"When you watch Heartland, it touches something in all of us that, as humans, we are so unified by family .. family is so important to all humankind."
Having watched Heartland for all 15 seasons, and having covering the show for 10 (my first set visit was Season 5) I can attest to the fact that Heartland is a family show, inside and out. The overwhelming sense of family that I get when I step onto set is not by accident.
Amber explains how she helps continue this sense of family, especially having to deal with COVID restrictions:
"We're used to being such a warm, welcoming family group, whether it's the cast, the crew, all of us ... we laugh, we joke, we hug, we hang out at lunches. It's a very warm and fun environment. We play music in each other's trailers. We have little parties. We get together after work. All of these things that now can't happen. At lunches, we all have to go in our separate trailers. We eat our lunch by ourselves. We can't hug. All of these things that we've gotten so used to doing.
"We are such a close group -- I had a few people out on weekends and things like that. I feel [that] in order to keep that family dynamic and keep those relationships real and to keep the world of Heartland very connected and real to our viewers, we need to be connected in real life. We can't just show up with a mask on, on set and then pull it off, do your scene and not get a chance to actually ask that person. How was your day, you know, what do you like? What do you don't like? Connectedness [is] what human beings thrive on ..."
As for what's coming up in Season 15? Amber says fans will be "put at ease this year ..."
"Last year we had to create a season of mourning and a season of overcoming that isn't necessarily Heartland's way. We did see the death of Amy's mother in the very first episode; that was extremely traumatic. As a general rule, most of the Heartland seasons have been very uplifting, very happy, very heartwarming.
"You can't do that when a main character dies; you need to take the time to digest that and to go through all of the different grieving processes that each character would go through. This is the two-year mark of Ty's death. When we pick up into this season, we allow those characters to move forward and allow those characters to of get back on track a little bit and be there for each other too. I don't think that we realize how much of an impact a death has on everyone.
"It's not just the spouse of that person. It's not just the children of that person. It is the entire family and whether they're feeling it, the pain themselves, or they're feeling the pain for my character or, you know, the whole situation. This year we still see some very dramatic and moments of characters breaking, but we also get to see a lot of light, a lot of beautiful moments, especially between Amy and Lyndy.
"I love working with those girls. The Spencer twins are incredible. I had a lot of really nice scenes with them and we get to explore Lyndy going to kindergarten. Amy has to deal with that. I think in, in normal years, Amy would be totally fine with it. And she'd be like, yep, okay, go off to kindergarten.
"I can work with horses. It's fine. But now that Ty's gone, there's so much more there because Lyndy is everything to Amy. The fact that she's going off to kindergarten, it's a big, big step. It's a really beautiful season. I always say that. Fans always say, why did you say it's beautiful to see that? But I do. I feel like these stories are heartwarming, they're real. These things happen to everyday people, and it's all how you come together as a family and you show your support and love. That's what gets anyone through a very traumatic situation is having that core group of people that are there to support you. I believe the Heartland family has always been that it doesn't matter what the situation is; that family dynamic, where they all sit down for dinner every night together and they all help each other. They're there for one another -- [it] is so important.
"I think that's also a really good message and to show those values to our viewing audience, because a lot of people have stepped away from that or lost track. Everybody's in a different room watching different devices and Heartland really shows you that family strength [is] when you are together and being able to sit down and watch Heartland together is just the start of that."
The 15th season of Heartland starts Oct. 17, 2021, and airs on Sundays on CBC at 7 p.m. (7:30 p.m. in Newfoundland).
Look for my second part of Amber's interview in the future!
Photo credit: Heartland Season 15
"Season 15 is a beautiful season; fans will be put at ease this year, We see a lot of light, a lot of beautiful moments ..."
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