Q & A: Andrea Brooks

From a young age, Andrea Brooks dreamt of becoming an actress. At age fourteen, her dream was about to become a reality. Due to her talent in figure skating, the door to the entertainment industry swung open for her. She landed her first role in the Disney movie Ice Princess, and from there her career blossomed. Andrea has starred in Supergirl, A Wish for Christmas, and Summer in the City to name a few. She is best known for her role as Nurse Faith Carter in the Hallmark original series, When Calls the Heart. I had the opportunity to speak with Andrea about her acting career, her role as Nurse Faith, and her upcoming projects.

What made you become an actress? Was it something you always dreamt of?

Andrea: I love this question! I think I always had an interest in becoming an actor or performing. I still remember being three-years-old watching Sesame Street and other shows on television and wanting to be one of those kids! I wanted to be on the TV! I think that was always in the back of my mind, but my father worked very hard when I was growing up, and my mother is an academic. So there was no one in my life who was involved in the entertainment business, but I think I was always pushing in that direction. I was always involved in musical theater and I was involved with a semi-professional theater group when I was a kid. I was a competitive figure skater and dancer. I was always doing things that were creative. I grew up mostly on the outskirts of Vancouver, so I always knew film was a possibility because a lot of filming happens here. I knew kids that were doing commercials, and I was interested, but I never knew how to ask my parents.

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When I was 14-years-old there was a pamphlet circulating at my skating club and they were looking for figure skaters for a Disney movie, Ice Princess. It was just to be in the background or have small parts here and there, but they needed kids who could skate. So I remember going, “Mom! Mom! I want to go to this open casting!” My mom was not interested and she told me, “Andrea, you’re a busy kid. There’s no way you’re doing this.” So I begged a ride off of a friend of mine’s mother. I ended up going to the audition, my mom ended up finding out and was fine with it. I remember I went in and we had an audition where we read three lines and gave them a VHS of ourselves skating. I remember I went into the room and thinking, “Ok, this is my shot!” So I read the lines as realistically as I could and the casting director was like, “Oh! You’re pretty good! Let’s do that again!” So we did it again, and then she gave me more sides (lines) for a different character. By the time I got home there was a message on the answering machine saying, “We really like Andrea. We want to push her through to the next round of auditions and make her read a bigger role.” My mom couldn’t believe it! She ended up coming around and I made it pretty far in the audition process for that movie. I ended up being a contender for the main role, didn’t end up getting it, but by the end of the whole process I had an agent and I was just kind of in the business. My mom made me make a few promises, keep my grades up and all that, and if it all worked out she would let me try acting. I never stopped!

Yes! I remember watching that movie when it came out. I was about 9-years-old. I loved it!

Andrea: That’s so cool! I remember when it came out my mom was telling me, “You’re going to be disappointed you didn’t get this,” but I just didn’t care. I was so happy and loved the whole thing! I also remember thinking, “Ugh! The girls they picked aren’t real figure skaters.” Since they had to use stunt doubles. (Laughs)

Faith came into the show towards the end of Season 2. What was it like for you to join the cast? Were you familiar with the show?

Andrea: First of all, I’ve always been interested in doing time periods. Even when I was young I loved Anne of Green Gables and Little House on the Prairie! I loved reading about the pioneers and settlers. It’s always been a side interest of mine. So when I heard When Calls the Heart came to Vancouver, I remember putting that on my radar and thinking that’s a show I would be interested in. I got asked to audition for the role of Julie Thatcher, and that went really well! It was looking like I would potentially be playing this role. I went to network for it. Then I was asked to dye my hair, so I kind of assumed “Great! I’ll play Elizabeth’s sister!” At the last minute it fell apart and someone else was cast. I guess they remembered me though, and the role of Faith popped up towards the end of the second season and my name was thrown out for that. I was actually out of town, but they asked me to put some Faith scenes on tape. I shot them in terrible lighting with just my laptop camera. I actually found them a couple weeks ago, and I’ve considered releasing them, but they’re not very good! (Laughs) So I threw it together quickly and sent it to my agent. I sort of forgot about it, but then I found out I had it!

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Originally, she was only written as a two-episode arc. Back in those days they were thinking they were going to continue with the Hamilton storyline. So the sisters and the family were the good roles in season two. So I didn’t think too much of Faith. I was interested in the show and I heard great things about everybody. Then when I showed up to shoot I thought, “Oh my goodness, this is the most amazing cast! Everyone is so brilliant! I love this!” I really give Daniel [Lissing] a lot of the credit for the reason Faith ended up coming back. He had a lot of conversations with me about how to play this part, who the Hearties were, what the fans expected, not to play anything with malicious intent, and just to be honest and open. I think that’s what Faith is deep down. She’s an honest character, and she doesn’t have any ill will of any kind. So it just went from there! I got really good feedback, but I had no idea they were going to arc me into the next season. I was really excited when I found out I was coming back!

That actually leads me into my next question. I think Faith has had a great arc. Seeing her from where she was when we first met her to now, she has grown so much! I think she is much more confident in herself now, versus that girl who had just left her fiancé and was alone in a new town. She also had an awkward relationship with Elizabeth, but now they’re good friends. What’s it like for you as an actress to be able to portray that arc and her journey?

Andrea: That’s such a good question! I think the way that Faith is getting settled in Hope Valley sort of mimics my experience getting acquainted with the cast, the crew, the show, and the hearties. It has kind of been a parallel experience. I always say that the first day on a new show is like your first day at school as the new kid. You show up and hope everyone likes you, you hope you make friends, and you hope you don’t screw up. I always have that in the back of my mind, but everyone has been so welcoming. So it’s been a similar thing because now I am very close with Daniel, Erin and I are very good friends, Ben, Loretta, everybody on the show! I was already friends with Paul Greene. It’s become this huge family! And that’s what Faith is experiencing as well. She comes in only knowing Jack, and she has to find her footing, stand up for herself, and leave behind her past. So she’s absolutely growing as a character and gaining confidence as the season progresses.

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Going back to the period piece part, playing a nurse in the 1900s is very different than playing one in present day. Did you do any research beforehand?

Andrea: Yes I did! That’s one of the lovely things about playing a character season to season is that not only do they grow, but it allows for you to do continual research. I remember being in an old bookstore and finding a book on Florence Nightingale and thinking, “This is perfect! I am going to read this!” That’s what I like about a series is that you’re constantly looking for things and learning new things. So I would say my research is continual. I am still doing research, but I wouldn’t say it’s concentrated to any one particular part of time. I always have my eyes open. I read about the history of the Red Cross being started by nurses. It has absolutely opened my eyes to a whole new set of experiences that I otherwise would not have read about.

All season the Hearties have been rooting for Faith to find love. They want her with Hickam, some people liked Ray, Carson, but I don’t think anyone saw Shane coming!

Andrea: No! I think you’re right! I’ve been teasing all season! I remember earlier in the season asking, “What do you guys think?” You’re right, everyone went through all those names but there was literally no Shane. I think at one point someone said that would be a nice pairing and I was thinking, “You are so right! I wish I could say something!” That’s also why I am glad we are talking now because the last episode had the big reveal of that. I’ve been very careful all season watching what I say. Now the cat is out of the bag and that’s fun!

Yes! What’s it like for you to see everyone have such strong opinions about who your character ends up with?

Andrea: Oh goodness! Maybe in a weird way it’s kind of a sense of validation, just because Faith did cause a bit of stir when she first came onto the show. So it’s nice to see people’s reactions and people transitioning over to see her as a good character. I know that probably happened a while ago but, it’s nice to know people are rooting for you!

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What was it like getting to work with Niall Matter and Liam Hughes? He is just an incredibly talented young actor!

Andrea: I was so excited! I wasn’t certain about how that storyline was going to manifest itself. We had already started shooting and once I found out I was ecstatic! Niall is such a professional and such a good actor. He’s fantastic! He’s a very caring actor, he’s very giving, he’s always looking out for you when you’re doing a scene with him. And Liam is just the sweetest kid! So talented! Such a great face for television. He was lovely! He bought everyone wonderful Christmas gifts when we wrapped the season. Just an awesome kid! I was really excited about getting to work with him!

All the kids are so talented! Ava [Grace Cooper] killed me this last episode! She was amazing!

Andrea: Yes! It was a big episode for her! She is just a gem! Erin and I always joke about how Ava’s character and Liam’s character should go on a kid date. They’re just too adorable! (Laughs)

Is there anything you can tease about the season finale?

Andrea: I can say there are some pretty awesome scenes! I got to work with Paul Greene, Lori [Loughlin], and Erin [Krakow] quite a bit. Tensions are high, but I think this episode really delivers as far as a season finale goes.

We are all very excited to see your new project, which is Destination Wedding. What can you tell us about that?

Andrea: Yes! It comes out June 3rd! That’s what I love about these movies. They turn them around really quick. Hallmark has been so lovely. I think there is a really unique family when it comes to Hallmark. So many of us do so many of the projects. I think this is my 6th or 7th movie in the past two years. This one was obviously really exciting because it was a destination film. As far as the experience, it was probably one of the best filming experiences I’ve ever had! There’s something to be said for traveling to a new country with a group of friends. That’s the great thing with Hallmark is that we all know each other, or of each other, or have other friends in common. And it was such a coincidence that I happen to be working with three guys who were on When Calls the Heart! [Jeremy Guilbaut, Andrew Dunbar, and Preston Vanderslice] That was really fun! We talked about the Hearties a lot! It almost felt like a college experience! We all had rooms on the same floor and would meet up for dinner. We just had a ball!

In terms of the project itself, it stars Alexa PenaVega who is amazing! She plays my sister. I am a temperamental bride and I decide last minute that maybe I don’t want to be married. There’s a big kerfuffle, and the family has to come together to try to make the wedding happen. In doing that, my maid of honor and best man end up rekindling their friendship. It’s a big family movie! There are a lot of funny characters! There’s a lot of drama of whether or not the wedding will happen, how will it happen, who’s actually in love, and in the end you have to see if it all comes together or not.

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It sounds great! All the June movies sound amazing! And we have a lot of familiar faces in them as well!

Andrea: Yes! There are so many When Calls the Heart faces! Hopefully that helps the Hearties in the off-season! I am so excited to see it just because it’s in a new location! We’re always up in Vancouver shooting at the same places. It’s really fun that this is going to have a completely unique look to it. We had the most amazing Mexican film crew. They were so hardworking and lovely. It was the first Hallmark movie shot down there, so everyone took it very seriously and I think it’s going to show. I was such an awesome experience! I am still sad that I am back home! I wish I could go back!

You touched on this briefly, but what’s it been like for you to join the Hallmark family?

Andrea: It has been such a gift as an actor because it’s probably the closest thing you can get to consistent work if you’re not on a show, but I also happen to be on one of their shows. Just the fact that they trust you and there’s this communal feeling, even among the executives, and everyone is on the same page. Everyone knows each other, which is so neat! You instantly feel this bond, and I had never really experienced that before. I think of Hallmark like the old studio system in Hollywood where actors were contracted to a studio. Of course we’re not only contracted to Hallmark, we do work on other networks, but there’s a really close bond between everyone that works on the shows and movies. It has been a huge blessing.

Finally, are there any other projects you can tell us about? Any chance to see you on Supergirl again?

There are a lot of discussions going on. Obviously Supergirl is going into season 3 and my character, Eve, is still very much a part of that universe. I still have some more things coming up with that this season. That was one of the hard things this year, because I was bouncing back and forth between When Calls the Heart and Supergirl. They were shooting at the same time for a while and it got a little crazy. I am in talks for a series, potentially, but it’s just a lot of talks right now, nothing completely confirmed. There’s a lot happening! It’s a busy time up here in Vancouver! I am not complaining! (Laughs)

Not only is Andrea extremely talented and beautiful, but she has an even more beautiful heart that radiates love, kindness, and humility. It was so lovely getting to speak with Andrea! Her warm smile immediately invites you in and makes you feel like you’re speaking with a great friend you’ve known all your life. It always makes me so happy to see such successful individuals be able to keep themselves grounded in a society that tends to boost your ego quite easily. Andrea serves as an excellent role model for young girls to look up to in a time where we need more positive influences in the media. It is clear that Andrea has a long and bright future ahead of her, and I am eager to see where her journey goes. Make sure to stay up-to-date with everything Andrea is doing by following her on all her social media platforms!

Twitter: https://twitter.com/AndreaKBrooks

Instagram: http://instagram.com/AndreaKBrooks

*Photo credit to Hallmark, Crown Media, and Andrea’s Twitter
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