Amber Marshall interview, Heartland, CBC’s family farm series

Heartland is the name of the Fleming family horse ranch, located outside Calgary Alberta, in one of the most spectacularly scenic landscapes in the world. 

The Fleming household is multigenerational, and includes the farm workers, horse trainers and other colourful characters who contribute to the weekly stories.  The show is about daily life and challenges of a working environment where individuality and the work ethic are key.  It’s the cowboy life for our times.

The Canadian Broadcast Corp.’s family series closes its third season this week, with a wedding, a look into the future and romantic and professional complications for Amy, played by London, Ontario actress Amber Marshall.  Heartland is one of the CBC’s best received dramatic series both in Canada and around the world, and it’s skedded to premiere in the US this fall.

As season three closes, Amy is weighing touring with the Ring of Fire horse tour, or staying at home to be with her troubled father and newly engaged grandfather.  Her sister is about to move to Dubai with her new husband and Amy wants to be there for the family.  She has a boyfriend, but another young man is coming on strong.

Marshall says she can’t imagine a better job than working on a series that makes her proud, in this beautiful setting with great human – and equine- co-stars.  Monsters and Critics spoke the 21 year old Marshall, as she prepares to return to Calgary to shoot season four.

You actually do your own horse back riding, roping and training.  That’s dedication, and very impressive.

AM – I actually have been riding many years so this was the perfect job.  I filled the shoes quite well, and have learned so much about western culture in Calgary.  It’s neat to come from very English community in London on and get this kind of outdoors experience in horse handling and showmanship.  I wouldn’t have it any other way.  You have to love your job as much as you can or find something else.

Do you consider yourself brave?  The role is challenging in many ways, involving physical work that Amy does on the farm, like baling hay!

AM – I love adventure.  I love experiencing new things and completely being involved in something im unfamiliar with and out of my comfort zone and seeing what I can do with what I have.  It’s wonderful; I can’t imagine a better job than being outside 75% of the time in beautiful country and weather, beautiful animals.  I have a special bond with the animals after three years of shooting the show.  It’s great to see them every year when I go back to the set.  They know us.  I have a favourite horse, Sparta the black one.  He’s in the horse whispering scenes.

Amy has a love interesting Graham (Ty Borden).  But there’s not much physical contact between them.

AM – We want it to be family based and keep the relationships respectful.  We want just enough romance so that the kids can recognise it as a relationship but not mushy.

It’s true, the storylines are based on solid values and family, but it’s not sappy.

AM – We wanted to keep them real and true to life.  Life isn’t a picnic everyday; there are ups and downs just as there is mutual respect and understanding. That’s what I want to come across.  Trust and respect, life isn’t perfect so every day you have to do your best.

You’ll be shooting the next season soon.  Any hints on the storylines?

AM – We start shooting again on May 16th, season four.  But I have NO idea what the storylines will be.  The writers don’t tell us a thing.  It should be interesting though.  I’m excited to be working in the summer in Calgary. 

I hear the show is pretty popular – and you are too.

AM – I get fan mail.  It’s nice to know that many people around the world are watching the show.  I get mail from Germany, Australia, Europe and it’s nice to see different people in different areas have the same love for the show.  It’s great that we created a show that families and people can see Canada and Alberta they wouldn’t see normally. 

Amazing that at your age you have a full time job as a series lead, and for so many years.  That’s a rarity.  How did you start acting and why?

I don’t think there was any moment, just a progression.  I was doing theatre when I was a kid and it graduated to here.  I still don’t know if I’m going to do this as a career.  I love every minute but in the future may have something else for me.  I don’t believe in careers but what you’re doing in the moment, you love it and move around that’s what’s important.  I’m very lucky.  I’m a positive person and you keep doing your the best and things will all fall into place.  We don’t know how long Heartland will go – I hope it goes on a while.  If it’s had its run then I’ll go to something just as good or better.

So if you decide not to act in the future, what will you do?

AM – I’ll definitely always be doing something with animals. I love working with them, something with that but if I had to pick something specific, nothing. Things just happen.

Note the date on this article may be incorrect due to importing it from our old system.

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