Answers with Sammi Hanratty
Answers with Sammi Hanratty
At only nineteen, Sammi Hanratty is already a seasoned pro and has been gracing us on our television and movie screens for over a decade. Sammi takes a pause from her busy workload to talk to us about “Salem” season 2 and the witch wars that lie ahead. She also fills us in on her budding career and what’s next!
Seeds of Yesterday
Dickson: At just 19 years old, you’ve already been professionally acting for 13 years! How did you know you wanted to be an actress?
Hanratty: I knew by age 2 that it was something I wanted to do, by watching Shirley Temple. I had the drive of wanting to pursue a career like that. Its crazy that by age 2 I knew that it was something I wanted to do. I asked my mom and at first she said no, but then she let me audition when I was six.
Dickson: What have you learned from working in the entertainment industry?
Hanratty: I’ve learned so much, mainly because I grew up in it. I’ve seen different angles and different people. It’s an industry where everyone comes into it because they all have a dream, but you want to be surrounded with people who want to help your dreams — not people who just want to climb on top of you.
Dickson: Most recently you starred in Lifetime’s “Seeds of Yesterday.” What was in like to work on this project?
Hanratty: It was very interesting for me, because it was my first time playing a role like Cindy where she is more flirtatious and sexualized than any other character I’ve played. It was also very fun to bring this character to life, which is flirtatious and gets to tease her brother who she ends up falling in love with.
Dickson: Describe “Seeds of Yesterday” in three words.
Hanratty: Sexy. Twisted. Complex.
Dickson: Why did you audition specifically for the role of Cindy Sheffield in “Seeds of Yesterday”?
Hanratty: I actually originally auditioned for Flowers in the Attic, and then I auditioned for Peddles in the Wind, and then I followed the series as they did the books. I’m really fortunate that I got to play Cindy. I’m really grateful that they kept calling me in, and that Cindy was a good fit for me.
Dickson: Your character Cindy is the rebellious and promiscuous adopted daughter of Chris and Cathy Dollanganger. Why do you think Cindy is so rebellious against her brother Bart and her adopted parents?
Hanratty: I don’t think she’s very rebellious, I think she’s more confused. She’s been shunned away by her brother because he had feelings for her and she had feelings for him, and there was a lot of awkward tension. He originally tried drowning my character (Cindy) in the previous book. I think she’s just confused for a lot of it –but knows what she wants. If you like someone and they like you then you should be together, but it’s more complex because he’s her brother. I think she just wants to be loved so badly that she throws herself at people. She isn’t doing it to do it, it’s something much deeper than that.
Salem, Mom’s Night Out, and what’s ahead
Dickson: You have simultaneously been working on the 2nd season of WGN’s “Salem”. Does working on many projects at the same time take its toll on you or do you prefer the “workaholic” lifestyle?
Hanratty: I love working it’s my passion. When I get to work on multiple projects at once it’s exciting, it’s fun to play different characters. It can be exhausting but it’s thrilling — I love it.
Dickson: “Salem” is inspired by the Salem witch trials from the 17th century. What kind of preparation did you have to do before starring in “Salem”?
Hanratty: I originally auditioned for Tamzin’s character, Anne Hale, and I really loved the show from the get go. I loved the idea of it being in the late 1800s. I had to prepare by doing a little research to figure out how to read the script and to figure out how to speak properly. When you’re on set with those outfits on it’s much easier to do because you feel like you’re in that time and place.
Dickson: At the end of season 1, we were left with a scene between Mary and a baby boy. This baby later turns out to be the son that Mary thought she had killed earlier in the season. How do you think this sudden plot twist will affect season 2?
Hanratty: I think in a big way, because now she has a son. Her son is not a normal child — Mary is not a normal mother. It’s such a different dynamic. Their plot is going to be very interesting.
Dickson: Do you think witches and wizardry exist?
Hanratty: Who am I to say they don’t.
Dickson: Is the set of “Salem” as creepy as it appears on screen?
Hanratty: Yes. It’s gorgeous, it’s a huge town that’s just stunning. There’s also a new part of town that’s been shown a couple of times in the show. It reminds me of Harry Potter when Harry Potter goes to Diagon alley, and he ends up in a grungy looking part of town. That’s what this new set reminds me of, grungy, poor looking but architecturally beautiful. I think it goes with the story so well.
Dickson: Dollie, your character on “Salem” works for the head witch, Mercy. What else can you tell us about Dollie?
Hanratty: In this season Dollie is starting to have feelings for Isaac, and now Mercy has captured him, and Dollie is kind of going against her by questioning her desires. It’s creating friction between the two.
Dickson: What’s your favorite part about filming “Salem”?
Hanratty: I love the cast and the crew, I really do. They’re so great, they’re such wonderful people. The location is so gorgeous. One of my favorite things is the wardrobe it’s so gorgeous.
My dream role would be to play a transgender character; I always thought that would be fascinating to do.
Dickson: You also recently took to the big screen in the comedy “Mom’s Night Out”. How is filming for a movie different from filming for a television series? Which do you prefer?
Hanratty: For me, I’ve never really been a series regular on a show. For a movie you’re on set for two months, and then you’re kind of done. For TV, your character just goes on for seasons and grows. I love doing both, because I love being able to play different roles. For MNO it was different because it was my first time doing a comedy film, I was playing a bigger role for comedy than I’ve done before. It was really fun. It was more of a challenge because I haven’t done it before for comedy.
Dickson: Who do you look up to in the acting industry?
Hanratty: Jennifer Lawrence and Saoirse Ronan.
Dickson: What is your dream role?
Hanratty: My dream role would be to play a transgender character; I always thought that would be fascinating to do. It would be so different from what I’ve played in the past.
Dickson: What do you hope to accomplish in the next year?
Hanratty: I’m going to India with Smile Train. I hope to accomplish more on Smile Train, to help raise awareness among people. I’m very involved in my church, I hope to be able to help to out in my church more. I hope to keep my career going as strong as possible, to take on different roles. I want to do a film people will watch and say “Whoa, I didn’t expect that from her.”