Katie Leclerc stars in Beverly Lewis The Confession: The Amish return to the spotlight in the Hallmark Channel original film The Confession (premiering Saturday, May 11 at 9pm ET). The film is an adaptation of best-selling author Beverly Lewis’ second novel in her Heritage of Lancaster County book series.
Katie Leclerc (Switched at Birth) stars as Katie Lapp, a naive, young Amish woman shunned by her township, who goes looking for her birth mother, who is dying of cancer. Sherry Stringfield (ER), who starred in the first film of the book series — The Shunning — reprises her role as Katie’s wealthy philanthropist birth mother, Laura Mayfield-Bennett.
“Katie Lapp became lost. She didn’t have a place to call home,” Leclerc says of her character. “It’s this identity crisis where she doesn’t really belong to either [the Amish community or an unfamiliar outside world], so that’s where we pick up. Her biological mother is dying of cancer so it’s sort of this race against time. Is she going to be able to fulfill her dream of meeting her mother and becoming a part of her mother’s life in a meaningful way? And throughout the process, trying to do what’s best for her mom as she is passing and saying goodbye to this world. And meanwhile wanting to have connections back in the Amish world.”
Her plans are complicated when Laura’s husband Dylan, a gambling addict deep in debt, hires an out-of-work actress to pose as Katie in an effort to inherit her estate.
“It’s heartbreaking,” Leclerc says of her character not revealing her true identity. “She’s a very intelligent woman, but her first thought is, ‘I need to do everything I can for Laura and I need to be smart about it’ — clearly there’s manipulation beyond her experience, so she proceeds with caution. … There’s a scene where she decides to leave and say goodbye to Laura and it’s so tragic. You see Katie crestfallen because she’s just giving up and that moment of weakness is so powerful to her that she’s never experienced loss and sorrow in this way, and her mother hasn’t even passed yet.”
The book series is based on some of the actual experiences of Lewis’ maternal grandmother, who was born into the Old Order Mennonite Church.
“I love she was able to take something so personal to her and apply it to her work and art,” Leclerc says of Lewis. “I love genealogy. I love hearing old family history stories from people’s strengths and struggles and how they overcame those.”
For Leclerc the emotion involved in not knowing your family is all too familiar, having spent two seasons playing Daphne on the ABC Family series Switched at Birth. She laughs when asked if her resumé was stacking in that direction. “The funny thing about the missing family sort of thing is after I did The Confession I did a film called Mesmerized, where again I’m looking for my long-lost sister.”