Cindy Busby may have been absent from the world of Heartland for a few years – her last episode was in Season 7 – but she definitely has not been forgotten. Her character, Ashley Stanton, was definitely one to remember.
Did you know how to ride before you appeared on Heartland?
Fortunately, being a horseback rider was not a prerequisite to book the role of Ashley Stanton on Heartland because I didn’t ride previously. As soon as I found out that CBC picked up the series, I immediately took private lessons, which was my personal choice. We also got lessons in while we were shooting in Calgary with the horse wranglers. It was important to me to portray Ashley as truthfully as possible, so I definitely felt it was important to be comfortable on and around horses. They can be quite intimidating creatures.
What is your funniest fan encounter/story?
I still get recognized for my role of Ashley. It seems to have gained momentum over the last few years with things like Netflix. I recently tweeted about an experience I had at the Dallas airport during a layover. My flight got canceled and I was flustered because I was really excited to get to my final destination. A lady came up to me out of nowhere at the perfect time and said “Excuse me, are you Cindy Busby? My son and I just love you on Heartland. He’s gonna be so jealous. Can I get a picture?” She was the sweetest and it was her first time taking a plane. It was a silver lining moment for me. A reminder that unexpected things will happen and sometimes you need someone to snap you out of it. A fan’s smiling face is the best way to do that!
What did you enjoy most about working with horses?
I think working with animals creates such a calming effect on set, especially with horses. They’re so serene and have a healing quality to them. I love seeing them interact together because they all have different personalities. The wranglers who work on Heartland are the real deal and watching the various tricks they would do to get the horses to do what they wanted was always impressive.
Have you gotten a chance to work with horses on film since Heartland?
I’ve worked with other animals since Heartland, but not horses yet.
Do you have any funny behind-the-scenes stories to share?
There were honestly so many funny moments it’s hard to remember them all. There was an ongoing joke about the plot of land that Ashley and Caleb’s trailer was on that we called the ‘Vortex.’ We called it that because, although it was a beautiful location, almost without fail it would seem to have the worst weather when we’d get there. We got rain, lightning, snow storms, hail, I mean you name it, we had it. They eventually got another trailer that they put indoors in the studio, so we could shoot the scenes ‘inside the trailer’ in a safe zone. Also, Graham (Ty) and Amber (Amy) would often crack up laughing when they’d yell cut after a scene because they’d say “Cindy you’re so mean, but you’re not like that in real life so it’s just so weird to see you be cruel, it’s hilarious.” I loved it, I’d do just about anything for a good laugh.
Ashley, most of the time, was known to be quite, well, mean. What do you have most in common with her, and how is she different?
Yes, on the surface Ashley was ‘mean’ and I guess that is our biggest difference is that she deflects how she really feels with putting others down. I empathize with her situation. She was a product of her environment (being spoiled with materialistic objects and watching her mother manipulate any situation to get what she wanted). It’s always so easy to point the finger and judge without really taking the time to understand why someone behaves a certain way. The characteristics Ashley and I share is her hard-working nature, her sense of humour and her strive for growth and change. Ashley started off a certain way in the first season but it’s safe to say that her transition as a person over four seasons was incredible. I love how the writers had Ashley mature.
What was your favourite thing about working on Heartland?
I know a lot of people say this, but the best part was the people (cast and crew). They felt like family to me. They’re hard working, kind, talented, and hilarious, so it was an absolute pleasure to create a show together. To this day, I still call a lot of them my close friends.
You were also in a couple of episodes of Supernatural; what was it like working with the cast and crew there?
Working on Supernatural was the best! I got to do two episodes because I didn’t die in the first one and everyone has to die on that show. Haha! They’ve been doing the show for so long that the cast and crew are a ‘well oiled machine’ you could say. Jared and Jensen are genuinely friendly and welcoming to everyone who steps foot on their set. I didn’t get pranked, but now I have some serious prank FOMO.
Do you still ride at all?
I don’t ride. I’m more of city girl, who loves the country. I look forward to the next time I have any excuse to get back on a horse.
Do you have any upcoming projects to share?
I have some things coming up and a few things in the works, but I don’t know all the details so the best way for people to stay in touch with my upcoming work is via social media.
Readers: meet Graham Wardle, CBC Heartland’s Ty Borden, and meet Shaun Johnston, CBC Heartland’s Grandpa Jack, and meet Michelle Morgan, CBC Heartland’s Lou Fleming and meet Miranda Frigon, CBC Heartland’s Janice Wayne.and meet Madison Cheeatow, CBC Heartland’s Jade Virani