(Featured image courtesy of Karolina Turek)
TV Wasteland had the opportunity to sit down with rising teen star Eden Summer Gilmore of Family Law to discuss her background in commercials, the value of female-led productions, and her new Global TV series.
Gilmore started acting in commercials when she was about five years old. Always being in such highly professional and fast-paced sets caused her to mature at a very young age, and “it’s definitely helped me with other aspects of my life, working with adults so much.” She also emphasized how the freedom of creativity she was afforded through working in the arts was essential to her development. It’s normal for kids to have trouble expressing themselves, particularly in situations where they’re the youngest person in the room, but Eden found that constantly being in environments that encouraged imagination and self-expression allowed her to become more comfortable with how she presented herself to the world.
Gilmore’s first speaking role was as Li’l Betty in the first season of The CW’s Riverdale, an experience she holds especially close for how it introduced her to the exciting world of narrative film and television sets. “It’s where I met my best friend Kadence, who played Little Polly, so that was really cool.” The most memorable thing about that set, however, was the culture of kindness that had been developed, a quality that “showed me that I want to continue doing this and keep working with other people.” Growing up, Gilmore had also been a huge fan of the original Archie comics, so she was thrilled to have the opportunity to play one of Riverdale High’s most famous Bulldogs.
Just the next year, Eden nabbed her first lead role in It’s Christmas, Eve, Leann Rimes’ heartwarming Hallmark Channel Original Movie about a new superintendent who’s being put under pressure to shut down the music program at her school. Having the chance to sing in the film was an “amazing” experience purely in how she was finally able to bring her love of music to a role. That feeling of awe was only augmented when she found out she’d be performing alongside Rimes, who is maybe the ultimate inspiration for young singers. Winning two Grammys by the time she was sixteen has put her in a special category of breakout stars, and Gilmore was incredibly grateful to soak up the experience and learn everything she could. For her inspiring work as Abby, she was nominated for a Young Entertainer Award and won a Joey Award. “I got to go to LA, which was like a dream come true.” Though it was surreal to be recognized in such a big way, “it made me really, really grateful for the fact that I even got that opportunity.”
Eden could go on to book parts in Supernatural, The Healing Powers of Dude, and The Good Doctor. She was a fan of the latter medical drama before she even booked an audition, and “everyone on the set was so incredibly nice.” One thing that stuck out in her memory from that set was the “amazing” food they served. Whoever is catering for The Good Doctor, you’re doing a great job! “Nancy Drew also holds a special place in my heart.” Countless readers across America have looked up to the young detective for decades for her intelligence, determination, and bravery, and Gilmore counts herself to be one of those young girls who was especially inspired by Drew growing up. “To be able to portray her was fantastic.” Having originally worked on Nancy Drew during the first season before the pandemic, it was certainly an adjustment to return for the second season and face a host of new obstacles, but Eden highlighted that even though health protocols had expanded and everything was a little more isolated and distanced, the core values of the set were still intact. “There was still that same creative energy on the set. If anything, it was just safety [laws] that changed.”
If there’s one thing that COVID has completely revamped, it’s the audition process. The endless waiting rooms and printed sides have been replaced by taped auditions and virtual meetings, callbacks, and chemistry reads. The new proliferation of self-tapes has been “a huge adjustment, because you’re used to getting feedback from someone in the room.” Then again, Eden has found a certain freedom in the self-tape, mostly in how she’s now able to mentally let go of an audition once she’s sent it in (as opposed to the overthinking that usually sneaks in after an in-person session).
As she explores the world of short films, Gilmore has counted herself as especially lucky to have worked on a number of female-led projects. “I think they’ve all really inspired me and shown me that I can do anything I want,” and when it came time to film more emotional scenes, Eden was grateful to have the added comfort and safety of having so many women around her. Directors like Heather Perluzzo (Sabby & Szabo), Veronika Kurz (20 Minutes to Life), and Meeshelle Neal (Where Everyone Lives) have demonstrated to her the power of passion bringing people together for a project. Larger network sets can often have a corporate energy, but for every indie short film Eden has worked on, it’s been clear that “everyone’s there because they truly love it.” More than anything, she’s learned that “you really can do anything you want, and if you have a group of people around you who support you, that’s what’s really important.”
Now, Eden works on Family Law, the new Global TV series following Abigail Bianchi, a recovering alcoholic who reluctantly goes to work at her father’s law firm after hitting rock bottom. “This whole experience on the show has been a dream come true… There’s just such a positive energy on set.” Gilmore feels genuinely excited to go to work every day, and she’s learned so much from everybody else on set that “it’s always crazy to think that I’ve had this experience and been part of such an amazing show.” She’d already loved Victor Garber from his timelessly iconic roles in Legally Blonde and Titanic, and she was so pleased to arrive to work with him to discover that he’s just as welcoming and kind as he seems. “I’m so grateful that I can tell the same story he is.”
Gilmore plays Sofia, Abigail’s daughter who has “a lot of walls built up” after seeing the path her mother’s life has taken. “We start to see those walls fall down. She explores more moments of vulnerability, and we see her open up to feelings of love from her mom and other parts of her family.” Eden teased that as the show progresses, viewers will discover previously-unseen parts of her and learn that she’s not as “ice cold” as she may seem. There was one scene she filmed with Jewel Staite (her on-screen mother, Abigail) with a lot of “heightened energy,” and a few special words of wisdom Staite shared have stuck with Gilmore ever since. Staite and fellow cast member Genelle Williams would also always buy the cast and crew doughnuts from Deep Cove’s Honey’s Doughnuts.
Global TV took the unusual step of greenlighting Family Law for two seasons right off the bat, both of which were filmed back-to-back. “It was so cool… It was really awesome to be able to explore Sofia further in season two after getting to know her so much in season one.” Most of the time, the cast and crew can collect public opinion and gauge responses to certain storylines or characters before creating their second outing, so rolling right into the next batch of episodes was an interesting departure from the norm for Eden. “Everyone on set, we knew this was a special show, and we knew people would like it,” and even taking a quick look at online responses to the series proves that they were right.
Back in May, Gilmore participated in the Covenant House Sleep Out to Support Homeless Youth. The project brought thousands out from their homes to give up their beds for displaced teens in Vancouver. As part of her Instagram caption raising awareness about the event, Gilmore said, “As a young adult myself, I am committed to raising funds and awareness and to showing a group of young people that they are worthy of unconditional love and absolute respect, and proving that we care enough about them to be uncomfortable for one night; to be vulnerable so they can be safe.” In our discussion, she further explained that “it was important to me that not only light was shed on the situation but that there was support given out to those teens dealing with those experiences.”
Currently, Gilmore (an avid reader) is making her way through I Am Not Your Perfect Mexican Daughter by Erika Sánchez. She also named Susin Nielsen as one of her favorite authors, but not just because she’s the showrunner for Family Law. “Her books are really, really good; I’ve read them all.” For the future, she’s working on finishing high school, but “also exploring other sides of my creative abilities: writing, possibly directing, and exploring different aspects of the industry and acting and seeing what I like.”
Family Law is currently airing Fridays on Global TV, with season two already filmed and on its way.