CBC’s Heartland is already in the Canadian television history books as the longest-running hour-long scripted drama series. The series shoots in High River, Alberta and is set at a horse rescues ranch in the fictional town of Hudson. As the family drama enters its 10th season this fall we chatted with Canadian actress, singer and women’s rights activist Michelle Morgan who plays Samantha “Lou” Fleming. She splits her time between Vancouver and Calgary:
How do you relate to your character Lou on Heartland?
I get asked that a lot. We’re both working Moms and we both value family, but other than that we’re very different. Lou is much more organized and put together than me. I’m more casual. I like to get outside, hike and surf. She’s more business oriented.
What’s it like to star in Heartland – the longest-running one-hour scripted Canadian drama series in history?
Well, it’s normal life for me. It’s been my reality for the past 10 years. We all feel really lucky to be part of such a great show.
What’s your first memory of wanting to be an actor?
Playing Potiphar’s wife in “Joseph and The Amazing Technicolor Dream Coat” in grade seven. She only had one line, but I got to wear lipstick and a feather boa and I really vamped it up. I got a lot of laughs and that was an addictive feeling. I felt at home on the stage.
You were accepted to do your masters in journalism at UBC but declined to pursue acting, how did you come to that pivotal decision?
I was very rational about it. I wrote out the pros and cons and weighed my options. My boyfriend at the time (now my husband) forwarded me an article about decision making. The essence of it was, if you are faced with a really tough decision and both options seem good, go with what works for you NOW. Acting was starting to feel it could be a real career for me, so I went with it.
What are your favourite Vancouver productions you’ve been part of?
I loved being on Stargate Atlantis. My character was sort of an android; it was really fun to play. They ended up bringing me back to play a larger role. That was satisfying.
As a Calgary-native who has lived in Toronto and Vancouver, how does each city’s film and television industry differ?
They’re all so different. Calgary has a small, very talented and hardworking film industry. I know most of them and they are like family to me. Vancouver services a lot of big American productions and I’m not as familiar with it, but I’d like to be! The Toronto scene services big productions but also feels more grass roots. I know more people out there making indie films and shorts. There seems to be a lot more Canadian content being filmed in Toronto. All of the Canadian crews are so talented. Canadians are amazing at making film and television!
Advice for aspiring actors?
If you really want to be an actor, you have be prepared to commit. Forget about plan b, focus on your craft. Find a really good, highly recommended acting class or acting program. A lot of young actors rely on their confidence, but sometimes that confidence runs dry or is called into question. You want a solid training foundation so that you have a big bag of acting tools to use as your career evolves.
Interview by Amar Mirchandani @amarmirch