Amber Marshall on Her ‘Heartland’ Family, Overcoming Loss & Amy Finding Love Again

Amber Marshall in Heartland
Up Faith & Family

Viewers of the beloved drama Heartland have grown up with Amber Marshall. The actress, 35, has portrayed Amy Fleming for more than 15 years, over 250 episodes and counting with season 17 now in production. The series, based on the bestselling books, follows the Bartlett-Fleming family and is set in the picturesque backdrop along the rolling foothills of the Rockies in the fictional town of Hudson, Alberta.

Amy enjoys the ranch life surrounded by horses she has cared for and open space. Though the rural setting has been anything but easy living. Much like Amy, Marshall and the rest of the cast have dealt with their own share of loss. One of the show’s stars, Robert Cormier, who played her love interest in Finn Cotter, died last September after a fall.

Despite being the longest-running television drama in Canadian TV history, the show continues to build on its existing audience beyond the Great White North. Among the Top 5 Most Streamed Shows in the U.S., the series recently premiered season 16 stateside exclusively on UP Faith & Family. Marshall took a break from filming season 17  to reflect on Heartland’s longevity and generational connection, as well as tease what’s to come.


What’s the vibe on set for season 17?

Amber Marshall: We really have become quite the family because we have been together for so many years. I think back to that whole idea when you are in high school and your peers become your family. That has happened on set over the years. The funny connection between it is we are actually playing a family on TV. We genuinely care about each other. I just absolutely love the longevity of the show because it makes the character have so much more realism and history with other characters.

How do you look at Amy’s evolution?

It’s a rare opportunity that an actor gets to play a character for this long. To be able to grow as a person simultaneously with my character’s growth has been cool. It’s interesting to see how the writers look at what is going on in my own life and then will mirror a lot of the stories because I’m going through a lot of the same things at the same time as my character is. I remember when our showrunner at the time Heather Conkie was at my own personal wedding taking notes. I said, “Oh, we’re bound to see this on the screen in a year or so.” Sure enough, very similar stories took place. That’s also the best way I can prepare for my role because I am going through these things in my own life. When it comes on screen I can say, “Wow, I’ve been there and experienced this. I know exactly how I handled it emotionally and can bring that into my character.

Amy’s daughter Lyndy (played by Ruby and Emmanuella Spencer) is really starting to come into her own this season. You’re definitely seeing a lot of the traits and horse-whisperer abilities in her as Mom.

There are two twin girls who play the role of Lyndy, and they were cast on the show when they were six months old. They have literally grown up on the show, and now they are going to be seven this summer. I really do feel they are my family. I’ve spent so much time with these girls. I’ve watched every stage they’ve had and watched them learn and develop. That to me has been really rewarding. Not just as an actor, but as a mother figure to these kids. I think again that brings so much realism into the show. They bring such realism to the show.

The show was dealt a devastating blow with Robert’s passing. Your character was so intertwined with his character Finn as seen in season 16. Fans wanted to see these two end up together long-term. You talk about being family on set. How has it been moving forward?

To add to all of that, fans were so excited to see Amy start to fall in love again. To live those moments onscreen and have such a connection with Robert and his character Finn. We spent multiple days having all kinds of different story arc talks. We thought, “Okay, this is going to take us through the rest of the season and beyond.” He and I would talk about it all the time. He was such a great guy and so open and very honest to work with. The conversations were easy. It is so fun to be around him.

When we found out the news, it was devastating. It was one of those moments that served as a reminder that you never know when you’re going to lose someone around you. We all took a step back and used it as a moment to look at our lives and who we love and care about and make sure they know that. You never know. There is no certainty in life. That was kind of an eye-opener for everyone on set. In a way, I do believe it did bring us all closer together because you can’t take anything for granted.

Season 16 is currently airing here in the U.S. via Up Faith & Family. What do you like most about Amy’s journey?

I believe that season 16 allowed Amy the opportunity to move forward with her life. After the death of her husband Ty [Borden] (Graham Wardle), there were a few seasons we wanted to spend honoring his legacy and their relationship and connection. Fans who have been long-time viewers of the show know how strong that connection was and how important the relationship was for the Heartland series. I think it’s respectful to the characters and the fans to show the grieving process and go through the stories of now a single mom who had to put her daughter before everyone else. But in a way those times were really taxing because for myself playing a grieving widow was hard on me. Every day you’re coming in upset and trying to get into very dark places. Season 16 was finally where it became, no, Amy is allowed to move forward. She is allowed to be happy. She was given that time for her to grieve and for fans to grieve with her. Now it’s about her moving forward and opening up her heart again

There are theories that Sam [Langstone] (Shawn Roberts) is the new love interest. What can you tease about the future for him and Amy?

I think it’s always important when you have a female character who has been through love and loss to have characters that are always kind of there. When there is always that potential of asking, “Is there going to be something that happens?” You never know. That’s what keeps stories interesting when you don’t know the exact path the character is going to take. Sometimes there are certain things, even our own lives that we are just neighbors or friends or whatever we might see them as. Then a life situation might turn the corner where might actually view them differently. One of my friends. She is a widow and lost her husband. She always joked about her neighbor. Four years later she ended up married her neighbor. You never know what is going to happen.


UP Faith & Family

How much longer do you see yourself playing Amy?

I love this character. Not even the character, but this lifestyle. Heartland has one of the nicest environments that I have been in when it comes to a film set. We primarily film outdoors in beautiful locations. Every day I show up to work it’s breathtaking. Yes, there are bad days when it’s snowing and minus 30 and we have to forget about that. Today it’s a hot, beautiful summer day, and we get to hang out with a great group of people and a bunch of horses all day. We’re at the ranch today. I don’t know if I could ever find a better job than this. It fits my life so perfectly. I live in Alberta. I love Alberta. I don’t want to be anywhere else. I will ride this horse as long as it’s here.


What do you attribute the show’s success and longevity to?

I think fans are really looking for a nice, wholesome, family show that they can sit down together and watch and not be worried about the content. Not have to explain things to their kids. That’s one of the biggest things I hear as far as feedback that people. That Heartland has actually brought their family closer together. The more I hear about it and hear kids will watch the show and call their grandparents to talk about it. That is their common thread. It’s something we can all enjoy and sit and talk about. In such a fast-paced world, where so many people are separated by devices and technology. Everybody is very disconnected, but they can still get together to sit and watch our show together.

Heartland, Season 16 is now streaming exclusively on UP Faith & Family