Can being a long-time soap actor be a burden?


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I've been reading/watching a few interviews and it seems like soap veterans often have difficulty finding jobs when their soaps are cancelled. Whilst, their young counterparts find roles on other soaps, primetime shows, plays and even movies. The older actors often end up jobless.

Beverlee McKinsey's TV Guide interview was an interesting read

(http://iriswheeler.tripod.com/tvguide19920811.html) It seemed like her time on soaps slightly affected her chances of getting work outside of the genre.

"I don't want to do a soap again. The only thing I'd like to do is a sitcom. Of course, I don't even have an agent! You know what I'm saying? I've worked for so long in daytime with no plans of ever doing anything else. How do you get a sitcom without an agent? How do you get an agent when you haven't had one for 15 years? So, you see, I really have no plans. I just know that I don't want to do Guiding Light anymore. My friend [exec producer] John Conboy says I can get any agent I want, but I don't know that I can. I'm a big deal in daytime but nobody else gives a rat's hip about us soap people."

Maurice Benard did an interview with Michael Fairman back in September and he had this to say:

"We all know it’s tough, especially when you’ve been on a soap for as long as I have. In terms of trying to break out, nobody really cares about soaps. Within the soap world, it’s the greatest job in the world. But for me, it will be tough unless somebody gives me that break."

This article is a great read ---> http://xfinity.comcast.net/blogs/tv/2012/08/21/stars-of-canceled-soaps-reinvent-themselves-in-daytime-primetime-theater-and-blogging/

SO, Can being a long-time soap actor be a burden? What do y'all think?

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Posted · Report post

Maurice Benard also has to realize that he's not a spring chicken any longer, so yeah it's gonna be tough - YOU'RE 50!

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Posted · Report post

I'd say yes that it would be a burden in some ways. You have a history, you've gotten older. You know people at the set, and if a new administration comes you may be screwed over just cause you have a history.

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Posted (edited) · Report post

I would say yes. No actor should do more than one contract on a soap because anything more than that seems to get you a soap label. When they do these "where are they now" lists and remind us how James Earl Jones, Meg Ryan and Demi Moore all started on soap operas they are saying "started" not "ended up". Soaps should be the place where young actors learn how to act and old has beens go for a second chance. It should not be the entirety of an actor's career. Plus for the most part soap acting equates to bad acting, and what passes as an emmy reel in daytime is laughably OTT crying jags filled with overacting and bad wrting.

Edited by quartermainefan

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Posted · Report post

It's absolutely a burden if your ambition is to act elsewhere after your soap stint is over. However, you've also enjoyed many perks over the years -- steady work, a regular paycheck, time to focus on your family, fan adulation, etc. Staying on a soap is a choice, and all choices have consequences, good and bad.

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Posted · Report post

Well, it's certainly a stigma and too late for MB or SBu to break out of soaps now. The fact is, both tried when they were still young and didn't have much success. They should have at least achieved the C level status Vanessa Marcil did. They both had as much buzz and were considered 'better' actors than her. I don't believe they were more recognizable than her as soap stars, so that is not an excuse to me. It is true that a lot of super famous former soaps stars had more forgetable roles, but Josh Duhamel, SMG, Kim Delany and Meg Ryan were all very popular on their shows and made fine careers for themselves. Unfortunately, for whatever reason, MB, SBu, SJB, and a lot of 90's break out soaps stars were unable to rise above the stigma. I don't feel too bad for them as most have been gainfully employed in soaps for years. Steady work is hard to come by these days.

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Only a few manage to break out of the soap world, just like only a few actors manage to become big stars. Michael Knight tried to be a success in movies but failed and he was young when he made the attempt (and it seemed like he was good enough and funny enough to be in romantic comedies). Those who are older when they try are probably totally screwed. I think Susan Lucci did the 2nd best thing she could have by having a foot in both worlds (the first best thing would have been to leave for TV and movies at the height of her popularity). Now that AMC has ended, she's continuing to keep busy acting in primetime and hosting and doing other things.

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I don't think it's a soap thing so much as an age thing. Older actors especially women have a tougher time finding roles

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I would say yes. No actor should do more than one contract on a soap because anything more than that seems to get you a soap label. When they do these "where are they now" lists and remind us how James Earl Jones, Meg Ryan and Demi Moore all started on soap operas they are saying "started" not "ended up". Soaps should be the place where young actors learn how to act and old has beens go for a second chance. It should not be the entirety of an actor's career. Plus for the most part soap acting equates to bad acting, and what passes as an emmy reel in daytime is laughably OTT crying jags filled with overacting and bad wrting.

I disagree about the learn how to act part. Soaps are not a good place to learn how to act. More like learn how to memorize lines and get some credits on your resume before you move on and hope you didn't pick up some bad tics.

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I don't think so, looking that big picture, work is work and a lot of actors stay with soap operas because it's steady work. Older actors in general have a hard time getting work, rather it be in films or primetime. That reality is just more jarring for longtime daytime actors since they lose a big safety net when their show is canceled.

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I disagree about the learn how to act part. Soaps are not a good place to learn how to act. More like learn how to memorize lines and get some credits on your resume before you move on and hope you didn't pick up some bad tics.

I think in the past they were a good place to learn to act. Now, with no rehearsals, and one take, they just have to spit it out and move on.

The truth is that many of those who were on soaps for long periods of time were likely never going to get steady work elsewhere. It's extremely difficult.

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Posted · Report post

I would say yes. No actor should do more than one contract on a soap because anything more than that seems to get you a soap label. When they do these "where are they now" lists and remind us how James Earl Jones, Meg Ryan and Demi Moore all started on soap operas they are saying "started" not "ended up". Soaps should be the place where young actors learn how to act and old has beens go for a second chance. It should not be the entirety of an actor's career. Plus for the most part soap acting equates to bad acting, and what passes as an emmy reel in daytime is laughably OTT crying jags filled with overacting and bad wrting.

Sadly that's how some young soap stars look at the genre as and I couldn't disagree more with you and them on it being a stepping stone to better jobs.

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No actor with an iota of talent who wants to be good at their craft or has any ambition could ever want to be a soap actor for life. It is a limiting job with absolutely no room for an actor to grow, rather they become lazy and develop ugly ticks due to having to play one character long term, work with bad to mediocre actors, and endure bad writing with ridiculously bad dialogue. I think young actors, especially those with talent, should leave after their three year contract is up and go see what is out there for them in the acting world. I don't buy the talk about stigma of the soap world preventing people from making it, only a few actors are able to break into prime time or the movies period. The real problem is that most soap actors are not very good actors. Plus, a lot of them are unwilling to do the hard work so they drift back to the comfortable pay check, especially when they have families to support. It is always cracks me up when people leave to build a career and come back a couple years later. Many of those soap actors who eventually got prime time work, etc. put in years of failed auditions, did theatre work, commercials, and barely got by financially before they got their first big break.

Edited by Ann_SS

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No actor with an iota of talent who wants to be good at their craft or has any ambition could ever want to be a soap actor for life. It is a limiting job with absolutely no room for an actor to grow, rather they become lazy and develop ugly ticks due to having to play one character long term, work with bad to mediocre actors, and endure bad writing with ridiculously bad dialogue. I think young actors, especially those with talent, should leave after their three year contract is up and go see what is out there for them in the acting world. I don't buy the talk about stigma of the soap world preventing people from making it, only a few actors are able to break into prime time or the movies period. The real problem is that most soap actors are not very good actors. Plus, a lot of them are unwilling to do the hard work so they drift back to the comfortable pay check, especially when they have families to support. It is always cracks me up when people leave to build a career and come back a couple years later. Many of those soap actors who eventually got prime time work, etc. put in years of failed auditions, did theatre work, commercials, and barely got by financially before they got their first big break.

I read Kim Zimmer's autobiography and after she had left Guiding Light during the early nineties, she did a few guest spots on popular primetime shows such as Seinfield, Designing Women and MacGyver.

However, she hated being a guest star as she didn't feel apart of the 'gang' so decided to go back to Guiding Light in 1995. Although it was great that she want back to her signature role on Guiding Light, I kinda felt like she never tried. I think quite a few of these soap stars aren't able to "struggle" when they leave their respective soaps. Instead of continuing to do the hard work (guest appearances on sitcoms, doing indie films, Broadway, commercials etc.) so that they can build up their resume and strengthen their acting, they go back to doing soaps as it's easier.

Heck, if Kim had actually tried a bit harder, she could have eventually become the star of a successful primetime show. Now, she's jobless (I assume) because she stuck with Guiding Light, which ended up getting cancelled.

Edited by kwaku_ag

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