Jessica Lowndes' Many Responsibilities In Harmony From The Heart - Exclusive Interview

Sometimes, an actress has her own Infinity Gauntlet of talent, and that's undoubtedly the case for Jessica Lowndes, the star of GAC Family's upcoming Valentine's Day rom-com "Harmony from the Heart." This film boasts Lowndes not only in the leading woman role but also as its writer and producer. Lowndes even wrote and performed music for the film.

Lowndes' prior credits include "A Mother's Nightmare," "90210," "A Deadly Adoption," and "Pretty/Handsome," but this actress is ready to elevate to a new level. In fact, some of Hallmark's best films have boasted Lowndes as a leading actress, but she's proving she can do more than read what's on the page. She can create the page. Now, GAC Family's "Harmony from the Heart" sees Lowndes playing Violet, a master's student working toward a degree in music therapy who wants to find love but doesn't know where to look. Luckily for her, she's starring opposite Jesse Metcalfe.

We recently sat down to talk with this acclaimed Hallmark actor about all things "Harmony from the Heart," as well as her upcoming debut album and the future of her writing career.

Jessica Lowndes on writing and then producing Harmony from the Heart

What can you tell us and tease about "Harmony from the Heart?"

I play Violet McKay, who is a music therapist, and she's been given a task to help a patient regain his speech by Valentine's Day. Along the process, she ends up meeting this patient's grandson, who is his doctor, and doesn't believe in music therapy. There is a beautiful love story and through music, you see a story about hope and resilience and healing and they end up opening up their hearts to each other along the way.

Earlier, you mentioned that you wrote the script four years ago. What was the process like writing it and then getting it onto the screen?

This one was very challenging, because this is actually the very first script I ever wrote in my life. It was the first time I wrote "The End" on a blank document. I remember looking at the screen, at the very beginning of the whole process and seeing this blank page and being like, "Where do I begin?" I had a weird year, workwise, where I kept auditioning and testing for different roles and getting down to the final two and not booking. I forced myself every night to write for an hour. This was the script and I didn't do it to sell the script, I did it to keep myself sane and to remind myself why I got into this business in the first place.

I was inspired to write about this because I was asking my mom, if she wasn't a piano teacher, what she would've done. She said she would've been a music therapist, and [love and music] are the two loves of my life. The more research I did, I was blown away at how music has such an incredible capacity to heal people. I had never seen a movie about it, so I thought it would be great to put that out in the world and tell this beautiful romance around it.

How music has impacted her personally and in her career

I know you have a history with music, but do you have a history with music therapy as well, or is that just something you're interested in that you really wanted to explore?

It was something I was really interested in and I did so much research and talked to real music therapists. As a musician, I've been writing music for as long as I can remember and I've always loved how people have come up to me from the few songs that I've put out in the past and they've been so affected by it. When you dive deep and you see that music can actually change somebody's state and, even a little bit, it can improve their mood [and] their health, it was so fascinating to me. I thought it would be really cool to tell this beautiful story.

I wanted to dedicate it to my grandmother, who is a singer, and so there's a lot of that throughout the movie. I named the character Violet after her mother ... there's a lot of things that are really special to me about this film. I see "11:11" everywhere I go, and I'm all about making a wish at 11:11, so when I was writing this song, I teamed up with this incredible artist named Zyra [Odesza] and I have my producers, Aaron Edwards (Miley Cyrus, Elohim, Lucy Hale) and Corey Walles in LA, I've done all my music with them and they did all the music for this film. We were brainstorming concepts and I was like, "I'd love the chorus to be about wishes and everything that you wish you could say to someone, but you're too scared to say." I think it's really beautiful, and I'm so happy we were able to incorporate that throughout the story.

It was crazy because I wrote this script and I put it on a shelf knowing, "Hey, I wrote a script. That's great." As the years went on, I fell in love with the whole process of writing. I would force myself to write from 9:00 to 5:00, every single day. I'd break for lunch. I gave myself a full schedule and this is the second script I've sold. I sold one out of order, one that I had written later on, but it was Bill Abbott who was at Hallmark who believed in me as a writer. He gave me that opportunity and we shot that movie two years ago. It was called "Over the Moon in Love," and that also incorporated music into [the story].

Jessica Lowndes on her relationship with Jesse Metcalfe

[On bringing "Harmony from the Heart" to life]

When [former Crown Media president Bill Abbott] moved to GAC, he brought me on board as a writer and gave me such an incredible opportunity. He wanted me very hands-on and involved. It was the first time I got to be involved from everything, from the art direction to the location scout. I'm so overwhelmed by it and we couldn't have had a better cast. I'm so lucky that Jesse [Metcalfe] signed on board — I've always been a really big fan of [him] and his voice. I wanted him to sing and I was so happy that he did and he was perfect for it. I thought he did such a great job. He cared so much. He kept asking, "Is this exactly what you want?" It was even better. I'm over the moon about it, and I hope everyone loves it as much as I do.

I literally just got off the call with him and he kept saying ... he couldn't sing enough praises for you and how you inspire him.

That's so nice. Every day I was telling everyone, "Go team, go team." I ended up getting t-shirts made at the end of the shoot that said, "Go team." It was sports jersey lettering. He was great and I think we created something really cool together.

One thing I talked about with him was how there's this extra added layer of grief and emotion in the film that isn't necessarily present in other films of the genre. How did you go about incorporating that as the writer and then how do you think that impacts the film?

I wanted to write a rom-com, but I wanted there to be depth and I wanted it to be unlike any of the other movies in this genre that people had seen. There's the love story, but I wanted it to feel different. I wanted it to look [and sound] different. I think the turning point in the film, for me, is when both characters are finally opening up about why they do what they do. A lot of that is rooted to a really deep tragedy from their past, [and] instantly you understand why he is so harsh and intense because he cares so much. 

In that moment, you can't help but fall in love with him and fall in love with my character and you want them to be together and they have that in common. I think that definitely grounds all of it. I wanted every performance to feel grounded and real and entertaining. I wanted to shed light on this whole thing and have people walk away feeling hopeful, but I really wanted there to be a depth.

On switching between acting and writing brains

In the film, you and Jesse [Metcalfe] have a really nice chemistry. Tell us a little bit about how you met and how your relationship formed.

I've seen him over the years at different events, but I never actually had met him and didn't know him personally. When we were going through the casting process, there was different guys, different lists of names that were coming my way and he's who I wanted because, again, the music and his talent, a lot of people don't know how talented he is ... musically, and I was so excited and I knew we'd have a lot of fun together. I couldn't have been more excited and he really does care. He puts the work in, he doesn't just come to work and say the lines, he studies and he does character development and his own back stories. That's really fun to work off of as an actor, especially a writer. I feel like the more depth someone can [use] to bring this to life is the coolest thing ever.

The hardest part for me is there were moments where he was doing such a great job that I wanted to stop acting and sit there and watch him. As a writer, I was like, "Oh my god, you're seeing the line so good," but I'm like, "Wait, I'm acting right now. I can't be doing this." That was really challenging and hard, but again, I think we made a really great film and I had so much fun doing the final duet with him, "It Had to Be You." We recorded that in Vancouver before we started shooting it.

That's fun to have that done at the beginning. It sets the tone for the whole thing.

That was before — it was the first weekend. It was awesome.

Jessica Lowndes reveals the struggles of acting while producing

Were there any other unexpected challenges that arose when filming "Harmony from the Heart"?

This whole thing was very challenging because I was wearing so many different hats and this was the first time in my career that I had this much responsibility on my shoulders, and making a movie isn't easy ... I feel like, even with all the different challenges or things that would pop up, I feel so grateful because it was such a rewarding experience. I think it was so busy and it was "Go, go, go" and so many long hours. Now, it's finally sinking in, while I'm on vacation, I can actually sit and be like, "Wow, we did this." It's really cool, and I can't do enough. I'm so motivated to keep writing and I have been writing a bunch of different genres. I have some in development for GAC, and then I have other things that I'm working on as well.

I take it writing is something you really want to focus on moving forward, right?

I love it. I can't describe the high that you feel when somebody is saying the words that came from your brain. You're like, "Oh my gosh, this is the coolest thing." It reminds me of when I was a kid playing with Barbies and you'd come up with these stories and now, you're like, "Oh, wow. This is like these little stories in these characters, now they're people." It's awesome, and they're talented actors that are lending their talent to this, so I can't get enough of it. I want to do it all the time.

Jessica Lowndes teases her debut studio album

I'm also interested to know, because you work on so many aspects of the film, about your relationship with the director, Michael Robinson and how you two worked together to bring it to life.

I love Michael. I can't work with him enough. We met, we talked beforehand, but met in person on the location scout. We were [totally] on the same page and we had the same vision and he makes everything look so beautiful and expensive. I wanted every shot to look sexy — I know that's not usually a word that [described a set], but [with] these movies, I'm like, "I want every shot to look sexy and cool and feel like a real feature film." He was the best director ever to have on board. I was blown away, he came up with some really cool shots and we had so much fun and he has a real creative vision for things. I can't say enough good things about him.

Same with Randall Platt, our [cinematographer] who did the lighting, incredible. He's been lighting shows for years and ... he's got a lot of experience under his belt. When I knew that he was signing on, I was so excited because he knows how to light everyone and make everything look so beautiful. You barely even have to color the movie when it's done, because he's done such a great job.

Are you able to discuss or tease any other films you might be writing or anything?

I have a few for GAC — one is an Italian romance, I'll say that, which is going to be very fun. Another one is a Christmas film and there's music involved in both, because I feel like, "Why not? Just add some music in there." [I have] a bunch of other projects in the pipeline. I'm getting ready to release my first full length album, and I'm really excited. It's called "Elemental." 

[I made] my directorial debut last year, I directed this visual album, [and] each video [has] a different element. Within the element, there's a natural disaster that I'm escaping from, and it's one long story. It's the journey we all go on from the ups and downs of heartbreak and finding yourself again and finding new love. It's a cocktail of emotions and the elements are metaphors and you don't know if they're actually happening or if they're in your head, but subconsciously, you know you're not where you're meant to be at that time. It's a real journey and I'm really proud of it. I'm super excited.

Whether she'd be interested in a 90210 revival series

[On where her writing career is taking her]

I have done music over the years. I wrote for my character on "90210" and then I've done one-offs here and there and released things or other songs for different movies, but I've never actually put out an album that is so me. During the pandemic, I teamed up with Aaron Edwards and Cory Wallace, and we wrote the entire album. There's a lot of music about to come out. I'm very excited.

What can you tell us about the sonic direction of the album?

It's a blending of genres, in a way. It's almost a cinematic pop, so it's like Enya, but with beats, but it literally starts in one place and then takes you to an entirely different place, which is also the journey of the entire visual album. I really like that as well.

Do we have a release date?

Very soon. I'm not allowed to say yet, but within the next couple months.

You mentioned "90210." There's the new "Sex and the City" revival series, "And Just Like That," and I was wondering how you would feel about a potential revival series of "90210"?

Oh, that would be so fun. I would love it. That would be very fun. I don't know if that's even a thing or in the pipeline, but yeah, that was such a huge part of my life. I love the cast so much, and over the pandemic, we did a cast reunion video, which was really fun, and we all got to say "hi" and get caught up. That was one of the conversations that was brought up, like, "Oh, reunion show or reunion movie? That would be fun" ... My focus is all these writing endeavors and music stuff for right now, but never say never, you never know.

Jessica Lowndes reveals her inspirations from her favorite shows

How might your other holiday-centric films like "Angel Falls Christmas" have prepared you for "Harmony from the Heart," whether on the acting or the writing side of things?

It really prepared me [because of] how fast these movies are made. They're usually 15-day shoots and it's like a marathon, so you're shooting an entire film in 15 days and a lot of people don't know that and it's a lot of work. That definitely prepared me because, wearing so many different hats, again, it's a lot to cram into 15 days and it's something that has been four years in the making and I care about it so much. I knew what to expect as far as the schedule goes and that definitely helped. With all of the other films that I've done in this genre, you have an understanding of the tone and the stories that are being told and the audience and everything like that.

Also on the TV side of things, what are your favorite series to watch?

Oh, I have so many, but right now I am so obsessed with "Ted Lasso." It is so good. Now, I care about the characters so much, and I'll be out for dinner and something will happen and my boyfriend and I, where he's equally as obsessed and we will be referencing "Ted Lasso" and calling people their characters names. We are currently hooked on that. We are in Costa Rica trying to get enough Wi-Fi so that we can watch it.

Do you draw inspiration from the other things you watch?

Yeah, I get a lot of my inspiration from my own personal life and my stories as well, or my girlfriend's story, I draw more on real life experience versus things that I've seen. I can't not write about it — once I get the idea, I was like, "I need to put [this] down on paper."

Jessica Lowndes reveals what's next for her career

Do you have a favorite reality series to watch?

I love "Married at First Sight." It's so good, and I throw "MAFS" nights every Wednesday. I invite my friends to come over and watch it, and even people that say they're not into it, they come to these "MAFS" nights and then they get obsessed. Every week we're on the TV being like, "Oh my gosh," they leave you on a cliffhanger and then we can't wait until the following Wednesday. I definitely love "MAFS." I've also been known to throw "Bachelor" Mondays as well. It's an excuse for me to get together with all my friends and cook dinner. I invite everyone, I invite die hard fans, I invite people that say they don't love the show, but they do secretly love the show. I love reality shows as well.

Are there any that you would want to appear on?

Well, back in the day, I appeared on "America's Next Top Model" when I was 19, I thought that was the coolest thing ever because I got to be one of the guests that the models interviewed and I thought that was amazing. [I'm] definitely not appearing on "Married at First Sight" any time soon. I don't think that's in the cards for me.

What can you tell us about what's next for you?

Oh, there's so much. A lot of creative endeavors are coming out that I've spent a lot of time working on and a lot of things have been four years in the making or a couple years in the making and other than my closest friends and family, no one really knows what I've been working on. That's been so exciting to know that they're finally all going to be seeing the light of day. It's an exciting process, and it's like putting your babies out into the world. That's how I feel with my scripts and that's how I feel with my songs. It's exciting. It's like, "Oh, here it is. It's happening."

You can catch Jessica Lowndes in GAC Family's "Harmony from the Heart" on February 12 at 8 p.m. ET/PT.