Candace Cameron Bure on Why She Left Hallmark Behind to Create a New Christmas Empire at Great American Family

Since she was six years old, Candace Cameron Bure has been acting. Best known for her role as D.J. Tanner on all 193 episodes of “Full House” and, later, all 76 episodes of “Fuller House,” it’s no surprise that she feels so at home on a TV set.

Still, she wanted to do more. She took a break after meeting her husband, Valeri Bure, at 18; they got married two years later and then she spent 10 years focusing on becoming a mom and raising their three children. Then, as she says, she re-entered the entertainment world “with a vengeance.” And it wasn’t easy.

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Over the next 16 years, she not only became a business woman — she’s written 11 books, launched her own clothing line with QVC, partnered with Dr. Lancer Skincare and Christian gifts company DaySpring — she also continues to star in TV shows and movies.

Candace Cameron Bure
Candace Cameron Bure

When she became a mother, Bure had to turn down multiple jobs so that she could find a balance and still spend time at home. One of her first jobs when she returned to Hollywood was with Bill Abbott, the then-CEO and president of Hallmark Media. Little did she know she’d become the face of the network (alongside her “Full House” co-star Lori Loughlin).

After 30 movies for Hallmark Media, including 18 of the beloved “Aurora Teagarden” franchise, she made a massive move. In April, Bure announced that she was officially moving over to Great American Family, the network Abbott launched in 2021 after a controversial exit.

For the first time, Bure opens up about leaving her spot at Hallmark and what to expect from her upcoming work at Great American Family.

Let’s start at the top. You are running multiple businesses, are an executive at a network, an actor, a producer, a wife and a mom. What’s the secret?

Oh, my goodness! A lot of good people behind you. That’s the deep secret because no one can do it on their own or by themselves. But you do have to have the drive to start and the motivation to keep it going.

Growing up on set, starting so young, did you ever imagine the career you have now?

I’ve always had an entrepreneurial spirit, even as a teenager. I knew that I loved the entertainment industry and I did love acting, but I always felt like I wanted more. I didn’t just want to be an actor, which is a great thing. I wanted more, so I was always positioning myself and trying to learn, as a young adult, what else I could do — the other aspects of the industry like producing or directing. I’ve loved watching people grow. I love seeing other entrepreneurs pursue their dreams.

I have this huge goal list in journals and I can look back so many years at things that I’ve wanted to do and accomplish and have prayed for for so many years. I never felt like there was a time limit on any of those things. So if it happened that year or that moment, great, but some of it’s taken me 25 years to get to and that’s okay, too. I hope I keep doing things when, in another 25, 30 years, I just can’t walk anymore.

FULL HOUSE, top, from left: Dave Coulier, John Stamos, Bob Saget, Scott Weinger, bottom, from left: Andrea Barber, Blake Tuomy-Wilhoit, Lori Loughlin, Jodie Sweetin, Mary-Kate Olsen, Dylan Tuomy-Wilhoit, Candace Cameron Bure, 1993, 1987-1995.  ph: Bob D'Amico /© ABC /Courtesy Everett Collection
“Full House” cast

Wearing so many different hats, is acting still your main passion?

I really do love acting. It probably is my first passion. I miss being on a set. It’s been a little while since I’ve actually been filming something because my other businesses have taken a lot of my time and I’m gearing up for a new movie and I can’t wait to get back on set but I truly do love the business woman that I am. The set will probably always feel like my first home — I don’t think I could give up everything else to only be on set.

You really grew up on “Full House.” When it ended in 1995, what was the next goal?

I finished “Full House” at 18 years old. I didn’t really know what I wanted to do. No one knows what they want to do at 18! By my late teens, I knew that I wanted to be in the industry. I truly loved it. Then I met my husband at 18 years old. I got married at 20, and then that took a whole different route, in terms of work. I kind of feel like I had this whole work life before I should have. Most people in their lives, they’re just figuring it out at 20 and yet I had this whole entire career before I was 20. From 20 to 30, I actually just rested with family and being a mom. The thought of a career took a backseat to my family, but then I came back with a vengeance.

And you dove right into holiday programming with “Moonlight and Mistletoe” in 2008. At what point did you kind of decide that this genre would be such a big focus for you?

That’s really when I came back into the industry. That was one of my first jobs after taking a 10-year break and being a stay at home mom. And I was like, “Okay, let’s start auditioning again.” It was great. It was fun. I enjoyed it and it was three weeks away from the family, which was manageable and doable. And then I got asked to do another one and they just did so well. We all realized, as that channel was growing so rapidly and it was capturing this audience, they just kept coming back. To date, I still hold the highest rated movie in the history of the Hallmark Channel. So I’m very grateful for it. As that expanded within the Movies & Mysteries and more Christmas films, I think about my fifth or sixth movie in, I started executive producing them.

“Moonlight and Mistletoe”
“Moonlight and Mistletoe”

In between all of this, were you interested in taking on other movies and other projects? Is that how “The View” came about?

It’s always been a juggling act and a balancing act with my family. That’s what I’ve always taken into consideration when I came back into the industry in my 30s, because I have three kids and a husband that I love. Finding the right kinds of projects was actually tough in a way that I felt I could still be present with my family and go to work. I actually did have a series that was on for many, many years, that I had booked. Then the contract came over. At the last minute, I called my agent and then I had to call the producers and the casting director and say, “I’m so sorry, but I can’t do it.” I didn’t feel like I could juggle both things. I’ve said a lot of no’s in my career — a lot, a lot, and just found the projects that I felt like I could manage and that I would enjoy and that my family could support. And then “The View” came knocking one day.

And you only stayed one year — two seasons.

I was on for two years but it was on and off because I was juggling working on “Fuller House” and TV movies while I was doing “The View,” so it probably actually amounted to a year on camera, but it was technically two years.

Do you feel like you could ever do a show like that again?

I would love to do a talk show again. I really enjoy it. I don’t want to do a political talk show. That wasn’t that fun. But just talking to people, hearing about what people are doing, especially the good in the world, that is something I would absolutely love to do.

Alright let’s dive into your move to Great American Family. Did those conversations begin when Bill left Hallmark?

The truth is I’ve been under contract with Hallmark for a very, very long time. And those have been absolutely wonderful. It just so happened that my contract was expiring when Great American Family started up. So we did not start having those discussions until we were well into negotiations with Hallmark Channel for renewing. And as every business person knows, you’ve got to do what’s right for contracts. It didn’t work out with Hallmark and so we started talking to Bill.

How has your relationship with Bill grown through the years?

It’s been so wonderful. I feel like Bill gave me my first shot after taking a very long hiatus from work. Anyone who works knows how difficult that can be, no matter what your job is. Any mom knows that when they take a break from working, they’re nervous to come back — if it’s 10 years later, 20 years later, wondering are they even too old to get the job anymore. There’s a real fear there for a lot of people, so I felt like Bill gave me my first shot coming back into the business and I will always be grateful to him for that. I really grew alongside of him as he built the network.

I’m that person that just sits and watches and observes from the sidelines. Bill has just always been a champion. He’s been a champion for others through his whole career and that’s what has made him an incredible president and CEO of a company — because he knows he’s not doing it himself. It takes a team and it takes loyalty and it takes people doing their best. And he acknowledges that always, which makes him a great leader… It’s been an almost 15-year relationship. I trust what Bill has done over the years and that really means a lot to me. That’s also why a move to Great American Family was a good move for me because of the long standing relationship with Bill.

So many actors under contract with these networks have a movie count. Do you know how many movies you will star in each year?

We don’t have a set number of movies under the contract, but I will have a Christmas movie out this year. It was a very soft launch for the channel last year, and so we will be launching Christmas this year, which starts Oct. 28. As well as being on camera, I have an executive role at the network as well. It’s really looking at content overall and producing other content in terms of Christmas and rom-coms and stuff for the Great American Living channel. So there’s lots for me to do but there’s a lot more that will be off camera and behind the scenes than how much you’ll see me on camera, because that’s really what my life has taken and this path.

Tell me what an “executive role” consists of outside of producing. Are you part of bigger overall conversations?

Exactly — everything with the network as a whole. We have to build this network. We have to let people know that we’re there and to be aware of it and get the distribution out everywhere. But this is going to be content that is trusted, that’s wholesome, that’s family-friendly. It’s really going to push on all of the holiday seasons as well as rom-coms. And so I’m just helping oversee all of that and the directions that they go, as well as providing that content… I know the brand as well as they do. I know what the audience likes and wants. I just want to help.

In the past few years, Hallmark has really put an emphasis on more inclusive programming. They focused on same-sex couples and interracial couples. In this role, are you in those discussions about how you will work on representing diverse content at Great American family?

Well, we haven’t specifically had those discussions. That isn’t completely up to me, because there is a board that are behind all of those decisions, but of course it will be talked about. And you know, we’ll see. We’ll see how it goes.

You said the content will focus on different holidays. Is it going to be all Christian holidays or will there be some kind of mix of others as well?

Well, this year, we’re absolutely focusing on Christmas. I’m sure as the channel continues to build content, it will include other holidays, but I think we know the core audience and what they love is exactly how Bill originally built the Hallmark Channel and that was Christmas and those traditional holidays and so that’s what the focus is going to be. You got to start somewhere. You can’t do everything at once.

One of the many partnerships you have is with DaySpring, but they’re also owned by Hallmark. Will that continue with your new deal?

It is under the Hallmark umbrella although DaySpring is its own company and I have an incredible relationship with DaySpring and the people there. I absolutely hope that it never comes to them asking me to leave that partnership. But if it happens, that will be on them, not on me. I absolutely love my partnership with DaySpring.

“Aurora Teagarden Mysteries”
“Aurora Teagarden Mysteries”

How about your “Aurora Teagarden” movies? Is there a chance you could revisit that franchise, maybe at Great American Family?

It’s open. It’s definitely something we would like to revisit for Great American Family. It’s about putting puzzle pieces together, but it’s very possible.

Why do you think holiday movies still resonate?

The channels that have really grown holiday programming have done a phenomenal job and they really captured an audience who wants comfort and heartfelt content and content they they know what to expect. I think that’s the biggest thing about Christmas movies in general is that people make fun of them, and yet people love them. It’s because they are predictable. You know that someone’s going to fall in love, you know that there’s going to be a kiss at the end. You know it’s just going to be happy and warm and heartfelt. And people run to that, especially at the holidays.

What does a great American family look like to you?

I love the country that I live in. I’m grateful that I was born in this country. I’m married to an immigrant; my husband’s Russian and came here when he was 17. He actually defected, couldn’t go back for a long time until we got to citizenship. Having a perspective, being married to someone who really worked his way up to where he is in this country and understanding the opportunities that this country gave him versus the country that he was born in is an incredible perspective — not only grounding for me, but also eye-opening. There’s so many things that we take for granted as Americans. And so “great American family” — I hope that family just represents all the good and the right in our country and is a family that that sticks together. Obviously this is like idealistic, I know that this isn’t everybody, but I hope that’s what the great American family stands for: love, kindness, patriotism.

So those are the themes that run through the network as well?

It absolutely is representing family. It’s representing faith, which is a really big component. They are going to move much more forward in the faith content, and having both — still having lots of movies, rom-coms and Christmas movies that don’t involve faith, but also ones that really do. I think that’s that’s going to be a big difference in Great American Family channel, as well as patriotic content. I love hearing stories about our veterans, about our servicemen and women, those reunions when they come home. We want to showcase all of that — all of the good that’s going on and and we want to tug on those heartstrings.

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