‘Wynonna Earp’ Alum Melanie Scrofano on Joining Hallmark and Working With Lorraine Bracco (Exclusive)
Former Wynonna Earp star Melanie Scrofanao makes her Hallmark Channel debut this weekend with the food-centric romance, Welcome to Mama’s.
In the original movie, premiering Saturday as part of the network’s “Loveuary” lineup, Scrofano plays Amy, a restaurant manager who inherits a Brooklyn restaurant after the unexpected death of her mother figure, “Mama”(Lorraine Bracco). There she meets down-on-his-luck chef Frank (Daniel di Tomasso), who isn’t as welcoming as she’d like him to be. As they attempt to relaunch the restaurant amidst their differing viewpoints and personalities, they soon realize — in classic Hallmark fashion — they may have more in common than they thought.
Ahead of its premiere, ET spoke with Scrofano about joining the Hallmark family, channeling her Italian roots for her role (watch an exclusive sneak peek above), creating chemistry with di Tomasso during a pandemic and staying in touch with her Wynonna Earp castmates.
ET: This is your Hallmark Channel debut! How did it all come to be?
Melanie Scrofano: Yeah, my debut! It all happened very quickly. We got a call we were not expecting and they offered me this role, and I saw it was an Italian storyline and I got very excited because I don’t often get to play Italian, which is such a huge part of my childhood and my life. I have so many friends who have done Hallmark movies and they had a really good time, and they speak highly of the whole process. And actually the creator of Wynonna[Earp], Beau Smith, he was so hyper when my castmates from Wynonna got onto Hallmark. And I got jealous! Because he’s such a fanatic. I hope I’m OK to say this, but yeah, he’s just a big fan of Hallmark shows and his background music. When he’s at home, it’s always on. So I was like, “I want to make Beau proud.”
What can you tell us about Welcome to Mama’s?
A big character is the food, I think. Food is just such a powerful way that we come together. Half our family is Italian and meals were such a big deal. It’s how you express love, especially in Italian culture. It was such an appropriate cuisine to have on the Hallmark show. But it’s the grounds for this love story to happen — that’s inspired not just by the passion for food and cooking, but also for the love of a shared person in both of our characters’ lives. And that was Mama.
What initially drew you to your character, Amy?
I play Amy, who is a manager in a higher-end Italian restaurant. She loves what she does, but she’s not particularly happy where she is. She’s finding there’s no passion and it’s really just become mechanical, and she’s not progressing the way she’d like. I love that this is a show about food and she’s not even a cook. She can’t cook, and I love that. I played Wynonna Earp and Wynonna was a superhero, but she couldn’t figure out a gun. Amy works in the restaurant business and she can’t cook. I find that really endearing, but I love how hard she works. I love how much passion she has for not just what she does, but for people. The obvious relationship is the love story, but she also had this mother figure in her life, Mama, played by Lorraine Bracco, and her best friend that she couldn’t live without, played by Keisha Haines.
Are you as kitchen confident as Frank is or are you more timid like Amy could be?
I’m pretty kitchen confident in certain things because I grew up helping my grandmother and my dad in the kitchen, but if I have to go beyond the easy classic Italian thing, the exhaust fan is on and the fire alarm is going off. So I’m kind of a hybrid. I probably have the arrogance of Frank, but I have the limited skills with Amy, but it’s somewhere in the middle.
What was it working with Lorraine and also with Daniel?
Daniel had his heart in it from Day 1. He just really wanted to do a good job and really bring this story to light because we all really gravitated to the script. Italian Canadians have a certain pride and we were both, “Am I Italian-looking enough?” We were so insecure about it, but it was a nice bonding point. Working with Lorraine was fantastic — I didn’t get to work with her long enough. We shot our stuff in three days and I just wanted more. But she was great because I think we both were in a place where we wanted to make something that our families could watch, and we didn’t have to cover anyone’s eyes, you know? Just to be able to say, “We can all sit down as a family and watch this.” We had great conversations about family and life and that really was what this movie was about. It all just clicked.
A lot of the bread and butter of Hallmark movies is the romance. How did you and Daniel cultivate that on screen?
It’s such a short amount of time. You always feel a bit of pressure. We have two minutes to fall in love. I think it’s just being open to knowing that’s hard, accepting that. Then once you get that out of the way, if you can open yourself up to each other… We would talk again about family and life and growing up. We talked a lot about what it was like for each of us growing up in our Italian-ness, and sometimes not our Italian-ness. We’re Canadian, but we have this history that our parents had. And we’re trying to build a legacy. We had these commonalities of what it was like growing up. When you open up like that, it reads on camera. We both connected with our characters as well. I had someone that I loved a lot who I lost that was like Mama to me, and I was able to talk to him.
What can you tell us about what else you have in the works that people can expect from you?
I hate that I can’t tell you what I’m literally working on right this second because I’m just so excited, and I’m too scared to say anything because I’m terrified of getting fired. I’m working on something very cool as an actor. And as a director, I recently finished editing my two episodes of The Hardy Boys. That was a really fun shoot and it was really challenging, but also really, really a fun experience. I can’t wait for people to see that.
Viewers fell in love with your work on Wynonna Earp. Do you still keep in touch with your costars?
Yeah. I just visited one of my cast members yesterday and that was so fun. It’s hard because of COVID. We had even our main camera operator here the other day. They’ve become a part of my family, and I see no difference between my family and them. They’re just the most important people to me. We’re definitely still in touch and the fans as well. We’re doing conventions and it hasn’t slowed, and I’m so grateful because it’s been a couple of growth years. Those are the people that keep me going.
Are you itching to work with them again in some other capacity down the line?
I’m dying to work with them again. I don’t care in what capacity. But at the end of the day, I’d rather be friends with them. If I had to choose work with them or have them in my life, I want them in my life in any way that I’ll take them.
Welcome to Mama’s premieres Saturday, Feb. 26 at 8 p.m. ET/PT on Hallmark Channel.
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