Columbus actress starring in upcoming Hallmark film

Actress Chaley Rose Jackson is shown with Nathan Witte in a scene from "My Best Friend's Bouquet." Submitted photo

In her downtime during the COVID-19 pandemic, Chaley Rose Jackson has found solace in 1,000-piece jigsaw puzzles.

“I was reading that they became popular during the lockdown because you know how they are going to end (amid the pandemic),” Jackson said, speaking by phone from her in Los Angeles apartment. “Since you know the outcome, it can give you a little bit of peace.”

Perhaps the biggest and most fascinating puzzle that the Columbus native and veteran actress currently faces is how to move the key pieces of her still-developing career from feel-good romances to what she calls “grittier roles.”

The Columbus East High School graduate, known by her screen name as simply Chaley Rose, is cast as the female lead in the warm-hearted Hallmark Channel film “My Best Friend’s Bouquet,” slated for 9 p.m. on Oct. 10 and other later dates.

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Jackson plays Josie Hughes, a hopeless romantic who believes the wedding bouquet always finds its way to the right person when tossed by the bride, as proven time and again at weddings dating back to her childhood. But single Josie ends up with the bouquet at her friend Emma’s wedding instead of their not-single friend Athena and fears she’s wrecked her chances of getting engaged, according to promotional material.

But when Josie begins dating eligible bachelor Will after meeting at the reception — much to the dismay of her long-time friend Alex, who has secretly held a torch for her since college — she decides the bouquet is responsible for the budding romance and begins to think that Will is “the one.”

The film, shot in three weeks in Vancouver, British Columbia, Canada in July, marks her second Hallmark film. Last holiday season, she was in the movie “A Christmas Duet.”

Her latest project comes on the heels of her roles as singer Zoey Dalton in the ABC TV series “Nashville” and a short stint as Dr. Pepper Russo in the CBS series “Code Black.” In her latest project, she made friendships within the cast that have developed daily, online chats.

“All of us agree that we really had a special chemistry,” Jackson said.

Jackson’s co-star, Nathan Witte, who plays her eventual, good-hearted love interest, credits Jackson with part of the good vibes on the set. His experience includes roles on such shows as “Charmed.”

“She came in every day with such a warm heart,” Witte said, speaking by phone from his home in Vancouver. “And that just trickled down.”

Witte also mentioned that Jackson’s humor was a boost for the cast.

“But maybe her greatest strength — and one of the things that I really appreciate — is her authenticity and her ability to be in the moment,” he said. “And that ability which helps her to connect with others is probably part of her greatest strength.”

Though Jackson acknowledged she’d love meatier, more dramatic roles, she’s still open to possibilities such as comedy, too. Part of that materialized recently when she portrayed fictional singer Destiny Page in a brief scene on one episode of season five of Netflix’s “Lucifer.” The role included a fairly polished dance number that Jackson chuckled over by reminding all that she is not yet a professional in that artistic discipline.

“But I want to surprise myself as an actor,” Jackson said. “I want to be in a situation where I am nervous on a set again, and I show up with that imposter syndrome. There is something so exciting about showing up to work and having to be on the edge of your seat. So I am really ready to be more challenged.”

She is unafraid to be challenged about her social justice views over justice and equality for Blacks amid police violence and killings — she peacefully protested recently in Los Angeles — and her support for equality for those in the LGBTQ community. And she lauds Hallmark for its new stance in support of issues such as gay marriage in its productions.

In her downtime, she normally spends time as a runner — she was a Columbus East track athlete — but the West Coast wildfires and horrific air quality have kept her air purifier working overtime and also kept her inside and more careful not to irritate her asthma.

“I’ve been forced to be much more creative inside (with activities),” she said.

Clearly, she’s hoping to grab a bouquet of new opportunities. In the meantime, she’s finishing oversized jigsaws of photos of galaxies and such.

For Chaley Rose Jackson, it’s a time to reach to the outer limits.

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Columbus native Chaley Rose Jackson stars in the Hallmark Channel romance "My Best Friend’s Bouquet" premiering at 9 p.m. on Oct. 10.