An interview with Heather Doerksen
Work for a cause, not applause.
Live life to express, not to impress.
Don’t strive to make your presence noticed just make your absence felt.” ~ Unknown
If you took Heather Doerksen out of all of her roles, each movie would suffer in her absence. Doerksen has a stage presence that is hard to ignore. She has an innate ability to make you feel happy, sad, fearful, and hopeful, often in the same scene.
The lesbian world will know Doerksen from her bit roles in The L Word and her co-starring turn as Sarah in Ambrosia. Wider audiences will know Doerksen from the big budgeted film Pacific Rim and her indie films, The Cabin in the Woods, The Uninvited, and All of My Heart. Doerksen once said in an interview that her character in Ambrosia was one of her more challenging roles. “Ambrosia was challenging because the material was hard on me. Some of the actions my character took in Ambrosia were difficult for me, Heather, to stand behind, but when you’re playing a character, the last thing you want to do is judge them, even if they’re the so-called ‘villain.’ You really need to step into someone else’s shoes and wonder, ‘Why would they do this?’ and truly explore that.”
Doerksen didn’t start out in the entertainment industry, rather she had her sights set on the world of science. Fortunately for us, she had a college professor who turned her life around. “…one day my professor, Jesai Jayhmes, had all of us close our eyes, concentrate, and then asked us, ‘what makes your heart sing?’ Picture it. Now ask yourself what’s stopping you from doing that? And ask yourself how you can start. For me, it was acting. That day I switched my major from Science to Theatre. It was very sudden, like a lightbulb. I knew I HAD to make a move, or I would regret it later in life. That class was really important to me.”
The indie film world has been kind to Doerksen casting her in some of her best roles to date. “When looking at independent projects, it’s important to feel passionate about it. That’s why they’re called ‘passion projects.’ Everyone on set loves the film and wants it to be seen by the world, because there’s a precious story to be told. I pick indie roles based on if the character speaks to me, the story itself, and who’s involved in the project. Every now and then, I’ll get offered one of these beautiful roles, but sometimes, like everyone else, I need to audition alongside other talented actors to be considered. Even if I’ve totally fallen in love with the character, it doesn’t guarantee I’ll get the part. And that’s just part of the job.”
Doerksen’s new movie All Things Valentine airs now through Valentine’s Day on the Hallmark Channel. “In All Things Valentine, I play Hannah, Avery’s sister, who is a wife and mother trying to keep the balance of maintaining a family and keeping the romantic spark with her husband since having a kid.”
Doerksen’s theatre background has helped her acting career. Fresh out of college she helped form Genus Theatre. “Genus Theatre was important because the group (there were 6 of us) had to collectively write, direct, act in, and produce two shows a year. We made our own work, rather than waiting for the phone to ring from our agents, or from a director saying they had work for us. So it took away that empty hole that artists can get when they don’t get the chance to perform. We just did it ourselves without relying on someone else to make it happen. Genus was important in establishing my confidence as a performer and as a businesswoman.”
Doerksen’s confidence has garnered her praise across the board. ‘Destined for greatness’ was a phrase found in my doing my research on the talented actress. “There’s definitely something to be said for someone seeing something special in you, someone who believes in you, before you even see it in yourself. There are casting directors, my agent, directors, and friends/family who have all believed in me when I was just getting started with nothing on my resume. And that was important, to have those people in my corner. But I also really believe that whatever people think of me or write about me, in the end, has no bearing on my inner confidence. That all comes from me. I’ve had life experiences that have brought me to this point, and my inner world (the world I draw from as an actor) is ever-changing and evolving. The more I go through life, the more I want to remain unapologetic for just being me. I’m still learning how to do this. I think it’s a life journey.”
All Things Valentine airs on the Hallmark Channel on February 6th at 6 pm CST, and on February 14th at 12 pm CST. You can follow Heather Doerksen via her website, www.HeatherDoersken.com or via Twitter @HeatherDoerksen.