61st Montecarlo Television Festival: in conversation with Jane Seymour, the extraordinary Harry Wild

A recently retired English professor, Harry Wild, discovers a real knack for investigation and cannot help but interfere with the cases assigned to her police detective son. This is the plot for the new comedy thriller drama starring Dr Queen-Medicine Woman star Jane Seymour. But Mrs Seymour is much more than her characters, she is an Artist with a capital A. She paints, makes jewellery, fights for people’s rights, and much much more. And let me say this: every time I meet with her I leave the meeting richer as a person and as a human being thanks to her passion, her kindness and her way of talking to people around her.

I love your scarf…

“Thank you. I’m really proud of this one, it’s from my paintings. This is a combination of cashmere and mohair. It’s very, very light.

I saw on your Instagram you’re promoting a lot your latest line. So tell me a little bit more about it

“The story’s a good one because when I did Dr Quinn, that all happened because I’d lost everything to an ex-husband who lost all my money and left me back beyond background, way beyond background. And I was devastated. And my mother had always said, cuz she’d survived World War II for three and a half years, in a Japanese camp in Indonesia, she said, darling, in life, when life is hard, you have challenges. You have to accept it, open your heart and reach out to help someone else. When you do that, you have a purpose. When you have a purpose, love comes into your life. And I created an open heart, which is on most of my joy of them. So, anyway, I was painting and I gave the last money I had before I thought it was gonna be bankrupt to an artist who did a drawing of my children. He saw my paintings in my children’s playroom and taught me how to do watercolour, which is what this is. I’ve been painting ever since. I’ve got more than 4,000 original pieces. Oh, I have a big exhibition, next week in New Jersey. I’ll be in Philadelphia. Before talking about it, I also have 125 pieces, including bronze sculptures. And now we’ve got large bronze, open hearts jewellery going up in major cities in Canada and in America in Philadelphia. I’m not wearing it right now. I dunno how that happened. I’m always wearing it. I took it off this morning. So the jewellery is two hearts that are open, that connect. And I came from an original just one little painting that I did, which I just saw here the other day. I wore it on Dancing With the Stars. I had one single one made. The biggest jewellers in America saw it and said, what’s that? And I told them what it meant and they said, we’d like to do a deal with you. And so I said, only if we can also raise money for organizations, for people who have taken the challenge and used it as an opportunity to help others. So I have a foundation, Open Hearts Foundation, and they ended up being the most successful jewellery in the history of that kind of type of jewellery in America. They sold over a billion dollars in retail. Amazing. And we raise a lot of money for charity as well. So I did that. Then that company, I entered with them and now I’m with a television company that sells them on television. I’ve now been asked to do it in Australia and New Zealand. I own it. So I can do it wherever I like. So I thought, well, that’s one heart attached to another heart. And then I did a heart, the bottom heart. And then I kept going, called the family. So there’s a whole collection of them. And I then wrote books about it and showed the original artwork. And then I did, um, a piece of jewellery from it. I did one called the Wave. I had another kind of philosophy. I have that, you know, in life, you don’t choose who you are born to or where you are born. So it’s like you’re in a body of water going in a general direction until the woo-hoo moment when you make the team win the prize, do well in school, fall in love, whatever it is. And then you come down cuz nothing stays up there. And as it comes down, that’s scary. And then it hits bottom and that hurts. But the velocity is such that it keeps going. And if your heart and your mind, like my mother’s, are open to new water or new opportunity or new relationships or new, new careers or new ideas, uh, formulate. So you have the wave is really the cycle of life. And that from every high and low and letting go, you learn something that turns you into and turns her life into a more, um, wonderful experience. So I do a lot of public speaking and it’s occasionally I’ll write it on a book.”

So you do it in your spare time or when you have time?

“No, you see, my idea of fun is to paint and design. I just can’t stop it. I’m doing it all the time. I usually have my watercolours with me and my pens and otherwise, I’m taking photographs of things. But the scarf thing, I just, I didn’t want to just have, you know, paintings on the wall. I just love the idea of art that you wear. Actually one of the actresses here is wearing my scarves. She wore a red one yesterday and she’s gonna wear another of my dress tomorrow. They lost all her luggage, everything. So she’s wearing my shoes, my dresses, my scarves, everything. But the beauty of it is, you know, you can roll it up into little tiny thing in your hand, luggage, it weighs nothing. And then you, you can have one little black dress and you’ve got four scarves. You, you’re ready to do anything.”

What about your experience on Dancing with the Stars?

“I did when I was young. That’s what I wanted to be. But I got injured when I was 17, so I couldn’t do it anymore. But I went to a ballet school that also taught drama and singing and lots of other things in England. And I did dance with the Koff Ballet at Common Garden. Everybody, everybody that was in that little section of the ballet, had to wear Russian ballet shoes, it was like a knife that just kept going into your knuckles to break. I was never built for ballet. I just loved it. So when I did Dance with the Stars, I’d never really done ballroom, but I could do the waltz obviously. And I did, you know, and I did ballet and I did some tap.
Dancing? Oh, love it and I think having a dance background really helped me in acting because, first of all, I did a lot of period pieces. So every period piece, you either embroidery, you know, the knitting, making lace, spinning or dancing. And I could do all of the above and I could drive a stick shift because we couldn’t afford a car. And someone gave me an antique car. Oh. And then I learned how to drive horses. So yeah.”

You said you feel lucky to be still part, actively part of the industry.

“That’s it. Yes.”

Do you, do you feel that we still have age discrimination in the industry, in the show-based industry? Is there still discrimination against women or for like, when a woman reaches a…

“Certain age? Oh God, yes. And it’s not changing. Well, I think, you know, because of streaming, it’s not like you just have the networks that are trying to get people, young people to buy something. So now you can have streaming like for maybe 25 to 65 and older. With streaming you can really cater to people’s tastes and you don’t have to worry about advertising and you don’t have to worry about what you can say, what you can show, and what you can do. So, they don’t have the standards of price. So I think it, I think we are very, very fortunate now. We have so much material that we can watch, and they can do it authentically. And that I think is important. “

Do you have more projects for streamers?

“I have a series that my son has put together that’s got being pitched right now called Fame and Misfortune. It hasn’t been picked up yet, but, everyone loves it. I play a heightened version of James Seymour. The other James Seymour, the one we don’t know. My son wrote it. I didn’t know if it’ll happen or not. And then I, I have a movie that I’ve produced. I’ve just got finances and I don’t want to jeopardize it, but it’s a great movie. And then there’s another one I’ve been asked to do that would be huge and I wish I could tell you but, again, I have committed to it and major stars committed to it. It’s written, it’s brilliant. And they’re just waiting to see which channel is going to do it.”

What do you like about acting?

“I actually like anything creative. For me, acting, art, design, even making things happen in the nonprofit world, trying to come up with solutions for people or animals or something that you need, I love being creative. So sometimes I do documentaries as well, but what I love about acting is the freedom of allowing myself to be someone else, you know, someone else with flaws, someone else in a situation I haven’t experienced. I have this unbelievable experience of being able to imagine what it’s like to be in a concentration camp in World War II, shaved and starved and whatever. And my children being taken away. All the amazing experience of being Marie Antoinette in Versailles, who decides to go to the farm and milk a couple of cows with her children just in silk and, you know, whatever it is.”

What about Harry Wild?

“I love Harry. She is definitely much like me. Except I can’t really,… you know, you can try to mop on your own, but there’s life, there are rules, and there are other people. So as a person, I listen to everybody and I see. I ask myself: what can I do to make a difference here? Where am I useful? And if they’re doing it fine, I leave them alone. And if I think I can help somehow I offer it. And if they don’t want it, that’s fine. But for example, if I want to make a movie or do something. In this case, I talked to my family, and my partner and said, how do you guys feel about me being in Ireland for four and a half months? And they said, can we come? And I, okay, so yeah, problem solve. Problem solve.”

So what does it mean for you to place such juicy rules?

“It’s the greatest gift. I mean, I have been given a gift and like people turn 70 and they go, oh God, my life’s everywhere. I turned 70 and I went, wow, bring it on. I’ve got more work and fabulous work than I’ve had for many, many, many years. So exciting. And everybody I know thinks that Harry Wild is one of the best things I’ve done. And all the people who are desperate for another, Dr Quinn, at least for now, they, they’re okay cuz they like Harry Wild a lot. They hate to admit it, but now they’ve decided. So, you know, instead of just Dr Quinn fans, I have Dr Quinn Harry Wild Facts. I kind of introduced them to wedding crashes thinking I could maybe… I love Harry because I think a lot of women secretly inside would like to be like Harry. You know, they march by the beat of their own drum. If they have a child, they don’t have to be married. If they see a guy they really want to be with, they do. And if they don’t, they don’t. And they go down to the pub and they hang out with all kinds of people. And what’s great about her is she uses her love, passion, and knowledge of literature and history to solve crimes. And she’s fearless and she’s an action woman.
Harry’s got this 15-year-old kid who just says, Harry, no, you can’t do that. Or Yeah, well I know a guy who knows, a guy who can, you know, find something that’s well hidden. So it’s two completely separate generations. So he’s the grandchild generation and I’m the 70, and then my son is the one in the middle. So that’s interesting. It’s three generations. And, there is a lot of comedy and it’s all based on humanity, you actually care about the characters, you care about her relationship with her son. And I think it’s beautifully written and I’m just so lucky. It’s a gift. And, you know, even though it’s hard work, it thrills me and I’m so glad. So maybe proudest career moment so far. I mean, it’s such a rich career, but it’s not finished yet
, never underestimates a 71-year-old woman”.

HARRY WILD is available on Amazon Prime.


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