Hallmark’s traditional summer movies lineup was halted due to the Covid-19 pandemic. Country at Heart starring Jesse Schram was originally scheduled for May of 2020, but will finally make its debut this Saturday October 3rd. The traditional Hallmark story follows a struggling country singer who meets a Nashville songwriter in need of inspiration. Teaming up to write a song, their work gets complicated but results in both a hit song…and true love. Country at Heart stars Jessy Schram and Niall Matter and Lucas Bryant. I had the opportunity to sit down and talk with Jessy Schram about her time filming Country at Heart and some of her original music that has come out this year.
Nancy: Let’s discuss Country at Heart, that’s going to be airing on the Hallmark Channel this Saturday.
Jesse Schram: Yes!
Nancy Tapia: Congratulations. You are part of the Hallmark family too, right? You’ve covered quite a few films.
Jesse Schram: I have. I’ve definitely gotten to do quite a few with them.
Nancy Tapia: What’s Country at Heart about? Tell us about Shayna.
Jesse Schram: Yeah, so I play Shayna Judson, who is a struggling singer-songwriter that’s just burnt out with her direction in life. She’s just not really sure that continuing to follow her dreams is really working out for her.
She’s taking a little bit of a breather and when she goes home to help her dad with the music festival, she’s introduced to a songwriter, played by Niall Matter, and also a country music star played by Lucas Bryant. Within the process of meeting them, she’s given these opportunities to go deeper in her career and her music.
She is the struggling singer-songwriter trying to figure out if keeping fighting for her dreams is actually worth it. She’s lost a bit of her confidence and is just trying to find her way. When she goes home to help her dad with the music festival, she’s introduced to Niall Matter’s character, who is a songwriter and Lucas Bryant’s who’s this huge country star, music star.
In that process, she’s given these opportunities for her career and she goes deeper within her music and also starts to get to know herself a little bit, coming back to the heart of what she actually wants in life and where she’s going. She falls back in love with music and she finds these friendships and ultimately, also finds romance, love.
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Nancy Tapia: Nice. You have some similarities to this character. I mean, you’re a musician yourself and songwriter
Jesse Schram: Yes, a lot of this, when it came to Shayna, felt not easy, but I would say I felt connected to her in the way of being a musician and singer-songwriter, but also even just being an actor for as long as I have. Even when you’re doing really well in your career, it’s not that bumpy. You’re always kind of dealing with what doors are being opened, what doors are being closed, and I feel like because of that I have a lot of those feelings that I could just give to Shayna because it matches the story.
Nancy Tapia: Well, obviously we don’t know any of the obstacles that Shayna comes across, but are there some that in your real life have related that your character relates to?
Jesse Schram: I would say lacking the confidence of knowing whether or not it’s something that you should be moving forward with your dreams or doing. I think one of the lessons that Shayna’s learning is that she does the things that she thinks people want her to as opposed to actually functioning from her heart. She wants to be heard, but she’s not actually speaking her truth.
I think that’s a lesson that I have definitely come across in life. I think also, there’s that aspect of when it comes to relationships, she’s just so busy trying to get ahead in what she’s doing that sometimes you miss what’s right in front of you. Everything that you’ve been asking for, whether it comes to career or love, you’re looking so far ahead that you don’t realize that you already have it.
Nancy Tapia: In the film, you’re going to be obviously, I’m assuming voicing songs?
Jesse Schram: Oh yeah, we sing original music. I didn’t write the music, a man named James Baker did from his band and he wrote original music for the film and all of us actors sing and play on it.
Nancy Tapia: You’re going to be kicking off a single, Do I Dare?
Jesse Schram: I am. Yeah, I’ve released a Christmas song in the past, but this will be the first single that I’ll be releasing.
Nancy Tapia: That’s awesome!
Jesse Schram: Thank you. It’s a song that I wrote with a musician friend, Willow Steven, about that unsuspecting friendship relationship that turns into something more and being scared to move forward because you don’t want something to be, you don’t want the relationship to be ruined. It’s kind of about daring to fall and daring to move forward and realizing you’re not doing it alone. You have that person with you and life is better giving it a try than not.
Nancy Tapia: Yes, indeed. So for this song, your new single, did you write it too?
Jesse Schram: I did, yes. I co-wrote it with my friend Willow Stevens.
Nancy Tapia: Where did the inspiration come from?
Jesse Schram: That came from I sat with her, we were thinking of just different scenarios or different things in our lives. Based off of that story of just having someone that it’s worth to take that step with. Having that friendship that turns into something more and how a lot of the time people don’t want to move forward because you’re scared about losing what you already had.
Nancy Tapia: I see…
Jesse Schram: And just like that playfulness of when you dare somebody to do something and you’re almost given permission to try. If you’re dared, it’s like, well, I was dared so now here’s this false security that, well, I’m just going to go for it then.
Nancy Tapia: I checked on your Instagram and you have this link to Red Eye Organization. Can you tell us a bit about that?
Jesse Schram: Yeah, Red Eye, it supports youth mentoring and Watts here in California. It was started by Justin Mayo and Red Eye I became involved with maybe like eight, 10 years ago. What I love about this group is that even though we may not be able to always fix the problem you can still provide an atmosphere or provide a bit of happiness through it.
They put on senior citizen proms, we do a strong man contest for Father’s Day down on Skid Row downtown, we do Mother’s Day make-overs. In the last few years, he’s always done youth mentoring down in Watts, but he actually took over the center that the building was for it to be done. Now it’s this program where the youth mentoring is something where volunteers will come on Saturdays to play with the kids, but also all week there’s programs going on and afterschool activities.
Nancy Tapia: That’s great.
Jesse Schram: Yeah, it’s a program that you can be really hands on with and connect and really be a part of the change, as opposed to just kind of watching from afar.
Nancy Tapia: What made you want to be a part of this?
Jesse Schram: There’s some organizations that when I moved to LA I became involved with like Corazon de Vida, where you’re able to visit orphanages down in Baja, Mexico. I think when I was looking to volunteer, I noticed that there are so many things that you can do, but being an actor, I have a very irregular schedule. So a lot of the things that you could actually be hands on with people, you needed to have a very set schedule, or the schedule was never matched up.
Then the things that I was able to do, you never actually had contact with the people that you were there to be with to see your help. For me, spending time and learning is a huge part of helping. I can give time, that’s really important to me. When I had found Corazon de Vida, I was looking for someplace in Los Angeles because you can’t always go down to Mexico, so I had found Red Eye and Red Eye just off the bat was a community of like minded people just wanting to help and to give back, and create a space that provides some relief. I love being involved with them because everybody was there to just do the same thing. It wasn’t about anything else. It was just being present and bringing what we could.
Nancy Tapia: Well, that’s great that you’re out there and helping the community, especially at times like this.
Jesse Schram: Yeah, I try to and I know that there’s so much to do and it can be overwhelming, so I think I always try and take a breath, and just stop and see what’s right in front of you and the things that you can be involved in.
Nancy Tapia: Well, any grain of salt can make a difference, so it’s awesome what you’re doing.
Jesse Schram: Yeah, thank you.
Nancy Tapia: You’re welcome. To start wrapping it up, is there anything else you might be coming up, be doing for film?
Jesse Schram: Well, right now because of the lovely pandemic that we have found ourselves with, I had just come off of Chicago Med, a medical show. Hopefully, when everything starts back up again, I’ll be over there and if not there, another role that’s really special.
Nancy Tapia: That’s awesome. Well, as for this, congratulations on everything this week, you have your single coming out, Do I Dare. Then you have Country at Heart this Saturday. You are definitely going to be in our list for new entertainment for this week.
Jesse Schram: Thank you so much.
Nancy Tapia: Of course. Thank you, and good luck.
Country at Heart premieres on the Hallmark Channel Saturday October 3rd at 9pm EST 8pm CST