By JACKIE MOE
Award-winning television star and Lifetime network’s leading lady Meredith Thomas marks her 30th TV film debut today alongside over-80-Lifetime-films-and-counting actress and producer Vivica A. Fox, with the premiere of The Wrong Blind Date.
Thomas is second only to Fox in the number of Lifetime movies filmed. Her combination of wit and drama has landed her roles from thrillers to holiday feel-goods.
Since Thomas secured a role in her first big budget feature film, “Pleasantville” as a teenager, she has not stopped working in film and television. In addition, she works as a producer, creating the charity platform FYC Independents in 2018, which provided a platform to underrepresented talent including people of color, performers with disabilities, LGBTQ talent, performers over 50, and women.
Congratulations on making your 30th television film! What does it mean to you to be a part of so many of the Lifetime network’s movies?
Thank you. Over 20 of them have been for Lifetime but who’s counting, right? But seriously it has been incredible to be a part of these Lifetime movies, especially given Lifetime’s commitment to tell woman’s stories and give women a chance to also shine behind the camera as writers, producers, and directors. I do not take any role I am lucky enough to play for granted.
I have a dear friend and talented actor who once reminded me of how hard it can be to get a role on television. So, each time I have a script to act in I try to think of how many other hands held that script before it got to me. Of course these days it’s more digitally held rather than physically holding the script, but I still love the idea of many fingerprints on that script before it reaches me.
What has been your most memorable experience during your Lifetime legacy?
I shoot a couple of films on location in Buffalo, New York. One was for Lifetime called Fiancé Killer and the other for ION Television is called A Christmas in Vermont. I had such a lovely time being on location there. On my days off I’d explore the city. I visited Niagara Falls one trip alone and another time with my cast.
One time we walked across the border to have lunch in Canada. That was pre-pandemic obviously. I walked myself to little community St. Patrick’s Day parades, museums, and discovered local restaurants. This is making me realize how much I miss travel. Being on location is such fun because you become like family for a short time while you are away from your family and friends back home.
If you could choose, what has been your most cherished role so far?
I always say my favorite role is the one I am currently shooting but since I am not currently shooting one I guess I’ll have to answer. My favorite roles usually end up being the roles that most challenge and/or terrify me.
A few years ago I did a play here in Los Angeles and it was the most dialogue I had ever had the memorize. It was also a period piece and I was on stage for all but 10 minutes of the whole 2-hour show. It was a huge challenge but the message of the play and the arc of the character were so interesting to me that it was worth it.
I even got on stage after I was in a terrifying car accident on the way to the theatre. That is how much I loved this role and cherished this character. The show must go on, right? I’m am still hoping to revisit that role in a film version.
What inspired you to create the FYC Independents charity event? Do you plan to produce more events in the future?
I was inspired to create FYC Independents in 2018 after I saw a need for underrepresented talent to get more attention from Emmy® voters. In 2017, I was on the ballot for the first time with A Christmas in Vermont and I saw it was practically impossible to get eyes on the role without lots of studio money.
The next year I was Vice President of a local Elks Lodge so I had a great venue and charities to work with. I reached to the very few members I knew at the time at the Television Academy and said essentially, let’s put on a show.
That year five nominations came in, three the next year, then we started working with Daytime and more nominations and wins came in. I definitely would love to produce more events in the future as each one brings in money for charity. Sadly, I didn’t think this Emmy® season it will be safe to go back to live events.
In your opinion, what about Lifetime films do you feel draws so many viewers?
I think viewers like the escape the movies provide. They are like 2-hour soap operas at night. When one sees the drama of these characters’ lives maybe it makes real-life feel more manageable. I know I am always glad when I make better choices in life than many of my characters.
In what ways have you seen the industry change?
With the pandemic, most auditions are now taped from home. I miss people. I miss the friends and peers I would see in the trenches at auditions each day. I miss being directed at auditions. I never thought I would miss driving through traffic for a 5-minute audition, but I do. I think auditioning is forever changed. I feel bad for the young actors who will never have that “pounding the pavement” experience.
What other projects do you have on the horizon?
I have one called If Walls Could Take coming to Lifetime in March. I’m a sweet but nosy neighbor in that one. I just finished Dying to Win at the end of last year. I play a stage mom-type to a talented gymnast.