Jessy Schram is a lot like you. She fights through the blues she gets missing her family and has adopted a terrific cat (or allowed that cat to adopt her).
A veteran of film and television, she's become a recognizable actor within the Hallmark franchise, and she's going to be joining the OneChicago universe when she debuts this week on Chicago Med.
Get to know a little more about her and her upcoming projects with excerpts from our interview below.
What can you tell us about Julia's story on Amazing Winter Romance?
Well, Julia is an inspirational writer that has become extremely uninspired, so work has become a little bit hard. She's been living in the city. She comes from a small town, and she's been doing well.
She's been advancing in life and just isn't quite sure what's missing. She's not really feeling anything anymore.
She gets an assignment to write about what makes home towns charming. So she goes back to her hometown and gets to have a fill of family and really go back to her roots a little bit, and she sees her family and her community and her best childhood friend, Nate.
And in the process of all of that, she realizes she' been missing that community, and she's been missing things that are not surface level. And of course, the whole story takes place in a snow maze. [laughs]
What is it that you have in common with Julia?
I left home at 18. So I have been on my own for quite a while out in Los Angeles. So I feel like I have definitely been alone.
I have a great support system, but at the same time, I feel like I could definitely relate to the part of just trying to make things work when you have this goal you're working towards and you reach that point where it's maybe not as fulfilling as you hoped.
Or you realize that you're missing out on the rest of life because you're just chasing this thing that you're not even really sure if you want anymore.
So I feel like I get burnt out sometimes, and I could definitely relate with Julia on that and really finding that the people that you have in your life and your intentions on how you go about things make or break whatever you're doing on a daily basis.
Hallmark movies have really embraced the winter season in recent years, meaning that you get to film in actual snow. What kind of challenges does that create on set?
Well, snow in general creates some challenges, but we were filming this in Winnipeg under in a real snow maze that's in the Guinness Book of World Records.
Oh, is it!?
Oh yeah, this is in the Guinness Book of World Records, like this is a completely legit snow maze, nothing CGI about it.
So this was already a maze. I don't know if you're familiar with Winnipeg, but they have eight months of winter and not like, 'Oh, we're going into the season.' They're like, 'No, we're going to snow on you, and we're going to pretend we're the North pole for eight months.'
So much so that they have a river that everybody skates on to get to work and stuff like that. It's really a neat city.
But filming in those kinds of degrees? We were there during the polar vortex in 2019 last year. So we were dealing with our cameras freezing constantly, needing to change locations because blizzards were coming through.
You kind of learn your uniform for being in that kind of cold -- how many layers of under armor you could use without cutting off circulation and where you put your hand warmers makes a difference. Hot tea is probably the best thing to have around as well.
So you learn the tricks and trades of staying warm. I don't even know how you stop shaking during scenes, but as an actor, I feel like, all of a sudden, they say action, and then your body is like nothing's wrong with me, and they say cut, and you start shivering immediately.
You must have a built-in adrenaline that goes with filming scenes.
Yes, you do anything for the shot. That's what we always say, anything for the shot.
And you mentioned the maze. Had you ever been in a maze before this one?
I had been in the Dole Plantation Maze in Hawaii when I was filming Last Resort there, but that was a completely different kind of maze and much shorter, or at least I thought it was shorter.
And that was bushes and things that you could possibly see or reach through. But the Winnipeg maze, I had only gone through while we were filming because it was so cold, and I didn't want a risk of a chance of getting lost.
I can imagine.
I was like that is not worth it. And then, of course, we're going through it in the scenes. So I'm like, I don't need to spend more time in the maze. [laughs]
Did they have stories of people getting lost in the maze and in need of rescue?
That's a great question. I did ask them how long it takes people to get through, and one of the people said, 'Sometimes it takes an hour, hour and a half.' And I was like, that is a panic attack -- like that's the perfect formula for that for me.
You return a lot to Hallmark networks these days. What do you like most about making the Hallmark movies?
Oh gosh, I love being part of the Hallmark family. These movies are made very quickly, so there's that adjustment of the schedule is very fast, and there's so much involved. You get to learn this pace, and that's an adjustment.
But other than that, like really they care so much about their stories and their actors and their crew and really making something as quality as they can. And I feel like I've just always loved what we're making.
So when you're making a movie that's meant to bring lightness into the world or the story, I feel like, with these kinds of movies on set, you're always feeling more of that.
So amongst the busy pace, you're still feeling that sense of family and friendship and making something that you know that's following of Hallmark movies really takes to heart. I think one of the things I love most about filming them is knowing that the audience members love them so much.
And there's a large group of actors right now that make a lot of different productions. Have you thought of anybody that you'd like to work with on a future Hallmark movie?
Oh gosh, that's a great question. I've definitely made my list of the different actors. I've loved all of my male lead actors and people that I've worked with, so everybody that I've worked with is on that list.
So it's a very easy list, but I would say I've made that list of like directors and producers and different people that if I were to ever put together a movie that I really feel would make it that much more fun to work on.
But in terms of like new people, I really haven't even thought of that. I've more just been like, 'I love this experience so much. Let's do it again.'
Do you have any ideas for you to come up with a Hallmark movie of your own? I know a lot of talent pitches ideas. Have you put a list together of those?
Yes, I have. I put together a couple of different pitches. I know we have ideas. There's a movie that hasn't aired yet, Country at Heart, that all of us are banding together being like, 'we have more storylines, more ideas of what we can do' if we want to continue this particular movie.
But I do. I have. I have a small shortlist that I put together that hopefully, we'll be in the talks with the Hallmark exec. soon to see if they like any of those.
And you're also doing a character on Chicago Med that is quite different from a Hallmark character.
What can you tell us about Dr. Hannah Asher?
It is definitely very different from the Hallmark movies you've seen me in. Dr. Hannah Asher, she is a gynecological surgeon. She's top of her game, and she's a really caring surgeon.
She's really great at what she does, but at the same time, she battles with addiction. So with Dr. Hannah Asher, you'll kind of see that journey of someone that is in a power of position that deals with this really dark hole in her life.
And who will you be spending the most time with on screen?
So far, you will see me with Dr. Halstead.
Oh good. And are you expecting I care here to have a limited run or is there a chance you might do more within the franchise kind of redeem herself through that addiction?
Right. Well, with these episodic TV shows and stuff, really, for the most part, you all may know episode by episode when they're writing what's going on, like you're always like, 'Hey, what's happening next?'
And they're like, 'Well, we're writing that right now. We'll let you know tomorrow.'
Right now, Dr. Hannah Asher does have a decent amount of episodes going on, so she won't just be an episode or two. You'll get to really see her story play out.
And doctors need inspiration to do their best work, and so does Julia on Amazing Winter Romance. So what inspires Jessy?
Oh, what inspires me? Wow, that's a great question. I think it changes, but for the most part, what inspires me is authenticity.
Immediately I thought of my cat or my friends or when I think about work.
When I watch somebody's work or when I see somebody carrying on through life, I am usually inspired by someone really being themself and their vulnerability and their courage to go through with things. So I think that authenticity is what inspires me most.
When I see something, I observe someone doing what they do or when I look at work, I find that when somebody tries to do the truest form or is humble in what they're doing, it really inspires me.
That's really nice.
You're welcome. And I don't know if you heard my cat jump on my lap a few seconds ago and scream, but you mentioned you have a cat. Would you tell us about your cat?
My cat is the love of my life. Yes, my boyfriend will be very upset that I just said that, but my cat's name is Pirate. He's a little, rescue Sphynx cat, so he's a hairless cat. He came into my life unexpectedly, and every photo on my phone is basically him.
I understand that.
He's a cat that has a personality of a dog. Like literally. And when I had gotten him, I was like, I can't have an animal.
I travel too much, and I think it was Birthday Wish, the Hallmark movie that I had done, I was like, you know what, if you're going to be my cat, you got to be a little rock star and let's see how this goes. And so he's been traveling with me to all the different locations that I go to film.
Aww, that's so sweet!
Yeah. So he, he comes with me. He doesn't come to set because I'm too scared of people letting him out of the door, but he has come to the makeup trailer. He's gone more places than my mom, to be honest.
Well, cats do have that way of ingratiating themselves.
Yes! He was just in Chicago for this last Chicago Med episode, and, yeah, he travels everywhere. But really he's the little sunshine of my life.
And do you have anything else coming up that we should know about?
Right now, just Chicago Med, and then this weekend actually I'm filming a music video for Allen Stone, so that'll be coming out in February.
Be sure to catch Jessy tonight on Hallmark's Amazing Winter Romance at 9/8c, shivering in a snow maze that you, too, can visit on your next trip to Winnipeg, and on Wednesday at 8/7c as Dr. Hanna Asher premieres on Chicago Med.
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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.