Saturday night will be a big night for Tulsa native Katie Hawkins.
Hawkins, 12, will gather with family and friends in her hometown to watch her acting debut at 8 p.m. in the Hallmark Channel movie “Puppy Love.”
In “Puppy Love,” Hawkins plays Caitlin, a 10-year-old who has recently relocated to a new town with her mother, Megan (Candace Cameron Bure). Megan lets Caitlin adopt a dog to help her adjust, not knowing the dog Caitlyn chooses is the beloved lost dog of a baseball player they met briefly as they were leaving the animal shelter.
Hawkins has been temporarily living in Los Angeles, along with her mother, Cristie, and younger brother, Scott. Part of her family relocated so Hawkins could work on her modeling and acting career, which took flight after she attended ProScout Dallas early last year and then signed with Abrams Artists and Paradigm talent agencies.
Hawkins' father, Bill, an ear, nose and throat doctor, is maintaining his practice in Tulsa, and her older brother, Ryan, attends the University of Oklahoma.
“My mom is a radiologist, so she works from home ... and my dad flies out almost every Thursday ... We're still really close to each other. And it hasn't changed anything. We Skype every night,” Hawkins said in a phone interview with The Oklahoman.
“Puppy Love” was a wonderful beginning for her acting career, according to Hawkins, who has wanted to be an actress since the age of 4.
“It was a great experience. I'm so blessed to have the experience. The other people in it were so nice to me. And, it was really interesting to see what they do. The dogs are super-smart and trained, and they put (chicken-flavored) baby food on your cheek bone, and the dog will come up to you and lick it, and, so, it looks like it's just coming to you. You give them treats, and they're really nice dogs,” she said.
Working with Bure was also beneficial for the young performer.
“She is really nice, and she's a great actress, and I look up to her. And, I always try to act as well as she can. She helped with some of the things that I did.”
Hawkins has two dogs of her own and enjoyed working with BugZ, who plays Jake in “Puppy Love,” as well.
“It was really fun. I got to give him treats, and he'd always come over to me and I'd pet him. The dog's super-nice and energetic,” she said.
Hawkins also shared there's a lot more to acting than meets the eye.
“I definitely learned that it takes a lot more than what other people think of actors. You wake up at 5 a.m. to just drive in — you have to be here at this time — and you go straight to hair and makeup and get all these outfits on, and it's a lot more work than other people say it is.”
When asked who she might like to co-star in a project with, an Oscar winner and a comedy veteran topped Hawkins' list.
“I absolutely love Reese Witherspoon, so I think it'd be fun to be with her in one. I also think David Spade's a really funny actor, and I met him at the Cheesecake Factory once and he's super-nice, and I think he'd be fun to work with,” she said.
And, Hawkins has other interests outside of acting as well.
“I love cheerleading. I love soccer and volleyball, and I'm going to possibly play volleyball at school. We're not sure yet. And, I like gymnastics a lot,” Hawkins said.