• Audra A. Russell


Updated: Oct 7, 2020


One Saturday morning in May we opened our email to find an 11 page audition for a Hallmark Christmas movie. It was scheduled to film at the end of the month in Winnipeg, Canada.

The role was 'Mikayla' .

The hopefulness to bring this script to life was beyond measure for Michaela. She had already fallen in love with Hallmark earlier in the year while filming Love to the Rescue in Savannah, GA. This audition/script had the same writer, Sarah Montana. It became personal to Michaela. She didn't want to disappoint.

Plus, the role matched her real name.

It was an extremely narrow window to meet the audition deadline (as in learn today, tape it tomorrow!)! The pressure was on.


It was early Saturday morning and the audition was due Monday morning at 10 a.m. This would mean...learn script that day and tape it the next day. Otherwise, she would have to miss school Monday morning and she didn't want to miss school. We already missed enough.

We had several hours of dance rehearsal that day to work around, too. The Spring show/recital was coming up and the last rehearsals are most important.

Could we do it?

Could she manage to learn the 11 pages, tape, edit, submit it, and keep up with dance commitments? And find a coach to work with in a day's notice? This was one to call in an acting coach—not just any coach, but the right coach since there was serious, emotional scenes with dialogue between a father and daughter.


Michaela managed to learn the lines that day. Friends in the acting community read with her and helped her prepare. After a morning of script study, then three hours of dance, followed by the help of Dad's friends that later that night...when ten o'clock hit--she feel sound asleep on the concrete porch floor.

The next day, (luckily!) Michaela's acting coach, Larry, was able to work through all the emotional scenes with her. They had one hour to tape 11 pages. (A typical audition has 3-5 pages). They did it. So thankful that he opened his schedule on a Sunday evening in order to help with this audition...on such short notice!


It was a huge accomplishment to not only receive an audition like this, but also to meet the deadline. Then...to have no idea if you'll hear anything further...ever.

So many factors and so many questions after an audition:

🔹Did I prepare enough (the best that could be in the given amount of time anyhow)?

🔹Did I go deep enough with my coach given the short time we had to tape a long audition? (Thankful we were able to book a very short notice session!).

🔹Will I disappoint everyone (especially the writer) if I can't pull this character off the pages and into life the way it's intended to be?

Then, there are all the outside factors:

🔹Casting Director sends your audition in and maybe the Producer and Director like it...but maybe the Network does not.

🔹Or, maybe the Network likes it, but an executive at the network has someone already in mind for the specific role.

🔹Or, maybe the Network and Executives approve, but perhaps there is some rule that this role must be local to Winnipeg.

🔹What if you have too many molars missing on one side (common for a 10 yr old) and they don't like the way it looks on the camera?

🔹What if the one tooth appears too visibly crooked next to the missing molars and they want a perfect smile?

🔹What if there are too many hairs out of place (on good quality cameras, every detail is magnified).

🔹What if the hair and teeth aren't not perfect and they're looking for perfect?


As much as hoping and wishing that goes on for a particular role, we had remember Nikki DeLoach's words from a recent Backstage article she wrote:

"After an audition throw your sides in the trash." -Nikki Deloach

We usually follow this advice (and typically do throw the sides into the recycle bin), except this audition was a lot harder to forget. Michaela loved everyone she worked with at Hallmark. (Not to mention we love Hallmark Christmas movies!)


Or go to Mississippi.

As much as Michaela wanted this role, we had to step back and be thankful for the opportunity to audition. Above all, trust that the right role at the right time would be.

In the meantime, she continued to do all the other things she likes to do outside of acting. Dance, dance rehearsals, possibly a trip to Mississippi for the weekend, have fun with friends, enjoy the last week of school events, etc.

When the week went by and it was a few days from when filming was scheduled to begin, we knew there would be no way we would hear further about this role. Off to Mississippi they went (Michaela and dad) to work on the lake house.



The day after Memorial Day (after having just driven to Mississippi the night before!) we get the call from her agent at 7:30 a.m. that she booked the role 'Mikayla' in Two Turtle Doves.

That was Tuesday...the flight to Canada would be on Thursday.

Everything else that happens between Tuesday in Mississippi to Thursday in Canada is enough for a separate post.

For Michaela, she had a large script to learn and packing to do. Filming was about to begin.


UPDATES since Two Turtle Doves was filmed

International Business Times has an article where Nikki DeLoach is interviewed about the Two Turtle Doves. It was in reading this article that we discovered they weren't just words in an audition, but pages from someone's real life...from Sarah Montana's life.

“There was a scene that we shot that was very emotional to get through…It was really difficult in this scene for both me and Michael to get through it without sobbing because we knew it was real. Our writer, Sarah Montana…she lost her mother and one of her siblings when she was younger. They were killed by a person who had befriended the family, and it was incredibly tragic, and all that was left was her dad and her brother.”

Michaela had no idea she would be a part of recreating a dialogue in Sarah’s life.

Her TEDTalk on forgiveness is one for everyone to watch.



Entire article @nikdeloach wrote in Backstage. Lots of great info for actors of all ages!

More on Sarah Montana. Her TEDTalk on Forgiveness is one not to miss.