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Actress Julie Gonzalo Went from Playing the Mean Girl to Starring as A Hallmark Heroine

The Hallmark actress got her start in teen movies and now she is frequently gracing the family channel


Pretty and popular — but not always nice — was the go-to role for Argentine-American actress Julie Gonzalo in teen movies like Freaky Friday (2003) and A Cinderella Story (2004). Now, though, she’s graduated to become a Hallmark heroine, starring in many of the channel’s original movies, among them Pumpkin Pie Wars (2016) and The Sweetest Heart (2018).

Julie Gonzalo : her early life

Born Julieta Susana Gonzalo in Buenos Aires, Argentina, Julie Gonzalo’s career began when she moved to Miami, Florida at the age of 8. The destined-to-be Hallmark actress soon began modeling while pursuing acting and dance. Once she relocated to Los Angeles, she began booking roles, some of which were in high profile movies.

Early on in her career, Gonzalo scored a small role in the film I’m with Lucy (2002). She then had a two-episode arc in the TV series Greetings from Tucson (2002) as character Kim Modica.

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woman smiling; julie gonzalo
Julie Gonzalo (2003)Getty

Finally, in 2003, Gonzalo was cast as mean girl Stacey Hinkhouse in the remake of Freaky Friday. The archenemy of main character Anna Coleman (Lindsay Lohan), the two go head-to-head a few times throughout the film. The part also afforded Gonzalo the opportunity to star alongside Jamie Lee Curtis and Chad Michael Murray, both of whom she would work with again.

Throughout the next two years, Julie Gonzalo had a few smaller roles on the series’ NCIS (2003) and Drake and Josh (2004), as well as the movies Exit 9 (2003) and Dodgeball: A True Underdog Story (2004).

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Actress takes on the teen movie genre

Julie Gonzalo and Chad Michael Murray
Julie Gonzalo and Chad Michael Murray in A Cinderella Story (2004)

In late 2004, Gonzalo booked another immensely popular teen movie, the previously-mentioned A Cinderella Story. Once again cast as the mean girl to protagonist Sam Montgomery (Hilary Duff), Gonzalo’s role was the type she was already starting to become well known for.

In the film she plays Shelby, the girlfriend of Austin Ames, but after he breaks up with her, Shelby makes Sam’s life a nightmare. This star-studded cast, which included Jennifer Coolidge and Regina King, seemed to be the beginning of a blossoming career for Gonzalo.

Julie Gonzalo, Tim Allen and Jamie Lee Curtis
Julie Gonzalo, Tim Allen and Jamie Lee Curtis in Christmas with the Kranks (2004)

Another smash hit in 2004 was her role as Blair Krank in Christmas with the Kranks. This time, however, Gonzalo portrayed a character that was the complete opposite of Shelby. Surprisingly, Julie Gonzalo’s new character was that of the sweet and caring daughter of couple Luther (Tim Allen) and Nora (Jamie Lee Curtis). After Blair moves to another country right before the holidays, Luther and Nora decide to skip Christmas for the year. But when she chooses, instead, to come home on Christmas Eve, the couple tries to pull together a last-minute holiday party. 

As for working with Jamie a second time, Gonzalo said at the movie’s premiere, “I’ve been so blessed to work with her twice, I couldn’t ask for a better role model for me.”

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Julie Gonzalo’s big break

Although Gonzalo starred in a few big movies with even bigger names, her true break came in 2006 when she scored the role of sociable college student Parker Lee in Veronica Mars. Starring alongside Kristen Bell, Gonzalo became a series regular in season 3 and returned in one episode when it was rebooted in 2019.

woman holding an award
Julie Gonzalo at the ALMA Awards (2008) Getty

In 2008, Gonzalo was cast as a regular on the show Eli Stone, a series about the title character, a lawyer, who discovers he has a brain aneurysm. Gonzalo plays Eli’s junior associate, Maggie Dekker, a role which won her an ALMA Award (American Latino Media Arts Award) for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series.

She continued to book 1-episode roles in different shows, among them Castle (2010) and CSI: Miami (2011). But in 2011, she scored the lead role in the film Vamp U, where she portrayed a vampire.

Going down to Dallas

Cast of ‘Dallas’
The cast of Dallas (2012) Horizon Television

In 2012, Gonzalo ditched the fangs for some cowgirl boots as she joined the cast of the Dallas reboot as Pamela Rebecca Barnes/Rebecca Sutter (her name changed due to a particular storyline). Based on the 1978 hit series of the same name, members of a new generation of the Ewing clan clash over the family’s oil business.

In an interview with Collider, Gonzalo talked about her interest in the series and how she felt while filming. “Every time a script would come, it was, like, ‘Oh, my god, it’s getting juicy!’ … It’s so addicting!”

MUST-READ: The Original ‘Dallas’ Cast: Surprising Behind-the-Scenes Facts You Probably Didn’t Know!

Julie Gonzalo’s personal life

man and woman smiling at each other
Chris McNally and Julie Gonzalo in The Sweetest

On the set of her 2018 Hallmark film The Sweetest Heart, Julie Gonzalo met her now-partner, Chris McNally. The two have been linked ever since meeting six years ago and though they never married, the couple welcomed a child in 2022.

Hallmark heroine

Straying very far from those early days as the popular girl, Gonzalo made her Hallmark debut in 2016. And while she proved herself perfectly capable of portraying mean girls and innocent daughters, she obviously has a real knack for those Hallmark roles.

To see what we mean, check out some of our favorite Julie Gonzalo Hallmark movies!

Pumpkin Pie Wars (2016): Julie Gonzalo

After a fall-out in the local Pumpkin Pie contest between their respective parents, Casey (Julie Gonzalo) and Sam (Eric Aragon) decide to go head-to-head in the same competition that started it all. Casey knows all about the business side and Sam is a baker at heart, so soon the rivals decide to team up. Although, as members of warring families, the two are supposed to hate each other, Casey and Sam start to realize they might actually be falling for each other.

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Falling for Vermont (2017)

In this delicious Fall-set film, best-selling author Angela (Gonzalo) tries to get away from the publicity of her new book, but her plan to live off the grid goes awry when she gets into a car accident and loses her memory. The town doctor and a single dad, Jeff (Benjamin Ayres), offers her a place to stay while healing from her injuries and trying to regain her memory.

But as she starts to live this new normal, Angela finds herself blending in well with this little family and questioning whether the life she has is the one she wants to keep.

The Sweetest Heart (2018): Julie Gonzalo

Maddie (Gonzalo) will do whatever it takes to save her cupcake business, even if that means working with a handsome investment banker to do so. With a potential new romance brewing, things seem to be turning around for her — until Maddie’s first love, Nate (Chris McNally), returns home. Now she has to decide whether to give this new romance a chance or go back to her former flame.

Flip that Romance (2019)

Gonzalo is house flipper Jules Briggs, rival to fellow house flipper and former lover Lance Waddell (Tyler Hynes). The two are tasked with renovating dual sides of a duplex, much to their dismay, and try to out-do each other at every turn. But while they’re working together once again, the former couple find themselves on the verge of possibly rekindling their romance.

3 Bed, 2 Bath, 1 Ghost (2023): Julie Gonzalo

Anna Jenkins, a new real estate agent, has put an old 1920s house up for sale. The only problem: it houses a spirit that just won’t leave and is convinced that she won’t be able to pass over until reconciling Anna with her ex, Elliot Barnes (Chris McNally).

Julie Gonzalo’s recent roles

Aside from her Hallmark films, Gonzalo had a recurring role on the series Supergirl in seasons 5 and 6. The actress played Andrea Rojas, a billionaire CEO and the former editor-in-chief of CatCo Worldwide Media, a fictional company within the series.

She has also made a few guest appearances on shows like Grey’s Anatomy (2018), Lucifer (2018) and The Good Doctor (2021).

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