When Hallmark Channel stars say they feel like the network is one big family and that they’re close on and off the screen, they mean it — and they’re happy to prove it, sharing their real-life friendships with fans via social media and at fan conventions.
Most recently, fans flipped over getting a glimpse on social media of a star-studded group of girlfriends, all connected via Hallmark, toasting each other at a recent happy hour. It’s the latest example of the camaraderie the network’s top talent and executives aim to nurture.
It’s not uncommon to see Hallmark’s top actors supporting each others’ projects, as many have recently with Benjamin Ayres’ new Romance University, or gathering for mini-reunions, like a recent getaway at the Sundance Film Festival attended by several stars including Ashley Williams, Andrew Walker, and Tyler Hynes.
During a virtual SAG-AFTRA panel with fellow female Hallmark stars in December 2022, actress Nikki DeLoach said, “I’ve worked for so many different networks and this (is) a very rare situation what we have here.”
Hallmark Friends Gather for Girls’ Night Out
On February 11, 2023, DeLoach posted a group selfie on Instagram with several girlfriends who are highly recognizable to Hallmark fans. The group included popular actresses Lacey Chabert, Brooke D’Orsay, and Erin Cahill, as well as Hallmark events manager Shaina Rae Julian and wellness entrepreneur Cassandra Troy, who’s related to two Hallmark stars (she’s married to Andrew Walker and cousins with Tyler Hynes).
To caption the post, DeLoach wrote, “Can never get enough of these women. So grateful for them. We work together and play together and it’s just the absolute best.”
Some of the women shared the post in their Instagram Stories, as well as a quick video of them toasting each other. Fans commented with delight over getting a glimpse of the gathering, and many of the women’s Hallmark colleagues “liked” the post including Ryan Paevey, Ginna Claire Mason, Wes Brown, Taylor Cole, and Jonathan Bennett.
Hallmark star Kristoffer Polaha, who just wrapped filming “A Biltmore Christmas” to be released later this year, wrote, “The force behind Hallmark – and let’s be honest, our very lives – the women!”
One Hallmark fan called them “the Queens of Hallmark” while another asked, “Any chance we can get you all playing opposite each other in a Hallmark movie?”
Another wrote, “What a blessing!! So happy to see you ladies take the time to spend quality time together!! Priceless!!!”
Hallmark Stars Say the Camaraderie Among Colleagues is Real
During the December panel for SAG-AFTRA, the entertainment industry’s labor union, DeLoach said that though casts of long-running TV series often forge close bonds and become real-life friends, it’s a rarity for stars of a network who rarely work together on-screen to support each other as much as the stars of Hallmark do. She also referenced colleague Holly Robinson Peete, who was on the panel with her and lost her mother-in-law in 2022, as an example.
DeLoach said, “Holly and I have never done a movie together. But (if) I hear she’s going through something with her family … an email goes out immediately. ‘Hey, Holly, I’m thinking about you and sending so many prayers. I’m sorry that you’re going through this with your mother-in-law,’ you know? Everyone’s that way and it’s legit and it is real and it’s authentic.”
“I absolutely, 100 percent agree with everything you said, Nikki,” Robinson Peete said, adding that they often bond over understanding the intense and short film shoots required for Hallmark movies, and their friendships take off from there. In fact, she shared that she knew right away she wanted to be friends with Ashley Williams, another featured panelist, on the set of their first movie together, 2017’s “Christmas in Evergreen.”
“I fell in love with Ashley Williams. The minute I saw her, I felt so — I just wanted to be around her,” she said. “And I’ve felt like that about a lot of my co-stars and people I’ve just met on the network. So, there is a camaraderie that is very different from, as you said Nikki, all the other networks. Hallmark is really unique in that way.”
In January 2023, Chabert told Forbes that she, too, cherishes the friendships she’s made with her colleagues, pointing out the rare experience she’s had getting to make six movies with her “Wedding Veil” co-stars Alison Sweeney and Autumn Reeser.
Comparing the experience to a summer camp for adults with gab fests in their hotel rooms over wine, Chabert said, “We’re all moms, we’ve all been with Hallmark Channel for a really long time, so we all understand what’s it like to be ‘that girl’ in these movies, you know? We’ve gotten to share so many stories and really support each other.”