Briana Buckmaster joined the cast of Supernatural in S9 as Sheriff Donna Hanscum in a one off MOW episode called “The Purge”. One of the things I find that the powers-that-be at Supernatural do very, very well is casting, particularly for the guest actor spots, and they haven’t disappointed the viewers with Donna Hanscum (freaking great name too). Donna’s introduction to us and to Sam and Dean was at the police station over the cliché of donuts and coffee. This scene was both hilarious and endearing all at the same time. I still don’t know how Dean managed to get powdered sugar all over his face and none on his Feebie suit….that boy has some mad eating skillz! I think that Donna comes across as really relatable to almost all women. She’s a little insecure about her looks, wants to get 15-20 pounds off, is in a profession that is traditionally a male stronghold and was married to a passive-aggressive narcissistic prick. I’d be willing to bet that most of the female viewership has been in those shoes at least once.
DC: Have fans been reaching out to you at all? Donna Hanscum seems like she’d be a great person to hang out with and would be a solid and dependable friend. I’d love to have her as a neighbor!
BB: Fans have been reaching out to me in many ways. I love it. Writing me letters, making fan-art, or just tweeting me saying they feel like they really connected with Ms. Hanscum. I read every single tweet. It makes my day when someone tells me how Donna has affected them or their experience with the show. I couldn’t have asked for a better response.
DC: I think it’s a credit to both the writing and the way you portray the character that Sheriff Hanscum makes you feel like you could sit down with her and share life stories.
You have some amazing experience, including writing credits. Do you think that your writing experience gives you an advantage when interpreting the writer’s vision for the characters you’ve played? How else has your background in writing helped or hindered your acting? I would think that it would give you an edge, particularly in auditions. Not everyone can instantly create a character or scene out of a few words!
BB: I don’t know that the writing gives me the edge. I think it’s really the improv experience that gives me the one up at auditions. It makes directors feel at ease when they know an actor can handle anything that is thrown at them. And it has definitely come in handy on the Supernatural set that’s for sure. Improv just makes you a better actor. Period. I wish I continued in my improv career. I have friends who are incredibly talented at it. I envy them when I see them on stage making people roll over in the aisles.
DC: You’ve been fortunate enough to work in theater, film and television as well as improv. Do you have a favorite medium? When you write, do you find yourself gravitating to one genre or is your writing fairly diverse?
BB: My writing generally is comedic writing. I actually am involved as a writer in a new project that should be launching in the next couple weeks that I’m very excited about. Performing wise I like to do a little bit of everything. That way I never take anything for granted and I’m constantly pushing myself to get better. I’ve been working in theatre for most of my life so it’s where I’m comfortable. But it has its challenges. It’s very physically exhausting working 6 nights a week for months on end. Working in TV is so new to me that I learn something every time I’m on set. Since I’ve been an actor for 15 years the acting part comes naturally, but the technical part of TV acting is what is very challenging.
DC: I hope you let us know when your new project launches. The #SPNFamily is very loyal and would love to support whatever you’re working on. You’ve been acting for 15 years, when did you know you wanted to act? I actually chose my first career when I was about five years old, I was a nurse. (I never played doctor, just nurse!)
BB: I knew I wanted to be an entertainer when I was around 5. I wrote a letter to the Mini Pops (a teeny-bobber music group) to ask if I could be in their singing troupe. But I knew I wanted to be an actor when I was 11 and my mom took me to see Les Miz. From then on my dreams were to be on Broadway. My musical theatre passion still lives on but I’m much more flexible now about where my dreams take me ☺
DC: I think we all have to learn to be more flexible as we grow up. I got my degree in nursing, but now work for a bank and write! So speaking of being flexible…you know I have to ask about the food truck….how did you get involved in that? What was your specialty? How long did you run the truck? Is it still running?
BB: When I first moved to Vancouver (from Toronto) my husband and I were BROKE and feeling like we were floundering. He worked as a chef at a very high profile restaurant in TO and neither of us seemed to find our footing. Some acquaintances approached him to become a partner in their food truck right when the city was giving license to serve from a truck. We served one thing- Authentic BBQ Pulled Pork Sandwiches. We were a hit. Line ups around the block. Selling out every lunch hour. We were even featured on the Food Network show Eat Street. We then opened up our own shop (which was much less weather dependent) and the truck is now used mostly for catered functions. Our business partners run the business now but we are still owners. I’m a hustler. I’ve had a great many different careers while also being an actor: make-up artist, event coordinator, I’ve given out coffee samples at grocery stores, and I’ve sold boat licenses at outdoors shows. Whatever I needed to do I did it.
DC: It seems to me that the people who end up making it in their chosen field are all pretty willing to do whatever it takes to get them to their ultimate goal. It’s a lesson that I think needs to be taught to young adults as soon as they get out of university!
I heard a rumor that you were pregnant when you filmed The Purge. If you were, did it make the filming more difficult? How did the crew treat you? Fans have heard for years that everyone working on the production is nice so hopefully they were able to make things easier for you.
BB: Totally preggers. The thing is I had JUST started auditioning for TV a few months prior and was booking quite a bit so I was really worried that I wouldn’t get any work for a long time. So when I auditioned I didn’t say anything. I wasn’t particularly ‘showing’. I just looked THICK. So when the audition breakdown called for ‘pleasantly plump’ I was perfect. Only wardrobe and stunt people knew prior to the shoot. Even Phil (Sigriccia) didn’t know until the second day. He was so worried about how long he had me lying on my tummy for that fat sucking scene. I was totally fine! Everyone treated me like gold. And Jared’s wife was due any day so he and I bonded over child birth techniques and stuff. The boys were so excited for me.
DC: Was it difficult to master Donna’s heavy Minnesota accent? You sounded pretty natural – I hope you take that as the compliment it’s meant to be – and I couldn’t help but wonder how much work it was to master that particular cadence. As a native Chicagoan I know I don’t have any accent at all…..hahaha!
BB: Not difficult for me at all. As everyone knows, Canada has a similar drawl to the folks in Minnesota so I just did a bit more research to be a little more specific. Minnesota has a sing-song sound to their cadence. Not all people of course talk the same in the state. Just as in Canada, accents are different depending on what part you live in, age, class etc. I love studying dialects. It’s fascinating.
DC: A Chicago accent even varies depending on whether you’re north or south side! Did you know when you filmed The Purge that there could be an opportunity for Sheriff Donna to make another appearance? If not, did it come as a welcome surprise?
BB: When I got the part I was just so excited to be working (A), and (B) I was so excited to have a part with more than a few lines. As I mentioned I hadn’t been doing much TV so most of my parts were just 1 liners. But I have a big theatre background so I was used to acting on stage for hours at a time in front of hundreds of people. I found working in TV fascinating but longed to ACT. This gig was exciting in that way. When I wrapped Phil gave me a pin that he has made each season and gives to only the crew. He said “I’m giving this to you because you’re coming back. This isn’t the end for this character.” I was just glad he was happy with my work. Anything beyond that I take with a grain of salt. You know…. Hollywood types. But he was telling the truth!
DC: Hibbing 911 was a great episode! You and Kim seemed to work very well together and you both looked like you were having fun despite what must have been long shooting hours. Was it as much fun as it appeared to be?
BB: Everyone had been telling me for months how awesome Kim was and I totally scoped her out on twitter and was like ‘this chick is sassy and I like it’. I remember the first scene we shot was the one where Donna and Jody meet for the first time. I was so nervous (it was my first on camera job since having the baby. And I had 22 scenes and shot every day for that episode. BIG learning curve). I kept swearing and would apologize to Kim and she would kind of giggle and say “Oh I forgot. You don’t know me that well yet.” So we spent the shoot swearing like a couple of truckers. Whenever I had a question about anything from crew members names, to conventions, how to shoot a scene where you cut off someone’s head- she had my back. Sometimes she would come eat dinner in my trailer while I would pump (I was still breastfeeding). She’s a solid chick that one. I’m so lucky to get to be paired up with her. Conventions are going to be mad fun…
DC: I’m totally looking forward to a panel with the two of you! A Sheriff Mills and Sheriff Hanscum Supernatural spinoff is one of the more popular spinoff ideas in the fandom. Would that be something you would be interested in, and what would you envision as the setup/scenario? How would you pitch the idea to the money guys?
BB: Um Yes I’d be interested. Hell yes. Of Course! Though I would prefer that the basis of the plot did not evolve around romantic relationships with men. It seems that a lot of shows look at women as one dimensional and base most of their story lines round a man. I think women are gloriously complex and I love the idea of NOT having everything be explained and be tied up in a neat little bow at the end of 60 minutes. Love, Pain, Work, existentialism. Imagine the ground we could cover if romance was only PART of the story we told….
DC: I’d love to see you two battling both human and supernatural baddies and totally kicking ass, and then maybe a little romance for a change of pace! I’m fairly certain the fandom would want to see you two go all BAMF (bad ass mother…..) every week!
I call myself a LustyFanGirl so totally wave my freak flag with pride. Is there anyone or anything that you’ve fangirled over? I swear I won’t tell 😉 Maybe Jensen’s eyes? Jared’s shoulders? Misha’s sense of humor? (You really don’t have to answer that last, I just couldn’t help myself.)
BB: Eww. Jared and Jensen are like my brothers. Handsome, sexy brothers…. I’d love to work with Misha. I’ve only hung out with him once but we were killing each other laughing. I think it scared Jensen. In a good way.
DC: LOL! Speaking of these guys, the fandom has heard from almost everyone who’s worked with them that they are welcoming, helpful and just darn nice to the guests on the show. Did you find that to be the case as well? There are so many people out there who once they achieve a certain level of fame (this isn’t necessarily restricted to actors) adopt an attitude of entitlement and self-absorption. I love knowing that there are people like you, Nicki, Rachel, Jared, Jensen, Misha, etc. who have managed to remain down to earth and well-adjusted even while being lauded for your career choice. That is honestly one of the biggest reasons I fangirl over the show and I want others to recognize just how genuine and how very nice all the people associated with Supernatural are.
BB: Jared and Jensen are real gentlemen. When we first met they were polite and very complimentary. After they realized that I had a pretty good sense of humour we then started joking around and teasing each other. The first scene we filmed together was that famous donut scene. After the 3rd day we could not stop trying to make each other laugh. They said to me “Briana! We’re gonna take you to LA for Pilot season and make you famous.” I was happy that they liked working with me. Also, like I said, I was just happy to be working. The thing about that show is that it’s been shooting in Vancouver for so long that sooo many of my actor friends have been on the show. And they ALL say that they’ve had fantastic experiences and the boys are really welcoming even to the day players. That’s very telling. Cause it’s certainly not like that on all the sets I’ve been on.
DC: I think that hearing things like this is part of what makes the #SPNFamily so special. If the Js weren’t the way they are I’m not sure they’d have gathered the following they have had for so long.
If you could choose anyone living or dead, to work with on a production, who would it be and why? What film, play, etc. would you like to do with this person?
BB: I would love to do a movie with Melissa McCarthy and I’d love to do a play with Cate Blanchett. Cate has her own Theatre company in Australia. I admire that as a renowned movie star she still treasures her roots as a theatre performer.
DC: If you were given the opportunity to go back in time and witness a historical event of your choice. What would you choose? Why?
BB: The birth of my daughter. I ended up having an emergency C-section after 43 hours of labour so I didn’t get to see the moment she came into the world. It was a very painful experience for me. Physically and emotionally. I feel like I’m still recovering. But would love the opportunity of a do-over.
DC: I’m sorry to hear that and I can imagine it was difficult. Maybe we’ll discover the technology to make that happen.
I have just one more question and it is kind of a silly, fun question. As LustyFanGirls we were wondering if you’d share your most “lusty” experience/memory with us? We’re even interested if it’s still on your bucket list….of course if you’d prefer to not answer I understand.
BB: I’m not sure what you mean by Lusty and since my husband will probably read this I’m gonna leave this answer blank before I over indulge 😉
DC: We made the decision to leave the definition of “lusty” up to each person we talk to. I’m not sure I have an actual definition myself – shhhhh don’t spread it around!
One of my goals for writing this series of interviews is to help focus the fandom’s awareness on with the outstanding female actors who have appeared on Supernatural in the hope that Creation Entertainment here in the US and Rogue in Europe will start inviting you to more conventions. The women are largely ignored when it comes to these events and I think that’s a shame. A Donna/Jody (Briana/Kim) panel would be unbelievably fun and probably side-splittingly funny. I’d buy a dual photo op as well! Hopefully the articles and all the tweeting we do will eventually reach those in the decision making seats.
BB: Kim and I are booked for 3 conventions together this year so far. Rogue in England, DC and Pasadena. They’ll be more if there is desire so spread the word!
DC: I’ll definitely be tweeting in support of having you two at Chicon in October!
Thank you very much Briana for taking the time to talk with me and for allowing us to post this on the site. It was so much fun getting to know you a little bit better. I know I can’t wait to see Sheriff Hanscum show up again in S11 and I will definitely be looking for your other projects. Kim is next on my list, I just have to get around to asking her.
Now that you’ve all had the chance to meet the person behind the awesome Sheriff Donna Hanscum I know you’ll want to see her live at one of the upcoming conventions so start tweeting @creationent and @rogueevents with your requests. It’s hard for me to imagine anything could be more fun than a panel with Briana and Kim!