At an age when most girls are playing dress-up, actress Lori Loughlin, popularly known as “Aunt Becky” on the hit ‘90s sitcom “Full House”— and its recent resurgence, “Fuller House”— had a strong idea where she was headed.
“My gateway into acting was the modeling world,” says Loughlin. At 11 years old, she accompanied a friend to an open casting call and walked out with a modeling contract.
The Long Island native credits her parents for being so supportive of a career they knew little about. “At first my mom thought I was just a kid talking when I said I wanted to be an actress, and I’d outgrow it,” she shares. “I didn’t though; I was always consistent.”
Only the Beginning
Loughlin’s strong determination is evident when looking at her extensive resume. After getting her foot in the door in print ads and then commercials, she landed her breakout role on the soap opera “The Edge of Night.”
“That role made people aware of me,” she says, “not just with fans of daytime TV, but people in the entertainment industry as well.”
One of the industry people to take notice was Jeff Franklin, the creator of “Full House.” She joined the show in season two, and was under contract for only six episodes. But from her first day on set, Loughlin knew she’d be on for however long it ran.
“I remember calling my mom and telling her, ‘If this show is successful, I’m going to be staying on it.’ And I did!”
Her character was the missing link that completed the cast’s family circle. Her rapport with fellow cast member and on-screen love interest John Stamos (“Uncle Jesse”) resonated with the audience. “John and I had really good chemistry and I think the fans wanted to see us together,” she says.
The reason for the show’s success was twofold: Not only was it a fun, lighthearted program, but it also consisted of a talented group of actors who truly bonded. That closeness came across on-screen, and people wanted to spend time with them each week. “I think the combination of both is what made it so successful,” says Loughlin.
The show was such a hit that 21 years later, the cast reunited in the reprise, “Fuller House.” Gearing up for the second season on Netflix, audiences are again enjoying characters that feel like family, proving that after many years you can go home again.
Though the actors remained close through their years apart, stepping back on that stage again for the first time was emotional and also surreal, shares Loughlin.
“It was a little bit of an out-of-body experience,” she explains. “Even though we stayed in touch, we hadn’t worked together, so you had to keep pinching yourself and ask, ‘Is this a dream?’” Once they settled back into the groove, it was as if very little time had passed at all, she adds.
Life After “Full House”
When “Full House” ended in 1995, Loughlin’s star continued to rise with projects like “Summerland,” which she starred in, co-created, and produced, and “90210,” a spin-off of the iconic ‘90s hit show “Beverly Hills, 90210,” as well as other roles.
In addition to the second season of “Fuller House,” set to return next year, the actress is busy with many other projects. She currently stars on Hallmark’s Movies & Mysteries channel in the “Garage Sale Mystery” series. Their newest movie, “Garage Sale Mystery: The Art of Murder,” will air this coming January.
The series is described as a throwback to TV shows like “Murder, She Wrote,” “Columbo,” and “McMillan & Wife.” Loughlin was a big fan of those shows because they weren’t violent in nature. They were more of a good old-fashioned mystery, containing positive elements of family, friendship, intrigue, and, of course, a good puzzle to solve, she says.
While the original plan was to film just one movie, Loughlin knew after reading the script that there was potential for more. As it turns out, her prediction was right; they’ve currently produced a total of seven movies and are contracted for four more.
“I never dreamed we’d end up doing a dozen of them,” says the actress. “But they’ve done extremely well for the network and I just love doing them.”
Another role she’s enjoying immensely is her character Abigail in the period piece “When Calls the Heart.” The family drama series was inspired by the book penned by Janette Oke as part of her Canadian West series. Loughlin portrays a widow in the early 1900s who lost her husband in a mining accident. Due to that tragedy, she becomes a symbol of strength and hope for others in their town.
“Abigail is the moral compass; she’s very grounded and centered, the voice of reason,” says Loughlin. “It reminds you of ‘Little House on the Prairie.’ It’s about love, family, community, helping one another, triumph over tragedy — all the elements that make for an interesting TV show.”
Loughlin says she was excited to do a period piece and was drawn to the project by the simplicity of the time, along with the heartfelt and uplifting stories they tell. “That seemed really cool to me.” The cast is currently filming their third season, set to air in 2017.
Love and Family
When she’s not working, Loughlin dedicates time to causes close to her heart. A big advocate for animals, she works closely with Much Love Animal Rescue in Los Angeles and films public service announcements for the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA). “I love animals and try to donate as much time as possible to help out wherever I can.”
The married mother of three (two daughters and a stepson) has always put family above all. Finding a balance was challenging at times, she says, but by only accepting jobs in the Los Angeles area, she had the opportunity to be hands-on when her children were younger.
“When they were little I did not leave town for work,” she says. “Looking at my girls now, it’s evident my being present really shaped who they are today.”
This coming November, Loughlin will star alongside her oldest daughter, Isabella, in the Hallmark Christmas movie “Christmas Makeover.”
“This was her very first acting job and the first time I’ve worked with any of my children, so it was a lot of fun.”
While both girls have expressed interest in following in their mother’s footsteps, Loughlin has shared with them some of the life lessons she’s learned along the way. “It’s not an easy business. You live your life like a gypsy, and if you’re down with that, that’s great,” she says. “It’s also about being a good person and not getting caught up in all that’s flattering. Keep it real and don’t be afraid to take hold of your own destiny.”
FB: Lori Loughlin
Contributed by Alexandra Anastasio