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Q&A with star of new film, ‘The Blessing Bracelet’
Behind the Screens with Joshua Maloni
Sometime this Sunday, after church, the Easter egg hunt and the ham dinner, take time to start a new holiday tradition by sitting down to watch “The Blessing Bracelet” with your family. Amanda Schull’s new Hallmark movie is a perfect reminder of what this season is about: faith and guidance, community, rebirth and renewal following loss. Throw in some well-timed humor, an adorable dog and some fancy bling, and you’ll find this film offers a basketful of reasons to feel good.
As “The Blessing Bracelet” begins, Dawn Spencer (Schull) is down and out – a single mother desperate to save her home and make a good life for her young son. With the bank at her back, she takes a second job, at a popular local eatery, and is told to offer customers a little something special to boost her tips – a coworker, for example, leaves candies and mints. She recalls a high school hobby wherein she made a “blessing bracelet.” The four-pearl piece of costume jewelry is both an accessory and a reminder for one to recall the miracles in life. One is left with each check.
When the concept catches on with her community, the “blessing bracelet” brings new inspiration – and financial gain – to Dawn, right when she needs those things most.
The logline explains, “As Dawn begins to focus on the good, her faith is renewed, and her life takes a positive turn. Thanks to the support of Dawn’s church community and the encouragement by Ben (Carlo Marks), who recently came into her life, the ‘blessing bracelet’ helps take her down a path she never could have imagined.”
In a phone interview last week, one thing Schull was grateful for was a recent multi-episode guest arc on “9-1-1: Lone Star.” She said the experience offered many “amazing things.” Though she didn't get to share any scenes with former “Suits” costars Gina Torres, Neal McDonough or D.B. Woodside, Schull said, “It was a lot of fun,” and “getting to work with Rob Lowe – he's a legend. It was a really nice time.”
The “Center Stage” and “12 Monkeys” star, a frequent Hallmark Channel contributor, shared more about her new project in this edited Q&A.
Amanda Schull stars as Dawn Spencer in “The Blessing Bracelet” on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries. (Credit: ©2023 Hallmark Media/photographer: Sven Boecker)
Q: I watched “The Blessing Bracelet today.” I think it's certainly a perfect complement to the season. What appealed to you about this project?
Amanda Schull: Well, first of all, just anything Hallmark that comes my way, I get excited about; and it's always for the same reasons. And then, of course, I find different reasons with each script to get excited about.
But the same reasons are always just because it's refreshing. It's really nice to work on a project. Every single Hallmark film I've ever had the opportunity to do has been inspiring in one way or another. You know, the woman's story. My character's story always has something that people can relate to, and not just find an escape from reality, but maybe relate to and then be able to identify within their own mind, and feel inspiration from it.
I think this character, in particular, she's – to put it mildly – she's in a pretty unfortunate circumstance when we first meet her. Things have not been going well for her the last several months, and then, of course, a few years – and for circumstances that are not entirely of her own making.
Something that really drew me to her was just that she doesn't get down about it. She doesn't mope and feel sorry for herself. She knows that the only way out is through, and she does just that.
And it being a DaySpring presentation also had a lot of inspirational rebirths, if you will, throughout the film, and that was really exciting. And the presence of community. You know, I got teary when I read the script. And she walks into the church – I don't know if it's like their crafts room, or how you would describe it – and everyone's waiting to help her. The community is there for her, because she's part of them, and they identify with her struggles.
It made me emotional, just reading it in bed, that first night that I got the script. If you can get that feeling from a script, then it's a good sign of what's to come when you get on set.
As the Easter holiday approaches, a woman rediscovers her need for community, guidance, and a “blessing bracelet” that helps restore her faith and renew her belief in love. (Credit: ©2023 Hallmark Media/photographer: Allister Foster)
Q: Yeah, and I want to revisit that in a minute. But touching on something else you said, I like the fact that this character sort of starts as a “Debbie Downer,” in her family's own words.
Amanda Schull: I mean, ish.
Q: Ish. Ish. Fair.
You know, we usually see you play characters – particularly in this type of movie – that have it all together. … When they're not dead, of course. This character certainly doesn't have it all together. I'm wondering if that was appealing to you, to play a different type of character with a different type of struggle?
Amanda Schull: Always. It's always appealing to play something different. Yes. I mean, if you start just playing the same thing all the time, then where is the excitement from role to role?
It's always really fun to find something different with each person, and how to bring that to life and bring it off the page and everything.
I mean, she's only a “Debbie Downer” so much as she allows that 10% to go there. She can't, because of her son, you know? The very first scene with them, they're shopping for Easter bulbs, for bulbs to plant together. And if that isn't just like the perfect metaphor for rebirth, I don't know what is. She's finding a way to connect with her son, even if it's not some lavish, afterschool kind of a hobby, or whatever it is.
It's just she knows how to see good, and she knows how to see optimism. And she doesn't lose sight of that. She doesn't wallow. And so, yes, while they even call her a “Debbie Downer,” even that 10%, there's still 90% of her that's just kind of birthing to get out and take her down a different road.
Alison Wandzura and Amanda Schull in “The Blessing Bracelet.” (Credit: ©2023 Hallmark Media/photographer: Allister Foster)
Q: I want to go back to something you said a minute ago. We've spoken many times about your versatility as an actor; about your tapas-style love of diversity and projects; that you can work in any genre – for any network, for that matter. You regularly work with Hallmark, and you share films that focus on kindness and hope – which is something that you alluded to earlier. You seem like a person who values those things. What do you like, or what makes it special, to be able to put a little bit of kindness and hope out into this world through these projects?
Amanda Schull: Well, first of all, we could all use a little kindness and hope in our lives.
I think I told you this before when we've chatted, but the first project I ever did with Hallmark, which I think it was in 2018 that it came out, it was “Love, Once and Always.” And I was taking ballet class at the time. And there were the same women who always stand at my ballet barre, older than I am, ranging from like 60s into early 80s. And they were so excited about me doing a Hallmark movie. And they called other people over from other ballet barres to tell them that I was doing a Hallmark movie. And then they started a text chain to discuss when it would be coming out, and to share it, and make sure that their friends knew about it. And then my aunt in Florida got excited about it, and got her Bible study group together to discuss it.
And it made me realize how passionately, but enthusiastically passionate, and hopeful, and happy these movies make people. And one of the women, who I was talking to at ballet, said, “You know, ’12 Monkeys’ was good. It was good. But these movies, they make me feel good. They make me forget what's going on in the world that brings me down. They make me feel really rejuvenated at the end of them.”
It just really struck me that we all need that in our lives. Art is a reflection, in a lot of ways; but art can also be an escape. And if we can sit down and watch a movie and get carried away on the storyline – and, yes, we may identify with some of the things, and we may get teary or emotional – but if we can walk away from it afterward feeling a little bit lighter, that's a pretty special gift that I'm being given, to be able to do that in people's living rooms every once in a while.
The “blessing bracelet” (Credit: ©2023 Hallmark Media/photographer: Allister Foster)
Q: Nice. So, your character in this film, she often recounts her four blessings. Sometimes there's different blessings, but she has a bracelet with four beads, of course. If you had a bracelet, what would your beads signify?
Amanda Schull: Well, I do have the bracelet, and I’m looking at it right now (laughs).
It would always be my son. And sometimes when I was on set, wearing the bracelet, when we had downtime, I would take a second and I would do the four beads to myself.
Always my son, first and foremost, and his health; and my husband; and my family. And then when I was on set, the fourth one was often the opportunity to be able to do what I do.
“The Blessing Bracelet,” a new DaySpring movie, premieres Sunday, April 9 (7 p.m. ET/PT), exclusively on Hallmark Movies & Mysteries.
Nathan Parrott, Amanda Schull and Carlo Marks in “The Blessing Bracelet.” (Credit: ©2023 Hallmark Media/photographer: Allister Foster)