Actress Faith Ford co-starred with Kelly Ripa in the ABC TV sit-com “Hope & Faith” in 2003-2006. Ford, of “Murphy Brown” fame, played Ohio homemaker/ caterer and mother of three, Hope Shanowski.
She takes in her diva unemployed sister, Faith, (Ripa) a daytime soap opera actress whose character is killed off. Hope’s world is turned upside down with Faith’s antics. The show’s first season is now available on DVD.
Monsters & Critics was lucky enough to talk to Faith Ford on the phone this week about the show, her success, and her current projects.
M&C: How did it work out for you to do “Hope & Faith” and to film it in New York City, since you were living in Los Angeles?
Ford: Kelly Ripa is contracted to do “Regis” the rest of her life! I got cast not knowing about Kelly. For me to stop the train, I wouldn’t be on the team. There were a lot of unknowns for me. I’m a planner, a Virgo. But I threw caution to the wind. It was a really good thing to do.
My husband [Campion Murphy] is a writer and then, a fledgling producer. He was a trooper and came with me. He could pursue [his career] in New York, producing, and getting finances. I [being in New York] did affect him to a certain extent. I think families should stay together. I did the “triangle”: From California, we took the dogs to Louisiana to be with my parents, then we’d drive my car to New York. We did that for three years.
My mother had bought some property in Louisiana and during the first season, we started building a home. During the third season, my dad had an aneurysm, which delayed the house. But toughness runs in my family. My dad was in a coma for over a month and my mother stayed with him during rehab.
M&C: How would describe Hope and Faith and their relationship as sisters?
Ford: Working with Kelly was amazing, and it was a lot of fun working with Paulie [Litt who played Justin} and Macey [Cruthird, Hayley].
Hope is like me, but more neurotic than me. She’s a homemaker, who loves to cook. She’s a full-time mom, full-tilt in a catering business. She took her sister in. She couldn’t bear not to. She’s a control freak, which I understand. Hope was edgy, pushing her Manolo shoes. She would wear affordable clothes and famous shoes.
Faith literally goes by the seat of her pants, she uses her feminine wiles to get what she wants. The sad thing, it’s not working for her anymore. So she goes back home, waiting for her big break. Hope thinks she’s dreaming. Charlie, (Ted McGinley), Hope’s husband, thinks, “Give me a break, go back to work, earn your keep.’ But he has a soft spot. He understood Hope’s deep love for her sister. They were enmeshed – they loved and hated each other, which a lot of sisters can identify with.
Kelly and I both have sisters. Sisters can be like cats and dogs. We can say anything to each other. I tried living with my sister in New York City but we weren’t great roommates.
M&C: When you went to New York at 17 to become a model, from a little town in Louisiana, did you have culture shock?
Ford: Yes, New York City was culture shock for me, but it was positive. I loved the buildings. Loved the energy, I fed on it.
M&C: You and your parents decided that if you weren’t successful in six months, you’d return home?
Ford: My parents encouraged me. I was keeping my earnings. It was my decision. I was 17, going on 18. The following year, I made $100,000, and I was audited at 18. You learn to keep really good records. It grows you up, and makes you a responsible person. I learned how to live on a budget, and was able to stay.
There was no way to go back home. All the models were in the same boats, so I thought if they can do it, I can do it. I set limits. I lit fireworks under my butt. I gave myself little goals. If I hadn’t been successful, I would have gone to a school that specialized in fashion design and merchandising.
My jobs led to another job. My first job I got from my acting teacher. She was a casting director. From that first job on a soap, I got another soap. You go up the ladder, but you have to create the opportunities and still prove yourself.
After doing soaps, I wanted to do sit-coms. Someone told me I wouldn’t do comedy. I was just determined to get it. An acting teacher out here helped me get in the door.
My first break in comedy was in the TV show “The Popcorn Kid.” I went in seven times to audition. You have to prove yourself. With my looks, could I be a cheerleader? I rented a cheerleader outfit and did a cheer to show that I could do it. The show took place in a movie theatre in Kansas City. We were ushers.
Barry Kemp is an amazing, seasoned director and producer. I didn’t know about timing. He showed me that you can get a laugh when answering the phone. By the way you pick up the phone, just the way you do it, you can get a bonus laugh.
In my acting class, there was Paula Poundstone, Ellen DeGeneres, Adam Sandler. My acting teacher, Lynnette MacNeal, worked on bringing out my sense of comedy. I couldn’t do it without the showcase she ran.
M&C: What’s on the Hope & Faith: Season 1 DVD?
Ford: Basically, it’s the first season: there’s the famous food fight, Tony Curtis, Robert Wagner, who played our father, the kids. Ted McGinley was a perfect Charlie. The first season was big and bold, and every episode was crazy.
The out-takes are as funny as the show; there’s unedited scenes; dancing; and the kids in candid moments. Every show should show the bloopers at the end.
M&C: What projects are you doing now?
Ford: I’m doing “Mind, Body, Balance,” a web series on MSN. It’s for women on the go, with health, beauty, fashion, exercise, gardening tips, and practical help. They are three-minute clips, and hosted by Kraft.
I belonged to Future Homemakers of America. I really enjoyed it. I know women who do it all. I don’t want to retire my brain, I want to keep it challenged, and to get kids involved too.
I come from a humble beginning. I want to do something in more of a reality mode. Hosting, something like Martha, but more personal, informal, more active, and not too perfect. With the web series on TV, I get my feet wet. It’s fun and less pressure. The web site is http://mindbbodybalance.msn.com.
Starting next month, I’m working on a Lifetime TV film in Vancouver. I’m playing a bitch with a smile. It’s not a huge role. I like supporting roles. I loved “Murphy Brown” when I was in two scenes.
Hope & Faith: Season 1 is now available at Amazon. As of yet, there is not a release date for the UK. Visit the DVD database for more information.