By Susie Bramhall
Photography Credit: Kayla Wallace
For every Heartie fan out there, weekly screen time with the folks of WHEN CALLS THE HEART’S Hope Valley is not only welcoming, but each episode makes you feel as if you are part of the community. Face it, it’s easy to get wrapped up and invested in the heartfelt storylines and standout characters in the show. But it’s none other than new business owner, Fiona Miller, that quickly became a fan favorite the minute she arrived on the scene. Her confidence and straightforward approach to life has resonated with the loyal audience and her funny and sweet personality brings a relatable quality to her character.
Lotz Of Happy Christmas was thrilled to have the opportunity to discuss the character of Fiona with the actress who plays her, Kayla Wallace. It is easy to see the similarities between the actress, Kayla, and the character she portrays, as Kayla’s witty, easy-going personality definitely shines through. Kayla also shares how she got into acting, as well as a delicious family recipe for her favorite Christmas treat!
So, grab a cup of tea and enjoy our exclusive interview with none other than…Kayla Wallace.
LOHC: Hello Kayla! Let’s start from the beginning…where did you grow up?
Wallace: I grew up in a small town called Shawnigan Lake in British Columbia, Canada.
LOHC: Did you have another profession prior to acting or was acting always your passion?
Wallace: I was always a performer at heart! I loved the stage. I grew up dancing and doing lots of musical theatre and I attended a performing arts college right after high school. It was during that year I geared my focus to acting for film and television. I worked many jobs along the way to support myself until my career took off… countless restaurants, teaching musical theater summer camps, and I was even a bank teller for a few years.
LOHC: What were some of your television projects prior When Calls the Heart?
Wallace: My first job with Hallmark was the film ONCE UPON A PRINCE. I was SO excited about that role because, A: it was a super fun, quirky character, and B: it was filmed on Vancouver Island where I grew up!
LOHC: So how did When Calls the Heart come about? Tell us about the audition process.
Wallace: Months after that movie was released Hallmark was looking for their new character “Fiona” for season 6 of When Calls the Heart, and they brought me in to audition. It was a whirlwind. I binged a few episodes of the show the night I got the audition scenes, threw on a longer skirt and blouse, and auditioned early the next morning. I was connected/drawn to Fiona from the beginning, so creating the character was a fun process. I found out later that day that I got the role, had my costume fitting the following day, and my first day of filming the day after!
LOHC: That’s fantastic! What a short turnaround time from the audition to landing the role. They must have known right away…congratulations! Is there anything you can tell us about what is coming up for your character next season on When Calls the Heart? What’s in store for Fiona?
Wallace: I’m hoping we get to see Fiona explore more of her romantic side. I would love for Fiona to learn how to ride a horse as well! Just putting that out there.
LOHC: We’ll have to keep a lookout! So in three words, how would you describe Fiona?
Wallace: Independent, caring, and sassy.
LOHC: When it comes to the storylines, how much input do you personally have with the direction of your character?
Wallace: It’s really lovely to have a showrunner who is so open to our ideas. John Tinker always has open ears for our ideas as a cast, and sometimes they do get written in! It really feels like a collaboration.
LOHC: Do you have other projects we should be on the lookout for this year?
Wallace: I recently did an episode on NBC’s ZOEY’S EXTRAORDINARY PLAYLIST. Such a fun show. Look out for a Christmas movie and possibly a thriller later this year! When I can post about it, I will!
LOHC: That’s great! I hear you are also a wonderful singer, too. Are there any plans to pursue this avenue on a larger scale? Do you write original music?
Wallace: Music is a huge passion of mine. Writing music and playing my piano and guitar kept me very busy while staying at home this year. I have quite a few originals collected now and would love to record them in the near future.
LOHC: So tell me, in your everyday life, how are you like your character and how are you different?
Wallace: Like Fiona, I consider myself to be pretty independent and driven…I also love shopping and fashion (I wish I could take home her wardrobe)! I wish I had more of Fiona’s confidence in confrontation. She stands up for herself in a way I love. I can get pretty shy!
LOHC: So, it’s now easy to see where Fiona gets her drive. And I agree…the wardrobe is super fun! Okay, so in one word, what is the most positive impact that playing the role of Fiona has had in your everyday personal life?
1. lively, bold, and full of spirit; cheeky.
LOHC: Now on to some holiday questions…will there be a WHEN CALLS THE HEART Christmas special this year? If so, what can we expect?
Wallace: I really hope there is, and I ALWAYS hope for a musical Christmas special! We have a cast full of musicians, and I think that would just be a blast.
LOHC: What are your three favorite holidays?
Wallace: Christmas is my favourite for obvious reasons: family time and cookies. I gotta say Halloween is my next because October 31st is my birthday. Then there is Thanksgiving: more family and yummy food.
LOHC: What are some of your favorite Christmas traditions? Is there a family tradition that you continue each year?
Wallace: Every year I look forward to spending Christmas with family. I bake candy cane biscotti with my mom every year and I always watch the Saturday Night Live Christmas Special with my dad. I have carried on both of those things!
LOHC: What is your best memory or your favorite holiday gift you received as a child? What is your most memorable gift you received as an adult?
Wallace: One year I got a McDonalds Happy Meal Doll from Santa, and I LOVED that thing. In my adult years, one of my favourite gifts was my guitar.
LOHC: Do you have a special recipe that you make each Christmas?
Wallace: Oh you bet I do! My favourite thing to have on Christmas morning with coffee is Candy Cane Biscotti. (See below for recipe!)
LOHC: Is there a special holiday event you look forward to each year?
Wallace: When I am home on Vancouver Island for Christmas, we like to go to a place called Butchart Gardens. They have a 12 days of Christmas lights festival and you can walk through it and get hot chocolate, and go ice skating. It’s magical!
LOHC: What is your best tip or theme for holiday decorating?
Wallace: I usually pick a colour theme for my tree! A few years ago it was pink, silver, and gold; last year it was red and gold. It’s fun to change it up but I always include the special meaningful ornaments.
LOHC: What is your favorite Christmas movie? What is your favorite Christmas song?
Wallace: My favourite Christmas movie is ALL I WANT FOR CHRISTMAS (1991). My favourite Christmas song is Bruce Springsteen’s version of Santa Claus is Comin’ to Town!
LOHC: And finally, what is it about Christmas that inspires you?
Wallace: I always look forward to making memories with my loved ones around the holidays…laughing, sharing food, and playing music!
Bonus Question: What is your favorite Christmas cookie?
Hands down my mom's biscotti!
Thank you to Kayla for this terrific interview and taking the time to share some special moments about her career and Christmas. And to bring some holiday cheer to your kitchen, go ahead and try this delicious Candy Cane Biscotti recipe. A family tradition for Kayla, Lotz Of Happy Christmas hopes it becomes part of your yearly holiday celebrations, too!
KAYLA WALLACE’S CANDY CANE BISCOTTI
14 oz white chocolate bakers wafers
1/2 cup crushed peppermint candy canes
1.Mix wet ingredients in a large bowl; add dry ingredients.
2.Separate dough into 4 logs.
3.Bake at 350 degrees for 18 to 20 minutes.
4.Let cool; cut into half-inch slices and bake again at 325 degrees for 12 to 14 minutes, turning once.
5.Let cool. Melt chocolate and drizzle over cookies. Sprinkle with candy canes and enjoy!