Up north, there’s a fantastic show airing right now that I wish we had down here – it’s called HEARTLAND and it’s about a family of horse riders (The Flemings) who have learned to deal, in many different ways, with the loss of their mother/wife, and all that it means to be without her. It’s really well done, inspiring work. I had a chance to speak with one of the stars of the show last week, and I’m excited to share with you the interview. Cindy Busby, who you may have seen in Ashley Tisdale’s PICTURE THIS, plays Ashley Stanton, one of the rivals riders to the Fleming family. She is one of our FACES TO WATCH and I hope that you find a way to tune into her show – read on to hear what she has to say.
CB: HEARTLAND is based on a series of books written by Lauren Brook who is a British author. It takes place with the main family, which is called the Fleming family. It starts off when the mother dies. Amy Fleming, who is a 15 year old girl, kind of takes on the ability that her mother had of healing horses that were abandoned or who were sick or don’t know how to act well. She’s sort of like a horse whisperer but not exactly. And I’m part of the Stanton family, which is basically the rival family. We’re the rich, competitive English riders. It’s the story of our families coming together and fighting it out!
Season two just started, right?
Yes, it just premiered and we’re still shooting until mid-December, so it will air through the spring.
I think this season, we’re bringing a lot more serious topics to the table. We’re battling cattle stealing and cattle branding. We’re also tackling the oil industry and how it affects ranchers and their land. We’re talking about a lot more serious issues this season and we’re also dealing with a lot more family oriented problems. Kids versus parents, and all those different aspects. In my character especially, we’re really creating a 3-dimensional aspect to her. Last season, we saw her more of the conniving, manipulative character that people are used to seeing. This season, we’re going to show different, you know, vulnerable. People are going to really understand why Ashley does what she does.
I love Ashley Stanton. I love the fact that she’s very open. She doesn’t filter a lot of things, which is what kind of makes her seem mean sometimes. I think a lot of time, there’s ways of doing it that perhaps she hasn’t developed yet. I think that’s a really important characteristic, to be able to say what we think and express ourselves. She’s got that down to a T. She’s a very hardworking, competitive girl. I think that’s a very important thing. She’s very hard working. She’s gained a lot of success because she’s put so much energy into it. Which is what I love, where I can see similarities about me and her.
I’m not that similar. In the second season, you’ll see that she’s vulnerable and very sensitive. That’s where I think that we are similar. I am very sensitive and I can be very vulnerable. I’ve had issues with my parents and she’s had issues with her parents, we all do. I think I can relate to a few things, but on the grand scheme of things, I think we’re quite different in the way that we handle ourselves, and the way that she treats herself. I see myself as a more generous and upbeat and nice person.
What would you say to people who didn’t watch Season 1 or want to start watching – why should they tune in?
I think tuning into HEARTLAND is a really great thing that you can do with your family. It’s something that kids can watch, teenagers can watch, adults can watch. We have different generations in the story. We’ve got a younger story of 14 year-olds. We also have 16, 17 year-olds. We have 20 year-olds, and we have parents. It’s for everyone in the family. It’s not vulgar, there’s not any sexual content. it’s a nice, wholesome dramatic one hour TV show that can bring everybody together on Sunday nights, which I think is important to do, because there’s not a lot of stuff that brings family together anymore, so I think HEARTLAND can do that.
Growing up, I was always very comfortable performing in front of people. I was in all the school plays. Everyone knew that that’s what I wanted to do. I knew at a very young age, but I had a very normal high school experience, and when I graduated from high school, I studied for three years in professional theatre. And then I graduated from that, and I’ve just been professionally acting ever since. I’ve been doing TV shows, movies, anything I can get. I feel really lucky. I haven’t been in the industry all that long, although I have a lot of success so far. I think that I’ve worked really hard, and just persevered throughout the years.A lot of people give up too easily.
Yeah, I think it’s really important to just be surrounded by really great people and keep going at it through the struggles, and always to stay active in it. Doing any plays, or any workshops, or going to school, or keep reading plays. I think it’s important to throw yourself into that world and staying true to yourself and staying grounded with those important people in your life. Eventually, the hard work will pay off, I think.
I definitely think my family is my base inspiration. Especially my mother. My entire family are blue collar workers and they’ve worked hard their entire life. none of my family is in the entertainment business so my mom and my dad and all of my family has been supportive and they’ve always said “do what you need to do but if it doesn’t work out, that’s ok and there’s plenty of other things that you’re great at.” They just never put me down, they never tried to put what I wanted to do down. I find that happens quite frequently in the entertainment business. A lot of my friends, their family was not supportive at all. I feel really lucky.
Whose career would you love to have?
I’d probably say Reese Witherspoon. I think she’s done some really great work and she’s done a lot of various different types of roles. She’s been the mean girl, the all American girl, she’s been serious. She’s an Academy Award winner, and all around great actor. And a really wonderful person who has been able to maintain some sort of sanity in the biz, which can be sometimes hard to have, which is what I would like to have. A great career, but be able to have a normal life, and I think that she’s done a great job of that.
Do you see yourself coming down and being in LA eventually?
I think eventually, if I do want to continue onto bigger things, LA is definitely an option. I would go to LA for work, and to wherever the work leads me, pretty much, whether it’s in LA or NY. Ultimately, my home will always be Canada. Any downtime that I might have, that’s where I will definitely stay grounded.
What do you like to watch on TV?
I love to watch SO YOU THINK YOU CAN DANCE. I love HBO and Showcase (Showtime) shows. CALIFORNICATION, I love WEEDS. I love ARRESTED DEVELOPMENT. A lot of mostly comedies. I also love GOSSIP GIRL. There’s this new show, called PRIVILEGED. I like that show. I think it’s a good mix for me between 90210 and GOSSIP GIRL.
What do you do for fun on your downtime?
I had to learn how to do some horseback riding for HEARTLAND so I do that sometimes. I also just hang out with friends, go see movies. I like to shop, I go bike riding a lot.
What else besides HEARTLAND is coming up for you?
Right now, HEARTLAND is my main focus. I had a movie come out this summer called PICTURE THIS which is an MGM movie starring Ashley Tisdale. So right now, my main focus is HEARTLAND, and I’ve been reading a lot of scripts and auditioning.
I hope that HEARTLAND makes it to the United States. I know that we’re working really hard on it, and I think that after this season, it’s really moving forward.