‘When Calls the Heart’ Stars Respond to the Hallmark Channel Ad Controversy

The stars of When Calls the Heart are responding in a simple but powerful way to the controversy over Hallmark Channel’s decision to pull an advertisement that showed two women kissing. 

The family-friendly network recently found itself embroiled in controversy after it bowed to pressure from a conservative group and yanked an ad for the wedding registry website Zola that showed two lesbians getting married. But that decision generated a second wave of criticism from those who blasted Hallmark’s decision as homophobic. Hallmark later said apologized for making the “wrong decision” about the ad. In a statement, Hallmark said it would work with Zola to reinstate the ad.

‘When Calls the Heart’ stars respond to the controversy  

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love for all

A post shared by Erin Krakow (@erinkrakow) on

As the controversy swirled, celebrities like Ellen DeGeneres and William Shatner criticized the network. Hilarie Burton, who has appeared in several movies that aired on the channel, said that her attempts to make a Hallmark movie she was working on more diverse led to her firing. (Hallmark told Fox News that Burton wasn’t an employee of Crown Media Family Networks, the channel’s parent company.) 

Now, the cast of Hallmark’s most popular show, When Calls the Heart, are weighing in. 

On Dec. 16, Erin Krakow, Pascale Hutton, Jack Wagner, Andrea Brooks, Paul Greene, Aren Buchholz, Kayla Wallace, Martin Cummins, Eva Bourne, Chris McNally, Kevin McGarry, Johanna Newmarch, Ben Rosenbaum, and Genea Charpentier made a coordinated statement on Instagram. Each posted a photo of themselves making a heart shape with their hands with the caption “love for all.” Morgan Kohan, who stars on the WCTH spinoff show When Hope Calls posted a similar image with the caption “Love is love is love.”  

None of the cast specifically mentioned the Zola controversy. However, the posts appear intended to send a message that the WCTH stars didn’t agree with the network’s decision to pull the ad. 

Fans respond 

Erin Krakow in the When Calls the Heart Christmas special
Erin Krakow, Eva Bourne, and Aren Buchholz in When Calls the Heart: Home for Christmas | ©2019 Crown Media United States LLC/Photographer: Ricardo Hubbs

Several of the show’s stars, including Krakow, turned off comments on their “love for all” Instagram posts. But each actor’s post had thousands of likes, and those who left comments turned on mostly received positive feedback.  

“Amazing you are all doing this,” commented one person on McGarry’s post. 

Danica McKellar, who frequently appears in Hallmark Channel movies, commented “love this” on Greene’s post. In an Instagram update of her own on Dec. 16, she also appeared to comment on the controversy. The actress wrote that it was time to “remember that the lessons of all the great spiritual and religious leaders call for patience, tolerance, kindness, and love.” 

While many comments were supportive, a few voiced their displeasure with Hallmark’s decision to backtrack on pulling the ad. Several people who responded to Wagner’s post said they would no longer watch the channel. Some commented that Hallmark was no longer a place to watch “clean” shows that fit with their Christian values.  

Hallmark said in a statement that it is “committed to diversity and inclusion” and that it will be working LGBTQ advocacy group GLAAD to better represent the LGBTQ community in its programming. So far, the network has not featured any same-sex couples in its shows or movies. 

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