First Lady: New Feature Film Starring Nancy Stafford

It’s a romantic comedy, and fiction, but what kind of research did you do for the role?

In research I was amazed to discover that there have been 9 First Ladies who were not married to the President in our nation’s history! Thomas Jefferson’s daughter, Andrew Jackson’s niece and my favorite, James Buchanan’s niece, Harriet Lane—who captured the imagination of the country with her magnetic personality, was a trend-setter, and advocate for numerous social and outreach projects.  As a ’nod’ to Harriet, our audience will see her portrait hanging above my character Kate’s desk in her office in the East Wing set– where she inspired Kate in her First Lady duties!

There is such a heated political landscape in America right now, more than ever we need some laughter. What can we expect from First Lady? 

I love that a RomCom set in the White House about Presidential politics is coming out on Valentine’s Day in an election year –and is completely non-partisan!  We all DO need to just take a deep breath, spend 90 minutes and come together across the aisle, laugh and just have fun.  Laughter brings people together—it’s healing for the soul.  

And First Lady is fun! I play Katherine Morales, the First Lady of the United States.  When my husband, the President, dies in office I’m asked by the Vice-President to run with him as ‘First Lady’ in his bid for the White House. I love the film and I adore Kate—she’s smart, and yes flawed, diplomatic, and absolutely determined to keep the ‘dignity’ of the office from falling into the hands of their ditzy, selfie-obsessed Millennial political rivals. I love the clash!  

What interested you about the role?   

Who wouldn’t jump at the chance to play FLOTUS?!!  And in a modern-day fairytale!  I’ve wanted to do a RomCom for a while, and this one is a charming Prince and the Pauper kind of story— two people falling in love as teenagers, who separate and live successful lives, then reunite later in life….and find their happily after. And it’s a story of HOPE, which especially resonates with me as a believer.  Just when you think life might be over— there’s a second chance and brand new beginning!

And I love that my character, Kate, ran the gamut of emotions in this story—from tragedy and death of a spouse, to wielding authority and getting push-back, to having a ‘crush’ and experiencing the childlike ‘blush’ of new love again.  It was a great ride!

In addition to politics, there is also a royal backdrop with Corbin Bernsen character. A king in disguise? 

Corbin Bernsen and Nancy Stafford in First Lady

That’s the delightful Prince and the Pauper part of the story. When I meet him as a teenager, Corbin’s character wants to be liked for who he is not because he’s a Prince, so he disguises himself as his valet.  Of course we fall for each other!  And years later, the Prince of my young, now a King, disguises himself again to see if there’s still a ‘spark’ between us, before he reveals his true identity.  Corbin’s terrific! We’ve both wanted to work together for a while, and I’m excited that this was the film!  He’s totally charming in this role—the audience will love him!  We had great chemistry on camera and a lot of fun! 

You’ve had a varied career from being named Miss Florida (1976) to Matlock to movies, how has your faith played a role in the decisions you make and the projects you’re a part of?

My faith is central to every decision in my life and and certainly every project. Is this something God would have me be a part of?What’s the overall message or theme of the film? Does it ultimately ennoble the audience or diminish them? 

And for ‘Faith Films’,  is it theologically correct, how is God portrayed, is there redemption or consequence for characters’ behavior?  I’ve had to turn down faith projects because of bad theology–it’s either a lie or just doesn’t nudge people closer to Truth.

In real life, your husband is a pastor, and you’ve been married for more than 30 years… what are a couple key aspects of your relationship that make it so strong?

(l to r) Grandson Blake, Daughter Katie, Nancy Stafford, Husband Larry Myers

I’m a blessed woman!  I’ve been married to Larry Myers for 30 years now, have an amazing step-daughter, Katie (who couldn’t be more mine than if I’d given birth to her!), and a terrific 18 year old grandson, Blake! Larry has been a pastor most of our married life, as well as being an incredible worship musician, which is what he’s doing now. We’ve always been very involved and supportive in each others’ callings.  Our marriage is strong because we recognize and appreciate the gifts God has given the other—we’re quite different but very complimentary.  And though I may be an actress by profession, my heart and my calling is ministry—which I get to do every day, whether I’m on a film or TV set, speaking at conferences, teaching young people, or writing books.   

A few keys we’ve learned: we laugh—a lot, we listen with a heart to truly understand the other, and we respect each other.  I’m his greatest advocate—and he’s mine! And because we trust each other’s heart we have the security to open up and be vulnerable. We’re able to hold up a mirror of truth and gently set each other straight —with love and kindness of course!  And yeah, it’s hard and not always easy to take, but that’s why God created marriage! To rob off each others’ rough spots, refine our character, make changes you don’t want to make, and become willing to serve our spouse.  So counter-cultural!!

What other projects are you working on?

I’ve got several TV series and movies I’m developing for production—hopefully one or all of them:) will get a green light!  I co-directed my first feature film, Damaged Goods, with Asbury University, which will be released later this year. And I’m slated to direct another film soon, called Grace, about a female frontier missionary in the untamed west.

First Lady hits theatres Friday, February 14

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