Heather Hemmens grew up in the woods of Waldo, the youngest child in a close-knit family that lived, by choice, without running water and regular electricity in a wood-heated home built by her father. Now she has her own downtown apartment in the bustling Canadian city of Vancouver and a plum role in a new cable TV series — a show her parents, Jim and Ravelita, watch by visiting a friend’s house every Wednesday night.

Hemmens plays Alice Verdura on “Hellcats,” an hour-long CW show about a college cheerleading team in Memphis. “Hellcats” debuted Sept. 8 and, unlike a number of new shows that also started up that week, it is still a go. In fact, any day now, Hemmens and her castmates hope to hear that the network has “picked up the back nine,” which means giving the go-ahead to produce the episodes that will bring their show’s original 13-episode commitment to a full season’s tally of 22.

“It’s the talk on the set, everyone asking each other if they’ve heard yet,” said Hemmens by phone during a break between filming scenes.

Hemmens may be relatively new to a national audience — she has appeared on “CSI: Miami,” “CSI: New York,” “Without a Trace” and other shows — but she has been the talk of Waldo County for a long time. Hemmens attended local schools, making a splash along the way in shows from a Morse Elementary School staging of “The Wizard of Oz” to “Fame” at Mount View High School and “The Boys of Swanville,” Belfast Maskers’ groundbreaking outdoor production of 2001. That dedication helped her land a scholarship to Walnut Hill School for the Arts, a performing arts school outside Boston, where she finished her high school career after two years at Mount View.

After graduating, Hemmens followed her older brothers, Jason and Nathan, who used to appear locally with their father as the Hemmens family band, to New Orleans. She sang with her brothers, but the acting bug was too strong to stay long in The Big Easy.

“I went to LA and worked on getting myself an agent and getting to work,” she said, adding that her brothers and sister, Natalie, also ended up in California.

Several TV appearances, an Internet series and a direct-to-DVD movie later, Hemmens found herself in the middle of this year’s pilot season, when production companies are scrambling to put together casts for proposed shows. She was not alone.

“Seven hundred girls auditioned for Alice. I went back seven times to audition again, each time moving a little farther along with the process,” she said.

Alice, she said, is the show’s “mean girl,” but has another side too.

“It’s a fine line to walk. She likes to be in control, but can be very vulnerable,” said Hemmens of her character.

Alice is vulnerable from the first moments of the first episode as a pyramid maneuver goes awry and she breaks her wrist. Her absence from Lancer College’s cheering team, which must win a championship to survive budget cuts, creates an opening for the show’s main protagonist, Marti, played by Aly Michalka. Marti is a “townie” pre-law student who needs a scholarship — any scholarship — to stay in school and gets one by making the team.

At least once an episode — twice in the one Hemmens was filming this day — “Hellcats” turns in a full-fledged production number. Hemmens has had martial arts training, but the dancing and tumbling moves required have been a challenge, she said.

“We do a lot with the choreographers — there are three. It’s hard work and long hours, but we get a lot of help on the set and a lot of one-on-one coaching,” she said.

All that work and their re-location to a place Hemmens calls “wonderfully rainy” has created a real bond among the cast and crew.

“No one else can really relate to what we’re going through day to day,” she said.

Hemmens gets three days off around Thanksgiving and hopefully a couple of weeks around Christmas. She has been getting back to Maine twice a year to see family and friends. Her favorite place to be when she visits, she said, is back in the woods where she grew up.

“When I was growing up, all the peace and quiet seemed like a suffering. Now it’s a necessity, given the craziness of my life,” she said.

One of Hemmens’ favorite school-days productions growing up was Mount View High School’s “Fame,” so she said she is particularly thrilled to be working on the episode at hand. It is directed by the multi-talented Debbie Allen, perhaps best known for acting in and choreographing the television series “Fame.”

“She’s an idol of mine, and I first found out about her when we did ‘Fame.’ Now I get to connect the name to the person. Things have come full circle,” she said.

“Hellcats” airs 9 p.m. Wednesdays on CW, which is carried in Maine by WPXT in Portland and on most cable systems. The Allen-directed episode is set to air Nov. 17.

VillageSoup Art/Entertainment Editor Dagney Ernest can be reached at 207-594-4401 or by e-mail to dernest@villagesoup.com.