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Hallmark Sweetheart Nikki DeLoach Opens Her Heart About Overcoming Grief, Her Favorite Co-Star & Giving Back (EXCLUSIVE)

In an intimate interview, the star talks about losing her father and her holiday project with Andrew Walker

Perhaps she was the face of your youth with her role on the All-New Mickey Mouse Club, or maybe you recognize her illustrious career on the Hallmark Channel — either way, Nikki DeLoach has probably put a smile on your face at some point in her 30-year career. Since 2015, we’ve been lucky enough to see her in over 15 movies on the Hallmark network, and the impact of her work is certainly not lost on the ever-so-humble, fiercely gracious 44-year-old Georgia-born actress.

Here, Woman’s World sat down with DeLoach to find out her favorite holiday traditions, what it’s like meeting fans and what’s it’s really like being a part of the Hallmark family.

How Nikki DeLoach got her start on Hallmark

DeLoach reveals that it was actually her grandmother who pushed her in the direction of Hallmark all those years ago, and the reaction she received in the wake of her first film’s premiere was all she needed to know that the network was a place she could make a home for herself.

DeLoach affectionately recalled an evening church service she was attending in her hometown ahead of her Hallmark debut, in which the pastor had a special surprise in store for the congregation the evening of her first Christmas film. “You know you have made it big when the pastor lets everybody go home early from church to see your movie!” she joked with Woman’s World.

Nikki DeLoach, 2019
Nikki DeLoach, 2019Getty

DeLoach continued, “I have been in this business since I was seven years old, and I come from a small town where everybody has so graciously and generously supported everything that I’ve ever done since I was a little girl, but the reaction they had toward me doing this Hallmark movie and the joy that radiated out of them after watching it and seeing it, I had never experienced a reaction like that from anything that I’ve done, TV or film, in my life.” At that point, she knew what was next.

Why Hallmark is the place for her

For Nikki DeLoach, it was that experience in her hometown that flipped the switch, as seeing the joy it brought the people in her community made her realize the impact she could have on an even grander scale.

“If I can be a part of bringing them any sort of comfort or peace or happiness, or just that feeling of not being alone, not just at the holidays, but at any time during the year,” she emotionally shares, “I want to do that for the rest of my life.”

Nikki DeLoach, 2018
Nikki DeLoach, 2018Getty

More than just love stories and happy endings

While some chalk up Hallmark movies to nothing more than sappy and happy, fans and audience members know that’s certainly not the case. DeLoach in particular has done a myriad of films that deal with far more serious themes that carry a lot of weight for viewers who may be going through something similar to her characters.

For example, her 2022 film The Gift of Peace told a story about overcoming grief and finding faith when it’s been lost. Knowing the sort of impact that these stories and films have for viewers, DeLoach doesn’t take her work lightly.

Nikki DeLoach, 2020
Nikki DeLoach, 2020Getty

“I take it very seriously for many reasons. Number one, if I’m gonna ask people to give me ninety minutes of their life, to sit down and watch something that I’ve been in, I’m gonna make it matter,” DeLoach says. “I’m gonna give it a hundred percent of myself. And that’s fighting for things that I believe in in the script. It’s fighting for moments on set. It’s making sure that we are super conscientious and thoughtful and mindful about every single detail of the movie. So that’s important to me.” Furthermore, she asks herself, “Is this a story that needs to be told and am I the one to tell it?”

When it comes to telling heavier stories on the network, Nikki DeLoach has had the opportunity to channel a lot of her own grief and pain into her work.

Turning her pain into art

Two years ago, DeLoach lost her father at the age of 66 to a rare and aggressive form of dementia called Pick’s Disease. Five weeks after his passing, in the midst of some of her darkest days, she received the script for a film called Five More Minutes from Hallmark. The film tells a story of a woman who had just lost her grandfather, wishing she had a mere five more minutes to spend with him — and finds her wish granted in an unexpected way.

Nikki DeLoach and Jen DeDe attend the Alzheimer's Association 2022 Walk to End Alzheimer's
Nikki DeLoach and Jen DeDe attend the Alzheimer’s Association 2022 Walk to End Alzheimer’sGetty

“I almost didn’t do the movie because I was so broken,” DeLoach recalls. “I just didn’t think that I would be able to do it, and I could just feel my dad pushing me, I could feel him saying, ‘You need to go do this,’ and so I did, and I gotta say, I felt like an audience member watching one of these movies except it was me that was inside of it, because I needed hope so desperately and this movie made me feel hope.”

DeLoach adds, “It made me feel like, okay, I’m in a really dark valley right now, and I can’t see my way out of this, and I don’t know how I’m gonna get out of this, but I do know that hope is alive. And so, I always say, people say that Hallmark is the network of love, but I think it’s the network of hope.”

Whether it’s love stories and happy endings she’s bringing to life or something a bit deeper, so much of her work boils down to giving her audience and the Hallmark fans stories that feel genuine are personal to them.

Connecting with the fans

DeLoach and many of her Hallmark colleagues are in a position unique to many actors in Hollywood and beyond. Attending fan conventions year after year, she’s lucky enough to be face to face with the people her work touches. And for her, it’s more than just autographs and photo-ops. With the opportunity to ask fans if they feel seen and heard through the films they see on Hallmark, she has the chance to get a real glimpse at the things they’re going through.

Just recently attending ChristmasCon in New Jersey, DeLoach shared: “When you meet these fans and when you meet the people in the Hallmark audience and you see what a difference these stories and these movies make in their lives, that’s why I keep coming back.”

A family from the top, down

Her love for the Hallmark community doesn’t stop with the fans — DeLoach has nothing but praise for the network as a whole, emphasizing the fact that they truly do listen and take into account what the talent has to contribute. And when fans come to Nikki and tell her what it is they want to see, rest assured that it’s not falling on deaf ears.

Nikki DeLoach, 2021Getty

“I started putting on the table stories that were deeper stories and telling them [the executives] this is what our audience wants, and boy has Hallmark delivered. They have delivered in such a tremendous way, and I think that this year’s slate of movies is our best year yet. And I’m so proud and I’m so honored that they’ve chosen me to bring some of these deeper, more emotional stories to life, because they really have allowed me a place to put my own pain, which has been a lot of grief in these last couple of years.”

DeLoach goes on to say that that “our executives want to give our audience what they want. That is their main goal, and then that’s also what separates our network from other networks as well, is the contentiousness of our network executives and the desire to really deliver for our audience.”

A part of the Hallmark family

Nikki DeLoach, 2022Getty

“I think it’s such a beautiful, unique niche that our network has carved out inside the world of entertainment for television and film. You know, they can see us do a myriad of different characters as long as it’s us, this core group of actors, and boy, I can’t even tell you how grateful I am that I came along at a time where that was happening because it offers me the opportunity to tell such a variety of different stories at our network and work with so many different people who I love and I respect, and also to work with some of the same people who are beloved to me like Andrew Walker, he’s like a brother to me,” she shared.

She and Walker have worked together on a number of films over the years including A Dream of Christmas (2016), Curious Caterer: Dying for Chocolate (2022), Sweet Autumn (2020) and more. As for the Hallmark faces she hopes to work with in the future, DeLoach has her fingers crossed for a girl’s movie with her Hallmark colleagues and real-life pals Ashley Williams and Kimberley Sustad — a dream come true!

Andrew Walker and Nikki DeLoach, 2022
Andrew Walker and Nikki DeLoach, 2022Getty

Nikki DeLoach prepares for the Christmas season

On December 13, Nikki DeLoach and Andrew Walker are teaming up off-screen to ring in the Christmas season as the 2023 Newport Beach Christmas Boat Parade Grand Marshals — and DeLoach couldn’t be more excited.

For DeLoach, attending the parade has been a dream of hers, but the timing was never right and there was always a conflict in the way. “So the fact that I get to go in this capacity to actually be a marshal and to be an ambassador for our network there, and to do it with Andrew Walker, and both of our families are coming, I was like, this is better than I ever could have imagined in terms of going to the Newport Beach Boat Parade, so I am thrilled.”

And that isn’t all she has in store for the holiday season, as she shared with us some of her favorite holiday traditions, from Christmas pajamas and movies every night to decorating their tree, full of ornaments gifted to her over the years and those she’s acquired with her family from all of the new cities they visit together.

Nikki DeLoach, 2018Getty

The season of giving back

However, one of her most treasured Christmas traditions comes in the form of giving back, specifically to the Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles.

“I love being a part of what they [Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles] do at Christmas time because there’s so many families that have to spend Christmas in the hospital. And I’ve spent a lot of time in the hospital with my kid and it’s hard enough to be in a hospital for a long period of time with your child whose fighting for his or her life, but to do it at Christmas, that just is an extra layer of hard,” shared DeLoach.

Additionally, Nikki is excited to share that Hallmark is coming to CHLA where they’ll be handing out Crayola backpacks full of goodies to make the holiday season a little brighter for those going through tough times this year.

What’s next for Nikki DeLoach on Hallmark

With a few projects in the works for the new year, keep your eyes peeled for what’s next from Nikki DeLoach. “I honestly feel like I’ve hit pure gold in my life, and that’s why I want to be a part of the Hallmark family as long as they will have me.” We can’t to see what’s in store!

Want more Hallmark? Click through below!

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Get to Know Ronnie Rowe, Jr. The Handsome and Talented Rising Hallmark Star

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