been better than it is right now, and I have not lost any weight.  In fact, I may have gained a little.  (It’s really hard to run in the snow.)  That crap doesn’t matter!  You will get the roles that are right for you.  You are an actor/actress, not a model.  Do not try to fit into any mold.  Just do your work.  It will pay off.  Also, try and enjoy auditioning because it is an opportunity to try on a new role.  Don’t focus on the end result, which has very little to do with you.

And one more thing:  it is really, really important to have something else you love to do that can also pay the bills.  For me, it was writing and voice work.  If you are desperate to get a role, you won’t get it.  But if you are relaxed and confident that another opportunity will come along, the roles start pouring in.  Being an actor and nothing else is very difficult because you don’t have a lot of control over your own destiny.  You are waiting for other people to choose you.  Writing gives you creative control and a wonderful outlet.  So does singing, songwriting, teaching, tutoring, training people how to sell cars like my friend Steven!

Okay.  Rant complete.

After reviewing Kate’s responses, I am overwhelmingly impressed with this pragmatic, talented, wise, and humble woman. I was honestly unaware of her work before Backstage TV, but now I am excited to research her other films, shows, etc. In addition to her solid work as a writer, producer, and actress, there are two things about her that truly resonate with me.

First of all, there is nothing like a woman with a sense of humor who is not afraid to show it! In this “overly PC” world in which we live, all too often, people are afraid to be funny. Oh, raunchy is acceptable, but people get easily offended at some of the most classic humor, and then they aren’t even sure if they are allowed to make a joke or to laugh at something. There is no doubt that even from these brief answers, Kate has no fear of that! And for me, that is a refreshing quality to have in this business and world as a whole–especially as a woman.

Secondly, and more importantly, Kate is comfortable “in her own skin.” Now, I’m sure like most of us, it is something that took some time, and in many ways, you never quite achieve it. But Kate is an optimal example of a woman who is not concerned with all the garbage with which the media bombards us all too regularly. And it’s exponentially true when it comes to women! To find a woman who in this sometimes convoluted world who has made the decision to ignore the advice to change herself–even ignoring her agent!! (unheard of, right??) is even more stimulating! I loved her soapbox moment, and as a part of her virtual audience, I would yell, “Preach it, sister!!”

I would ask all of my readers to at least check out the links below as Kate is a strong woman who makes no apologies for who and what she is, and she has learned to make a living following her passions. I see her as a remarkable, inspiring example for all women, and indeed, she has motivated me to continue with my pursuits as well. Oh, and when Backstage TV comes back for its second season, I would invite everyone to consider viewing the show, as it is one that is well-done and definitely draws its viewers in as very few shows can. I promise it is NOT just for teenagers! 

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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. Joanna Syrokomla March 13, 2017 Reply

    Kate is always an inspiration and I’m honoured when I get to work on a project with her. Her awareness of character development and the use of costume to tell a story makes my work even stronger. Three cheers for Kate!!

    • Author
      Ruth March 13, 2017 Reply

      Joanna thank you for stopping by! And thank you for all your support!! I so agree with you. I am now following her career. I just wasn’t aware of her before.

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