International actress and singer Natasha Burnett was born to South American parents and resides in both London and Vancouver.
She began her acting career in 2007 where her first role was on the British drama series, “The Bill.” She also starred in “The Magic of Motown” show where she played Diana Ross for four years.
“When the opportunity for playing Diana Ross came my way,” Natasha said. “I thought that it could be a great opportunity and I could have a little fun. It helped me decide at one point to come out of theater and into television.”
Natasha took her acting inspiration from the Guyanese actor Norman Beaton. Her mother was raised by Beaton’s family. Beaton appeared in a show called “Desmonds” and it was one of the first times Natasha had seen a British show centered around a black family.
In 2017, Natasha portrayed the character, “Supreme #1” in The CW’s “Supergirl” TV series.
“That was really fun,” she exclaimed. “It was a crossover episode where Supergirl [Melissa Benoist] and the Flash [Grant Gustin] crossed. It was such a great musical episode! I hadn’t played Diana Ross for about seven years at that point so it was fun getting to go back and do that again!”
In 2021, Natasha joined the cast of Hallmark’s hit series, “When Calls The Heart.” Cast as “Minnie Canfield”, the wife of the minister “Joseph Canfield” (Viv Leacock) and their children, “Angela Canfield” (Vienna Leacock) and “Cooper Canfield” (Elias Leacock). Vienna and Elias are Viv Leacock’s children in real life.
“It was very calming coming into a show like that! [Established long running series],” Natasha said. “There was such a positive energy because most of them have been there for so long! They were all willing to show us anything we needed to know. For a character, when you join doesn’t matter, because the character still has to be developed and established.”
Natasha says there are some similarities between herself and her Hallmark character, “Minnie Canfield.”
“I would say we are alike by about 60 %,” Natasha said. I do not have any children, that’s definitely the biggest difference! Because of the time period, she’s a little more reserved and I think I’m a little more fun and energetic! I do however like her energy and playing her character. It’s been really fun to do!”
The “Canfield’s” are not only the first black family to be cast in “When Calls The Heart” but as of season eight, they were the only complete family unit of both parents and their children on the show.
“Angela Canfield” (Vienna Leacock) is blind on the series and a gifted piano player. Natasha is portraying the protective mom because of the disability and because of the racism of the time period. Being cast as a black family in a period piece is something that’s not lost on Natasha.
“It was really important to me to get this right,” Natasha exclaimed. “I did a lot of research! Being British, it was important I understand the history of the African American and I felt for Hallmark, it was a big step for them as well! I just felt like I wanted to do it correctly and make sure that I portray it in a realistic yet positive light!”
“In playing the role of a parent with a disabled child [Vienna Leacock], it almost becomes personal because of the time period and the combination of her having a disability and the racism that was around at that time,” Natasha said. “You do sort of connect to it! I felt being in a new town, and navigating all of that as a mother, it very much becomes very, very personal.”
Discovering the “Canfield’s” back story and what they may have faced as a family before arriving in “Hope Valley” hasn’t been established yet, but has a lot of possibilities as a compelling story of what they would have likely faced as a family of color during that period.
“It would be nice to see that because we did get a lot of messages from people wanting to know more about our back story and finding out why “Angela” [Vienna Leacock] is blind,” she said. “A lot of people want to get more insight and information like what was my character doing prior to arrival and how did all of this affect me? I’ve mentioned it because I think it is important to explore. I’m really grateful we get so much feedback. I think this is something Hallmark can cover in a really good way!”
photo courtesy Natasha Burnett
In season 8, episode 11, “Carson Shepherd” (Paul Greene) wants to propose to “Faith Carter” (Andrea Brooks) in the cafe. He goes to the kitchen where he has a conversation with Natasha’s character. Natasha has described this scene as a very raw emotional scene for her.
“I remember having to rehearse that scene and talking to the director about it,” Natasha said “I didn’t think ‘Minnie’ talking about ‘Angela’ (Vienna Leacock) was going to be so emotional for me but as I was rehearsing it and I got towards the end of what “Minnie” is saying about it being so difficult having a disabled child and it’s really like a weight is lifting off ‘Minnie’s’ shoulders! The moment for “Minnie” was such a big moment that it made me emotional.”
One thing Natasha has noticed so far is that fans of “When Calls The Heart” have taken to the “Canfield’s.”
“I’ve really noticed that fans like the family unit and the family dynamic,” she said.
Working in a period piece has been interesting for Natasha and a new experience.
“It has definitely been a learning experience,” Natasha said. “There’s a lot of things I didn’t know about that time period! I do enjoy wearing the costumes actually because it’s really nice sometimes to dress in a slightly more formal way and to wear something I normally wouldn’t wear!”
With Natasha also being a singer and her character being the wife of a minister on the series, there could be an opportunity for fans to see Natasha’s character sing if the writers choose to do so.
“I would love that! When I talked to Vienna Leacock, who plays ‘Angela,’ we talked about that,” she said. “Being the wife of the minister in small towns, my character would likely have inevitably been called to be in the choir or something like that at some point so I think it would be a natural transition to bring it to ‘Hope Valley’ as well!”
With season nine of the series approaching, there are some things Natasha would like to see for the “Canfields.”
“The main thing would be to allow the audience to see how ‘Minnie’ came to be who she is today and where she wants to go next in her life,” Natasha said. “Season eight was about establishing us as a family and as individuals. Now I feel like we can progress their story and see if ‘Minnie’ is going to stay at ‘Abigail’s cafe,’ or find something else to do! I think now that she’s more comfortable, she may not be as protective over the children and that will hopefully allow her to go on her own personal journey!”
Hallmark casting Natasha and her “family” on the show opens up a lot of potential for some great, compelling storylines that she is excited about as an actress.
Getting to see more of this gifted actress, and seeing the show take advantage of her talents, could bring new energy back to the series. One thing is certain, Natasha will be prepared if called on.
Fans can also see Natasha in the 2021 TV series “Hannah Swensen Mysteries” starring “Days of Our Lives” soap veteran Alison Sweeney.