The Possible Dream
Soaps In Depth, May 1, 2001
Sarah Brown reveals the real reason that she is saying goodbye to Carly
by Rosemary Rossi
Five years ago, when Sarah Brown walked onto the set of GENERAL HOSPITAL for the first time, she was incredibly talented - no doubt about it. However, she was also young, and new to a medium that ought to come with its own warning sticker: Only the strong survive. Nonetheless, her passion for her work quickly shone through on screen, and, with the soap's writers, she created one of the most compelling characters ever in daytime - Carly Benson, the hellcat viewers loved to hate as well as the underdog they couldn't help but love. She not only survived, she thrived.
Within that first year, the up and comer announced with a knowing smile, "I plan on going places!" And boy, did she ever! Now, after her peers in the industry have awarded her with three Emmys, and she has reached a new peak in popularity, she has decided that it's time for her to move on. Here, in an exclusive interview with Soaps In Depth, she reveals why.
"New Mountains To Climb"
No matter what you may have read elsewhere, Brown's exit isn't about money. Or a lack of respect of soaps. And it certainly doesn't have anything to do with on-set arguments. This is about dreams and the importance of making them come true. "My leaving is not about anything other than my need to grow as an artist and as a person," she says. "This is about me finding new mountains to climb."
"I will always be grateful for the incredible opportunities the writers, producers, crew and fans of GH have afforded me," she continues," and I hope to build on the foundation they have given me to pursue my other interests. There are so many wonderful opportunities that GH has afforded me and now I want to pursue some of them."
"I Need To Challenge Myself"
So what are these "other interests"? Well, as much as Brown loves acting, she can't help but be drawn to directing. Her mind is too busy and imaginative not to feel enticed by a job that would afford her complete creative control. "As I've been on sets since I was 15, I consider it a natural extension of the acting work that I've done to pursue producing and directing," she explains. "I'm a passionate person, and I constantly need to challenge myself - producing and directing is another mountain for me to climb."
Though her gusty performances make it seem like acting is in her blood, her first love at some point may take a back seat to directing. But it never will be tossed out of the car altogether. "I adore wearing the masks of different characters, and will continue to do so in television and film," she promises. "What I seek to do now is broaden my artistic pursuits, to follow in the footsteps of my spiritual mentors - Jodie Foster, Penny Marshall, Barbara Streisand and Susan Sarandon. Each of these women have achieved success in multiple fields, beginning with acting or singing and then broadening out."
Since directors like Foster and Streisand learned firsthand how to communicate in actor lingo, Brown believes that she may have an edge when she crosses over. "Many of our most wonderful directors began their artistic lives as actors," she ventures. "When you act for as long as I have, there is a natural shorthand that develops in quickly communicating ideas to other actors. That's one of the traits that I feel will be a great asset to me."
"I Want To Go In With Guns Blaring"
Even before Brown started planning to leave GH, she was already spreading her wings, with two theater performances - a one-night stand for charity in The Rainmaker in January and a longer run in Cyrano de Bergerac in February and March. "It's hard to be locked down with one character for five years, no matter how wonderfully complex she is," she says. "[In these plays] I was afforded the opportunity to wear more masks. Ultimately, that's what is going to make me a better actor and director - the continual pushing into new territory."
Furthermore, with the same gusto that she applied to analyzing Carly, Brown has done her homework about directing. Prior to deciding to exit GH, she began looking into the American Film Institute's directors workshop - a very competitive program which only accepts eight women a year. After asking fans to send in 20-minute scripts for her to consider using as a shooting vehicle, she was flooded with submissions. But, as with everything else that she does, she was going to do this right or not at all. "Because so many scripts came to me so close to my deadline, and I hadn't found my piece yet, I couldn't submit myself," she elaborates. "I want to go in with guns blaring, knowing there's no way that they're going to turn me down.
"What I can tell you," she adds, "is that I've been blown away by the talent of our fans. And I will apply next year."
"I Have A Lot Of Faith"
Taking a deep breath and keeping an eye on her target, Brown is prepared for the roller coaster ride that her immediate future may become - starting with the business of auditioning. "My dad taught me something, and this is how I feel about the process I'm going to have to go through," she offers. "When you're a hitchhiker standing on the side of the road, if a car passes you by and doesn't pick you up, you don't run after the car screaming how awful they are.
"What you do," she continues, "is realize that just wasn't your ride. There's a ton of rejection around every corner. But...I have a lot of faith in myself, and I'm learning how much I have yet to learn."
"My Only Hope"
If Brown is remorseful about anything in regard to her decision to leave GH, it's that fans may be disappointed that she's leaving, period. When she was made aware of the chaos that erupted on-line as rumors of her exit began to leak, she was completely caught off guard. "It's incredibly gratifying," she marvels, "to know that you have had an impact on people's lives.
"My only hope," she adds, "is that the fans realize how much they've meant to me - with everything they do, they allow me to do what I love."
"I'm Closing A Great Chapter"
If there is one drawback to the massive attention that's been paid to Brown's departure, it's that, in the media's rush to get out the story, it hasn't come out right. "Sometimes facts have been wrong," she acknowledges. "For the record, I am leaving to pursue new dreams, not because of any backstage blowouts. I know that stuff reads better, but it's simply not the truth. What I've said in this interview is the truth and comes from my heart."
Looking back, Brown can't believe how the time has flown. Nor can she wait to see what happens next. "I will miss GH and the fans," she says, a bittersweet smile crossing her face. "I'm grateful for the writers, producers and cast of GH who have allowed me to develop Carly over five years. Their committment to excellence has allowed me the great honor of taking home three Emmy Awards, something I could never even have dreamed of when I joined GH.
"Ultimately, I'm an artist, and I have to create - in front of the camera, or behind it," she concludes. "In leaving GH, I feel like I'm closing a great chapter of my life and now it's time to start writing another. I hope that my fans will be as interested in the chapters ahead as I am."
Birthday - February 18
Out of the mouths of babes: "I've known since I was 8," Brown insists, "that I wanted to direct."
Fractured fairy tales: The mother of a two-year old daughter reveals that, growing up, her mom would read her Dracula at bedtime.
Dear diary: When she began on GH, the actress carried a journal in which she would jot down spontaneous thoughts about Carly's mind-set.
Overcoming obstacles: The apt pupil has learned to turn her dyslexia into an asset by seeing words as pictures in her head.
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