SC: Unlike some of your When Calls the Heart costars, your story did not begin in Canada. Can you share a bit more about your journey to become an actor and what drew you to Vancouver?
NB: I started in theater in the UK. I played Diana Ross in a Motown show for six years, and by the end of that I wasn't sure whether I was tired of playing the same role or I was tired of the industry itself. I met someone who was Australian, and I thought I would go to Australia for a year; a chance to change it up and do whatever I want to do, even if it's not in the industry. I went to Australia and I realized my heart is always really going to be in performing in some way, so I was doing a cabaret show there for a while and then I actually met up with someone who is sort of a talent scout. He dealt with people that wanted to move from Australia or New Zealand to the States or Canada and I had a chat with him, and he gave me two options to try something else, Vancouver or Los Angeles. Vancouver is good because they do a lot of American productions, and he said that would be the best place in Canada to get your credits recognizable in the States. He also gave me the option of going to LA, but of course the 01 visa is a much more difficult and expensive process. I just thought, that since I know some people in Canada, I’m going to give Canada a go and see if I can meet up with agents. I was able to get meetings with agents in Toronto and Vancouver because I wasn’t sure which side of the country I wanted to be on; I ended up agreeing to be with an agent out here in Vancouver.
SC: Love at First Bark is on Super Channel Heart & Home On Demand. You play Cindy Howard, who works alongside Kevin McGarry’s character in a dog training business. What do you remember most about your time on that set?
NB: This is so random, but it was supposed to be a spring movie filmed in Vancouver, and I remember it was a year with an unusual amount of snow and we would be filming in minus 2. It’s supposed to be the middle of spring, so that was the thing that really stuck in my head. It was really quite fun on set because Jana [Kramer] and Kevin, obviously they sing as well, and between takes, one of them would break out into a song from Beauty and the Beast or something, so it was just cute and fun.
SC: Was Kevin the only character on When Calls the Heart that you had previously worked with?
NB: Actually, no. Andrea Brooks and I have the same management, so we have worked together a few times. We worked together on a show called UnREAL and on Karen Kingsbury’s The Bridge one and two. I also worked with Johannah Newmarch on my first project. I hadn’t met any of the other cast prior to filming.
SC: Were you familiar about When Calls the Heart when you auditioned for the part of Minnie?
NB: I didn't know When Calls the Heart, but I knew it was a period drama and Hallmark's most popular show. I had never seen it, but I guess I knew who the characters were. I didn't know all about the love triangle and everything like that, but I knew bits and pieces about the show. When I auditioned for it, I watched some of it to make sure that the time I believed the show was, was how I had imagined.
SC: Did you do that before your audition or once you had received the part?
NB: I did it before my audition. I always try and make sure that I have as much information as possible about my character as it's not something that I want to be thinking about while auditioning. I want to be comfortable with the time period in general, so I made sure to research that time in history.
SC: In the previews of season 8, Minnie has been called a protective mother. What other words would you use to describe her?
NB: Minnie is very caring, loving and very intelligent. She is not overcautious, but she is very cautious in general compared to her husband. She is not let’s just see how this all goes; she’s more let’s plan this and work it out.
SC: How are you and your character Minnie alike?
NB: She is actually quite witty. I love how as the episodes went on, it felt like John Tinker and the writing team took elements of me into Minnie. It just molded so well, to the point where I would read the script and be like yeah exactly like that. I mean I wouldn't say I'm as cautious. I am not a parent so I’m not as cautious as her. I could try and be that intelligent, we could make a case for that. She’s very strong and I would say to be honest, turning up in Canada now as I think about it, I don't know who that person was, but she was really strong. I'd love to meet her again. It was because by the time I got to Vancouver I only knew people in Toronto, so I was totally alone here. I honestly don’t know if I would do it right now. I was just determined at the time.
SC: Is there anything specific that you feel that you do to get into that character?
NB: Actually no, but the reason is when I was doing the audition, there's certain times where I have a very vivid image of who this person is, and I will just read the sides and be like, “right, I’m going to wear these earrings, my hair is going to be like this” and I just know. So when I do the audition, I would just become that person and that's how it felt to be Minnie. If I'm rehearsing the lines outside of action, I do not sound the same. And all of a sudden action comes along and Minnie just appears. I don't know, but it could just be a part of me. I do quite enjoy playing that time period so you know my posture changes and the way I talk obviously must change. But what's interesting is because of the time period, there are certain elements of English that I would normally use that would be used in that time period, that for people nowadays in North America sort of has turned into a bit more slang. Whereas back then it felt like it was connected a lot to the British language in England, so that in itself makes it a nice transition for me.
SC: Do you find it a challenge to change your accent for different roles?
NB: I don't find it a challenge. I actually am not sure how I mastered the American accent. I feel like when I was young it's all I ever used to watch, so I would hear something and just regurgitate it. I really cannot recall a British series that we actually watched a lot of, everything was just American. I don't know why we didn't come to think of it. But I would say there have been times when I would come across a word that I have never said. I remember this so well from Love at First Bark; it was the word drawer, like a drawer that you pull out. I had never said that in American, so I remember asking Jana, “how do you say that?” So, if I come across something that involves a specific word that I've never had to say before, that doesn't come naturally to me I will always check, otherwise I don’t find it too difficult.
SC: If you could give Minnie a piece of advice what would you want to share with her?
NB: Angela will be OK, that is what I would say to her.
SC: Being a period piece, what has surprised you most about the show?
NB: What actually surprised me was looking around and we're literally the first family that's come as a set. Everyone is sort of finding love or just got married. I would also say that it’s not necessarily a surprise per se, but just how close knit everyone is. I've been on enough sets and there's often always some conflict, even if it's a little bit of conflict between people. It was just really refreshing everywhere you look, whether it's cast or crew, everyone is sort of on the same wavelength and so well connected, that you end up feeling comfortable quickly.
SC: It appears that the “cabin in the woods” is the Canfield family home. Would this also be your favourite filming location in “Hope Valley” or where would you have liked to film more?
NB: The cabin in the woods, in all honesty, when the weather is nice, it's actually really nice and serene. When the weather is not so nice, it gets very muddy and hard to sort of get around the area. I quite liked filming in the church/school. I mean I did have a reasonable amount of time there, but yeah, I did quite like filming there.
SC: If you could describe each of your Canfield family members in real life, how would you describe Viv, Vienna, and Elias?
NB: Elias, he's just very sweet and polite. Vienna, she is also very sweet and polite and very smart. Viv, we just got along really well. I had never met him before, and everyone was “so you must have met Viv” but I never had. All of a sudden, we spoke on the phone about our characters and we just really connected on how we saw the family and what we wanted to convey. He's got a really, really nice energy that I think just matched mine really, really well, and that's kind of spilled out on to his children. You just know they are his children.
SC: In addition to being an actor, you are also a talented singer. Would you want to incorporate singing into your role on When Calls the Heart if there are future seasons?
NB: If there are future seasons, it would be nice to do something where Angela plays piano and I sing with her. It's our little time together, a bonding time. You know that’s just really cute and really close. I know so many of the cast can sing, so short of a full musical episode, it would be fun to incorporate a little bit in there somewhere. And as Joseph was a Pastor, I would assume that she probably did sing in the church she used to be at, so yeah, it would be nice to include that.
SC: How was the experience of being an actor during COVID-19? What changed most for you?
NB: It was a very different way of filming. Totally random, but to the point where when I watch an old series on Netflix, I'm like, “oh they're so close. Oh wait, no, that was when COVID wasn’t around.” I think it was making sure we were wearing the masks and staying at a safe distance and maintaining the bubble with my Canfield family. That was very different because you know, speaking to everybody, whether it's hair or makeup and things like that, you can’t just go over anytime. You need to slow down and remind yourself that only a certain number of people can be in here at one time. I wouldn’t say it slowed filming down at all because I think they worked around it really well. Everyone ensured that the scenes were done following protocol, so it didn't really slow anything down. It's just you as the actor had to always be vigilant for yourself and keep that awareness.
SC: Did you have any special hobbies or projects that you focused on when away from set during 2020?
NB: I actually had been working on a track. A producer in the UK had asked if I would do a single with him, so that took up a good beginning half of 2020 until that was released. That kind of kept me occupied until this came along and that filled up the other half of the year.
SC: When were you first aware of the #Hearties fanbase?
NB: When the first article came out on Entertainment Tonight. I was in bed asleep because what else do you do during the pandemic? I woke up and looked at my phone and said “oh, what is this?” I guess the story is out then. Then this barrage of comments, people following people, and being able to scroll, scroll, scroll, scroll, scroll and not getting to the end of it. Then a couple of the Hearties were like, “well, you've got us now, we're never going to go anywhere. You are stuck with us, just warning you now.” Yeah, so that was nice.
SC: What has it been like to interact with the fans?
NB: Oh, it's been really, really fun. You know the ones, for example, that might be British, they're like, oh, I realized you were British and I'm British too. It's just really nice because they are so chatty, and unfortunately sometimes you just can't get to everybody. But they are always happy to support literally anything I've done. So, if a single is released or something and I just pop it in my stories, I get a bunch of them saying “oh, this is great” or just some hearts or something, so it’s just really sweet.
SC: Have you had any other fanbases or fans like that?
NB: No, if you're on something, they'll sort of start and then it kind of drops off, but I've noticed clearly that is not the case in this situation.
SC: What are your future aspirations? Do you want to continue acting or would you consider pursuing writing, directing, or producing?
NB: I would always continue acting, for sure. I definitely think that producing or directing is something I'm really interested in. I am a little bit of a control freak at times, so you know when you're directing, “it's my way or the highway.” No, no, I'd like to really try that, you know, and I think while being on a series, it really helps you see other elements to the show when you're working with a director for a long period of time. The different episodes had different directors and so you see how different directors work and how they do things on the same show, which is different to working on a number of various shows. You see how different directors work in the same medium when it's like that. It’s really nice to learn and it's definitely something I would look to in the future.
SC: Who is someone that you would like to work with or have more time with on screen?
NB: You know, I would actually quite like to have time as Minnie with Lucas and Nathan. I don't know why she would even need to talk to them, but still, I just think it would be interesting. Because I'd love for Minnie to have her own opinion of both of them, that would just be kind of fun.
SC: Any upcoming projects that we can keep an eye out for?
NB: I feel like because of the pandemic, sometimes you just don't really know what's going on and then all of a sudden something's happening. It is like what happened when I booked When Calls the Heart. It happened so fast just because of timing. The best is to follow on social.
SC: An openness to adventure and a passion for performing led Natasha to find her home in Canada. With a past that spans several continents, and experiences ranging from theatre to cabaret to the recording industry, Natasha’s talents and versatility are a wonderful addition to the When Calls the Heart cast. While waiting to discover this cautious and caring Canfield character, ensure you are following Natasha on social, as you don’t want to miss where her music or acting will take her next.