Interview With Actress Pamela Daly, “An Uncommon Grace”

By Ruth on July 13, 2017 in Interview, movie, television
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Did you have the opportunity to watch the amazing film earlier this year that premiered on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries entitle An Uncommon Grace? I will be honest–from the moment my mother and I saw the preview, we were hooked, and I mean LITERALLY HOOKED! We adore mysteries, and we love Amish tales, but putting both together?? Wow! Sometime after the premiere, I had the opportunity to chat with Pamela Daly, who played Claire in that film. She has been incredibly patient as she has waited far too long for me to post this interview, but I am ecstatic to share with you the beauty and skill of this phenomenal, multi-talented, and genuine actress!

RH: Pamela, I’m so glad it worked out to get to interview you today. 

PD: Me, too, Ruth.

I loved you in An Uncommon Grace.

That was such a special movie for me. I was really grateful to land that role of Claire. Such a beautiful character.

When I was looking up your other works, I discovered while I haven’t seen you in anything else, I was familiar with some of the titles you’ve been involved with.

Interesting. I think I can say I’ve become “queen of the reenactment drama.”{laughs}

So, Pamela, how did you become an actress?

You know, I think I get that question quite often.  I have to say I don’t know that I ever chose it. I feel like acting sort of chose me. I never saw myself doing anything other than that. When I look back on my childhood and try to decide if there’s one specific event that made me want to do this for the rest of life, I would have to say I got the bug when I was in sixth grade. That was the Bicentennial year, and that’s going to age me, I think. We did a sixth-grade play called Let George Do It, and I was so over-the-moon excited about auditioning for that. I wanted to be George Washington’s wife; I had these ideas about which role I was supposed to get. Then they ended up casting me as the Narrator. For me, I was like, “Oh no!” I thought for sure I was supposed to be George Washington’s wife. I remember how disappointed I was, and I’m glad that I experienced that very early on ’cause that set me up for having a little bit thicker skin and understanding that that’s how this works, and you just keep forging ahead. And you don’t quit.

So from there did you go on to study acting in school?

Yes, I did.  I really enjoyed doing a lot of plays on stage and one acts all during my high school years. Then I decided that I was going to be a theater major. That was not the right major as far as my parents were concerned. They were like, “Oh, you need to be a doctor or a lawyer.”  I was actually Valedictorian of my class. They thought that maybe I needed to pick a profession that would engage my brain. There were only twenty-six people in my classes because I come from a small town.

Well, you can guess that I didn’t let my parents change my mind. I did summer stock in addition to a very intense theater program at what was then called Morehead State University. I think it’s now called the University of Minnesota-Morehead. I really stayed committed. With the people in that program, you had to do everything. They were determined to build character within you and to set you up as if you were going to do this for life, and they wanted to make sure you were going to do this as a career and that you were going to be prepared. So I learned everything–like lighting design, scenic design, directing, stage management, building, theory–everything including acting.  It was one of those four-year programs similar to what a doctor might go through. That’s kind of what we went through. I am so grateful again for that foundation.  It really thickened my skin and when I got into the world, it really taught me what I didn’t know as well. I’m so glad that they laid that foundation for me. They also wanted me to study in London, and I had auditioned for different schools in London for grad school, and I had gotten on a waiting list for one.  I did get accepted, but by that time, I had a British director friend who told me that school was not what it used to be. I guess that’s often the case with different schools. He did not recommend that I go, so I didn’t study in England like I had wanted to.  Then I could work right away. So I moved down to Florida with a couple different theater companies.  I started doing TV and film and working voiceovers as well.  Then I worked the graveyard shift at Denny’s to pay all the bills.

By the way, I neglected to mention that my parents were soon on board with my career choice, and although my mother is no longer with us, I still feel her spirit uplifting and carrying me during my most challenging emotional scenes, and my Dad is my greatest fan.

When you were talking about the Valedictorian thing and your parents not wanting you going into theater, I do hear that a lot.  That’s not uncommon. And what you said about acting choosing you, I fully get. I think that makes perfect sense. It’s like you could have gone on and done other things, that’s true because you had the intelligence and all that. But there’s that draw that you just cannot ignore. I’m so glad when I hear those stories where people didn’t just go and do what everybody thought they should do. That definitely takes some strength of character to do that.

Yeah, I feel really whole as an actor. My husband, when he describes me to other people, he says, “Acting is like breathing to her.” I find that as I’m digging into these different roles and they touch me in different ways I realize how they touch other people. It’s almost overwhelming to me the beauty of what it is I do and I’m so so grateful for the opportunity to be able to do that.

I know you said you were kind of the queen of reenactment doing all those types of shows. I know there are several of them listed. Would you like to elaborate on any of them?

I just did one recently called Murder Among Friends. That’s actually the second time I’ve worked on that show. There’s a really wonderful production company called Mike Mathis Productions. They just call me in all the time; I couldn’t be more grateful. When they want a crying mom, they call me. I just did one for them, and it will be airing on the 20th of July. That one is actually kind of gruesome in terms of the reenactment dramas. Many of them I’ve done, like Blood Relatives, Small Town Scandal, Outrageous 911, My Haunted House, those kind of things–they deal with adults doing that. Only Murder Among Friends has taken murder and evil to a whole new level because it’s done by teenagers.  That was particularly intriguing to me and particularly gruesome to think that young teenagers are the ones that are doing the most horrific crimes. So I always feel like when I’m doing those, what I’m doing is important. David Cargill, the producer, I appreciate how he approaches the work. He is so sensitive when dealing with these issues even though there’s usually a TV14 and I can’t have my younger friends watch them. But he deals with them in such a sensitive way. He’s always in contact with the families and it’s really important to him because it allows these victims to speak. Somebody has to speak for them because they weren’t allowed to speak for themselves. I always find that to be very fulfilling to me.

Do you know what network this show is on?

Murder Among Friends is on Investigation Discovery.

Thank you so much for telling me all this. As I’m sure you know, Hallmark fans often don’t just watch Hallmark and family-friendly shows. Many of the biggest Hallmark fans may watch Criminal Minds and Bates Motel and other shows like that and still truly enjoy the Hallmark movies and shows. So I’m sure some Hallmark fans will want to watch you on this show. Even I watch plenty of other things during the week. I have a teenage daughter, so I am often careful about what I watch when she’s awake, but this show Murder Among Friends does sound intriguing to me, and I may just have to look it up.

Do you enjoy theater too?

Yes, I do, very much.

Theater is something–that’s kind of in my roots. Everything else sort of springs from that. Theater is not as good out here in Hollywood as it is on the East coast. When I get back to my theater roots, I really feel grounded. I don’t know if you picked up on the fact that I have a one-woman play that tells the story of Margaret Sanger. She is really the most polarizing woman in American history.  It was about nine years ago that I felt a really strong pull in my heart that I was supposed to do a one-woman show about her. And I was like, “Oh, I don’t know about that.” Everyone knows who this woman is.  Usually, when you do one-woman shows, it’s somebody that you admire.  There’s some really great things I know about her, but I’d also heard some not so great things. So I thought, “Well, I’m gonna just start pursuing this,” and it was very strong impression on my heart.

I asked my husband to write it and we discovered as we started putting it together, there were some very surprising things about this woman. We realized that it was a labor of love and that it was an attempt to bring both sides of these controversial issues together in a spirit of love where both people could come in the room and discuss these issues as opposed to somebody on the outside, somebody on the inside and all this division that’s happening in our country. I was floored by that, and to me, it was a very ironic that the woman who became the most polarizing is gonna be responsible for bringing everybody together. It did get picked up last year by some New York producers. I was in New York from April through the middle of May. We totally rewrote it and I went back into rehearsals and we’re remounting it for our national tour. So this is a very different thing. You know, I get people from Planned Parenthood coming in as well as people from right-to-life coming.  All come and they all can watch it, and that to me, that’s beautiful. But sometimes I hesitate to bring it up right away because everyone has an opinion one way or another when they hear the name, Margaret Sanger.

Well, I’m a student of history. I find all that stuff fascinating.  What I find is that once I start researching history,  I learn later that what I was taught was not necessarily the whole truth nor the whole story.  You might have someone that everybody just idolized from history and then you start digging in and finding out that maybe they weren’t as perfect as you thought they were.  They had their flaws and issues just like everybody else. I appreciate what you’re talking about.  It sounds really interesting to me because I like to be able to hear both sides of it. I would describe myself as rather conservative, but I’m always one who is very open to hearing the other side of the issue. I have friends with completely opposite opinions on probably just about everything, but I’m able to be friends with them and we’re able to have discussions without getting into a nasty debate and getting all upset. So I’m very excited about this for you.

Yes, it’s been such an exciting time for me!

I wanted to be sure to ask you about An Uncommon Grace since that’s gonna be what a lot of my readers will know you from. Most of them are probably like me in that that was their first experience seeing you, and then they can look at the other things that you’ve been in and explore that. So how did you get this role? 

It’s really great. I have a home in Ohio, where I raised my children, and I also have a home in California where I work most of the time. I’m probably in California nine months of the year and Ohio like three months of the year.  I was back in Ohio, and I have a wonderful agency there, and they were involved in casting many of the roles. They sent me some break downs of characters, but I didn’t see the Claire break down right away.  I had gotten an email that had some of the other peripheral characters, you know, like the doctor and smaller one lines and things like that.  I put one of those on tape and when I went to submit it, I noticed in the queue that they had meant to send me another email that had Claire and Rose and these other characters on it. So when I submitted, I called and said, “It looks like you were trying to send me another email. Is there still enough time to submit for another role?” I was thinking of Rose. They said, “Sure, you know it’s due the next day.”

I knew I had to develop a Pennsylvania Dutch accent, but I’m kind of used to doing things like that. I started working on it. Then the casting director called me up and said, “Can you work on Claire?” I never thought of Claire. So I said,  “Sure.”  It was eight or nine o’clock at night, and I had to get it in by ten in the morning.  So I just did an all-nighter, working on the dialect. After I submitted my self-tape, for some reason, I  just felt like this role was mine. So even though I hadn’t got the callback yet, I began to do the research. I went to a friend of mine who knows this Amish family. They said to come on over, so I did. I went over to this Amish family and had them read the lines in a Pennsylvania Dutch accent into a tape recorder.  I spent some time with the family and that was wonderful. Right before I was getting ready to hit the plane, they called me and said, “Oh, you got a callback on this.”  So I came in and did the callback.  At that time, I felt like everything was there. When I got on the plane back to California, I started having character thoughts. I started preparing for the role. Sometimes that happens, and even if I didn’t get it, it’s all beautiful to me ’cause if the role is speaking to me, it’s speaking to me, and I have to go with it.

I didn’t hear anything–I guess I had to get approved to do Hallmark, and so I had to go through that
process. Then it was Friday, and they were starting the shoot on Monday. I finally got the notice that I had gotten the role on Friday. I was really glad I did all the work that I had done–the research and all the work on the dialect–so I was ready and prepared. I got on set the first day and here it was day one, and I had to do that really emotional scene in the hospital bed. Days don’t get any worse than that, you know? Your husband gets shot and you don’t know if your child is alive. I was deeply channeling different people’s lives. I have a friend who had a home invasion in the past year, and it didn’t go so well as there were major injuries. I remember feeling her pain and seeing what that was like and doing things for her. When you get on the set of a brand new movie with amazing actors,  of course, the nerves kick in. I mean, think about it–Jes Macallan, Sean Faris–that could cause anyone to have a bit of nerves come up.  I got on set, and Jess came up to me.  She gave me this huge hug and our hearts connected. She said to me, “I saw your tape. You’re amazing.” I just melted, and she set me up for success from the moment I set foot on the set.

From that moment on, I just kept expanding. We were working on the scene, and I had to do it over and over again. I dropped in deeper and deeper and it was such a beautiful opportunity for me. And then with every scene I did, there was a person that I was speaking for. Though she doesn’t know it, the scene where my character lost a child, that scene was dedicated to her. I also have a new sister that I didn’t know I had. I never grew up with her and I just found out about five years ago that I have her.  So my scene with my sister–my long-lost sister whom I hadn’t seen for ten years–that was dedicated to her. And so on all of these scenes, they fit seamlessly and beautifully because I was able to speak for somebody else and I really connected personally to that.

Wow, that is really a great story. It’s amazing how that all worked out and that is great that you spent the time researching it. Though I know a lot of actors do it, it’s just fascinating to hear the whole process. It makes sense why the film works so well. From the time my family and I saw the previews for this movie–we had not read the book or anything–it just seemed like a really fascinating story. I know I normally say Hallmark films are well done, but this one, I thought, was especially well done and different from a lot of the films they’ve done. You are the second cast member I’ve gotten to interview. Before the film aired, I chatted with Cory Scott Allen, who played the deputy. 

Oh, yes, he’s the naughty one.

Yes, and so he couldn’t tell me much about it, of course, because of his role.  So as we were watching the movie… there seems to be this thing that for some reason, I tend to end up interviewing the murderer before I see the movie.  I don’t know what it is, but this was the third time it has happened in a row where I have interviewed one of the supporting cast members and they end up being the murderer.  About halfway through the movie, I was like,  “It really can’t be! Please tell me that I haven’t interviewed the guy who plays the murderer yet again!”  Sure enough! So that is kind of the joke that we have going amongst my readers.  It’s just the way my luck happens to be I guess. {laughs}

You’re attracted to the evil. {laughs}

They seem so nice like you wouldn’t suspect them. My mom suspected him early on, but I think my thing is I’ve just gotten done talking with them, so I’ve already related to them as a person. And then to see them in that role when I’m thinking they’re going to be a good person, you know?

Did you know that Serena B. Miller, the writer of the book, has two more in the series?

Yes, in fact, some people have asked if they are going to do any more movies in the series? 

I think, yes. That’s what I think. I have no backup for that

I think there would be a lot of support for it because people really connected with the film and the story. On Twitter, there was a lot of discussion amongst the fans asking for a movie to be made of the next book in the series.

I had huge, wonderful feedback on my Facebook page. It’s overwhelming that it was so well-received.  And I do know that the next book in the series is actually about my character.  Back in March, I went to an event in Kentucky–that’s where it was shot–and so they did a meet-and-greet with the cast members that were available at that time. And the author, Serena, was there too. I made sure to have that second book read before I met her.

So you’ve read the first one?

Yes, I read it before we shot the movie as part of my research. I felt like that way I could connect to the character. In fact, I reached out to Serena on Facebook, and we messaged back and forth. I really wanted to know whether she thought I had captured her character Claire,  and she was just glowing with praise.  I’m so grateful she felt that way. Serena is definitely an amazing lady.

Do you have anything else that is upcoming as far as TV and film?

Yeah, I do have two more projects, well really three. One doesn’t happen until next summer. I did a project at the end of May after coming back from New York.  It’s a pilot called Soiled Doves. It’s kind of a spiritual, female-based Western. Then there is a documentary I’m shooting. It’s a period piece, and I have a small role, but it’s always exciting to be a part of something like that. There’s one scene where I’m in a pool where the ship has gone down, and I’m a survivor. I hadn’t done that kind of acting yet, so that will be great. Trying to survive a shipwreck.

Going back to your pilot Soiled Doves, I don’t think it’s listed on IMDB yet.

Actually, it might be listed as a web series because it’s been in the making for about six years. We shot a teaser and a little bit for a web series.  But now we’re shooting the pilot.

It looks like it might be listed as a short. Well, that puts that into perspective so that at least people can be watching for it. From the description in the short, it sounds kind of interesting. 

It’s wonderfully written. There’s a group of three ladies that had done all the work. I feel very blessed to be a part of it.

I believe you said your husband wrote the one-woman play, correct? 

Yes, he’s always been a really creative businessman, and he’s written lots of articles. But he is not a writer by profession; he’s a financial advisor. He’s very detailed in his research.  I trust these impressions on my heart and what I’m supposed to do.  Sometimes they don’t make a lot of sense, but I just felt like I would love to have my husband do this and bring him into my business.  I kind of felt like I’ve been supporting him and his business and raising our children.  He promised me that this next half of our life is going to be my time, and I’m holding him to that. So then I said, “You know, I’d really love it if you’d write this for me.” And so he said he would. It took several years.  I actually did threaten to have someone else write it, but then he said, “No, I’ll do it.”

So it was written and so well-received. People were like, “Whoa! Your husband wrote that?”  Then I actually had my son, who’s a really wonderful writer/director, direct it for me. So it became a family affair. It was well-received by people; they found that to be quite beautiful that it was a family project. And when the producers picked it up, they needed to see some changes. There were sixty characters in it, so we needed to reduce the character because I can’t get under the skin of everybody. We needed more Margaret and we needed more breathing room for Pamela. If I do eight shows a week, I need to be able to do eight shows a week. So the rewrite process was mainly to make it easier on me.

There’s another project that we’re working on for next summer, which is a film. The feature film is gonna be shot in Ohio; we recently picked up the producers for it and signed a contract. It’s called Chance. It’s a true story that happened in our Ohio hometown of a young boy who committed suicide. He was very close to our family and part of my husband’s baseball team. So my husband and my son co-wrote that together.  My husband now has like one play and one screenplay as well. He’s kind of gotten the bug. He studies, and he’s taking classes. He’s got people reading it and giving him advice. He’s got a number of people giving him coverage on it. I’m very happy for him that he’s taken this direction.

It’s  so neat to have both of you working on stuff together, and then your son, too.  I mean to have this family thing going, I think that’s so neat. I’ve not heard of a financial advisor turning out to be a writer–a playwright and a screenwriter. That’s really cool. 

Yeah, you never know what you’re gonna be doing as you take a new direction in life.

Isn’t that the truth? Well, thank you so much, Pamela, for sharing with us today. 

You’re welcome, Ruth, it was my pleasure.

Chatting with Pamela was a unique experience due to her fresh and beautiful outlook on acting and the industry. While I know everyone has their own ideas as an artist, Pamela has a different way of looking at acting and character embodiment than I am used to hearing. What she explained about appropriating various experiences and even playing a scene as a tribute to special individuals in her life is something I do not always encounter in these kinds of chats. In my opinion, Pamela’s career demonstrates two universal entertainment truths–there is not one correct path to acting, and there is not one way to act. Pamela has forged her own singular road in the field, and her passion, energy, ambition, and commitment to the craft has propelled her on a journey that very few have the opportunity to experience. She views acting and the arts as a way to bring others together, heal wounds, right wrongs, and promote an environment of peace, respect, and understanding. Her heart is so in tune with the world around her that she possesses that innate ability to genuinely connect with the people in her sphere of influence and further weave those incidents and emotions into the characters she portrays on the stage and screen. 

Therefore, if you are so inclined, be certain that you check out all of her sites below and follow her via social media where applicable. If I don’t miss my guess, it may be this week that we discover whether the Emmy’s are going to announce her name as a potential Emmy Nomination ( Thursday, the 14th). And on July 20th, we will have another opportunity to view her talent in Murder Among Friends on Investigation Discovery. Oh, and keep your eyes peeled for a repeat showing of An Uncommon Grace on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries as you never know when they may choose to re-air it. I wish her and her household all the best as the creative juices continue to flow within their family unit, and I can only hope that you, my readers, will join Pamela on the rest of her exhilarating journey!

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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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