Interviews

Vanessa Matsui – Valentine Ever After

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By: Ruth Hill

 

If you faithfully watched the Hallmark Channel’s “Countdown to Christmas,” you may recall Vanessa Matsui as the lovely ex-dancer in the film Charming Christmas, but her career includes even more prestigious credits such as Seed and Christmas With Holly, just to name a couple. Yet again, Hallmark is blessed to have Vanessa appearing in one of their highly anticipated “Countdown to Valentine’s” films this weekend.  Recently, I had the opportunity to catch up with this engaging lady and we chatted about her upcoming role in Valentine Ever After.

What inspired you to become an actress?

As far back as I can remember, I had always wanted to become an actress. My aunt took me to see several plays, but my family can remember the little plays I would put together for them even while I was in preschool.  In fact, I used to sell tickets to these shows and the living room would become my stage.

Pease tell us about your upcoming role in Valentine Ever After.

This movie has a really fun story. It is about two best friends who are as different as night and day. I play the bubbly socialite and Autumn [Reeser] plays the hard-working lawyer. Autumn’s character is engaged so we decide to go on a bachelorette weekend. In the process of enjoying our weekend, we ruin the town’s monuments and we are sentenced to 30 days of community service. We are both city girls, but now we are stuck in the country for a whole month.

In Valentine Ever After, you and Autumn Reeser are supposed to go to a dude ranch on vacation. Did you have to learn anything in particular about dude ranches or ranch life for the role?

I don’t want to say too much, but actually, the fact that my character is ignorant of ranch life and horse riding makes the story work even better. Autumn and Eric [Johnson] have to ride horses, but my character doesn’t have to. But if you are wondering whether I have experience riding horses, yes I do. I used to ride horses as a kid.

What was it like working with the handsome and charming David Sutcliffe in Charming Christmas?

David is a fellow Canadian and truly a wonderful guy. I loved working with him and we discovered we have lots in common. We are both really hard-working and it was great to work with him. And yes, he is just as lovely in person as he is on the screen.

In Charming Christmas, you played a dancer. Do you have any skills like that (singing, dancing, etc.) in real life?

The theater has always been a passion of mine, but I am a terrible singer. I used to dance in my mid-teens. In fact, I danced before I acted. It’s funny–every Hallmark film I’m in always features a scene where I dance. One skill I do have is that I am a writer. I write screenplays. Grants and other funding are available for writers like me.  I was lucky enough to get special funding to write a very special web series called “Ghost BFF.”  It is a 10-part comedy series about depression and, hopefully, you should be able to see it in August of this year.  We are really excited about this.

In my research on you, I happened upon one of your creations, Crankytown. Can you tell us about your experience with this site?

Crankytown is an interactive website for young girls that discusses the subject of menstruation. My co-creators and I are still really good friends and we received funding to get this site started. We wanted to take away the stigma of this taboo topic–girls and their periods. We collected period stories–first periods, memorable period stories–from all around and we told the stories through animated documentary puppetry. We tried to make it as fun as possible for the girls. Visitors to the site can also find poetry, information and more all related to the topic of periods.

Over time, this movement has expanded to become a film festival called “Cranky Fest” where women can tell their period stories through films. This festival has actually received funding from the Film Board of Canada and it has been well-received. Also, the site does support charities. You can go to the site and sponsor a period through Huru International, an international organization that provides period packs to girls in Nairobi. Unfortunately, periods are the number one reason in that country that girls fall behind in their studies because they have no sanitary products and when their period comes, they miss at least a week of school.

Any upcoming projects you can tell us about?

I will be appearing in “Shadowhunters” on Freeform (formerly ABC Family) in the first two episodes.  And then I am in one episode of “Schitt’s Creek.”  Then, of course, “Ghost BFF” as I mentioned earlier.

I was most impressed with Vanessa’s humility and her generous spirit that manifests itself in the way she is always giving back to the community and humanity as a whole. It is rare in the entertainment industry to see someone who is talented, kind and charitable, but Vanessa truly is a “triple threat.” I believe we will be seeing more of her in the near future. Don’t miss the fun of her movie Valentine Ever After premiering  this Saturday night, February 13, on the Hallmark channel. It is guaranteed to be one of the most entertaining ways for you and your family to usher in this sweetest of all weekends.

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