When Amanda Wong’s agent got a casting notice from Hallmark Channel’s When Calls the Heart, it was pretty vague.
“My agent sent me a breakdown. It was asking for a woman who knows how to ride a horse,” Wong said during a recent interview with ET. “And I’m like, Hey, I’m those two things.”
Wong’s character, Mei Suo, rode into Hope Valley last week in the first episode of Season 9, dressed in men’s clothes and startling Nathan Grant (Kevin McGarry) on the side of the road.
Only when she had a safe place to stop did she dismount and let down her hair and skirt, smiling at Jack, who watched from the window of his house. She appeared later in the episode, descending the staircase at the saloon in a beautiful dress, Nathan watching, star-struck from below.
“I feel like this is a character with a lot of layers, and she’s not without flaws,” Wong said. “And I love that aspect of her. It’s much more relatable when someone is flawed.”
Not much is known yet about Mei, apart from the fact that she is a pharmacist.
Wong is as intriguing as her onscreen character. During the interview, she revealed that she had learned to ride horses during a trip to Mongolia.
“I traveled by horseback,” she said. “I rode the Steppes for like nine days … I learned very quickly doing that.”
A photo from the 2016 trip on her Instagram page shows her bundled up against the cold. The caption reads, “The Vancouver chill reminds me of horseback riding on the Steppe.”
New kid at school
During the interview, Wong touched on what it was like being a new character on a show that had been going strong for eight seasons before she arrived.
“It was straight up like being the new kid at school,” she said.
The cast and crew quickly made her feel at home. Wong also talked about the new perspective her character brings to the story, especially in regards to Kevin McGarry’s character, Nathan.
In Season 8, Nathan was rejected by Elizabeth Thornton (played by Erin Krakow), and he is still suffering from the heartbreak in Season 9. However, because Mei knows nothing about this back story, she doesn’t see him as a victim, according to Wong. Instead, she sees him as a strapping man in a position of authority.
As to whether the relationship between Mei and Nathan will move beyond dinner at the saloon, Wong said viewers would have to wait and see.
Season 9, Episode 2 of When Calls the Heart will air on Hallmark Channel on Sunday, March 13 at 8/7c.