Soap Opera News- 1997
GH's unsinkable Sarah Brown discovers that...
It's Good to Be Bad
By Rosemary Rossi
Once upon a time about a dozen years ago, there lived a petite, pretty and imaginative girl of 9 or 10 with the talent and ambition of a 30-year old woman. Her imagination and creativity, needing an outlet, surfaced in the form of the most popular genre of the time: music videos.
No playing with Barbies for this youngster. Instead, she'd gather her friends, dress them up in appropriate wardrobe, flip on the tune of the week (e.g. something by Michael Jackson), whip out the video camera, check different camera angles and start to film.
Unaware that what she was doing was "directing," Sarah Brown only knew she had a vision. An artist was born.
Fast forward to 1997. Creativity still oozes from her pores. But now, as one of soap's hottest newcomers, General Hospital's Sarah Brown (Carly) is in front of the camera, not behind it, and wowing audiences every step of the way.
One year after joining the cast of GH, her first daytime gig has proven to be more than successful, earning her an Emmy as Outstanding Younger Lead Actress. While other actors may complain about the demanding pace of soaps, Brown counts her blessings.
"What's nice about a soap is, you have two or three days that you work and then two days when you don't," she says. "So I have much more of a life now than I ever had - and more time to enjoy it.
"But I also get noticed a lot more," she adds, laughing. "In the grocery yesterday, some guy walks by and goes, 'You and Tony are never going to get back together, are you?' And I also have a much harder time in restaurants, with waitresses telling me what a bitch I am."
This newfound attention is all very entertaining to Brown- every bit the free spirit you'd think her to be. At first, she wasn't particularly noticed by the media- although fans did throw some attention her way, even though Carly wasn't the nicest character.
"I was received OK by the fans," Brown recalls. "I never had any bad mail. But I was not completely loved- because I was doing bad things to people they loved."
Although a daytime newcomer, Brown certainly wasn't an acting novice when she joined GH. She did a handful of festival flicks and the kids' show VR Troopers. But theater is where her background is. "I'd like to do some plays while I'm doing soaps," she says. "I wasn't used to doing it on a regular basis, going to work and actually using what I've been taught to do.
"On VR Troopers, I was learning how to do what they wanted me to do, which was martial arts, that type of thing. Now, on GH, I get the chance to do what I'm trained to do.
"I had lots of doubts about doing a soap," con-fesses Brown. "Before I came to GH, I swore up and down that I'd never do a soap opera.
"Are you kidding?' my best friend once said. 'I'd love to do a soap.' I went, 'What are you talking about? Soaps? Have you seen those things? They're ridiculous.'
"But now that I'm there, I've much more respect for what the actors do," she says. "I also realize why sometimes it's not always your best work that gets out there- you have to do it in one take. Sometimes you get your blocking and two seconds later you're doing the scene. You don't have time to rehearse and that's why it's not polished. You have one day to learn your 50 pages of dialogue and do your best. So it's kind of your trial by fire."
Brown actually got the GH job on her 21st birthday "It's the weirdest timing," she says. "I definitely look forward to birthdays since the same thing happened with VR Troopers. And this year I found out that I was Emmy-nominated around my birthday."
Compiling material for that all-important reel to pass on to the blue-ribbon Emmy judging panel was trickier for Brown than for most other nominees- she doesn't know what her work has looked like for the past year.
"I don't watch myself at all," she reveals. "I get depressed when I watch my work. It bums me out. I feel like I could have done this or that better.
"Then when I was nominated for an Emmy all of a sudden I had to go back and look through 200 episodes I'd never seen! I didn't know what I did last year! I looked through all the tapes in four days.
"I laughed my head off because my first episodes I had a helmet for a hairdo. Right before I started, I was doing Power Rangers and I had my hair cut for that. The guy scalped me. I had no hair. Two months later, my house burns down, and my hair catches on fire and it burns, too. So my hair for the first four months on GH was funky looking."
Part of what's made Brown so successful on GH is her believability. Because Carly is so deeply imbedded in the history of the show's lead characters, Brown has worked on creating a bible of the who's and what's of Carly's life.
"What's great about it and what's awful about it is that it's left up to the actor to decide," she explains. "Where did she come from? Where did she live? What was her relationship with her mom?
"The problem is that you arrive one day and the lives are totally different than the background story that you've written for yourself. All of a sudden your father didn't leave you alone when you were 3. He only ran away for a week and then came back! So it's constantly shifting."
One major story point that fans are sitting on the edge of their seats waiting for is that fateful moment when Bobbie discovers that Carly is her daughter. "I think it will eventually resolve itself into a love-hate relationship where you have two people who are connected to each other by blood but who, basically don't like each other," Brown predicts. "I think Bobbie will love me when she knows I'm her daughter, but she doesn't like me. And you don't have to like people you're related to.
"Hopefully," she adds, "we'll be able to see them working on trying to patch up a mother-daughter relationship. That's something a lot of people can identify with, an estranged parent and how you put the pieces back together. It'll be a lesson in forgiveness and letting things go. I don't think they'll end up being total opposites. I think there are an endless number of things to deal with. And hopefully it will take some time."
Does that mean Brown plans on sticking around another year? "I'm hoping that next year will be even bigger than this year!" Brown declares with enthusiastic anticipation. A lot of people say, 'I don't want to stay at it too long, but then I really haven't gotten any recognition and I've been here three years so I'll go at it another year.' But I'm really lucky in that respect. I can say that I've gotten a lot of recognition in one year, that I've done good by the show and they've done good by me," she says. "So hopefully when I move on to bigger and better things, it will be on good terms and everything will be wonderful. I feel like I've come a very long way."
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