Barbara Niven – Chesapeake Shores
By: Jamie Steinberg
Q) What are the recent projects that you are working on?
A) I’m going to be doing a Christmas movie that I’ve just been cast in for Hallmark. I’m always involved in humanitarian and human rights. I’m a national ambassador for American Humane and I’ve been working hard to help them make a difference, too. American Humane and Hallmark have joined forces to do a lot of crossed efforts this year, including the American Hero Dog Awards and working with the military to reunite service dogs with their handlers. Also, they take shelter dogs who would have been put down to be service dogs for people with PTSD. There is always so much to do and not enough time to do it!
Q) What made you originally want to be a part of “Chesapeake Shores?”
A) I got a call one day from Bill Abbott who is the President and CEO of Hallmark and Crown Media. This was when we were still doing “Cedar Cove” and he said, “I just read this great novel by an author named Sherryl Woods. I love this family and I see you in the part of Megan.” While we were on the phone I Googled it and I bought it digitally. I read through it and just from day one I identified with this woman. I wanted to be able to play her because I just knew where she was coming from. I didn’t want someone to portray her as just a mom who left her kids on a whim for herself. Megan is fighting still for her kids that she left to give them a better life. My research and history and background for this character, I just know that as a mother myself you don’t leave just to throw your children to the wolves. You leave because something is wrong at home and something is going to hurt them at home. She and Mick were obviously fighting and she was not fulfilled. I believe she was in a big depression, too. Sometimes you need to get away to be able to find yourself, get help and get back on track. In the back of my mind, she was always going to take her kids with her as soon as she got a place and Mick didn’t allow it. So many things happen in our lives that we can’t take back, but you can assume the guilt for whatever your part is and then come forward and just try to heal. I think that as the viewers watch the O’Brien family try to come to terms with their problems and past mistakes they will understand that people can come together, people can change and start to heal their own families. They can find a way to put things back together.
Q) How do you get into character?
A) Before I do a scene, I literally pray that when people watch it’s not just about the words, but it’s about the intention that comes through. As I play her, one of the acting tools is to mark how I’m doing with the other characters. What I mean by that is how is Megan healing in this? How are her relationships getting better? If you look on any goal that we have, if you look at the big picture it’s just going to be too overwhelming. So, you have to mark the little victories and as Megan (particularly in the scene with Jess) I try and find just a little progress and celebrate that. Maybe this time she actually looks me in the eyes. Maybe this time she doesn’t shut me down or hate me quite as much. Maybe we can have a conversation and I could acknowledge her heart and her feelings and try to make it better and make up for lost time. I hope that as people watch they realize they can do the same thing.
Q) What have been some of your most memorable moments from filming the series?
A) I’ve had some great scenes with Treat Williams. What a great actor he is! I loved in the first block we shot was the scene where he comes to the door with the flowers when Megan moves back. We found some good stuff in that scene. I think that when you have your first love you are kind of always in love with that person. No matter what happens, you forget why you broke up yet you still get goosebumps and your heart goes pitter-pat. So, when he comes to the door Megan is ready to fight and say, “I didn’t tell you because I knew you were going to try to talk me out of it.” Then, all of a sudden, he whips flowers out from behind him and it just takes her breath away again. So, I think viewers will watch that play out more this season. Another thing that I loved doing that was absolutely magical was a scene with Diane Ladd that viewers will see later on this season where we are sitting underneath a tree looking out over the ocean. She’s giving Megan that Great Nell wisdom. It was the same relationship that Diane and I have in real life. She is my mentor. She is my teacher. We love each other like we’re family. The photographer captured that moment while we were filming and he had tears running down his eyes when he brought us the photo still in his camera because there was actually this aura above us of rose gold light. So, it was magical! Again, I hope people take away the intention of that scene because it is captured in it – one of us helping each other. Anything I do with Diane Ladd is phenomenal. All of the cast are great actors and just good people. It’s a joy!
Q) What can you tease in store this season for Megan and the O’Brien family?
A) I have a lot to do with Emilie Ullerup this season and I love what she brings to her character. Viewers are going to love watching Jesse Metcalfe this season and are going to hear a lot more this season. One of the openings of the bridge, just wait until you see it. The production value is great and the music is great. Megan is up dancing and kicking it with country music. I think viewers will love that, too. I think there is something for everyone. Andrew Francis has a great character arc this season. It’s just a dream job to be able to work with these actors and the people behind the scenes as well.
Q) You frequently work with Hallmark Channel. What makes them such a great environment to work?
A) I love working with the Hallmark Channel because, as cheesy as it sounds, we are so hungry for positive entertainment and positive energy. I watch the news and by the end of the day I’m just in crisis mode over and over again. I turn on Hallmark because I know it is going to be soothing and it is going to feed my spirit with positive energy. I go to sleep every night with “The Golden Girls,” “Frasier” and “I Love Lucy” because the world is too stressed now. We need to consciously, every one of us, find ways to make the world better around us and starting in our own world, family and nation.
Q) What would you like to say to everyone who is a fan and supporter of you and your work?
A) I am so grateful to “Chessies” and the fans of Hallmark Channel. They are great people and I’ve gotten to know them so much on social media. We are also working with them to create a fan convention this year. We’re trying to find who is interested. Please go to my Facebook Page or to the Hallmark page for the fans “Fans of Hallmark Channel – Chesapeake Shores.” There is a whole group and people are in the group are also “Hearties” because there is no competition on the Hallmark Channel, which is great. It’s all about promoting the good energy and work that Hallmark does. If anyone is interested in coming to the fan convention and helping us organize it, it would be a dream come true for me to be able to say hi to these people who have been so supportive over the years. Acting is something that we do in a void. We’re on a set somewhere way far away from home and you do your job and go home. But the perfect circle comes when it airs and as we get to do it so often we are live tweeting as it airs with the fans who are watching it. It’s that ability to be able to share it with them and it becomes their show as well because they have walked through every bit of our journey together. I’m just so grateful. Hallmark is the heart of tv and so are the Chessies and the Hearties. Also, shout out to the fans of Barbara Niven – #FOBN for being with me all these years. It’s just a blessing to get to play in this beautiful series, “Chesapeake Shores.”
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