Grace Leer Dishes On Her Debut Acting Role In Hallmark’s ‘It’s Time For Her To Come Home For Christmas’
Leer also recorded an original holiday tune for the Blake-Shelton produced film.
Time for Her to Come Home for Christmas; Photo Courtesy Hallmark
Grace Leer is enhancing her already established resumé with her first-ever acting role in the Blake Shelton-produced Hallmark film, It’s Time For Her To Come Home For Christmas.
She will make her acting debut on November 30th alongside co-stars Shenae Grimes-Beech and Chris Carmack. Leer will showcase her on-camera experience, her engaging storytelling and her dulcet voice as she displays her dashing new Christmas tune, “Star On Top Of The Tree,” in addition to performing her rendition of Blake Shelton’s holiday hit “Time for Me to Come Home.”
It’s Time For Her To Come Home For Christmas is the sixth installment of the popular movie franchise based on the book Time for Me to Come Home, written by Shelton’s mom Dorothy Shackleford, and Travis Thrasher.
The heartwarming storyline, combined with expressive melodies, has captivated audiences in previous chapters of the series. This new original film continues the tradition of love, family, and holiday spirit, bringing to life the cherished themes that have resonated with viewers over the years. As Leer steps into this enchanting narrative, her addition promises to bring a new and sincere performance, adding to the cherished legacy of a beloved cinematic tradition.
Country Now recently caught up with Grace Leer to chat about her journey into acting and her first-ever on-screen experience. Read more in the exclusive Q&A below.
What was the audition process like for this role?
I was sought out by someone at Hallmark, but I did have to send in something since I’ve never acted in a movie before. This was definitely a different situation. But yeah, I was sought out and I happened to be a great fit, and they were looking for someone who could act and sing, so it all worked out.
Can you share a little bit about the character that you’re portraying?
I am playing Riley Wheeler and she is the little sister of Matthew Wheeler, played by Chris Carmack. When I first read the script, I absolutely freaked out that it was Chris Carmack, because I have been a fan of him since I saw him play Will Lexington in Nashville. I know a lot of people know him from The O.C. and then recently Grey’s Anatomy, so I just was blown away when I heard that he was playing my older brother. But Riley Wheeler, she is the little sister of Matthew and she is a singer. Everyone in this small town knows that she can sing, but she’s always been very hesitant and nervous about singing in front of people. She hasn’t really found that confidence to share her gift with everybody, but she finally joins the church choir this Christmas. She is very nervous to not only sing in front of people in the choir, but also to sing a solo performance at the Christmas Eve church service in the middle of the movie. It’s a cool story watching Riley have this kind of shy personality, really work hard on this solo with Carly. At the end of the movie, you get to see her really just come through and gain all this confidence. It’s a pretty cool character to play and I was so excited to play Riley Wheeler.
How do you relate to this character in real life?
It was funny to have to play this character that didn’t feel confident in her singing abilities. I do remember me as a little girl taking a lot of voice lessons, and I was in choir growing up as well. I was in choir all throughout high school, so I really was able to pull from my real-life experiences of when I would get those solos in the choir, wanting to do a really great job, and really not wanting to let anyone else down. Then there are still those moments where I am nervous when I have to perform. This past year I sang the National Anthem for the Women’s National soccer game at Geodis Stadium for the first time and I haven’t been that nervous in a really long time. So those nerves are still there. Then at the same time, I was on camera acting for the first time, I was on a movie set for the first time, so I was already naturally nervous to just be doing that and to be doing something that was so brand new. I definitely was able to pull from real life experiences, but I think it was definitely a learning experience to have to act like I wasn’t confident in singing, because of course, I am. It was fun to learn how to play that role though.
Throughout the overall experience, what were the moments that felt more natural and what did you find to be challenging?
I felt like I was a natural in terms of it feeling like a performance to me. I was really nervous when I was getting ready to go on camera for the first time and I’ll never forget that day, but the minute they said ‘action,’ I felt the same way that I do when I perform on stage. The music starts and I just go and I feel like that’s just something ingrained in me. I grew up playing soccer as well, and it was the same sort of thing. Those nerves build up and the minute the whistle blows, you’re like, ‘okay, here we go.’ So, I think being comfortable on camera was natural to me. Being taught by my director, Ali Liebert and her assistant Don Ash was incredible because they were able to coach me through that experience. I’m someone who just likes to be directed, and I could not have done that without the support of my director, Ali. She was just so incredible with me by helping me learn how to be the best I could be in that role. I think things that were challenging was just picking apart the character. It was hard because you do the scenes not in order of the movie. The very first scene I did was actually one of the last scenes in the movie. So I have to sit there with the director and say, ‘okay, what has happened already’ because you’re already a different character at this point in the movie. It’s very challenging to say, okay, this story has already developed, this character has already developed so, what is she feeling? What has she gone through? What is her relationship with her brother right now? That stuff was challenging for me. I learned so much from actors like Chris, Shenae and Brian and my amazing director, Ali. I just learned so much to really hone in that skill.
Did you write the song “Star On Top Of The Tree” with this film in mind?
Yes, I did. I wrote ‘Star on Top of the Tree’ after I filmed the movie and we filmed the movie in June. Hallmark is always looking for original Christmas songs, and I had a few, but they said after we filmed the movie, ‘Hey, if you want to send us any music that you think would be a good fit for this film, let us know.’ I went back to Nashville, and I think that week I got back after filming the movie, I had a writing session with Joybeth Taylor and Dan Agee. I told them a little bit about the movie and I told them what kind of Christmas song I wanted to write. I definitely had my artist vibe in mind, so I wanted to use the song to capture the real message of the film. I had a lot of things to work with, and Joybeth had this idea called ‘Star on Top of the Tree,’ which she explained as something being the cherry on top. She said ‘it’s kind of the thing that just makes it that much better, even though it’s not really what it’s all about.’ It’s like, yeah, we all make our Christmas dinners and Christmas cookies and we put up our lights and everything, but that’s just the star on top. That’s just the cherry on top of what Christmas is really about. It’s about being with the ones that you love. When she explained that, we were like, ‘yes, let’s write that song.’ It was really fun, and I got to pull in a lot of lyrics that mean a lot to me, from the little things that I do at Christmas time, like baking cookies and hanging up wreaths. It was a really fun song to write with Joybeth and Dan.
You recently shared that acting has always been something you’ve wanted to pursue. What prompted this dream of yours?
I mean, I used to do theater and little shows when I was a kid, and I think I’ve always just had a passion for creating and telling stories. I get to do that through music all the time with songwriting and when it came to my music videos, when I was releasing my EP last year, my video director would always say, ‘okay, how can we make this into a short film?’ I love telling stories visually when it comes to my music, so I think it’s always just been something I’ve really wanted to lean into. I took acting classes in college, and I’ve taken some since I’ve been in Nashville as well. I think it’s just another passion of mine. My dad’s also an actor in L.A., so it’s really fun to learn from him too. He was so excited when I got the movie and he couldn’t wait to read the script and help me with my lines as well. I think it’s just something that I love alongside of music, and it’s just another way for me to be creative.
In what ways do you think this experience will influence your music career?
I think this will influence my music career just to see me doing something different. I think Nashville is pretty competitive and sometimes you can get caught in this circle or this cycle of posting songs on TikTok, releasing music, releasing EPs, going on the road and doing all these things that I definitely want to continue to do and see for myself for sure. The end goal is definitely stadiums and arenas someday, but I think it’ll influence it just for people to see a different side of me as an artist. I also get to sing in the movie. It just couldn’t have been a better fit. It’s showcasing my voice, my song ‘Star On Top Of The Tree’ and my acting debut, so I’m just really excited for people to see that other side of me as an artist.
Would you consider pursuing a more full-time career in acting as well?
I would absolutely love to continue to act and get better at it and definitely balance it with music. That would be so much fun.
Fans can keep up with Grace Leer on Instagram.
I am a senior at Kansas State University, where I am majoring in Communication Studies. Throughout my time at college, I’ve had the opportunity to publish a few of my pieces in the University’s newspaper, The Collegian, and I’ve created my own website. I’ve previously interned for Country Insider, an iHeartMedia-owned country music industry newsletter and I am currently interning for CountryNow, a Red Light Management owned publication. I’m very passionate about music and writing, so I hope to find myself in a career that incorporates both of these passions.