After decades of TV movies, Kellie Martin (shown here) had a good reason to step back.
That was during the start of the pandemic, when her daughters were 13 and 4. “They had never needed me more,” she recalled. “There was so much to figure out, with online schools and everything else.”
Now, two and a half years later, she’s finally returned to acting. She has a small and dead-serious role in “An Amish Sin,” at 8 p.m. ET Saturday (Oct. 29) on Lifetime.
Her return, she said, was partly because of the story – from real-life accounts of Amish girls whose sexual abuse reports were discounted. And also because a friend asked her to.
Michael Nankin was a young producer on three of the four “Life Goes On” seasons, directing eight episodes. Martin was one of the stars, getting an Emmy nomination, at 17, in the final season.
Both would go on to busy careers. Nankin did serious cable shows; Martin did … well, everything.
That’s what made the slowdown unusual. “I’d been working since I was 7 years old,” she said.
She had small roles in family-friendly dramas and in comedies. Then “Life Goes On” took over.
After the show ended in 1993, she got into Yale – then often had to take a semester or more off. She did two seasons of “Christy,” two of “ER,” one short one of “Crisis Center.” Even when she was in school, the work continued. Once, her mother booked her for an entire TV movie (usually a four-week job), squeezing it into a two-week spring break.
“I don’t say no that often,” Martin said of job offers. “I was never completely there when I was in school …. I definitely liked my college experience, but I didn’t get the full experience.”
She did emerge with a degree (in art history, in 2001) and a husband (Keith Christian, a Yale classmate, in 1999). He’s from Montana, a place they visit often and sort of replicate. “We live outside of Los Angeles and have horses and goats and pigs,” she said.
She’s been a regular on one more series (“Army Wives”) and had guest roles on others, but mostly did TV movies. Some gave her character big problems – an alcoholic mother, a troubled brother, a husband who faked his death – but many were light. For Hallmark, she did 20 mystery movies (one is shown here), a Christmas film and the story of a frog who was actually a prince.
Then came the pandemic. After four decades of work, Martin focused on home, horses, goats, pigs and Zoom education. Then she responded to Nankin’s request and a chance to do another issue film.
She had done (several in her early days. In one TV film, she was an abused wife; in another, she was deaf and abused. (“I wouldn’t do that today,” she said, because the role should go to a deaf actress.) She went to the Czech Republic to film the story of someone who hid Jews during the Holocaust.
Now Nankin had co-written and was directing “Amish Sin,” based on several Amish women who have said they were ostracized after reporting sexual abuse.
Martin plays the mother, which is not a typical role for her, visually (“I wore no make-up – zero”) or in attitude. “I’ve never played a subservient woman before.”
And after this? “Hopefully, the ‘Life Goes On’ reboot,” she said.
NBC has ordered a pilot for a series focusing on two of the characters (Martin and Chad Lowe), three decades later. Her long break might be ending; her acting life goes on