Interview With Actress Sandy Sidhu, “Frozen In Love”

By Ruth on January 13, 2018 in Interview, movie, television
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In my tireless dedication to highlighting the supporting cast of Hallmark movies, it was a joy and delight to uncover the talents and character of Sandy Sidhu. As a woman in the industry with considerable experience as well as a diverse background, Sandy is one who is just getting introduced into Hallmark circles, and after chatting with this sweet lady, I venture to say that we have not seen the last of this fabulous actress.

RH: Sandy, it’s so nice to get to chat with you.

SS: Ruth, thank you for taking the time to chat with me today. It’s just lovely.

You know, I love interviewing the leads, but I really enjoy getting the opportunity to chat with the supporting cast as well. And I think the fans are delighted that there are some great winter movies on Hallmark since the Christmas movies are all done for the season.

We kind have a lull in January, so it’s nice that we get to have the feel-good family movies continuing on after Christmas.

I noticed that you have what I would call an interesting background. I believe your family immigrated from India?

Yeah, my father was a pioneer. He moved here when he was sixteen years old. It’s incredible when you think about it. It’s a very courageous thing to do. He left with one of his older brothers in pursuit of a dream for a better life. It’s a quality I really admire. Even in this day and age, to drop everything and move to a new country is a scary feeling.

Photo by Lawren Bancroft Photography

Were you interested in acting when you were growing up?

Actually no. I’ve been artistic my whole life. My mom said I started drawing the moment I could pick up a pencil. I loved doodling, but unfortunately, it was on her walls.

I started in theater when I was fourteen years old. It was a huge outlet for me because I was incredibly shy. I had a lot of trouble with public speaking. So my best friend egged me on to audition for our musical theater production in high school. I showed up, and I was terrified. And actually, we auditioned so late that all the parts had been cast already, but luckily the theater director was so kind…it was West Side Story–that was my first ever play. So I was put in the role of not the extra Puerto Rican girl, but the extra extra Puerto Rican girl. {laughs} Talking about that just sounds so funny.

My first moment on stage was when I  got the feeling of euphoria while I was acting.  I had to cross from the left side of the stage to the right side of the stage. I remember when I did that, I looked at the audience and I just felt this energy. And I was hooked. So I ended up doing musical theater every year until I graduated high school. But still, at that point, I didn’t think I was going to be an actor. In my mind, it was just an outlet.

I believe I read that your mom was a nurse.

Yeah, my mom’s a nurse, and she’s incredible. She’s a very caring, selfless person, so I’m really lucky that she raised me like she did. She never talks about nursing, but growing up in high school, I realized just how amazing she is with her patients. It was as I was getting older that my friends would come up to me in high school and say, “You know, your mom took care of my uncle,” or “Your mom took care of my grandpa, and she was really amazing.” Then I would go home and ask my mom, “Did you end up helping so-and-so’s grandfather?” And she’d go, “Oh, yeah, he’s a lovely guy.” It just shows how humble she is. My mom’s amazing; I love her so much. She’s one of my favorite role models in my life.

Photo by Sara Rogers Photography

When you went to college, what did you study?

I got my degree in cell biology and genetics from the University of British Columbia in Canada. I was halfway through the program when I realized I wanted to be an actor. I had been in musical theater every year, but the first year of the university, I had to drop everything. The coursework was very intense and I didn’t have time to focus on anything other than my studies. And during that first year, I found that I was getting very depressed and I didn’t know why. I was thinking, “I am in this program, and I thought this was what I wanted to do with my life, so why am I feeling this way?”

In the summer, I went back to Vancouver Island, which is where I grew up. I was in my first professional production during that summer. It was Jesus Christ Superstar, and I got cast as Mary Magdalene and the chorus. If you know the play, it was the entire female ensemble that I got to do. And I was so happy, unbelievably happy. I noticed the difference in how I was feeling now that I was back in musical theater for the summer. I had missed that so much during my first year at the university when I was just focused on my studies. In fact, I went, “Hang on. Wait a minute. What’s going on here?” It was the first clue for myself where I went, “Do I want to be an actor?”

I put the idea in the back of my mind, and I went back to school and did my second year. I was still feeling kind of unfulfilled and not knowing why because I had chosen the program. I thought I wanted to be a doctor. I wanted to help people because my mom’s a nurse, and I thought I could do something else in that same vein to help people.

Then it was that summer when I was doing summer school and I couldn’t actually go back to do theater where I woke up in a panic one day for whatever reason. I wrote a resume about who I am. I then picked the nicest photo I could find of myself and enlarged it. Then I ran to the post office…and I’m saying that for whatever reason, I was literally running.  I sent off my headshot and resume to any agencies I could find online.

That night, I sat down and was like, “What did I just do?” A few days later, luckily, an agent gave me a call, and he said, “Hey, I want you to come in and audition.” And he became my first agent. It was really like this idea struck me like lightning and then I went through the motions not knowing why I was doing it. And that’s kind of how I started my acting career.

How did your parents react to this career decision?

You know, initially, I was terrified to tell my parents. I had gone up to my parents before and said, “Mom and Dad, I’m gonna be a doctor, and there’s nothing you can say to change my mind.” They looked at me, laughing, and said, “We are okay with that. Trust us.” So I was really scared of disappointing them with this idea of becoming an actor. When I finally did work up the courage and told them that I wanted to be an actor, they completely supported me. That was not the response I expected at all. I was so relieved, and then I felt silly for waiting to tell them. My mom said, “We’re really not surprised at all. You’ve been artistic your whole life.” They told me to go for it and to work hard. They support me, and I’m very fortunate.

Stargate Universe

What was your first professional job once you made this career change?

My first-ever role was on a show called Stargate Universe. As an actress, you never forget the team that gave you your first “yes.” At the time, it was one of the biggest-budgeted shows to be filming in Vancouver. I got to work with Lou Diamond Phillips, who was so gracious and kind. As a terrified actress my first day on set, I couldn’t have asked for a better actor to have worked with. He was really happy for me. He said, “Hey, kid, this is a really great gig for you, and I’m wishing you the best.” It was really, really great, and I’ll never forget it.

I have talked with a lot of actors who were a part of that show. And I know that show is still a well-loved show with quite a fan following. 

The Stargate franchise has been very good to the local film community here in Vancouver.

Agreed. I also understand that the next generation is discovering this show now. I have been told that these younger people are watching the show with their parents and grandparents. 

Oh, wow, that makes me feel happy to hear that. I think it’s because the themes in every episode are so universal, so it’s easy for people to go back and enjoy them. I can see that happening because sci-fi films and TV shows are kind of timeless. They’re not really in this world. These shows can resonate with people many years later because it was built in a fantasy world.

I notice you’ve been on many shows that have not made it the U.S. as of yet, so I’m often familiar with the shows even if I haven’t seen them. I noticed you were on Arctic Air. I’ve talked with many actors who were on that show and said it was an amazing experience. 

Oh, yeah. Gary Harvey was the showrunner of Arctic Air, and he’s an incredible person to work for. And because of that, the cast and crew were great. I’m not surprised that so many have such fond memories.  Arctic Air was definitely a treat to be a part of.

Supernatural

And you were also on Supernatural

Funny enough, Supernatural was the first show I ever auditioned for. I remember I had a couple of lines, and I was terrified. I showed up to the audition. Don’t ask me to remember it. It was an out-of-body experience. So when I ended up many years later booking my first guest star spot on Supernatural, it was a special moment for me because I got to reflect back on how much I’ve changed and grown. It was a cool moment. Jared {Padalecki} and Jensen {Ackles} are a class act who love working with each other and have a lot of laughs. I worked with Rick Springfield, who was very kind and introspective and such a gentle person. And that surprised me because he is literally a rock star in real life. I kept humming “Jesse’s Girl” in my head after working with him.

That show is unbelievable. Thirteen seasons and counting. And the fans of Supernatural are incredible. 

The fans of Supernatural are amazing. It’s because Jared and Jensen have a real special chemistry. It’s like lightning in a bottle, the chemistry that they have on screen. And you just want to root and cheer for them in every episode.

I believe your first Hallmark work was last year.

Yes, my first Hallmark movie was All Of My Heart: Inn Love.

Photo by Matthew Wong Photography

That movie holds a very special place in my heart. After the first movie, a group of us fans worked hard and kept petitioning the network for a sequel. And two years later, it happened. It’s neat to realize I was part of a group of fans that helped make this movie happen. So with this being your first Hallmark film, even though it was brief, what was your onset experience like?

Oh, it was great. I had my scene opposite Lacey Chabert whom I had actually met in LA a few years before. We both auditioned for the same part. So when we met on set, I said, “We’ve met.” And she said, “We have.” {laughs} So it was nice to work with her. It was a quick day, but it was really lovely. Lacey is such a kind, big-hearted soul.

Since you also got to be on an episode of Supergirl, is there anything special about that experience that stands out to you?

I am really thankful to the CW Network for having me on both Supernatural and Supergirl. What I love about Supergirl is it’s a strong female lead, and it’s such an empowering show for young women. I was delighted to be a part of a show that has such a comedic, grounded lead–Melissa {Benoist}. It was really special to be a part of that show in general.

Photo by Jeremy Jude Lee

Moving to your upcoming worksyou are on an episode of Grey’s Anatomy, right?

Yes, I just finished filming that episode a few weeks ago. It was a such a blast to be on that show. I’m a huge fan of Shonda Rhimes. She celebrates all walks of life in her shows and is incredibly inclusive. That was a world I had wanted to be a part of. Initially, I was nervous to be on the set of a show that’s on its fourteenth season because you know it’s gonna be a well-oiled machine. You come on something where you don’t quite know your footing yet, but you know everybody else knows theirs. Those fears were instantly dashed the minute I got onto set. Everyone in the cast and crew was welcoming and total professionals. I can’t say too much about my role. I play a character named Priya, and she’s introduced when certain things come to a head.

This Saturday, however, we will get to see you in Frozen In Love

Yes, and this role is a supporting lead, so it’s bigger than my first Hallmark role.

Behind-the-scenes
Frozen In Love

So what can you tell us about your role?

Rachael Leigh Cook, who’s the lead of the film, came up with the story. I couldn’t be more grateful that Rachael had me come on board for this movie. I know that the story has been bouncing in her head for years, so I know it was very special to her that it came to fruition. I know I was really honored to be playing Janet. When I got the script, I couldn’t put it down. I laughed, I cried…but what really makes this movie special is that there’s a lot of comedy in it. Hopefully, it will be a fun ride for the whole family.

When I read the role of Janet, she was very clear to me. I heard her voice in my head immediately. I knew her mannerisms. What I can say about Janet is that she works in the big city and owns her own PR firm. She works for top clients. She’s a boss lady. She’s friends with Mary, who’s played by Rachael. They’ve known each other since college, and she always helps out when Mary’s in a bind. Mary tries to save her family’s legacy bookstore. At the same time, a professional hockey player, Adam, played by Niall Matter, is trying to rehabilitate his public image. I put them together, but they don’t like each other at all. {laughs} So as you can imagine, drama unfolds. But Janet always sees the big picture and encourages Mary and Adam to trust in her plans. It’s an incredibly heartfelt, romantic comedy that I hope the audience will love.

This filming experience was so memorable. Rachael was a riot to be around. She’s such a funny person; she had me in stitches all day. She’s one of the most genuine and down-to-earth people I’ve met in the industry. I also had fun working with Niall and our director, Scott {Smith}. Working with Scott was such a gift. I just love his working demeanor. On set, he was calm, kind, and funny. He knows how to get the shots he needs and how to pull out the right performances from his actors. I would love to work with Scott again. But I really hope the audience enjoys this movie because I know we poured our hearts into it.

Photo by Sara Rogers Photography

I have connections with several of the actors in the film–Niall, Rachael, Madison Smith, and Tammy Gillis. I’ve interviewed them all, and now I’m interviewing you. So I’m very excited to see this one. 

I never met Tammy. All of our scenes were separate, but I know that everyone loves her. She’s a very talented and well-liked actress.

I noticed you’re also in the second season of Six. What can you tell us about your role without giving away any spoilers?

I am in two episodes of the second season of Six, and my character’s name is Sam Rivera. I don’t think I can say anything else about my character, but I will say that what absolutely drew me to this character is that she is very strong-minded, highly intelligent and independent. It was so much fun to play her.

As far as the experience of being a part of this show, it was incredible. I worked with director Steve Shill who blew my mind. He was so introspective yet so coherent in how he wanted our scenes to play out. For example, before you roll, you have this moment that’s called blocking. It’s when the actors first get on set and the director and actors will move around and figure out where they’re going to be placed and where they’re gonna walk around. I had never worked with someone who was as creative as Steve in the blocking. I remember walking up to him and saying, “I love blocking with you.” He laughed, but it was true. He made me feel like I was in acting class with that same fluidity and risk-taking. I was pinching myself about that experience. He was lovely to work with. And like Scott, the director of Frozen In Love, he and Steve both disarm you as an actor on set. They do stuff to make you feel completely comfortable. As an actor, that’s such an important thing because when you feel comfortable on set and stage, you take more risks and chances, and better performances will come out of that.

Behind-the-scenes
Six

One of the things I appreciate about Six is that they really try to portray things in the right way. The show does not want to shy away from what actually happens and how it feels when they go out on a mission. They depict how that affects their personal lives and their mental health. I think it’s a very important show to have on the airways now, especially with the current state of the world. It’s realizing what these men put on the line for the safety of others and what they have to sacrifice. It’s really humbling to learn about all of that. I had done some research before I got involved with the show. It’s pretty staggering the kind of things that they have to go through and have to cope with. There are consequences to it, and they do it for the love of their country. It’s a really brave and courageous act to have such a selfless way to live.

Jumping back to Hallmark, another thing I have noticed about the network is that they are really promoting diversity in their films and shows. 

It is so great that Hallmark is doing this. I’m delighted to be a part of this movement. Hallmark is famous for their Christmas movies. Everyone I know watches them over the holidays because they remind us to reflect on our core family values. They’re always about authentic connections and love. And they always tug at the heartstrings as well. So to be a part of Hallmark programming is pretty special.

Photo by Sara Rogers Photography

I’m excited to see diversity coming to Hallmark and other networks, but I’m glad Hallmark is still maintaining their commitment to good storytelling. 

Well, they should go hand-in-hand. There’s no reason we can’t have diversity and yet have good, ol’ family values too. They shouldn’t feature disconnected characters or have disconnected words in these stories.

Because of your ethnicity and the fact that you’re also a woman, how do you feel about these issues in the filmmaking community?

You know, I am a big supporter of women in film. Women make up fifty percent of the population, and yet that representation is simply not found yet in our writers and directors and producers. And even the leading roles are still predominantly men. Social equality is something I think we should still strive for. I know they say “Art imitates real life,” or “Real life imitates art.”  But in this case, since there’s not equal representation for women in these roles behind the camera, that should be the goal–to have equal representation for women. It would be great to have that kind of representation at all levels of the film industry.

Well, I’m glad women have made some strides in that direction, but we do have a long ways to go. {pause} Thank you, Sandy, for sharing so much of yourself with us today. I’m very excited for the premiere. 

Me too, Ruth. And thank you again for reaching out. I really appreciate it.

I think it is absolutely fantastic that the ethnic topography of Hallmark is gradually changing to become more inclusive and more representative of the diversity that we witness in this marvelous world of ours. Sandy is a part of that deliberate, steady progression, and I couldn’t be happier that she has already earned a role as a supporting lead in what is purported to be a massive hit for Winterfest Hallmark programming. Sandy is one who has joined her voice with a myriad of others in this industry to act as a champion for more opportunities for women, and I believe the movement is quite blessed to have someone of her expertise, integrity, and talent.

However, in spite of her strong beliefs regarding this issue, she remains benevolent, humble, and a genuine team player. She persists is remaining true to her values. Moreover, I believe that all who have ever worked with her would agree that the cry of her heart is to serve others in her profession by telling stories in such a way that the viewers will not only be entertained, but they will think about their position in this global society. Also perchance, some may even find their deep-seated views challenged in a judgment-free zone.

So please tune in tonight (January 13th) to the Hallmark Channel for the second Winterfest movie premiere, Frozen In Love. Additionally, I would invite my readers to check out all of Sandy’s links below and consider following her where applicable. Sandy is a resplendent example of a woman who is equable, sagacious, and fiercely gifted who chooses to make a difference using the abilities with which she has been endowed. I greatly anticipate what her future may hold as more opportunities come her way to articulately embody characters that are stalwart, innovative, and refreshing to watch.

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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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