Soaps in Depth - February 20, 2001

An Offer She Can't Refuse

By Rosemary Rossi

The prospect of a career beyond Carly Corinthos prompts Sarah Brown to take her life in a new direction

General Hospital's Sarah Brown (Carly) has mastered the fine art of tightrope walking. There she stands, confidently balancing on the high wire, unafraid of the height, but fully aware of the net below. Her arms stretched out, she steadies herself on each side, one hand grasping her acting career, the other, beautiful daughter Jordan (who will be 3 in July). But she is driven to move forward toward that platform ahead of her, the one that supports yet another of her life goals- directing.

What I Really Want To Do Is...

From as far back as her early days on GH five years ago, Brown has talked about wanting to direct. Even at a recent personal appearance, her eyes would scan the arena, considering whether there was a more efficient way to set it up. But for the first time, she actually is taking steps to make that dream come true. American Film Institute, look comes Sarah Brown!

''I'm planning to apply to the AFI directors workshop, she tells Soaps in Depth, sounding like a woman on a mission. "I'm seeking a 15-page narrative screenplay that I can submit. Admittance into the program is contingent upon having a really good screenplay that you actually want to make into a movie. If you get in, you make the film.''

Her vision doesn't stop there. ''My master plan is to be a director and to make my mark. As you look through a book of directors, the best and the highest-paid are all men. I want to change that.''

''It's a little daunting when you think about making a career out of it," she adds. ''But at the same time, I know that in the next decade things could change dramatically for women, and instead of running away from it, I'm going to be part of that change. Obviously, I want to pursue a film and television [acting] career, but ultimately, I want to be directing."

The Ultimate Love/Hate Relationship

In the meantime, Brown is reveling in her pot-stirring GH role. Although Carly has never exactly been Miss Congeniality, fans have been receptive to her from the start. ''If anybody has said boo, it was as in 'I love to hate you,'" she relates. "I heard that a lot. Nobody really trashes me or says anything really bad because they liked the excitement."

But nowadays, audience members have something entirely different on their minds- romance! "Now the fans are reacting to Carly/Sonny," she observes, referring to her wildly popular pairing with leading man Maurice Benard, who plays crimelord Sonny Corinthos. "That's what I hear most. So from my perspective, it's become massive, and it is so much fun to see these people smiling. They're crying, for God's sake. That's really amazing to have an impact on their lives."

With a Little Help From My Fans

After transforming from a duplicitous vixen, Carly has become a woman who would do positively anything to protect her child and the man she loves. And the fans are eating it up. "I've been so blessed that they've stuck with me," Brown marvels. "I appreciate that more than anything."

"Sometimes the plots work, and sometimes they just don't," she adds. "It makes me feel great that, whether or not I feel frustrated in some capacity at any point in time, at least I have the support of my fans, [and know] that they'll hang in there with me. It also makes me feel good that if I have a life outside of daytime, maybe they'll come with me...maybe they'll follow.''

Above all, she understands that the viewers are a smart group of people. Case in point: the rumor that Carly's father will be revealed. Calling the possibility far-fetched, Brown realizes that there must be some mystery to keep a character exciting. "The fans identified and had so much fun with the things that Carly did when she had secrets. When any soap character doesn't have a secret, they can fall into the horrible abyss of happiness, and that is the kiss of death.''

Trading Places

Even when she is not on camera, watching Brown in action is like witnessing a masterful juggler. She can analyze her character with the artistry of a scholar three times her age, yet, as little Jordan runs to her grown-up lookalike, Brown stops on a dime and switches into mama mode. ''Want to sit on my lap?" she asks. "I'll hold your glass for you, sweetie.''

Those calm, patient words of a loving parent are woven seamlessly into the texture of Brown's personality. Indeed, Carly is an open book compared to her portrayer- and Brown wouldn't have it any other way! "Me switch places with Carly?! Oh, no," laughs Brown, who then gazes down at Jordan. ''I would never want to trade places with her because then I wouldn't have my daughter...and she's my life."

In fact, Brown's character makeup is much more inspiring than Carly's. "We have a lot of similarities because I'm definitely strong. That's part of the reason Carly is as strong as she is. But we also have alot of differences. I think I learn lessons a lot quicker than she does- thank God.''

Looking Back

Then, as quietly and as introspectively as she can, Brown settles in and reflects upon the five years since she joined GH. ''It's been a journey and I think life is all about the journeys; it's not about the destination," she ventures. "I'm enjoying the moment, day by day. I've had some rough times, but my attitude has changed since having my daughter.

"The show has allowed me to hone my skills and gain a great amount of confidence in myself, as well as work with actors that teach me how to get better on a daily basis," she continues. "It's been like going to grad school for acting in a way. In my personal life, I'm always a student of the world. That's what I love most about my job- just taking the last five years and going up and down with it, riding the wave. Sometimes it's great. Sometimes it's really difficult. Mostly, I've just enjoyed it more than any other job I've ever had in my life.''



Birthday: February 18

Traveling shoes: After having spent the first four years of her life living on a hippie commune, Brown attended 13 schools before graduating from high school.

The bodyguard: In school, the future actress would take outcasts under her wing and defend them against bullies.

Hard lessons: Raised in an interracial family, Brown got an unexpected education in prejudice at an early age.

The other side of the law: The three-time Emmy-winner played an assassin for hire in the feature film The Heist.

Up in smoke: Shortly after she started on GH, Brown lost everything she owned- including some of her hair!- in an apartment fire.


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