Kayla Wallace is starring in a new Christmas-in-July movie for the Hallmark Channel. It’s also her second movie with real-life love, Kevin McGarry.
My Grown-Up Christmas List is a moving entry to the holiday lineup, focusing on a couple who forge a relationship with thousands of miles between them and precious time together at Christmas.
We chatted with Kayla by phone about the movie, working with Kevin, and the When Calls the Heart Season 10 renewal.
My Grown-Up Christmas List isn’t the first Hallmark movie you’ve done with Kevin. What’s it like working with him as a love interest versus a friend on When Calls the Heart?
Well, our two characters on When Calls the Heart don’t get to cross paths too often.
We have had a couple of scenes which have been a lot of fun, but it’s nice to work so closely with somebody that I know so well and see that the way Kevin works more in detail than just running lines together for auditions or doing the few scenes that we have on When Calls the Heart.
It was really fun to spend not just one whole movie working together, but two movies working together, where we get to dive into some different characters and play out these storylines.
Can you tell me a little bit about Taylor Nichols?
Taylor Nichols is a journalist, and she comes home for Christmas and meets Luke Malone, who catches her eye from the moment she meets him.
Taylor’s dealing with some struggles, some personal issues that you’ll see evolve over the years. She finds that Luke helps her with this particular struggle that she’s dealing with. She finds something in him that she’s been missing. It’s really beautiful.
This movie is a little different than other holiday movies because how they find each other isn’t by spending a lot of time together in person. Their relationship is facing challenges, yet it still gets off the ground. What do you think makes that work in this particular movie?
Well, I think with any long-distance relationship, there needs to be a commitment and trust off the top, and I think Luke and Taylor definitely have that. They both really want to make it work, but Luke has this duty that he needs to spend a lot of time away.
It’s definitely their bond that brings them together, and I think it’s really beautiful that we get to see, every Christmas, we get to see their relationship evolve.
But there’s a whole other relationship that’s happening, not that we see it on camera, but like any military relationship, you’re spending so much time on Zoom, and you’re getting to know somebody in this different way that I think a lot of fans will relate to and see similarities. We’re in a day and age of Zoom, and that is definitely used in this movie.
Yeah, absolutely. Even if somebody isn’t with a military person, many people now meet online and begin their relationships that way. I think it will hit home for a lot of people, which is unique.
That’s so true. We have this whole other way of communication where you can see the other person. It’s not just a phone call anymore. You can actually see somebody and get to know somebody through a cell phone or a computer, and Luke and Taylor definitely do that.
Let’s bounce over to When Calls the Heart for a minute. Fiona has had such an interesting storyline. What’s most satisfying about playing her through her different business opportunities and such?
What I love most about Fiona is her ambitious attitude and her drive to really do what she feels is most important in life. I think she’s not afraid to stand up for herself. She’s not afraid to say no.
As a woman playing that, it’s very inspiring to see somebody stand up for themselves in a time of life where maybe that wasn’t as common. My favorite part of playing Fiona is her confidence and her strength.
I would say seeing her struggles over the past couple of seasons, getting fired from the telephone company, was one of my favorite scenes to play out because you can’t grow unless you fall. I’m not maybe saying this right, but I love playing Fiona’s setbacks out because it shows her come up from falling down.
She experienced that in Season 8 and a little bit in Season 9 when she was trying to hold her own with the oil company. Things didn’t work out the way she expected, but she built herself back up and stayed strong. That’s what she’s all about.
I think all of the women on When Calls the Heart are about that, which is so inspiring in today’s climate, where women are still fighting to be recognized in so many different ways.
Absolutely. It’s definitely an ongoing issue, and I feel very lucky to be portraying a strong woman.
I think that you’re right; all the women on When Calls the Heart show how we women can come together and support each other. That’s one of my favorite parts about When Calls the Heart.
Congratulations on the Season 10 renewal.
Thank you very much.
That took too long for my peace of mind.
Me too. Yeah, I’m very excited to get started and see everybody. It’s always like a family coming back together.
You were on vacation when the announcement came out and shared with everybody a congratulatory post or two from Italy. That was nice.
It was. It was a really awesome way to announce it. It was a lot of fun. The trip was so amazing. Italy is a beautiful country. It was my first time going to Europe, and I was blown away. But yeah, we’re also excited for Season 10.
I have to be honest. At the end of When Calls the Heart Season 8, I hoped that Fiona and Nathan would get together. There were all kinds of sparks going off between them. Now I wonder, was that just you guys? Was it ever written the way I saw it? Were you just that excited to be sharing scenes?
That’s really funny. We saw in Season 9 Fiona and Nathan’s dynamic of friendship, but there’s definitely support that we don’t get to see that often. We don’t get to see the two characters together that often.
But I think people might have been imagining things because of their own imagination. Fiona and Nathan are great friends, and we’ve had some fun scenes over the years together.
Well, I really did see something between the characters, then, in Season 8. I had no idea you guys were dating at that point. Yeah, I did. I saw something. Oh well. We have to move on, right? [laughs]
[chuckles] That’s right.
As you’re his real-life love, how would you like to see Nathan’s love life progress on the show?
Nathan really went through it for Season 8, and I think he had lots going on in Season 9, as well. It would be nice to see him find love or grow closer to somebody, at least. I hope he finds some peace in his love life. That’s what I would wish for him.
What about Fiona? She doesn’t really date. She did have a little interest from that oil fellow whose name I cannot remember.
Yes. Do you want to see her take a romantic path, or would you prefer she sticks with her storyline about business?
I would like to see Fiona explore that part of herself and figure out what she wants. I think she’s been so focused on her career for such a long time that it’s been on the back burner, her love life, so I’d like to see her maybe learn a little more about herself this year and figure out what she really wants in that way.
That would be a good storyline and another thing that women struggle with — how do you incorporate a romantic life when you have a successful business? That would be good. When do you start filming Season 10?
We should be starting in a couple of weeks. We’re starting prep. I have a wardrobe fitting this week with Barbara, our costume designer.
Usually, that’s just trying on all of Fiona’s awesome clothes that she’s had for me over the past couple of years, and then if she has anything new, trying on some new skirts or tops or whatever she has for me, and hopefully some more pants. I love when Fiona is wearing pants.
Yeah, so we should be starting filming in a couple of weeks. It’s coming up.
Do you and Kevin have any other projects together coming up?
Just My Grown-Up Christmas List at this point. We’re really excited about the premiere this Saturday. Then When Calls the Heart, I guess, we have coming up together as well.
Will you be live-tweeting during the movie?
I sure will be.
Good. Finally, will you be celebrating Christmas in July this year?
I am such a Christmas-in-December girl that I won’t have a tree up, or I won’t have any decorations, but maybe I’ll sing a song or two around the house to get into the spirit.
That’s good. Maybe get into that spirit Saturday before the movie airs, so you’ll be all festive.
Yeah, that’s right. Or maybe making a Christmas-themed dessert or something to have. Maybe I’ll do that.
Yeah, that sounds like a good idea. Well, thank you so much for chatting with me today, Kayla. It was really nice talking with you.
My Grown-Up Christmas List premieres on Hallmark Channel tonight at 8/7c.
Carissa Pavlica is the managing editor and a staff writer and critic for TV Fanatic. She’s a member of the Critic’s Choice Association, enjoys mentoring writers, conversing with cats, and passionately discussing the nuances of television and film with anyone who will listen. Follow her on Twitter and email her here at TV Fanatic.