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‘Happy Face’: Khiyla Aynne & Benjamin Mackey Round Out Series Regular Cast As Production Begins; David Harewood To Recur

EXCLUSIVE: Happy Face has rounded out its series regular cast, adding Khiyla Aynne (Circuit Breakers) and Benjamin Mackey (The Morning Show) alongside Annaleigh Ashford, Dennis Quaid, James Wolk and Tamera Tomakili. David Harewood (Homeland) also joins the upcoming Paramount+ drama series in a recurring role. The series hails from creator and executive producer Jennifer Cacicio and executive producers Robert and Michelle King. Filming began this week in Vancouver. See Ashford’s Instagram announcement below.

Happy Face is inspired by the true-life story of Melissa Moore; the Happy Face podcast from iHeartPodcasts and Moore; and the autobiography Shattered Silence, written by Moore with M. Bridget Cook.

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In the series, jumping off from Moore’s true-life story, Happy Face (Quaid) is an incarcerated serial killer who also is Melissa’s (Ashford) once-beloved father. After decades of no contact, he finally finds a way to force himself back into his daughter’s life. In a race against the clock, Melissa must find out if an innocent man is going to be put to death for a crime her father committed. Throughout, she discovers the impact her father had on his victims’ families and must face a reckoning of her own identity.

Aynne plays Hazel, Ben (Wolk) and Melissa’s (Ashford) 15-year-old daughter, a secure and happy girl who thinks that her mother is off on a simple business trip. However, when she suspects that something dire is going on, she starts investigating — and may start to uncover the shocking circumstances of her mother’s past.

Mackey portrays 9-year-old Max, Ben (Wolk) and Melissa’s (Ashford) youngest child, a lively kid who takes his stable upbringing for granted and doesn’t look too deeply into his mother’s sudden absence. He takes it on faith that she’s away producing a segment for The Dr. Greg Show.

Harewood recurs as Dr. Greg, the handsome, beloved, long-time star of a popular daytime health and talk show, The Dr. Greg Show. When he calls Melissa, one of the show’s makeup artists, in for a meeting, she’s at a loss as to what he could want. She soon realizes that he’s received a phone call from a shocking source — and that the call has brought the secret of her past to glaring light.

The eight-episode first season of Happy Face, produced by CBS Studios in association with King Size Productions, iHeartPodcasts and Semi-Formal Productions, will premiere exclusively on Paramount+ globally in 2025.

Jennifer Cacicio – who also serves as showrunner – executive produces alongside Robert and Michelle King, Liz Glotzer, Melissa Moore, Conal Byrne, Will Pearson, Michael Showalter — who will direct the first episode — and Jordana Mollick.

Happy Face is distributed by Paramount Global Content Distribution.

Aynne most recently guest-starred in Apple TV+’s Emmy-nominated sci-fi anthology Circuit Breakers. Her previous credits include the Netflix feature film adaptation of 13: the Musical, Uptv’s Christmas on the Rocks and the children’s horror-fantasy film Nightbooks at Netflix. She led the Netflix original series Ponysitters Club as Trish and reprised the role in two spin-off films. Additional credits include appearances in Netflix’s Work It, CBC Gem’s The Move and 48 Christmas Wishes. She’s repped by da Costa Talent, Alchemy Entertainment and Jackoway Austen Tyerman.

Mackey recurred in Apple TV+’s The Morning Show, alongside Steve Carell and real-life brother Judah Mackey. He has also appeared in the Starz’s Gaslit starring Julia Roberts and Sean Penn, ABC’s Home Economics and recurred on Nickelodeon’s Danger Force. As a voice actor, Mackey recurred in Disney’s Spidey and His Amazing Friends and Apple TV+’s Pretzel and the Puppies, among others. He’s repped by  Artist Collective Entertainment and The Osbrink Agency.

Harewood is perhaps best known for his starring role as David Estes on Showtime’s Homeland alongside Claire Danes and Damian Lewis. He also appeared in other American and British series, including the Emmy-nominated miniseries The Night Manager. His film work includes Warner Bros.’ political thriller Blood Diamond, Tulip Fever and Jake Mahaffy’s drama Free In Deed. He’s repped by IAG, Conway van Gelder Grant, Authentic Talent & Literary Management.

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