The Buzziest Hallmark Actors

Say what you will about Hallmark Channel's movies, but fans simply can't get enough. Despite the occasional scandal and an exodus of stars to competitor Great American Family, Hallmark is thriving. Case in point: 2022's "Three Wise Men and a Baby" was the year's most-watched TV movie on cable, pulling in a seriously impressive 3.6 million fans.

But the cabler's not just crushing ratings during the holidays. By getting creative and producing films year-round under a collection of new themes, like Loveuary and Spring Fling, Hallmark has maintained strong ratings from season to season. The fact that its leaders are putting a new focus on inclusivity and diversity is also helping. Lisa Hamilton Daly, Executive Vice President, Programming at Hallmark Media, told CNBC, "There needed to be more diversity in both casting and storylines," and so, that's what they did. "We took the leash off of some of our creators and told them to stay inside the bumpers of the brand, but have more leeway to think of stories in a different way," she shared.

Another key to current success is Hallmark's dedicated stable of actors. As Lacey Chabert told Us Weekly, she and her collaborators take their work seriously. "They're not just jobs and I feel a responsibility to the audience to make the absolute best movie I can," she said. So who can you expect to see more of? Here are the buzziest Hallmark actors making waves and stealing fans' hearts.

Erin Cahill is spearheading Hallmark streaming

Erin Cahill is a Hallmark staple. The actor got her first big break in 2001 when she was cast to play Pink Ranger in the "Power Rangers Time Force" TV series, and she followed that up with guest roles on over 30 mega shows, like "NCIS: Los Angeles," "How I Met Your Mother," and "The Mentalist." However, it was her 2016 Hallmark debut in "Sleigh Bells Ring" that made her instantly recognizable to fans around the country. In fact, she was such a hit that, in October 2022, with eight Hallmark rom-coms and one mystery under her belt, Hallmark Media signed her to yet another multi-picture deal. "I am honored to work with the legendary Hallmark family, telling beautiful stories that touch the hearts of so many people," she told Variety.

But she doesn't just act. Cahill has also gotten to produce and executive produce some of her projects and, in 2021, she produced and starred in "Every Time a Bell Rings." It was the first movie made specifically for the network's streaming platform, Hallmark Movies Now, which made the project more nerve-wracking. Speaking of the pressure that came with the gig, Cahill told TV Fanatic, "I'm like, 'Oh please, everybody download the app, watch a movie,' because I think it's a change for Hallmark, and I'm so thrilled to be at the forefront of it."

Alison Sweeney struck gold twice

At just 16, Alison Sweeney became a household name when she was cast as Samantha "Sami" Brady on "Days of Our Lives" in the early '90s. Since then, she's appeared in over 3,600 episodes, and the role has earned her a devoted legion of fans. After finally leaving in 2015, she loved the soap enough to return in 2017 and has continued making guest appearances. "I loved my job, I loved working there," she told Kelly Clarkson in 2022 as she celebrated her 30th year on the show. "I'm loyal," she quipped.

Indeed, she's also been incredibly loyal to Hallmark, where she's found another set of devoted followers. Since her debut in 2013's "Second Chances," Sweeney has appeared in over 15 films and counting. She easily jumps between romance and mystery. In February 2023, ET confirmed that she was reuniting with Cameron Mathison for a highly-anticipated "Hannah Swensen Mystery" sequel. 

And there's even more on the way because Sweeney signed a fresh multi-picture deal with Hallmark Media in September 2022. What's more, Sweeney also likes working behind the camera as a producer and director and, in her spare time, she's a successful author. Even her personal life has been a huge success. Sweeney has been married to David Sanov for over two decades and she once told Health (via the Daily Mail) that their secret is an annual report card. "We talk about our three favorite things about the other person and then three things that we could work on," she shared.

Jaicy Elliot is all about body positivity

Fans of "Grey's Anatomy" will instantly recognize Jaicy Elliot as Dr. Taryn Helm. She's held the gig since 2017 and continues to be a staple on the show. In 2022, as she looked ahead to Season 19 of the series, Elliot told TV Insider she loves the way the plot twists and turns and keeps folks guessing as her character makes changes. "For me, it's exciting," she mused. "For Taryn, it's anxiety filled I'm sure." Equally exciting is the work the actor has done for Hallmark and, more specifically, the message she's helped spread. 

Elliot made her network debut in 2022's "Romance in Style," playing an aspiring plus-size fashion designer with confidence for days. The flick was all about body positivity. As she told People, Elliot was proud to take the lead. "I am so thrilled to be part of this new conversation we are currently having about self-acceptance and the positive spreading of that message," she shared. "Hallmark is opening an important dialogue about female empowerment and breaking through the oh-so-thick ceiling of social misconceptions we have collectively built." The actor shared how the role hit home for her personally, telling TV Fanatic, "I feel close to [my character] in terms of the dialogue she's trying to start in her own life and also the dialogue that I'm trying to push in my own life. ...she made me look at my own reasons and my own check marks of self-worth." 

Just a few months later, Elliot was back with the Louisiana-set film "My Southern Family Christmas," and we're keeping our fingers crossed for more.

Hunter King is on a Hallmark hot streak

Hunter King marked her Hallmark debut with a bang. "The Young and the Restless" star left her spot as Summer Newman (she won two Daytime Emmy awards in the role) in May 2022 to fully devote herself to the network. It certainly turned out to be the right move, as her inaugural year at Hallmark saw her starring in three films. First up was a classic rom-com titled "Hidden Gems." She then gave mysteries a try with "Nikki & Nora: Sister Sleuths," and finally, she capped off the year with an adorable holiday flick called "A Royal Corgi Christmas." King was such a hit that in November 2022, Deadline confirmed she had been locked into a multi-movie deal with the network. She was ecstatic. "Growing up, I would drive past Hallmark's headquarters nearly every day and dream about getting the chance to be in one of their movies some day," she told the outlet. "Getting to make three Hallmark movies this year has already been so amazing and I'm so excited for what's to come."

As for her daytime days, they may well be behind her. "People do come and go and paths seem to cross in the soap world, so never say never, but right now, I am just so incredibly happy and honored and thankful to be with Hallmark," she told Soaps. Indeed, King kicked off 2023 with a springtime Hallmark flick, "The Professional Bridesmaid," and there are more titles to come.

Janel Parrish is pushing for greater representation

From "Pretty Little Liars" to the show's spinoff, "Pretty Little Liars: The Perfectionists," and the buzzy movie "To All The Boys I've Loved Before," Janel Parrish is no stranger to starring in huge projects. The Hawaii native hit yet another homerun when she joined the Hallmark family in 2020. In "Holly & Ivy," Parrish's character befriends her terminally ill neighbor and eventually adopts her two daughters. It's a tear-jerker and Parrish was proud to start her Hallmark career with such a complex and unique role. "The message of trauma, sometimes bringing about the most beautiful things if you let it, that message really stuck with me," she told PopSugar.

Another thing she's incredibly proud of is championing representation. In 2021, she starred in "Right in Front of Me" opposite Marco Grazzini. As Parrish proudly told Access, it was the first time a Hallmark film had two Asian-American leads. "It's really wonderful to be a part of that next step of inclusivity and diversity and representation," she gushed. In 2023, she starred in her first mystery, "Family History Mysteries: Buried Past." While promoting the flick, the actor was asked about Candace Cameron Bure's controversial comments on LGBTQ representation at Great American Family. Parrish responded to Access, "I am thrilled, thrilled, thrilled to be working with Hallmark, and I think that the stories that they're making are so beautiful, and inclusive, and diverse." She later enthused, "Representation matters."

She's continuing to work outside Hallmark, too. In December 2022, Deadline learned Parrish would produce and star in "Sydney vs. Sean," a drama written by her co-star Ryan Powers.

Lacey Chabert is a Hallmark lifer

No such list would be complete without Lacey Chabert. The actor has gone from being a "Mean Girl" to Queen of Hallmark since debuting on the network in 2010's "Elevator Girl." 2022 marked a huge milestone — her 30th Hallmark film — and she tried to explain the appeal to The Oakland Press. "People say the movies are 'comfort food for the soul,'" she mused. "I'm proud to be part of something that's uplifting and adds a little goodness into the world." 

Chabert, who started acting at age seven, is also incredibly protective of her home. "I've had people say to me, 'Oh, come on, give me a break. You can do this in your sleep,'" she told Vulture before clapping back, "If I ever approach it like that, it's time for me to call it a day." But she's not likely to call it a day anytime soon, since Chabert told the outlet, "I see myself being a lifer as long as I'm inspired by the stories and as long as they'll have me. I have ideas for 50 more."

In addition to acting in movies, Chabert also produces many of her projects, is involved in their development, and she even helped co-write 2021's "Sweet Carolina." However, that may be as far as it goes. With 35 movies under her belt, Chabert told Vulture she wasn't sure she could pen a full script by herself, though she'd like to try her hand at directing. And she told Forbes that a TV series might be in the cards, too. Luckily for her (and her fans), Chabert signed a two-year multi-picture deal with Hallmark in February 2022.

Nikki DeLoach is part of an all-time fan fave duo

Nikki DeLoach started acting as a child, first appearing on the "All-New Mickey Mouse Club" in 1993. However, it was her Hallmark debut in 2015's "Christmas Land" that really took her career to the next level. Since 2018, she's starred in at least two flicks per year and has no intention of leaving. In December 2022, she signed a multi-picture deal, telling Deadline, "These movies are special and to be able to bring to life stories that make people feel good is an opportunity I am grateful to have." What's more, the network also gives her the opportunity to test other facets of her creativity as she produces and helps develop films, like 2018's "Reunited at Christmas." DeLoach even wrote a movie for the network, 2021's "Christmas for Keeps." In addition to producing her own work, in 2023, she was actually a producer on "Family History Mysteries: Buried Past" starring Janel Parrish.

DeLoach is part of an all-time fan fave duo, having worked with Andrew Walker five times and counting. Speaking of their special bond, she told ET, "There's some people that you meet where you just came from the same star." And for viewers, that translates on-screen. DeLoach added, "The first Christmas convention that we did, I probably met 4,000 people, and 3,950 of them told me that Andrew and I were their favorites, us together specifically," she shared. "And that has not stopped."

Jeremy Jordan loves sharing his heritage on-screen

Broadway devotees will know Jeremy Jordan for being a darling of the stage. He started his career as an understudy in 2009's "Rock of Ages" and landed his first big role in 2011, playing Clyde in "Bonnie & Clyde." The following year, he starred in "Newsies" and the performance earned him a ​​2012 Tony nomination for best leading actor in a musical, and a Grammy nom for best musical theater album. Simultaneously, his musical prowess translated to the screen when he starred in "Joyful Noise" that year with Keke Palmer and Queen Latifah.

Jordan brought his charm and comedic timing to his first Hallmark project, "Holly & Ivy," in 2020. He crushed it, and in 2021 he got to do a location shoot in Malta for "Mix Up in the Mediterranean." Then, in 2022, he had the honor of celebrating his Jewish heritage on-screen in a unique holiday movie titled "Hanukkah on Rye." Jordan told Southern Living what the project mean to him personally, given his interfaith upbringing. After contemplating his culture and understanding of religion as an adult, he explained, "It was really exciting to go back and explore some of my roots. And honestly, it kind of got me more excited to share Hanukkah things with my kid." He also stated, "I felt proud that all of my Hallmark experiences have had some form of representation."

And you'll be seeing a lot more of him. In 2023, Jordan made a splash on the big screen starring in "Spinning Gold," a biopic about Casablanca Records founder Neil Bogart. 

Bethany Joy Lenz isn't afraid to speak her truth

"One Tree Hill" made Bethany Joy Lenz a star, but it also caused a great deal of pain. In 2017, the actor joined 17 other women in an open letter accusing showrunner Mark Schwahn of harassment. "Many of us were, to varying degrees, manipulated psychologically and emotionally," they alleged, per Variety. In 2022, Lenz continued to bravely speak her truth on the "Drama Queens" podcast she co-hosts with former co-stars Sophia Bush and Hilarie Burton. Lenz said she was informed she'd been excluded from a Maxim shoot — "They told me that they didn't come to me because I was too fat," she recalled, also remembering her character being described as fat in a script. "It's so dumb, but it really followed me around for a long time in my brain," she said.

In the end, the actor didn't let this inappropriate focus on her body stop her from pursuing her dreams. After the show ended, Lenz continued working, appearing on hit series like "Dexter," "CSI," and "Grey's Anatomy." She made her Hallmark debut in 2014's "The Christmas Secret" and has been in a slew of titles since. Hers was even the first 2023 Christmas movie the network announced in... December 2022! "Absolute majesty. I haven't woken up to watch a sunrise in a very long time. Thank you blue ridge mountains," she wrote on Instagram while on location at the Biltmore Estate in early 2023. 

That being said, Lenz isn't about to be typecast; she also starred in the horror film "So Cold the River."

Brooks Darnell wants to shake things up at Hallmark

Brooks Darnell first dipped his toes in Hallmark's pond with a supporting role in 2016's "All Yours." In 2019, he left the soapy waters of "The Young and the Restless" — where he got his big break playing Dr. Nate Hastings — and has since focused more on rom-coms. "A Christmas Miracle" on Hallmark first saw him play the leading man opposite Tamera Mowry-Housley, which was big progress for the network. "Being the lead in this movie is proof we're moving in the right direction," Darnell told Parade. "It'll show that Christmas stories can be diverse and still bring in amazing numbers!"

Fans loved him, and the partnership took off. Darnell told "Hallmark Happenings Podcast," "[I] saw a lot of the fans that translated from 'Y&R' or translated from other things that I'd done that noticed me and they just kind of just said, 'Hey, listen, we love Brooks, we love what he's doing for the network,' and then I think Hallmark kind of received that very well and they agreed, and the rest is kind of history." 

Indeed, he's appeared in projects every year since 2019, and in December 2022, the actor signed a multi-picture deal with the network. His film for that season, "Holiday Heritage," was Hallmark's first with a Kwanzaa focus. "I feel blessed that I get to make feel-good movies that all families and people can enjoy," Darnell told Deadline. He also explained to Culturess that male leads are important for a channel featuring movies that couples can enjoy watching together.

Erin Krakow's fans are seriously invested

After a few years on Lifetime's "Army Wives" beginning in 2010, Erin Krakow made the move to Hallmark with 2014's "Chance at Romance" (aka "Friend Request"), and she's remained with the network ever since. In addition to starring in numerous films, she also landed a big TV series gig when she was cast as Elizabeth Thornton in "When Calls the Heart." The long-running show has been a hit; "Hearties" have become so invested that they even threatened to stop watching because they weren't happy with Elizabeth choosing Lucas at the end of the lengthy Elizabeth-Lucas-Nathan love triangle. 

Despite some displeasure, though, viewers still can't get enough. They even helped get the show renewed for a tenth season by getting #AllInForSeason10 trending. In fact, viewership is still so high that Hallmark renewed the series for Season 11 in February 2023 before Season 10 even premiered. "We have so many more stories to tell," Krakow stated (via Variety). "With our amazing cast, crew, and brilliant writers, there will be no shortage of romance and new adventures for the residents of Hope Valley!"

Despite taking a break from Hallmark movies in 2022, the actor was back in April 2023 with "A Wedding Cottage." She nearly broke the fandom when she leaked some exciting news about her personal life. In January, Krakow posted a snap of her new pup, Willoughby, to Instagram and just a day later, her "When Calls the Heart" co-star Ben Rosenbaum posed with the same pup.