It only took a brief moment when meeting Loretta for Hearties to realize that her bubbly, warm and engaging personality is in stark contrast to that of Florence. This disparity highlights Loretta’s tremendous talent as an actress and gives fans a new appreciation for her character. Loretta kindly offered a deeper look into her role as Florence, her work as an actress and how in life she has followed her heart.
SC: Having grown up in Australia, what was the draw in moving to Canada?
LW: I met a wonderful Canadian man in my home country and fell in love. The heart wants what the heart wants, and Canada is a wonderful place to live – I have no regrets and visit my home country of Australia very often.
SC: Are there any favourite items that you always bring back to Canada after visiting home?
LW: Food… Junk food that I miss from my childhood like Violet Crumble (candy) and Twisties (chips), Pizza Shapes, Jaffas… All delicious treats!
SC: Do you have a preference between theatre and acting on camera?
LW: I love them both equally.
SC: Can you share more about your audition process and what drew you to audition for When Calls the Heart?
LW: I was on vacation when I got the call to audition for WCTH. I had a good feeling about this show and knew that Michael Landon Jr. was going to be at the auditions. I wanted to meet him and collaborate, so I left my vacation early to be there. I’m so glad I did!! I originally auditioned for the role of Marta and was then sent to the network to play ‘Florence’. I truly feel that playing “Flo” was meant to be for me and I am so grateful.
SC: Having worked on several different types of sets, what is unique about “Hope Valley” and being a period piece?
LW: The wardrobe, the props! And what you see is what you get – the people who work on WCTH genuinely like and care about each other. WCTH has attracted like-minded people together who care about the show, the Hearties and each other – what a gift! I don’t know about other shows and how that element compares, but Hope Valley is an awesome place to go to work.
SC: You have previously described Florence as a “tough cookie with a big heart.” Would you say that has been consistent over six seasons? Do you ever feel that Florence is misunderstood (by Hearties or the Hope Valley community)?
LW: I would say her character’s baseline is the same (her loyalty to her friends and community) though she has evolved and expresses it differently sometimes. Florence has learnt a lot of lessons from Elizabeth, Abigail and other influences on the show which has changed her for the better. Though sometimes she just can’t help her instincts to be ‘in the know’ first. One of the things I love about this character is her imperfection and she has many lessons to learn (don’t we all?!)
SC: How has playing the role of Florence changed or challenged you as an actor?
The role of Florence came to me when I really needed it. I was having a very rough time personally and could understand Florence’s pain. Being able to play a role that I shared some very human characteristics with was somewhat cathartic. And being on a show that has run this long is an absolute treat!
SC: If you could write the script for Florence in a future season, what direction would you want your character to take?
LW: I’d give her romance. And a job – something that she can own for herself. It would be great to also have her give some good advice from a lesson she has had to learn the hard way (rather than always needing advice herself.
SC: How would you describe Team FloMo’s (Florence & Molly) friendship?
LW: LOYAL. CONFIDANTES. LOVE JOHANNAH! LOVE #FLOMO
SC: If you were on a reality show to race around the world, which Hope Valley character would you choose as your partner and why?
LW: Great question… I think Bill. He is strong and makes firm decisions (there is nothing wishy-washy about him and I don’t think we would get lost with him leading!)
SC: Is there a character that you have not yet had the chance to portray? If yes, what would that role look like?
LW: So many characters I would love to play… and that is an ever-evolving list as I age. Some ideas include: villains/complicated and imperfect and human women who have life experience and are fighting for a better world, comedic women who share both their strength, humor and vulnerability. Plus, I’d love to play Blanche Dubois from A Streetcar Named Desire!
SC: How long have you been an acting teacher? What types of classes do you teach and what have you learned most about yourself in this process?
LW: I’ve been teaching for over 7 years at Haven Studio in Vancouver. I teach scene study class (scenes from fantastic plays) I am inspired by the people I meet – everyone is unique and has something great to offer. I consider my time as a teacher extraordinary and a real blessing to share my love of acting with others.
SC: What are your interests or favourite activities to enjoy when you have a break in your schedule?
SC: How has social media impacted you as an actor, or how has acting changed because of the influence of social media?
LW: Being able to interact directly with fans is cool. I try to not let social media affect my craft of acting or my work, but it has become a way to share what you are doing professionally. In some ways, I am quite uncomfortable and don’t love the ‘self-promotion’ element of social media, but it is a way for us to connect and get the word out, which in the entertainment business, is necessary. I think social media is here to stay and it is great that we can reach people we normally would not be able to.
SC: Where in the world would be your dream location to film?
LW: Anywhere in Australia. Oh… and Positano, Italy.
SC: What are your future aspirations?
LW: To focus on a well-balanced life including family/friends (nurturing my personal relationships) and taking my acting career as far as I can while loving the creative collaboration between actor/director/writer/other actors/crew/audience. I’m all about the people and creating great projects together!
SC: Can you share about any upcoming projects that viewers can keep an eye out for?
LW: Yes, I appear in an episode of a new kids show on Disney called “Gabby Duran and the Unsittables”
SC: Who are the people that inspire you?
LW: My husband and daughter. And great acting teachers… and women who use their influence for good - Michelle Obama/Sandra Oh/Cate Blanchett/Emma Thompson/Jameela Jamil and more!
SC: What has it meant to you to know that Canadians have improved access to When Calls the Heart and other family programming?
LW: FANTASTIC! This show has created a movement that is full of compassion/love and goodwill – all good things for the world. As many people as possible who have access to the show and can experience the #Heartie love, the better!
SC: Anything else that you would like to share with the Hearties about yourself, Florence or Season 6?
LW: Oh watch… My fave episode for Florence is still to come… DON’T MISS IT!
SC: From leaving her home in the Land Down Under to auditioning for WCTH, Loretta Walsh pursues her dreams while following her heart. Her passion for acting on stage or on camera, in addition to her abilities to coach and collaborate with others, demonstrates her diverse talents and skills. While waiting to see where Feisty Flo’s story goes in season six, connect with Loretta on social media, as her own story just might inspire you to follow your heart.