At home with Megan Hutchings
Story by Katie Ryalen | Photos by Wynne Feret
We may be the suburbs, but our hometown talent is making big waves on the big screen. Local actress Megan Hutchings, who stars in the new BET legal drama In Contempt alongside international names like Erica Ash and Tobias Truvillion, has taken time out of an unquestionably busy day (at the time of our interview she had just cleared customs on her way to New York) to tell us what she has been up to, and what keeps bringing her back home.
Home for Megan is currently Whitby, but she grew up in Oshawa. For several years she travelled between her father’s home in Oshawa and Los Angeles before settling in Whitby. “I love being out of the city,” she says of suburban life. “Moving back home for the last couple of years has been really helpful for my career. I think I’ve been in a happier place since moving back here than I’ve been in a while.” Of course, it’s always a bit of a transition to come home when she has been out of the country for work, but the readjustment to our slower pace of life doesn’t take Megan long. She says, “Usually when I cross that Whitby border and get off the 401 I just feel a sense of home and belonging.”
When she is at home, Megan is a regular at Orange Theory Fitness in Whitby. She also enjoys yoga, and attends sessions at Power Yoga Canada in Oshawa and Shakti Connection in Whitby. In addition to her fitness classes, Megan enjoys taking her dogs to the nearby dog parks. A dedicated vegan, Megan enjoys some of the vegan and vegan-option restaurants that have opened up in our region such as The Lil Organic Kitchen, Berry Hill Food Company and Copper Branch. “I just kind of stay in my little bubble,” she says of her life in Whitby. “My few little restaurants, the dog park, and my yoga and workout classes.”
Megan is a staunch animal lover. She has two of her own dogs, a nine-year-old golden retriever and a five-year-old rescue maltipoo. Recently she also fostered a one-year-old German shepherd who was surrendered to her by a family that couldn’t care for her financially anymore. “I’ve always been an animal lover and advocate,” she says. “When I was living in the States, for the first couple of years I was bored and lonely, and I didn’t have a lot of fun without my family there. So I would go to the LA dog parks and try to hang out with the dogs instead. Then I started volunteering with Dogs without Borders, just helping to walk them and taking them to their appointments and such. As I got more involved in that, it filled my time.”
At home Megan volunteers with Save Our Scruff, a charity that provides care and rehabilitation for stray, abandoned or displaced dogs. She also volunteers with Farmhouse Garden Animal Home, which is a farm sanctuary in Uxbridge. “I find that very rewarding,” she says. “With my career, when you’re not working you can feel very down on yourself. But what makes me happy and what I’m passionate about is definitely animals.” She is also the founder of Dreams of Rescue, a not-for-profit organization that makes personalized dream catchers. “All the proceeds from that go to animal shelters,” Megan says.
With such an active love of animals, it is no surprise that Megan is vegan. For her, it is a lifestyle choice which has evolved since childhood. “Ever since I was little I would go back and forth between eating meat,” she explains. “My grandma and grandpa had a farm when I was growing up, so I would see the cows and the horses and all the animals, and I fell in love with them. And then later we’d be eating a chicken burger and I would think, ‘Where does this come from?’ Over the last couple of years I had turned that into veganism, but I would occasionally cheat and put maybe cream in my coffee or something.” It was an experience in Portugal three years ago with a frightened little piglet that convinced her to rededicate herself to veganism. “It’s not that easy,” she admits. “I will sometimes accidentally buy products that are tested on animals. It all takes mindfulness, research and trial and error, and I just do the best that I can.”
Acting is something that Megan has been interested in from a young age. “I always wanted to be an actress, even before I knew it,” she says. “I did well in school, but I often felt like a fish out of water.” It was discovering drama class that allowed Megan to find her niche and her future career. “From there I got really lucky,” she explains. “I was taken on by an awesome agent in Toronto, and she threw me out there. Then I landed my first recurring role on a show called The Smart Woman Survival Guide. From there it’s just been a lot of classes and lots of auditions.”
Although acting may seem like a glamorous career to those of us who watch the final product on screen, Megan considers it to be just what she does. “Everyone thinks they don’t do anything special, and that’s like me,” she says. “You get used to what you’re doing and it becomes normal.” She admits that when she is not working, it becomes difficult not to wonder if she should be doing something else with her life. “I always feel like there is so much more I want to do,” she says. But ultimately it is being back home and having that suburban stability that helps her feel at peace and that she has a happy, healthy home life.
Megan has a number of recurring roles on her resume including The Smart Woman Survival Guide, The LA Complex, and Reign. She notes that it is amazing to be on set and to have such high profile jobs, but that the hours are long and the work is hard. “It can be intimidating, too,” she adds. “I come onto a set like Reign with the costumes and the period pieces, and these people are all amazing to work with and they’re really great. But they’ve already got these established working relationships, and I’m coming into it new. It can be really scary. Especially because in my line of work people are judging you. They’re judging your work, your hair, your body, your face—it can be overwhelming at times.”
But Megan Hutchings is a pro, and her career has led to some amazing experiences. For example, at the time of this interview, she had just cleared customs at the airport on her way to New York where she would be participating with the cast of In Contempt in a panel called Color of Change. “Our show is about the public justice system and dealing with clients who are often suppressed and forgotten about,” she says, “so it will be a panel where people can share their stories of oppression and injustice, and we will be weighing in on the discussion.”
Around town, Megan likes to visit:
● Harmony Dog Park, North Whitby Dog Park, Heber Down Conservation Area and the Oshawa Lakefront Path with her two dogs
● Poweryoga Canada and Shakti Connection for her yoga fix
● Orange Theory Fitness to keep in shape
● Lil Organic Kitchen, Berry Hill Food Co. and Copper Branch for vegan fare
● North End Bowl to unwind and have fun
Megan is a strong advocate for animal welfare, rescues and shelters. She is the founder of the non-profit organization Dreams of Rescue where she creates personalized dream catchers with all proceeds donated to a shelter or a rescue. She is also a volunteer for Save Our Scruff, a non-profit dog rescue and re-home charity located in Toronto and Southern Ontario and Farmhouse Garden Animal Home, a former cattle ranch that has been turned into a farm sanctuary located in Uxbridge, Ontario.