Sweet Magnolias’ Anneliese Judge & Dion Johnstone on Annie, Erik, & Other Layered Characters

Sweet Magnolias writer Shelley Meals talks rich storytelling for all generations, while stars Anneliese Judge and Dion Johnstone break down their characters and send love to co-stars Carson Rowland and Justin Bruening.

Bryant Santos

AfterBuzz TV Host & Writer
Posted On: May 21st, 2020 12:13pm pst

Maria Menounos
Keven Undergaro
AfterBuzz TV Founders

Founded by Emmy winning journalist Maria Menounos and Producer Keven Undergaro, AfterBuzz TV is the artist-friendly entertainment news platform that celebrates, discusses, interviews, promotes and reports on the widest range of stars, creators and content through video, audio and article publications.

ABTV Loves Sweet Magnolias: Shelley Meals, Anneliese Judge, & Dion Johnstone

Reeling from the jam-packed sixth episode of Netflix’s Sweet Magnolias, AfterBuzz TV had the pleasure of sitting down with THREE very special guests to talk all about Erik Whitley, Annie Sullivan, and the rest of the lovable Serenity folk. During the official After Show for this incredible series, we were joined by Anneliese Judge, Dion Johnstone, and Shelley Meals, who helped us dive all the way into episode six.

At the top of the show, we jumped straight into the development of Annie and got special insight from the writer’s room with a note from writer Shelley Meals. Shelly said she’s a “14-year-old at heart” and that she loves writing for teenagers because of how rich the writing can be and how much she can draw from.

“I was so excited for this show to really make sure that the storyline we had for our younger cast was just as rich, and stuff happening, as the older cast.”

Shelley and the rest of the writers definitely gave Anneliese something to draw from and work with through her character Annie and Anneliese shared that even though it was her first major acting credit, she was more than prepared for the role.

“I’ve been training for so long. I’ve been preparing for this moment, for this dream role to come along and everyone was so welcoming, was so kind and genuine and I feel like I fell into it immediately.”

Anneliese had lots of amazing actors to work with on this project and Dion Johnstone, who plays Erik Whitley, showed his love for Anneliese as they shared many scenes together.

“Even just the times that we had sitting in the cast chairs getting to know each other and what’s going on in each other’s life, it’s just a real special team that we have with this cast.”

Another castmate that Dion worked well with was Justin Bruening, and Dion shared how they instantly clicked during their first meeting when their characters interact with each other for the first time.

“I had just recently, only a couple summers prior, got married, and we both kind of got to know each other through telling our stories of how we proposed to our wives. It was a really exciting thing. So we’re both looking forward to hopefully a second season where you get to see more of their friendship grow.”

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Hard to believe it’s been 1 year already since this incredible lady and I were married. It’s easier to believe it’s been 11 years since we first started dating. I don’t know how I got so lucky in life but I thank the Lord that a little over a decade ago Lisa Berry walked in to my life. Since then my life has been both richer and more challenging. Nothing worthwhile ever comes easy. Thank you Lisa, for always encouraging me to dig deeper, to reach for a higher standard and in the midst of it all, to remember to BREATHE and be kind to myself. You’re an amazing human being, an incredible lady and the best partner in life I could hope for. Happy Anniversary! ❤️ #1yearanniversary #marriagegoals #grateful #blessed #blacklove #actorlife

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Growth was a main character arc for many of the characters in this show, but that is especially prominent for Annie, so Anneliese shared how she was able to tap into that growth and the many layers that Annie was dealing with.

“I really tried to narrow down the super objectives of her struggles that she goes through because there’s so many layers to her. Like with her mom, I don’t think it was necessarily attention-seeking behavior but it’s more connection-seeking.”

Annie’s struggles to connect with her mom continue throughout the series and Anneliese pinpointed a particular moment in this episode that was important for Annie and Dana Sue’s relationship.

“Annie was like wow, giving my mom a hug right now would really make me feel better because my entire world is falling apart. It feels like everyone is against me right now, but I know that you never will be. I think that was definitely a really powerful moment, especially between Brooke and I because we’re so close.”

Someone else who has tons of layers is Erik Whitley and Dion summed up exactly what he wanted fans to receive from his portrayal of this multifaceted character.

“One of the things I love about him is his sense of loyalty, his respect for people’s boundaries, but his willingness to really pay attention to when things seem off…Erik has his own demons and his own past which gradually will unfold.”

One major storyline that really unfolded during this episode with the blowup of Annie and Ty’s relationship and Shelley discussed how most of the storylines for the teens in this show came from personal experiences from the writer’s children or their children’s friends.

“This is what kids have to deal with and it’s so hard. There’s no…really…answers, as parents, as people that teach. Once these things sort of happen, the chips fall where they fall and you’ve got to help pick up the pieces.”

Anneliese also offered her special insight from being right there in the middle of the action and she shared just how emotional this scene was for her to shoot alongside co-star Carson Rowland.

“Carson and I are so close. He’s definitely a really great friend of mine, so that was really hard for us to have to have that moment. I definitely substituted things that have happened in my life before. Situations that aren’t necessarily the same, but where I felt those same feelings. I took it as Annie wasn’t as mad as Ty, as she was at herself.”

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As #divasintraining, we look to those who both excel in the diva department and facilitate our diva training process. Today’s lesson comes courtesy of the legend himself, @norbuck, “DESIGNER WATER ONLY.” While on set, NEVER settle for Zephyrhills, Aquafina, and please dear god if I so much as see a Dasani bottle, #headswillroll. “If it isn’t 5 dollars a bottle, it isn’t for me.” Drinking illustrious and electrolyte rich @smartwater , not only helps us with our character development, but also let us grasp the depths of @norbuck’s brilliance just for a moment. Maybe if we drink 3 of these daily over the next 20 years, we might, one day, reach @norbuck’s success, brilliance, and, of course, “diva-ness”

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As we came to the end of our time with these amazing talents, Shelley, Anneliese, and Dion all shared what they would love fans to take away from the show.

Anneliese hopes that fans see how everyone makes mistakes and is redeemable, Dion shared that he hopes fans take away a renewed sense of moving forward and moving on from our past. Shelley rounded out everything perfectly when she discussed how the show is all about community and friendships and how much she loves the sweet town of Serenity. “I just wish we could all live in Serenity!”, she shared.

If you want to live in Serenity as much as we do, be sure you’re caught up with Sweet Magnolias on Netflix and be sure to check out the OFFICIAL After Show only on AfterBuzz TV. You can also catch Shelley, Dion, and Anneliese on Twitter @1tallgrl, @dionjohnstone, and @anneliesecjudge.

Also, if you love Sweet Magnolias like ABTV Loves Sweet Magnolias, share this article with a friend. Tune in daily to AfterbuzzTV articles and After Shows for the latest news and info on pop culture and entertainment.

About The Author:

Bryant Santos is a Social Media Manager and pop culture enthusiast with a passion for fashion and television. As a host for AfterBuzz TV, Bryant loves to bring you all the juiciest news and gossip about your favorite TV shows and celebs. Bryant brings his bubbly personality, quick wit, and an insightful LGBT perspective to many AfterShows including wrestling, teen dramas, sci-fi/fantasy, and more!

Founded by Emmy winning journalist Maria Menounos and Producer Keven Undergaro, artist-friendly AfterBuzz TV is the world’s largest digital broadcast network and pop culture news platform, producing post-game ‘after-shows’ for nearly all favorite TV shows, interviewing cast and showrunners and providing the widest video, audio and article coverage of shows, content and influencers than any entertainment news platforms in existence

“We don’t just celebrate and cover the top shows, content and stars, we celebrate and cover ALL the shows, content and stars.”

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