Jane Moffat – Backstage TV
By: Ruth Hill
This past Christmas, as I watched what has become a tradition in our household – Hallmark’s Countdown to Christmas – I noticed a supporting actress that truly impressed me with her talent and concept of her character. As I investigated and discovered the marvel that is Jane Moffat, I began to follow her career voraciously. As I awaited her next project, I was ecstatic when I heard about a new series in which she is featured called “Backstage TV.” Once the series made it from Canada’s Family Channel to the Disney Channel in the U.S., I had the opportunity to chat with Jane about “Backstage” and more.
What inspired you to become an actress?
I always wanted to be an actress. “The Carol Burnett Show” was an early inspiration for me. I thought it was funny and I was always emulating her style. When I was in fourth grade, I decided to start my own little unofficial show and I became the writer and producer for what I called the “Jane Moffat Show” and it was an exact replica of “The Carol Burnett Show.”
When I was in seventh grade, I decided I wanted to become an actor. I had considered becoming a veterinarian, but I was terrible at Science. Then, I even thought about becoming a policewoman, but I decided playing one in a movie might be better. I went down to LA and auditioned for Lee Strasberg and I was even given a partial scholarship to study with him at his institute for three years. I also studied in New York at the Actor’s Studio.
Please tell us about your experience with Christmas Incorporated.
While my first Hallmark film was Come Dance With Me and Christmas Incorporated was my second and both were good experiences. When making these films, especially these Christmas movies with Hallmark, there is not usually a lot of time to put these together. They are typically only given twelve days to film a ninety minute movie and that is not a lot of time. But Hallmark seems to know what they are doing. They get a strong cast and a good crew. All are really great to work with and they try to keep things fun and on schedule. Hallmark appears to have a system that really works and resonates with others.
The director, Jonathan Wright, was really great to work with. When I came into audition for the role, I had an idea of how I wanted to portray my character. But he gave me some pointers and concepts that took her a different direction. Amanda is certainly a modern business woman and I enjoyed playing her and giving her the persona that fit with the film so well. It was indeed a joy to work with all the cast and crew. With Hallmark, one things are definite, you always know what to expect from the storylines and their formula works.
What can you tell us about your new show, “Backstage TV?”
Some people have tried to compare the show to “Fame,” but there is a big difference in my opinion. While I don’t know what the creators of “Backstage TV” used for inspiration, their appeal is to a younger crowd than “Fame.” So, I see the show as quite a bit different from that one. This show appeals to all ages from younger children, teens, adults and even some older people.
The whole concept of the show is a fine arts high school and my character is Helsweel, the ballet/dance teacher. Some might think she is mean. She is tough, completely the opposite of the music teacher as played by Chris Hoffman. (We never had any scenes together so we didn’t really work together.) I tend to think that Helsweel is teaching the students in the same way she was taught. And she is also preparing them for the cruel world of showbusiness. I believe she has a good heart. She just believes in working the students hard. And once you learn her language and the almost backhanded way that she gives compliments, you can begin to understand what makes her tick. Thankfully, we have thirty episodes of this show as it gives the true stars of the show–the high school students–a chance to shine.
In Canada, this show is on the Family Channel, but Disney Channel has picked up the show worldwide and we certainly hope for another season.
Have you had any experience in music or dance?
Growing up, there was always music in the house. My dad was a jazz piano player and when I was really young I did take piano lessons. When I was in New York, I did take dance lessons from 1984-1988. It was basically jazz dance, but we did plenty of bar work. While I’m sure I could not dance like these students do, I have the physique and bearing required to look and feel the part.
Do you have any other upcoming works you can tell us about?
I’ve auditioned for several TV pilots, but nothing official as of yet. I am doing plenty of writing, however. I have found an Executive Producer for the TV pilot I wrote, but all I can say right now is that it features a tall, slim blonde who is middle-aged. I am also writing a film and that features a Home-Ec teacher in the 1960’s. I also have been asked to go to a sci-fi film festival in Columbus, Ohio and be one of their panelists in November. In addition to my work mentioned here, I also do some work in sci-fi shows. I was in “Expanse” recently, and further back, I was in “Alphas.”
You can’t talk with Jane long and not realize just how special she is in the world of acting. Some have called her the “actor’s actor” and I would undoubtedly agree. Her vast knowledge and training have carried her far and I breathlessly anticipate what she will do in the near future. She is as versatile as they come and if you get the opportunity to see any of her works, you will indeed be blessed and impressed with her exceptional skill. So, be sure to watch “Backstage TV” every Friday night on the Disney Channel and don’t forget to follow her via social media and more at the links below.