Janel Parrish in the 2020 Hallmark Christmas movie Holly and Ivy. In an exclsuive interview with TV Cheddar, Parrish called her new Hallmark mystery high stakes and exciting. (Image: Hallmark Media)

In an exclusive interview with TV Cheddar, actress and singer Janel Parrish called Hallmark’s new mystery high stakes and exciting.

“You meet and fall in love with these characters, and when one of them is in trouble and there’s a ticking clock, you can’t stop watching unless you know it’s all going to be okay,” she said.

Family History Mysteries: Buried Past is a brand new mystery that stars Parrish and her fellow Hallmark veteran Niall Matter. The movie features a twist on the typical “whodunit” formula employed by most cozy mysteries. Instead of trying to solve a murder, Parrish’s character, genealogist Sophie McClaren, must keep a man from dying by tracking down his biological father. The result is a race-against-the-clock thriller with filled with suspense and surprises.

Janel Parrish in Hallmark’s new mystery

A native of Hawaii, Parrish became enamored with musical theater at the age of 6 after seeing a production of The Phantom of the Opera at the Neal S. Blaisdell Center in Honolulu. She started piano, singing, and dancing lessons and was soon a regular on the talent show circuit.

Within two years she had booked the role of Young Cosette in the National Touring Company production of Les Misérables, a role she also played at the Imperial Theatre on Broadway.

In 1999 she booked her first television role on the series Baywatch. She starred in several movies for the Disney Channel and in the Nickelodeon series Zoey 101 before being cast as Mona Vanderwaal in the show Pretty Little Liars. In 2007, she was signed to Geffen Records and produced her first solo album.

Niall Matter and Janel Parrish in Hallmark's new mystery Family History Mysteries: Buried Past. (Image: Hallmark Media)
Niall Matter and Janel Parrish in Hallmark's new mystery Family History Mysteries: Buried Past. (Image: Hallmark Media)

Hallmark Connection

Parrish made her Hallmark debut in the 2020 Christmas drama Holly & Ivy. In an interview to promote the movie, she said her mother was thrilled that she was working with Hallmark.

“My mom is Hallmark Christmas movies’ No. 1 fan,” she told Entertainment Tonight. “It’s on all day, every day, no matter what we’re doing. She’d always ask me, ‘When are you going to do one?’ I’d said, ‘Whenever they call me, I will do one.’ So she’s over the moon about me doing this movie.”

She also starred in the 2021 Countdown to Christmas movie Coyote Christmas alongside Ryan Paevey.

Exclusive interview

In a recent interview with TV Cheddar (woot woot!), Parrish talked about her new movie, her love of musical theater, and her fascinating hobby: aerial silks.

TVC: Family History Mysteries puts an interesting twist on the typical Hallmark mystery: Instead of solving a murder, your character, Sophie McClaren, is trying to prevent a man’s death. How does this add to the suspense in the story?

JP: Yes! I think it ups the stakes. You meet and fall in love with these characters, and when one of them is in trouble and there’s a ticking clock, you can’t stop watching unless you know it’s all going to be okay. I love that this film is so character and relationship driven. This one is so heartfelt and I think ultimately that’s what’s gonna keep the audiences on the edge of their seat.

TVC: What drew you to the character of Sophie? What do you think audiences will like about her?

JP: Sophie is BRILLIANT. She thinks outside of the box and trusts her instincts…she never takes no for an answer which makes her very endearing. She loves fiercely and would do anything for the people she loves. I also think fans will love her own personal mystery of where she came from and will love going on that self-discovery journey with her.

TVC: You mentioned in a previous interview that your mother is a big Hallmark fan. What do you think makes Hallmark movies so appealing to audiences?

JP: Hallmark never lets you down. With Hallmark, you know you’ll always get a feel-good ending with characters you’ll fall in love with. But it’s true…no one is a bigger Hallmarkie than my mom!

TVC: Completely off-topic but you have a really cool hobby: aerial silks. How did you get started? What do you like about it?

JP: Yes! After Dancing With The Stars, I needed a fun way to keep moving. I fell in love with the art of it, and then realized what an amazing core and upper body workout it is! Now it’s like my church…it feels like meditating and is so calming and a wonderful outlet for me.

TVC: You got your start in musical theater. Any plans to do any live theater in the near future?

JP: Yes, I’ll forever be a broadway baby! I love returning to the stage whenever I can! I may have something fun in the pipeline…stay tuned! 😉

Family History Mysteries: Buried Past will premiere on Hallmark Movies and Mysteries on Sunday, January 8 at 7/6c.

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