We all have those comfort shows we turn to when we need to relax and unwind, and no one does comfort quite like Hallmark. Familiarity is woven into every detail of its famed TV shows and movies. Predictable happy endings, small-town settings and the same set of beloved actors and actresses work in tandem to create a reliable formula that viewers return to time and again.
One of those familiar faces is Erin Krakow, who has been gracing our screens for years now as the star of Hallmark's hit drama When Calls the Heart. The long-running series follows Krakow as Elizabeth Thatcher, a young schoolteacher who is reassigned to a small coal-mining town in the Canadian frontier that's fresh off of a heartbreaking tragedy.
While the show's fans -- whom Krakow lovingly refers to as "hearties" -- have watched her on screen for years now, there's more to the actress than just her beloved role. Here's everything we know about the When Calls the Heart star.
She's From Philadelphia
The 38-year-old actress was born in Philadelphia but spent her childhood primarily in Wellington, Florida. While little has been revealed about her pre-Hallmark life, she must have been bitten by the acting bug early on, as she attended the Alexander W. Dreyfoos School of the Arts in West Palm Beach. While she's since moved away from the Sunshine State, she still very much considers it home.
"I really miss the beaches there," she told Southern Living earlier this year. "They're so good. I mean, I really love going to the beach, bringing a book, and just taking a nap in the sand and listening to the ocean. It is one of the most peaceful places for me, and I miss that."
Krakow also studied drama at the prestigious Juilliard School -- becoming the only Dreyfoos grad to do so. During her time there, she had many leading roles in the school's on-stage productions, including that of Viola/Sebastian in Twelfth Night, Helena in A Midsummer Night's Dream and Yelena in Black Russian. She also hit the theater outside of Juilliard in shows such as The Importance of Being Earnest, George the Fourth and the stage adaptation of Steel Magnolias.
She credits her acting chops to her time there, telling From the Desk, "I wouldn't be where I am today without my education. I'm very grateful to my teachers, and it's an honor to get to play one on TV."
She's A Hallmark Darling
Krakow's first big break came in 2010, when she landed the role of Spc. Tanya Gabriel on the Lifetime series Army Wives. After two years on the show, she was cast in a handful of one-off roles in big-name TV shows including Castle, NCIS: Los Angeles and NCIS. But it wasn't long before Hallmark came calling.
In 2014, Krakow was cast as the lead in Hallmark's hit drama When Calls the Heart. Prior to the show's release, Hallmark released a movie in 2013 of the same name inspired by a book from Janette Oke's Canadian West series. In the movie, the role of Elizabeth Thatcher was played by British actress Poppy Drayton.
"I wasn't concerned with putting a unique spin on Elizabeth or trying to emulate Poppy Drayton's beautiful performance," she said in an interview with From the Desk. "I just approached the role in the way that felt right and truthful to me. And I feel fortunate that that was never really a discussion.
"I'll always feel connected to Poppy through Elizabeth. Hopefully, we'll get to work on something together soon. That would be special."
Since then, Krakow has grown to be a beloved staple of the network. So much so that she has starred in a plethora of Hallmark TV movies over the years including A Cookie Cutter Christmas, Finding Father Christmas and, most recently, The Wedding Cottage.
She's a New Dog Mom
This year, Krakow revealed to Southern Living that she is a new dog mom. She fell head over heels for a puppy from Tobie's Small Dog Rescue in L.A. and has been flooding her Instagram feed with cute photos of him ever since.
"Willoughby is such a sweet little handful," she said. "He's such a cuddly old man. He never wants to leave my side. He's total velcro. And I know it's probably not a good thing, but I say it with pride because I love having him around."
The kind of confusing thing about this adoption, however, is that she seems to have made it with her When Calls the Heart co-star Ben Rosenbaum. When she announced her furry new arrival, she captioned the post: "We adopted him a week ago, and I already can't imagine life without him." The actress also tagged Rosenbaum in the post, seemingly confirming that they are both now proud dog parents -- and probably dating.
Nothing has been officially announced on either end, but fans of the show are thrilled at the possibility of Krakow and Rosenbaum being a real-life couple.
Is Erin Krakow Leaving Hallmark?
It doesn't seem like it. When Calls the Heart just wrapped filming its 10th season -- which premieres July 30 -- and has already been renewed for an 11th. Until then, you can catch up on old episodes on Netflix or Fubo, or watch Krakow's latest Hallmark TV movie, The Wedding Cottage.
READ MORE: 'When Calls the Heart': How to Watch All 9 Seasons of the Hallmark Drama
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