Natasha Burnett – The Bridge 2
By: Ruth Hill
If you happened to catch Lifetime’s smash hit show last year “UnREAL” or Hallmark’s highly-anticipated Christmas film The Bridge, you may be familiar with the exquisite and accomplished Natasha Burnett. Although a relative newbie as far as film and television is concerned, this gifted Londoner/Vancouverite is a veritable force no matter her role. Her career is on the ascent as a result of her dogged determination and sophisticated presence on screen. Recently, I had the opportunity to chat with her about her well-known works, including her upcoming film premiere this weekend.
What inspired you to become an actress?
For as long as I can remember, I have been fascinated with make-believe and plays. I loved singing and acting in school and my teachers always would tell me, “That’s your thing.” So, I decided to give it a go. I threw caution to the wind and in so doing, I wasted a lot of money and a good two to three months joining what I thought were agencies (but really weren’t).
After all of that, I finally joined an extras agency and I had the opportunity to audition for a “Motown” theater show. This was my first real audition and I had no idea what to expect or do. I came in my glasses, no make-up and casual dress and when I arrived, I realized I was extremely out of place. Everyone else was dressed up and I figured I may have missed my chance. Thankfully, they gave me the role of Diana Ross and when I asked why I got it, I was told that they could see my overall potential even though I didn’t look the part. For six years, I was blessed to be able to have this wonderful theatrical role.
How did you make the switch from theater to film/television?
I made the decision to come to Canada, specifically Vancouver, on the recommendation of others. I had always wanted to be in film and television, but the British market can be rather difficult to break into. I was concerned I wouldn’t find an agent who would be willing to take me on since I only had my theater experience, but I found one who took a chance on me and pretty much decided that they could get my career going in about three months. Amazingly, I booked my first job three weeks later on “Rogue.” Finally, I was getting used to auditioning and I learned a lot rather quickly about the industry. In addition to this, I was intermittently booking commercials, which added to my experience and knowledge. Sadly, I went a whole year without booking anything. But as soon as my role in “UnREAL” came along, that changed everything.
Tell us about your experience working on “UnREAL.”
I loved getting to play Athena since I was able to let loose and have a blast with such a great role and an interesting cast. Working with so many girls was quite an experience. Some of the girls kept to themselves and were always studying their scripts, while others were the fun socialite types. I was somewhere in between the two–focusing on the script, but trying to be sociable when I could.
One thing we did have in common was the night shoots. Everyone was cold and we were all huddled around the heater wishing we could have a hot drink. In many ways, we really grew close during this time and we all pitched in to make a great show. Just like you would expect from a real family–which is what we became–everyone was really nice and helped each other out whenever we could. It was such a fun set.
Many people have asked if I will be back this coming season. At this point, Athena is not returning, but I have suggested to my agent that my character should come back. It won’t happen this season, but maybe they could do an “UnREAL All-Star Show,” and I could come back. After all, Athena is definitely an all-star. I really do wish (like so many) that my character’s journey hadn’t ended so soon. I left right when it was getting good. But it was an amazing experience that I was very lucky to have.
How has “UnREAL” changed your views on reality shows in general?
I never watched “The Bachelor,” but I always had a suspicion that reality shows had to be somewhat scripted. No one could have that much drama. I also learned about the politics that surround everything in these kinds of shows. My character was manipulated so well and the people behind the scenes in the shows know exactly what buttons to push, but they do it in a such a way that they can’t be accused of anything underhanded. They completely magnify every situation and they are masters at getting people into situations where they will fly off the handle (like Athena did) and give people an entertaining show.
What was your experience while filming The Bridge?
Playing Katie Findlay’s best friend was such a great experience. She is such a professional and as I got to know her, I realized she was such a down-to-earth, unassuming person. We bounced off each other pretty well and our friendship actually did grow off screen kind of like it did on screen. That’s a really wonderful thing when that happens to two artists like us.
With the actor who played her father (Steve Bacic), we really had a lot of fun together. He is really funny and we would just look at each other and start laughing. So we had to make sure that at some points in our scenes that we didn’t look each other so we didn’t break character.
The great thing about this film was that everybody involved was really willing to listen to input from everyone and they would try to accommodate us if they could. If we happened to think that doing it this or that way seemed more natural for us, they usually let us try it and many times we ended up doing it that way. The director, Mike Rohl, was also really nice to work with–a true professional.
I missed meeting Karen Kingsbury when she was on set, but she did give me a beautiful letter and signed copy of the novel. In fact, Karen did that for the whole cast and crew. That was really sweet of her.
What did you think of the fan reaction and uproar concerning the two parts of The Bridge?
At first, I was a bit surprised that they were waiting a whole year to show part two of the film. The fans voiced their opinions very strongly and I can understand why they really enjoyed the first film so much. I can also understand their disappointment. Hallmark has such dedicated fans–they get things done. I don’t think Hallmark anticipated the fan outcry, but in the end, those fans got their wish and the air date has been moved up. I really hope the fans watch and enjoy it. Some people are concerned that the bad press created by this situation might hurt the film, but I hope that doesn’t happen and that everyone loves the film.
How do you manage your time between London and Vancouver?
I honestly love both cities, but for different reasons. The hardest thing for me is dealing with the time zones. I have to make sure when I get offers that I remember the time difference and what time a day it is in the respective cities. The 10-hour plane trip will always be there. Navigating between agents can be a little tricky, but I make sure that I’m organized and everyone knows my schedule. I’m glad I have the opportunity to live and work in both places.
Do you have any aspirations to direct one day?
I really would like to try my hand at being a director. So far, I haven’t really spent a whole lot of time on a set. I would like the opportunity to be on set more and seriously learn more about the ins and out of directing. And, hopefully, one day I will get to do some directing in addition to my acting.
After talking with Natasha, I discovered just why she is so proficient at what she does. No matter the project in which she is involved, she is passionate about enhancing her skills and honing her craft. Additionally, she is a genuine beauty with a soul of humility and a sincere fervor that radiates throughout her entire being. While Sunday nights are overflowing with a wide variety of shows and films that compete for devoted viewer’s attention, I highly recommend that you check out The Bridge Part 2 on March 20 on the Hallmark Movies & Mysterys Channel. You won’t regret it, nor will you regret following Natasha on Twitter (https://twitter.com/natashaburnett ).