Soap Opera Magazine- 1/12/99
Looking to the Future
by Robyn Flans
Life is a 24-hour roller coaster for GH's Sarah Brown, who shares her thoughts on motherhood, her new baby, life in Port Charles and beyond...
Sarah Brown (Carly, GH) describes life right now as a 24-hour-a-day roller-coaster ride. There's delight in her voice as she describes the chaos of having a newborn and the changes it has brought her life since she brought her daughter Jordan Alexandra Judith, home from the hospital. Even when Brown explains that Jordan is so active that Brown has had little sleep, Brown turns the compliment into motherly boasting.
"But she isn't a fussy baby," she says. "She is a really good girl and very calm. When she gets upset, she looks at me and goes, 'Waaaaaa,' just one time. Then she'll wait. If I don't do anything, then it's, 'Waaaaaaa.'
"She's my little angel," Brown continues "She's like a little Buddhist monk. When she was born, she was so tiny. Now she's so chubby. Boy, does she have cheeks. [After the baby], it was hard to go back to work."
Her co-stars, however were thrilled with her return. "Sarah Brown is that rare combination of a really beautiful woman who can act," says Brad Maule (Tony). "She's a character actor lurking around in a model's body. As far as I'm concerned, she has absolutely everything going for her."
Steve Burton (Jason) agrees. "I think Sarah is the best actress in daytime," he says. "She's an actress who can deliver every time. For six months, she was crying every day, every take. That is really tough. I love working with her and I was really excited when she came back."
Brown was excited, too, but she couldn't help but have mixed emotions about having to leave Jordan at home to go back to work at GH. "It's a combination of guilt and fear," Brown explains. "I know every working mother knows what I'm talking about. It feels like your arm is cut off, but it's still alive, and people are cuddling it at your house, but you're gone. I can feel her - she was inside of me all that time. I'm starting to believe in ESP a lot more. She and I have a certain little way we read each other's mind. There's something so beautiful between a mother and child."
Brown's own childhood was definitely more complicated. She was born on a hippie commune in Eureka, Calif, where she lived for her first four years until her parents divorced. Brown initially lived with her father who was soon involved with an African-American woman named Sharon whom Brown thought of as a stepmother. Having a black stepmoth-er greatly impacted her view of life. When Sharon, and Brown's father split, Brown moved to an apartment in a predominantly black complex in the San Fernando Valley. Her father's new love interest, Betty, was also black. She and her son, Aaron, lived with them for three years. To Brown, an interracial family seemed the norm, until one day in the fourth grade, when her best friend told Brown they were different, and that she couldn't play with her anymore. By the time she was 11, Brown's circumstances changed yet again. She went to live with her mother in Corona, Calif.
"I went from feeling like I was black, to a school with two black people who were brothers," she recalls. "It was culture shock for me."
Brown earned a reputation as a tough girl. "I befriended the outcasts," she recalls. "My best friend had a huge nose, and someone called her Pinocchio, so I beat her up," she says with a laugh. "One girl, who was the head of her gang, decided she wanted to take me on because I seemed to be the head of my group. I would normally have been really scared because this was a woman with hair that was bigger than me. The rumors were that they hid razor blades in their hair. But she called me a racist bitch, and I saw red."
Although it was a rough time for Brown, it was an important one as well. She decided she wanted to be an actress after playing Pepper in the school production of Annie.
"Acting is something I can say almost didn't happen," she admits. "You get weighed down in doubt, even as a child. You're supposed to have all these dreams and bright eyes, but there are times when you feel alone against the world -that the world is bigger than you, and you just can't do it. [In school] I learned everything I had to, and I passed my tests, but I didn't attend class a lot because of the things that were happening at home. But I'm really glad I stuck it out and educated myself and got interested in acting and pursued it through high school and college."
It was in high school that Brown really felt the need to grow as an actress. While doing a scene from Barefoot in the Park, she was distressed over the fact that her partner didn't know his lines. So upset, that she went to her teacher to ask if there was a good acting school that she could attend. Her teacher told her about the High School for the Performing Arts at Cal State L.A.
"Both my parents are artists," she says. "They immediately supported me. When I first went to that school, I had to wake up at 4 in the morning every school day so I could get to class by 8. It was a two-hour commute each way. My mother was the one person who knew I was going to succeed. She put a lot of energy behind me and absolutely made me stick it out at certain times when I just didn't think I could do it."
Landing the part of Caitlin on the children's television show VR Troopers changed her life in many ways. "I got so much experience and confidence in myself, which I needed," she says. 'And I got in such good shape. I got used to waking up at 6 and working really hard, and I got used to the idea that nobody was going to give it to me. I was going to have to work really hard for everything I wanted in this world - it was grow-up time. Nobody was taking care of me anymore. I was paying all my own bills, and I learned how to be independent and how to run my own household. It also taught me how to be in front of a camera. I know a lot about a movie set, which you don't learn from being in a soap."
"I definitely feel a sense of security because I have to create that for [Jordan]," Brown says. "I'm responsible for her world - how she grows up. How she sees life and how secure, or not, she feels. When I hold her in my arms, there is an absolute bonding of souls and the most secure feeling I've felt in my life."
Another contributing factor to her turnaround is the spiritual grounding she has felt since beginning to study Judaism during the summer of '97. She converted to the religion a year later.
"I hadn't had any experience with the Jewish religion," she explains. "I considered myself agnostic most of my life. I didn't know anything about the Bible, and I felt uneducated. You get to a certain point in your life where you say, 'Hmmmm, there are these books out there that everybody's talking about. Could there be something in it? They're 2,000 years old. I wonder.'"
To learn more, Brown went to a class on Judaism and discovered the history of the Jewish people as well as the Torah. She is currently studying the Kabbala, the book on Jewish mysticism.
She's pleased with her growth as an actress, too. "General Hospital was a step up on the lad-der from VR Troopers," she says. "It was a whole other challenge to play a continuous character for two years who was an adult with feelings and thought processes that go deeper than 'Gremlord stole the puppies.' GH opened up a huge door and changed me from being an amateur to a professional. Each step gives you a little more confidence. I feel now like I could do a movie with one of my favorite actors."
Feature films and nighttime TV are her eventual goals. "I believe if an actor does her best work all the time and they're good enough, that door will open. Becoming successful at all was a large obstacle for me to overcome but the message is that it's possible. You can do whatever you want to do, so now I'm going to set my sights on higher ground. I'm always looking to the future."
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