Being Erica star Erin Karpluk is a mother of three in Family Channel’s Holly Hobbie

Being Erica star Erin Karpluk is a mother of three in Family Channel’s Holly Hobbie
For some Canadian TV viewers, Erin Karpluk will forever be known as the young woman coming to terms with herself with the help of an unconventional therapist in the comedy-drama Being Erica.

In the new Family Channel series Holly Hobbie (debuting Saturday at 11:30 a.m.) Karpluk is the one offering guidance as the mother of the lead character, 13-year-old Holly.

The Hobbie family: Evan Buliung as dad Bob, Kate Moyer as Heather, Erin Karpluk as mom Katherine, Charles Vandervaart as Robbie and Ruby Jay as Holly.  (BROOKE PALMER / HULU/FAMILY CHANNEL)

It’s part of the evolution of her career, she said in a phone interview.

“I’m getting older as an actress,” said Karpluk , who’s 40. “I’m taking on more mature roles.”

It’s also her first role in a program geared toward children and tweens.

The show is “quite smart,” she added. “It’s very real, not super glossy and tied into a neat little bow … and it addresses real issues.”

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Holly Hobbie is a character that people Karpluk’s age and older might remember from their own childhoods. She began as an illustration in the 1960s by an artist also named Holly Hobbie, of a girl in a patchwork dress and blue bonnet; she became a doll in the ’70s and was spun off into other merchandise, as well as animated shorts in the early 2000s and an animated TV movie.

“My neighbour growing up, they had Holly Hobbie sheets and wallpaper,” confirmed Karpluk, who was born in Jasper, Alberta.

The Holly in the new series, which debuted on Hulu in the U.S. in November, does not wear a bonnet (well, except in one episode), writes her own songs and plays guitar, uses social media and wants to make the world a better place.

She’s played by Ruby Jay, a 14-year-old American actress and singer known for her YouTube covers of pop songs and the video game The Shelter: A Survival Story.

Karpluk speaks glowingly of her young co-star as well as the kids who play her other two children, Robbie and Heather: 18-year-old Charles Vandervaart and 10-year-old Kate Moyer, both from Toronto.

Well-known Canadian theatre actor Evan Buliung plays Holly’s father, Bob, and veteran TV actress Sara Botsford is her grandmother, Helen. Toronto’s Saara Chaudry, acclaimed for her lead role in 2017’s The Breadwinner, is Holly’s best friend, Amy, and Toronto-raised Kamaia Fairburn is her rival, Piper.

Karpluk recalled first meeting Jay on the Toronto set. “This little firecracker runs up to me in this huge crowd of people, throws her arms around me and she’s like, ‘Hi Mom!’”

Karpluk added that both she and Buliung were “blown away by how professional all these kids were; 2 o’ clock in the morning shooting and they were right on it.

Also fun for her was being back in Toronto, a city she grew to love doing Being Erica and where she still has lots of friends.

Karpluk lives part-time in Los Angeles now, but she spent a lot of time in Canada over the summer, shooting Holly Hobbie in Toronto, a Christmas movie in Edmonton and the horror TV series Slasher in Hamilton.

“The most opposite genres,” she laughed. “What a great way to spend the summer!”

Holly Hobbie is set in a small American town but has a Canadian pedigree. The showrunner is Sarah Glinski, a writer and executive producer of Degrassi: The Next Generation and Degrassi: Next Class.

Karpluk’s character juggles a job as a lawyer with raising her three kids.

“I think she gave up a lot to have her family and to stay in a small town, and to have to be bad cop to the dad’s good cop. The kids do get in a lot of trouble,” she said.

If the show gets additional seasons, “potentially down the line we might see her living out more of her career aspirations now that the children are getting older.”

She still gets stopped by fans of Being Erica when she’s in Canada, which she calls “a really cool experience.”

And she had a fangirl moment of her own shooting Holly Hobbie when she worked with Megan Follows, who was one of the directors.

“I’m a huge Anne of Green Gables fan. My best acting was trying not to be star-struck when I met her.”
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