Lights, Camera, Take Your Best Shot at a 13-Week Contract with AMC
Lesbians falling in love on a sinking cruise ship! Men sleeping with their brothers’ wives! Women meeting their husbands’ mistresses! No, it’s not yesterday’s episode of All My Children, it’s how twelve actors were chosen to be on I Wanna Be A Soap Star. These were just three of the scenes the thousands of hopefuls were asked to play during their audition. On Thursday, April 14, 2005, the twelve lucky finalists met for the first time and sat down to talk with the media about their experience.
When we got to the General Hospital studios, where the reality show is being filmed, everything was running behind due to problems on the I-5 freeway. After waiting around for a bit outside with the other journalists, we were eventually ushered past the very attractive host of the show, Cameron Mathison (who I found to be even more appealing in person), and on to the sound stage. The press from Soap Opera Digest, T.V Guide Online, Jerry Penacoli from Extra, Soapdom.com (of course) and others, were situated in between the sets of Sonny’s old penthouse living room and bedroom. I found it amazing how big the sets seem on TV when they are so small in real life!
While the cast took group photos on Sonny Corinthos’s living room couch, still photographers, cameramen, makeup artists and producers milled around the stage. Under the several pleas of the executive producer to “push” the proceedings along, we were finally able to talk with the actors. One by one they came by our station, which was just outside Sonny’s bedroom (and sadly the closest I will ever get), to discuss their audition, their background and their thoughts on being on a reality show. Deborah Blackwell, general manager of Soapnet, came by to welcome us and say hello. Unfortunately, just as Mathison was about to come over to talk with us, he was whisked away. Due to his schedule and the initial delay, we were not able to talk with him as he had to leave due to prior commitments. We’ll get our interview with him eventually, however, but alas for now, just seeing him in person would have to be consolation enough.
We were given about five minutes with each contestant before they were led off to another interviewer. In the small time we had with each actor, I had a sense that this group seemed more qualified and confident than last season’s batch of wanna be soap stars. The show’s executive producer, Eric Schotz, confirmed my feelings. He said that for any good show, the second season has to be better than the first. “ I think essentially any one of these guys can win,” Schotz said. “I don’t know if they could have all won last year. We had people that were great looking, but could not act. This year we’ve upgraded that bar.” Whoever does win, and Schotz doesn’t care who it is, can look to the winner from last season for inspiration. After completing his initial thirteen week stint, General Hospital extended Mykel’s contract!
All of the actors we met seem to have something different to bring to the table. They are a diverse group with interesting backgrounds and it should make for a tough competition. Here is a brief sampling of what we learned from the new batch of aspiring Soap Stars.
Alia – 21 year old from Minneapolis, Minnesota.
This spunky actress traveled to L.A for the audition because she knew she would walk away as one of the twelve. She’s not afraid to admit this because, as she said, “why not be confident in your talent?” A true diva in training! She has wanted to be an actor since she was six years old and works three jobs to support her passion. Her audition scenario consisted of finding out her boyfriend cheated on her with another man! She just gave an honest reaction. “I was just like wow, I’m gonna leave. And they were like YES!”
Nicole – 23 year old from Lutz, Florida.
She came to New York on a one way ticket to dance in musical theatre. She just finished a nine month tour in the musical, Fosse and is a former Radio City Rockette. This was her first acting audition and it’s easy to see her as the feisty new kid in town. When she got the call, she was “on my cousin’s couch, because that’s where I’d been living the past eight weeks,” she said. “I was speechless, shocked.” Her audition scene required her to confront her boyfriend who had been cheating on her. “I was just being myself and kept saying just be honest with me.”
Christina – 26 year old from the Philippines, currently living in North Hollywood.
You might recognize the bubbly Christina from Soapdom’s previous article on the audition process. She certainly remembers it, as she printed it out and had it framed. With her self proclaimed emotional personality, she should have no problem being able to cry on cue. Although she’s had acting opportunities in the Philippines, Christina’s heart is in L.A. ‘In the Philippines it’s less on acting and more on looks,” she said. “I want to be respected for my talents rather than here [motioning towards her face].”
Maeisha – 27 year old from Mitchellville, Maryland, now living in Hollywood.
This 2nd degree black belt was doing an on-air hosting gig out of town when she got the call. “I couldn’t scream because I was in my hotel room and I didn’t want to scare everyone to death,” she revealed. She found out about the Soap Star audition through a friend, who taped the entire first season for her to watch. Although Maeisha’s friend now wants a 15% commission, Maeisha will concede to only thank her in future award acceptance speeches. Ms. Kane would be so impressed!
Cathy – 28 year old from Australia, currently living in Dana Point, California.
Although Australian born, she speaks both Czech and Slovak after living with her grandmother in the Czech Republic and studying the language for a year. Couldn’t you see her play the mysterious foreign stranger? In addition to getting the official call for Soap Star, she received two other jobs in the same week. “I was actually at the house on the computer and I got the phone call saying you’ve been selected, and I was like oh my God! I couldn’t dial my husband’s phone number fast enough!”
Prudence – 31 year old New Yorker, originally from New Jersey.
She heard about the audition from her future mother-in-law. “It was a cold day and I went, anyway. (There were) 2000 freezing people standing outside like maniacs!” While waiting for two very cold hours, she chatted up a woman next to her in line. Little did she know, her audition would require her to fall in love with her newfound friend! I sense Bianca’s replacement!
Farley – 26 year old from Los Angeles.
He was leaving the gym when he got the call for Soap Star. There can’t be too many shirtless hunks in good ‘ole Pine Valley! He had to restrain his excitement after attracting several stares from fellow gym members. “I starting going off in the parking lot and people were looking at me.” No stranger to acting, his credits include a Pepsi commercial (where he ended up on the editing room floor), a Microsoft commercial (where he made the final cut), three short films and some theatre.
Sean – 26 year old from New York.
When he decided to pursue his education, Sean left acting behind. However, after working in the world of high finance, he felt unfulfilled and returned to his acting roots. Perhaps he could give JR a run for his money. When asked how he felt about living with eleven strangers, he replied, “It can’t be any worse than some of the dorms I’ve lived in.”
Isaak – 27 year old from Cape Cod, Massachusetts, now living in New York.
Although his real name is Jean-Yves, he chose to go by his middle name, as it is easier to pronounce. When he got the news, “The first thing I did was say let’s buy alcohol and chips and go crazy!” This lounge singer has also been in a Burger King commercial and wrote, directed, starred in and edited his own movie. Pine Valley needs a brooding musician/auteur, don’t you think?
Alec – 29 year old from New Jersey now living in Del Mar, California.
This print model received the call while shooting a cover for Fitness Rx magazine. “I was literally on the set and they brought a phone out to me.” When they told him he was selected, “I went YES [with arm pumped] and they shot the picture.” That reaction can be seen in the May issue. He hopes this “actor’s boot camp” will give him a good idea of what to expect working on a soap. I expect he can watch Cameron Mathison’s performances as well!
Toussaint – 30 year old from Pontiac, Michigan, currently living in Pasadena, California.
He received a biomedical engineering degree from Northwestern University and was on his way to playing football for the Kansas City Chiefs when he discovered acting. He felt he could pursue acting as a career and has done commercial, theatre and print work. Has Pine Valley had a sensitive athlete lately? For his audition, one of the judges told Toussaint his brother was sleeping with his wife. “I just said I know and went in that direction and made it kind of funny.”
Joe – 35 year old from New York.
As a psychology major, Joe tries to relate to the character and figure out how he feels about the situation when preparing for a role. Maybe Pine Valley can use a town therapist with a deep dark secret of his own! “I try to keep it as simple as possible. I try not to do too much work on it.” This is probably best, as one of the judges changed his choice of monologues at the last minute. “I picked #1 and Debbie Morgan (the judge) said we want you to do monologue #2.”
The coveted prize for this season’s I Wanna Be a SoapStar is a 13-week role on All My Children. When asked if they followed AMC, most of them admitted they only just started watching. Of course the standard “I used to watch with my mother, grandmother, sister” was often heard, and tales of watching Dynasty, Dallas and Santa Barbara were regaled. The most personal story of watching All My Children however, was from Christina. “I used to watch with my grandma. She’s just so happy for me.” Her grandmother is her biggest supporter, but after a series of strokes she is now bedridden. “She’s the one who believed in me the most.” Through her tears, Christina let us know that she is trying to accomplish as much as possible while her grandmother is still alive, and being on Soap Star is a part of that.
As far as being on a reality show and living with eleven strangers, they all seemed to accept it as part of the process. Joe told us, “a lot of actors are upset about reality TV taking over,” but he sees it as “a way to build your career and that’s why you have to be selective.” Farley, “no stranger to living with strangers,” admitted it would take a little getting used to. However, he doesn’t feel this is a typical reality show. “We’re actually here to compete for a job. A lot of the actual dramatics that happen on a regular reality show, I don’t think you’ll see too much of that here.” Alas, as anyone who watched last season can attest, the claws can come out and drama always finds a way to creep in behind the scenes. At least that’s what we hope!
So these are the lucky twelve picked from a couple thousand hopefuls. They were put through a couple auditions, psychological testing, and waited for a month to find out if they made the cut. Within a week of getting the call, they were flown out (or just drove) to L.A and their whirlwind adventure began.
It will be interesting to see who goes home first, who makes the cut and like any good soap opera, if real-life romance blossoms between any of these twelve gorgeous people. In the end, I hope they all adopt Nicole’s attitude that “If I’m off tonight, off tomorrow, if I’m the winner, no matter what, I walk away with an amazing experience.” Stay tuned to SOPANnet this summer to see which wanna be is destined to be the next soap star!
I Wanna Be a Soap Star Season 2 premiered Thursday, June 23, 2005 on SOAPNet. Stay tuned to SOAPnet Thursdays this summer to see what happens next. Check Soapdom's Breaking News for weekly sneak peeks and check local listings for the air time in your area.
Contestant Photos: Michael Segal for SOAPNet, LLC.
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