Paul Archuleta/Getty; Paul Archuleta/Getty Trevor Donovan and Candace Cameron Bure
Over a week since The Wall Street Journal published an interview in which Bure, 46, said she intends to "keep traditional marriage at the core" of her partnership with the Christian faith-based GAF network, the 90210 actor, 44, spoke to Variety about the remarks and how he's approaching his projects with the company.
Following his run on season 31 of Dancing with the Stars, Donovan spoke about chasing the Mirror Ball Trophy before addressing Bure's comments and the backlash that followed.
"I feel people should be and believe what they want, as long as they are kind and accepting of others. For those of you who have followed me since 90210, you know my heart and character. No matter who you love, no matter what your race or religion is, you matter," he told Variety.
Donovan signed an overall deal with Great American Media last year to appear in several of the company's series and films.
Donovan continued: "Through mutual respect and acceptance, coexistence is possible. Based on the few months I have known Candace, I have found her to be kind, and passionate about her faith."
One of the actor's main focuses in working with GAF is his anti-bullying program Team Upstanders, which he told Variety received support from the network's CEO Bill Abbott, whom Donovan previously worked with on several Hallmark Channel projects.
Abbott was previously the president and CEO of Crown Media Family Networks, Hallmark Channel's parent company, before stepping down in January 2020 — about a month after the network apologized for removing commercials featuring same-sex couples.
"Tremendous progress is being made. There has never been a more important time to stand up for those who feel voiceless," said Donovan of the anti-bullying program, noting that in addition to Abbott's support of the initiative, the ability to produce his own films led the actor to join GAF.
"It has always been my goal to create films that bring people together without being overtly political or religious, and I will continue to do so," added Donovan. "And sometimes, in future rom-coms, I'll play the naive country boy who finds love in the big city or saves his family's farm. Stay tuned!"
Paul Archuleta/Getty Candace Cameron Bure
Speaking to WSJ earlier this month, Bure said that her projects with GAF will differ from the increasingly inclusive content seen on her former network, the Hallmark Channel.
The conservative actress later responded to the criticism she faced with in a statement to PEOPLE on Nov. 16. "All of you who know me, know beyond question that I have great love and affection for all people. It absolutely breaks my heart that anyone would ever think I intentionally would want to offend and hurt anyone," she began.
The mother of three explained, "I am a devoted Christian. Which means that I believe that every human being bears the image of God. Because of that, I am called to love all people, and I do. ... My heart yearns to build bridges and bring people one step closer to God, to love others well, and to simply be a reflection of God's huge love for all of us."
Bure said she also expressed in the WSJ interview that "people of all ethnicities and identities have and will continue to contribute to the network in great ways both in front of and behind the camera," which she added is something she will "encourage and fully support." But Bure said this part was "not included" in the final story based on her interview.
Following the initial WSJ interview's publication, disapproval quickly bubbled up online, with members and allies of Hollywood's LGBTQ community speaking out, including JoJo Siwa — who had a high-profile back-and-forth with Bure over the summer.
Momodu Mansaray/Getty JoJo Siwa
"Honestly, I can't believe after everything that went down just a few months ago, that she would not only create a movie with intention of excluding LGBTQIA+, but then also talk about it in the press," wrote Siwa, 19, who has identified as queer since January 2021. "This is rude and hurtful to a whole community of people."
"What I love so much about Hallmark Channel is the care they take in the quality of telling the story, especially when it involves LGBTQ+ people, it's handled with so much respect," the Mean Girls actor, 41, said.
Emphasizing Hallmark's commitment to elevating all voices both on camera and behind the scenes, Bennett added, "It's just been an unwavering amount of support from the network on telling the story and wanting to tell it and letting us do it how we want."