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Entries in Television (94)

Tuesday
Aug012017

Call Answered: James Kiberd: "The Crusade of Connor Stephens" + "All My Children"

James KiberdI am a huge All My Children fan and I love getting to catch with AMC alum, so needless to say, it was an honor to get to interview actor James Kiberd, best known as "Trevor Dillon" on ABC's All My Children from 1989-2000 (the uncle to "Hayley Vaughn," played by Kelly Ripa). After almost 11 years of not being able to act, James Kiberd is making his triumphant stage return in the Off-Broadway play The Crusade of Connor Stephens.

In The Crusade of Connor Stephens, extreme loss shakes a Texas family as it comes to terms with a tragic act of gun violence. In the midst of widespread media attention, their story becomes an allegory for the national debate over religion, tolerance, and the seedlings of hate. With humor and resilience, they will confront the ghosts of the past and discover the brutal universal truths that define the American family in the 21st century.

The Crusade of Connor Stephens will play through August 6 only! Click here for tickets! 

There will be a special live streaming on Thursday, August 3 at 8pm! Click here for more info!

For more on The Crusade of Connor Stephens be sure to visit https://www.crusade2017.com and follow the show on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

1. Who or what inspired you to be an actor? Gee it’s almost 40 years ago. Grants in support of my art making (I am a Painter) had lead to some expertise in arts management and a consultation for Joe Brancato’s Penguin Repretory. He asked me to audition for Who’s Afraid of Virginia Woolf. I said to myself…Acting? Phony Baloney! But, I knew I wouldn’t get it, so why do it. Then, I imagined that some day, I could be comforting a disappointed daughter after being turned down for a role she sorely wanted. "Honey, Dad auditioned for a role once and didn’t get it. I know how you feel, you’ll be ok." Only, I got the part…and, sadly, not the daughter.  My life was forever changed.

As a painter, you spend 12-15 hours a day alone. For years on end. You are the center of that Universe. Not so as an Actor. It’s about the other person! OMG! Relationship! Something at which I was totally inept. But, my God, I needed it so! Joe Brancato kept me working as an actor and brought me into the "wild unknown," with a sure and steady hand. Over the years, I returned to Penguin to some great roles on that delicious stage.

My working relationship twixt graphic art and acting is keen. There is a solid "click" of recognition of "rightness" when working with Art’s physical materials. Not so with Acting, however, where impulses, emotions, relationships, bring ever changing moments different from every moment that came before, especially in front of an audience. My thrill is to bring the "click" to the acting and the emotion and impulse to the art. Serious Fun.

2. You are currently starring in the new Off-Broadway play, The Crusade of Connor Stephens, about a Texas family who suffers extreme loss as a result of gun violence. What made you want to be part of this show? As you may or may not know, 10/12/17 will be the 11th anniversary of the stage injury that took me out of commission for years. These past 10 years has been spent trying to find a way back to functionality through four operations. So, on May 9, 2016 (my hip replacement day), I woke up in my hospital bed to find a new play script forwarded to me by an actor I know and respect, Ben Curtis, with a request for me to read and consider the key role. I was astounded! Reticent - no terrified - to even consider it. But, I told myself, "it came to you - read it James." I read it. Enthralled, I asked my wife to bring me "Lear" - the next role I wanted. After I read it, I went back to Crusade.

Through the haze of the drugs, I found a profoundly disruptive play, lead by one of the most soulfully despicable characters ever written. A play that hangs our era in it’s own noose of contradiction and ultimately shows us a way to redemption. Though terrified of this challenge; I just had to play this part. This was worth getting out of bed for! Could I do it? I can’t even walk! Rehearsals were starting in four weeks! I started writing the producer/director/ writer, Dewey Moss to let him know I was interested. I told him I wanted to audition so we all would know what we were getting. He offered to drive out of NYC to meet & audition me in seven days - my first day out of rehab.

Saturday at 9am, I met him at the door - asked "Coffee?" "No." "Water?" "I’m good." So, I handed him the script as he came through the door and started the scenes as he found his way to a chair in the kitchen. No small talk. 20 minutes later, he was doubled over in between tears and laughter. "You have no idea how I have been trying to figure out ways to tell you how you are just not right for the role. It is such an impossible challenge…but you're perfect! Now I have to ask you - will you do it, really do it? And why? It's only a festival - three performances - and a lot of time and effort to rehearse in the city. Why would you want to do this?"

"I am doing this for me - me alone - not to get another job (as actors will do) - not for notice - not for PR. I want to see if I can still act, if I enjoy it, if I can pull off such a wickedly ambitious role.

First, my old friend, Bryan Cranston, saw the Festival Performance and compared this piece to All My Sons by Arthur Miller. "It gives us the picture of our times and the ethics, morals and values we need to live by. There is great humor, pacing, tension and passion wrapped into a compelling story."  Then, Crusade won all of the main Awards in the festival, so we were off to the races.

Dewey’s play sears a brand in the side of the times asking Americans to meet each other face-to-face in a conversation over who we love, what we do with guns, what is fact, what is belief, what is truth—what we kill for, what we live for, how and why do we pray?

James Kiberd in "The Crusade of Connor Stephens", Photo Credit: Russ Rowland3. What do you relate to most about your character? What is one characteristic of his you are glad you don't possess yourself? Strong, relentless surety and promulgation of his truths. Passion.

I am staggered how people hate him so. Perhaps because he so resonates our current leader…though "Big Jim" is much more rigorously trained in his thinking. At the same time, I have had audience members claim he changed their point of view.

West of NJ to California he could be seen as a hero. The play is so well-crafted, that the points of view could shift according to the community where it is performed.

His is a "truth not tolerance" position. Furthest from my own position.

4. Guns have been killing people for years, but it seems we hear about a massive shooting somewhere almost every day of our lives. How do you feel this show will either help someone who's been affected by one of these deadly shootings or perhaps change the way someone feels about instilling stronger gun laws? Wow! That’s an impossible question because it doesn’t involve common sense. In my experience, the only time people really take gun control seriously is when they get shot in the face. Any and all assumptions we maintain about positions on these issues only become relevant when we have direct experience of the event, its horror and the people affected. We Americans need to meet each other face-to-face in a conversation over who we love, what we do with guns, what is fact, what is belief, what is truth; what we kill for, what we live for, how and why we pray? These are not issues that merely decorate the glorious tree of America. No, No. These are the "divers-est" roots that grow that tree strong. The healthy conflict of ideas and passions that are the very roots of our Constitution. America needs the feeding of face-to-face compassion, humor and brutal talk - - that is our America. Crusade brings all these issues forward in an almost sporting event immediacy. A prize fight for the Soul of America.

James Kiberd and Ben Curtis in "The Crusade of Connor Stephens", Photo Credit: Russ Rowland5. How do you find the resilience to get through rough times in your own life? Having been disabled for the past 10 years, this is a question to which I have too many answers. Really listening to what the body is saying is both complex and simple. But of paramount importance. Having had four doctors tell me I am fine when I sure didn’t feel fine, I finally found whiz bang PT at West Side Dance in Lincoln Center who could tell me why and what was so dysfunctional. Two years of hard work, 21 exercises a day brought me a new me. Also, Alexander Training is an truly liberating process.

My wife keeps joy in my life. And she reminds me that our dogs (born in our house) have opened my heart, my garden teaches me each day (humility) and nature so soothes and inspires me. I have learned, finally, that The Dark Funk changes when I move - yes physically move.

6. In this show, the family confronts the ghosts of their past. What is one past ghost you've confronted? PTSD - always needs to be respected and tended. My father - a WWII vet never dealt with his PTSD and passed it on to his family. This is something I share with my Crusade character.

Kathleen Huber and James Kiberd in "The Crusade of Connor Stephens", Photo Credit: Russ Rowland7. From this confrontation, the family discovers the brutal truth that defines the American family of the 21st century. What is the most brutal truth you've discovered about yourself that you fought so hard not to believe? I think more than one brutal truth is discovered in the play…I‘ll say again, "We Americans need to meet each other face-to-face in a conversation over who we love, what we do with guns, what is fact, what is belief, what is truth; what we kill for, what we live for, how and why we pray?  These are not issues that merely decorate the glorious tree of America. No, No. These are the "divers-est" roots that grow that tree strong. The healthy conflict of ideas and passions that are the very roots of our Constitution. America needs the feeding of face-to-face compassion, humor and brutal talk - - that is our America. Crusade brings all these issues forward in an almost sporting event immediacy. A prize fight for the Soul of America.

I am not sure how to answer this question without sounding full of bull. But I asked my wife and she immediately said it, "Honey, for some reason, you don’t feel worthy of love." I am still working on it. My Alexander teacher, Judith Stern, noticed a couple of things immediately when we started. When she would work with me, she noticed that my eyes were always moving. This was me trying to remember and analyze the experience I was having. She suggested that I could either have the analysis or the experience but not both. That I could allow myself to just have the experience and begin to trust that. She also noticed that when she encouraged me to see, take in what was around me, that I would look. What happens when I "look" is I focus hard and tend to thrust my head a bit forward which moves the head out of alignment and breaks the easy flow of energy in the spine, triggering "fight or flight" response. This kind of "looking habit" usually arises in a child when the person who was to nurture that child was in fact dangerous to that child.

And ………………………………………

Common Sense

And …………………………………..

The parts of me that I share with Trump. He reminds me every day of the selfish, thoughtless, small minded, fatuous, un thinking, pompous, lying, lazy glutton that I could so easily become.

James Kiberd8. I can't do an interview with you without asking about your time on one of my favorite soaps, All My Children. From 1989-2000, you played "Trevor Dillon," uncle to "Hayley Vaughn," played by Kelly Ripa. First, why did you want to be part of the All My Children family? What was the best part about working with Kelly Ripa? Can you tell us one fun juicy tale from your time on the show? Kelly was an unspoiled bundle of life and joy that I wanted to play with. Whatever I could share with her was immediately soaked up and made her own. The intimacy we had was blood family in nature. Just that matter of course kind of thing. She told me right away that her dream was not so much the acting but to be a talk show host! Well Well Bang Zoom Hip Hip HoooRaaay!

Why AMC? and Juicy? Here goes! A five day gig turned into 11 years. I had been developing a character in experimental theatre from my sense that by the year 2020 America would no longer be a "White" society. That we needed to encounter other world/third world cultures—their morals and ethics. On the morning of my first day after having come home during the night from a trip, I asked my wife if she liked my "look" for the part. In her sleepiness she said "What’s with the beard and the pony tail? You look like a pirate! AMC won’t go for that! "That’s what I want!" said I. She joked, "Then you need an earring." I grabbed one of hers, poked a hole in my ear, went off to AMC with my bloody booty."  At first, they wouldn’t let me in the building - so scruffy was I. Ha!

After camera rehearsal, I got called to the the producer’s office (Felicia Behr). I walked in saying, "I know, cut the hair, shave the beard, axe the earring." "No, No, NO!" she said "Would you be interested in a three year contract?" "I have to think about it" said I. The next day I suggested that I write a background description of the character I would like to play for the writers to consider. To my surprise, she said great.  When I submitted a 22-page document detailed to costume, set, lingo, accent and music, she was surprised and then sent it to the writers. Couple of days later, she told me they loved it! And would go ahead with my character as presented. Six months was my first contract. I wasn’t sure they, AMC, would or could really do it.

Well they went along with my creation! All the names I made up for the characters on the show, the wild outfits ,the Runyonesque lingo and the other world values. At my first public appearance the first audience question asked was "What planet is this guy ("Trevor"/my character) from? I knew we all were on to something special. The shows rating went from #7 to #2 rickety split and I was having some Serious Fun!

Katherine Leask and James Kiberd in "The Crusade of Connor Stephens", Photo Credit: Russ Rowland9. Since 2001, for the most part, you have focused on stage/film work as opposed to TV. Why did you choose to focus more on the stage and film? What do you get from this work that you weren't getting from TV? Acting Chops. Bad ass scary adventures. Every day I give up what I know for what I might discover. (me). You can’t do something that you don’t know, if you keep on doing what you do know. (FM Alexander).

AND my new agents in LA gave me two pieces of advice….

1) Lose weight and whiten your teeth!

2) And if you really want to act you need to find away to do some theatre. We would love to see you acting.

Well, I invited them to come see me about four months later. I was opening as "Gabbo the Clown" in Merchant of Venice on a Friday Night , Saturday 10am was Henry IV Part I, 2pm Henry IV Part II, 8pm Henry V. They didn’t come. And told me they couldn’t work with me as I was to busy doing theater an not available for TV!

10. On "Call Me Adam" I have a section called One Percent Better, where through my own fitness commitment, I try to encourage people to improve their own life by one percent every day. What is something in your life that you want to improve by one percent better every day? Joy. (which means doing what my wife, dogs and garden tell me to do) My acting. My art making. My Garden. My dogs (they are major hunters and need a lot of clean up) Spinning! House keeping, Friends…..Have you read Twyla Tharps books?

Monday
May152017

Call Redialed: Facetime Interview: Annie Golden: Ripcord, Difficult People, Joe's Pub Concert

Annie Golden & "Call Me Adam" at The Algonquin Hotel in NYCLive from The Algonquin Hotel, in the heart of NYC's theatre district, "Call Me Adam" catches up with Broadway & Orange is the New Black star Annie Golden!

In this NEW interview, Annie & I go The Full Monty with Ripcord at Huntington Theatre, Joe's Pub in August, and her guest starring role on Difficult People! (Our Orange is the New Black interview will be released in mid-June). 

First up, we discuss Annie's role in David Lindsay-Abaire's Ripcord which will be playing Boston's Huntington Theatre from May 26-June 25! Click here for tickets!

Then we discuss Annie's return to the concert stage with Annie Golden Friends & Family on August 25 at Joe's Pub + the writing of her original song "Hard Lesson" about 9/11. Click here for tickets!

Finally, we get a sneak peak at Annie's guest starring role on the third season of Hulu's Difficult People!

For more on Annie Golden follow her on Facebook!

For more on The Algonquin Hotel visit http://www.algonquinhotel.com and follow them on FacebookTwitter, and Instagram!

Call Me Adam's NEW interview with Annie Golden:

Huntington Theatre Company's Ripcord Sneak Peak:

Sunday
May072017

Call Answered: Sherri Saum: "The Fosters" on Freeform TV

Sherri Saum, Photo Credit: "The Fosters"/Freeform TVFrom The Brady Bunch to Diff'rent Strokes to This Is Us, family TV shows are some of my favorite ones to watch. I love the wide range of family dynamics each show offers. I always see some aspect of my own family in these shows, but am also opened to the different kinds of families out there.

One series I have been enjoying is The Fosters on Freeform TV. I love the show's heart and soul. The realness of the storylines, the braveness of the actors bringing these characters to life, and most of all, the way it pulls on my heartstrings. I was over the moon when I called and Sherri Saum answered. It was great learning what Sherri loves about the show, how it relates to her own life, and what roles she didn't book as well as one role that made her jump up and down with excitement! The Fosters 5th Season begins July 11 on Freeform TV!

Follow Sherri on Twitter and Instagram!

For more on The Fosters visit http://freeform.go.com/shows/the-fosters and follow the show on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

1. For the past 5 seasons, you have been starring in the original TV series The Fosters, which is about teenager, "Callie Jacob," who is placed in a foster home with a lesbian couple (your character "Lena" being one of the lesbians) and their blend of biological, adoptive and foster children. What initially made you want to be part of this show? What has kept you interested in staying on the show after 5 seasons? I was so impressed with the authenticity and fearlessness of the pilot. And the quality of storytelling has remained incredibly strong after all these seasons.

2. What did you relate to most about "Lena" during Season 1 and what do relate more to about her now, being in Season 5? I relate to "Lena's" compassion - I love that I get to be a warm embrace - and I hope the audience feels it as well.

Sherri Saum as "Lena" on "The Fosters", Photo Credit: "The Fosters"/Freeform TV3. What have you learned about family from starring on this show? I've learned about the power of communication - I come from a very loving supporting family, but talking about the nitty gritty was never one of our strengths. I'm going to try to bring what The Fosters has taught me to my own kids.

4. What has been the most challenging storyline for you to learn? Which one has been the most fun that you wish didn't have to end? Dealing with "Lena" losing her child was excruciating - especially since I was actually pregnant in real life as we were filming. I loved the times we welcomed Rosie O'Donnell's character onto the show - she's such a talent.

Sherri Saum as "Lena" on "The Fosters"5.  As a mother, wife, and leading actress in a hit show, how do you balance work/life? I balance the way so many other millions of moms do. Sometimes great, sometimes not so great. I always wonder why men never get asked that question! It should be just as much of a juggle and concern for them.

6. How did having kids change you as person? I just feel things a lot deeper. I can't read stories or see movies where a child gets hurt. It's an overwhelming feeling of worry sometimes. But I also am called to be the best version of myself more than I have ever been. I want them to be proud of me.

Teri Polo and Sherri Saum behind-the-scenes, Photo via "The Fosters" co-creator Bradley Bredeweg7. On "Call Me Adam" I have a section called One Percent Better, where through my own fitness commitment, I try to encourage people to improve their own life by one percent every day. What is something in your life that you want to improve by one percent better every day? My procrastination

8. You've had quite a career in television, starring in several multi-season TV shows as well as guest stints on many others. What do you like about guest-starring on a show over being a series regular? I enjoy guest starring because it's like being invited over for a play date with all new toys in the sandbox. But there really is nothing like the security and family feeling you get when you work as a series regular. Especially when you love your cast mates and crew as much as I do!

9. What is one role that you really wanted to get, but didn't? Which role did you book that made you jump up and down and scream out loud? I remember auditioning for Avatar in the role that went to Zoe Saldana. That one stung. I jumped up and down for an HBO series I booked called In Treatment with Gabriel Byrne.

Sherri SaumMore on Sherri:

Prior to The Fosters, Sherri starred on the Golden Globe nominated HBO series In Treatment, spent two seasons on the Emmy nominated series Rescue Me starring Denis Leary and starred on Showtime’s critically acclaimed series Beggars and Choosers as well as The John Cassevettes Award nominated Anne B. Real. Memorable guest starring roles include RevengeUnforgettableArmy WivesBody of ProofCSI: NYLaw and Order: Criminal IntentLaw and Order: Trial By Jury and Charmed among others. Film Roles include Ten Stories Tall opposite Josh Hamilton and Relative Stranger starring Eric La Salle and Cicely Tyson.

Sherri was born and raised in Dayton, Ohio and attended Ohio State University and NYU pursuing a degree in psychology. While in school, Sherri landed her first lead role on Aaron Spelling’s serial, Sunset Beach for which she earned a daytime Emmy Nomination for Outstanding Younger Actress.

Tuesday
Mar072017

Call Answered: Sonia Blangiardo: Tainted Dreams on Amazon

Sonia BlangiardoI was a HUGE All My Children fan. I started watching the show because Eden Riegel's character "Bianca" was going to be coming out as a lesbian. From the first moment I watched that storyline I was hooked. I then became engulfed in everyone's storyline from "Greenlee and Leo" to the return of "Kendall" to "Krystal and Babe" to the start of "Fusion," I was loving every moment.

In 2013, I first got wind of a new show being developed called Tainted Dreams, directed and produced by Sonia Blangiardo, and starring All My Children's Alicia Minshew, Michael Lowry, Terri Ivens, Walt Willey, and Bobbie Eakes. I couldn't wait to see this show. After four years of waiting, Tainted Dreams has found a home on Amazon (now Emmy nominated)! In addiiton to the above, Tainted Dreams also features Natalia Livingston, Austin Peck, Colleen Zenk, Grant Aleksander, theatre favorite Anthony Wilkinson, along with a host of other soap stars. If you are a soap fan, Tainted Dreams is the show for you! Watch it now on Amazon!

Come behind-the-drama to find out the real stories that made Sonia such a success + the tales that helped create Tainted Dreams!

For more on Tainted Dreams be sure to visit http://tainteddreams.com and follow the show on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram!

Cast of "All My Children"1. Who or what inspired you to become director/producer? Ever since I can remember, I always was creating stories in my head. One year when I was about nine, my brother, cousins and I were vacationing together. I sketched out a musical with six or seven performances and I forced them to put on a "show" for our family. I can't imagine it was very good! I don't think I could have even begun to understand what directing and producing was at the time, but in retrospect, I think the inspiration came from an overactive imagination and a need to be in charge!

2. Most people are lucky to work on one television show, but you have had the good fortune of working on five iconic soap operas All My Children, One Life to Live, As the World Turns, General Hospital & currently, Days of Our Lives. What do you enjoy most about working in the soap world? Everything...I love the genre, the pace, the efficiency of the way we work...I love that we keep telling stories with characters that have been a part of our lives for many years. I love that day in and day out you get to work with the same group of people that truly are your family and we get to create. We are all there for each other during our milestones in life...weddings, births, birthdays...it is a unique and beautiful experience.

3. In addition to Days of Our Lives, you are also the creator/director of the new Emmy nominated web series Tainted Dreams, about the twists and turns of life on a soap opera. What made you want to create this show? They say write what you know and this was a world I felt that I knew pretty well. I truly believed that at times, what was happening behind the camera was more fascinating that in front. I also wanted to show how much fun we had. We worked in a creative, yet structured environment. I don't think any other genre can say this. Going to work every day to see my "family" was a amazing part of my life and I thought that was something that would appeal to the audiences. I am so thrilled that thanks to Amazon, these stories can finally be seen.

4. I was attracted to Tainted Dreams because of Alicia Minshew and Terri Ivens, whom I LOVED on All My Children as well as Walt Willey and Bobbie Eakes. The show also casts actors from other soaps you worked on and the world of theatre. What is the best part about getting to work with everyone under one roof? The beauty of creating something that is your own is that you get to make the decisions. I've been doing this for a very long time and I knew I wanted to surround myself with talented, kind and generous people and I hit the jackpot on that. As far as working with my off-Broadway cast, they are also my family, so it was always a given that I would blend the "families." Anthony Wilkinson who plays "Anthony DiGiacomo" is the playwright of the Big Gay Italian franchise and my real life "Angelica's" Anthony, so upon the first inception of the idea, he was always going to be a main character because I wanted to showcase that friendship.

Sonia Blangiardo, Michael Lowry, and Alicia Minshew5. Alicia's character, "Angelica," is loosely based upon you. What qualities did you see in Alicia that made you go, she would be a great "Angelica"? I did not know Alicia when I was creating the character of "Angelica" for over a year. For whatever reason, the more I flushed out the story, the more I kept seeing her in my head. When I finally met her to ask her to be a part of Tainted Dreams, it all clicked and I understood why. We clicked. Alicia is strong, yet sweet. She can be vulnerable without ever compromising on integrity. It was one of those things that can't really be explained. I just knew she was "Angelica."

6. I love how the show weaves between the fictitious soap opera Painted Dreams and what's really happening on Tainted Dreams, it's a fine, fine line, sometimes being hard to tell where the fiction ends and reality begins. When has there been a time in your life when the lines between fiction and reality were blurred? I'm sure there are many more than I care to admit! I've always called Tainted Dreams the Grey's Anatomy that occurs in a soap studio instead of a hospital. Lines get blurred in life all the time, especially in the work environment. When you add that you are spending 60 plus hours a week with the same people, telling stories about power, sex and betrayal...it's kind of inevitable that you get caught up in that.

Kelly Ripa and Mark Consuelos as "Haley and Mateo" on "All My Children"7. Since I was such a big All My Children fan, what was one of your favorite story lines from your time working on the show and what was one story line that you were like, this is the most ridiculous thing I've ever seen, let's wrap it up"? Wow...there are so many. I think one of my favorites was the tornado one which left "Julia" blind. The "Noah/Julia" story line was real and gut-wrenching and just so memorable, another was "Brooke's" ectopic pregnancy. Julia and Michael poured their souls into that one and you just felt their pain. "Alec" sleeping with "Arlene" behind "Hayley's'" back...as you can see, the list goes on. I don't know about a story that I wanted to see wrapped up, but I do remember shooting on Valentine's Day at midnight, a very very pregnant Kelly Ripa getting raped. That disturbed me on so many levels!

8. You have worked with some of daytimes biggest hunks. If you could have been cast as their lover, who would you have wanted to been matched up with? In my 25 plus years, I have seen a multitude of gorgeous men and women. So much so that after a while, you almost become immune to it. What connects me to people in general is their kindness and generosity of spirit. Because of that, I am lucky to call many of the "hunks" I've worked with good friends because beyond the great looks, they are amazing people.

Sonia Blangiardo9. What has been the biggest event to happen in your life that could have been a soap opera storyline? I saw many things happen behind the scenes that quite honestly, without revealing names have made it into Tainted Dreams. Personally, I took a vacation to Miami with two of my AMC besties and one friend wanted to go to another club. It was 2am and I asked her if I could just run up to the room to change my ridiculously high heeled shoes. She wanted no part of that and tapped an arbitrary guy walking in front of her and asked him to pick me up and carry me to the club. He did and we ended up being together for six years.

10. On "Call Me Adam" I have a section called One Percent Better, where through my own fitness commitment, I try to encourage people to improve their own life by one percent every day. What is something in your life that you want to improve by one percent better every day? I want to learn the virtue of patience. Sometimes there are so many things going on in my head that I want to have the option of pressing an escape button for about 10 minutes and just think of nothing. I need answers yesterday and that is not always possible for sure.

Sonia BlangiardoMore on Sonia:

Sonia Blangiardo is a two-time Emmy winner with over 20 years of experience as a producer/director. Sonia is the Creator and Executive Producer of Tainted Dreams, NYC BRAND PRODUCTIONS’ first scripted drama. Sonia was the Supervising Producer of Prospect Park’s online production of All My Children. She has worked in television as a producer/director for ABC’s General Hospital, All My Children, and One Life to Live, as well as CBS’s As the World Turns. She directed the revival of the Off-Broadway hit My Big Gay Italian Wedding in New York City. Sonia, a member of the Directors Guild of America, also directed and produced Boys Just Wanna Have Fun and My Big Gay Italian Wedding (both as ANNDEE PRODUCTIONS), which was nominated for an Off-Broadway Alliance Award for Best Play Revival. In addition, Sonia directed and produced a SAG pilot script for You Don’t Know Jack with Three’s Company‘s Richard Kline and Mr. PEC-Tacular Arm and Chest Workout DVD with Big Brother‘s Jessie Godderz and soap star Austin Peck. Sonia is also the founder of CARLO’S GOAL, a non-for-profit organization for pancreatic cancer research.

Saturday
Jan072017

Call Answered: Donnell Turner: General Hospital

Donnell Turner, Photo Credit: Caroline WhiteFrom the moment I found out Rebecca Budig was on General Hospital, I knew I had to dive back into the world of soaps. What I didn't realize is that I would become a fan of her co-star Donnell Turner, who plays "Curtis Ashford." When I got a request to interview Donnell, I went to Port Charles! Upon arrival, I was introduced to a hot man with sexy eyes and a chiseled body, but by the time our interview was over, I found a humble man with a big heart, an infectious zest for life, and a desire to help/inspire others to overcome hardships.

Donnell may be in your night time dreams, but us Soap fans are lucky to have him in the Daytime as well! Donnell can be seen on General Hospital weekdays at 3pm on ABC.

For the latest news and happenings, be sure to follow Donnell on Instagram and Twitter!

Donnell Turner and Rebecca Budig on ABC's "General Hospital"1. Rebecca Budig is one of my favorite actresses, so we have to start off talking about her. What has been the best part working with Rebecca on General Hospital? What is one of the funniest things to happen during taping between the two of you? The best part of working with Rebecca is that she is a professional in every way. She is nurturing. I couldn’t have asked for a better actress to begin with at General Hospital than Rebecca.

Rebecca has great timing and an excellent sense of humor. On my first day of taping, Rebecca had a line that was directed to me. Now keep in mind I was initially supposed to be a grungy and dishelved character. Rebecca’s response was, "Really? Look at this man. I am not saying this line to a freaking model." The line was changed and "Curtis" became a little more hip.

Donnell Turner on ABC's "General Hospital"2. What made you want to get onto General Hospital? This is always a big question asked. I had been a fan of General Hospital when I was younger. In fact I wrote to the casting director, Mark Teschner long before I moved to LA. Before I was cast to play "Curtis Ashford," I auditioned for GH a couple of years earlier. And it was 2015 that I was offered a chance to originate the character that you now see.

3. What do you relate to most about your character, "Curtis"? What is one characteristic of "Curtis'" you are glad you don't have? The part of "Curtis" I relate most to is his heart for others. He has an unrelenting pursuit of the truth that I identify with as well. I would have to say that I am not as driven by money in the way that "Curtis" is.

4. If Donnell and "Curtis" were to meet in a bar. What advice would Donnell give to "Curtis"? I would pull him very close and say, "Look bro, don’t get romantically involved with your sister-in-law."

Donnell Turner, Photo Credit: Jim Warren5. Prior to joining GH, you were on Days of Our Lives and two episodes of The Young & The Restless. What is the best part about acting in the soap opera genre? What are the most challenging parts of it? I have had an opportunity to work on the soaps that you mention. I think for an actor you are always excited when you get the chance to work and do what you do. Soaps have traditionally been good for actors because one, there were a lot of them at one time, and they’ve given actors opportunities to grow and expand. Secondly, there is a mixture of seasoned professionals and newcomers that each brings something to the table.

What can be challenging early on is the amount of dialogue that you are given on a daily basis. After you’ve done it for a minute, you start to get it down and it becomes easier each time, ultimately building into your muscle memory.

6. With your sexy smile, irresistible eyes, and chiseled body, you must get a lot of attention from both men and women. How do you handle the craving for you? What do you like about it and what makes you uncomfortable? One of the most undeniable qualities about fans is their dedication to the people they love and admire. You can’t help but appreciate the attention. These are the people that watch our shows and comment on social media. I am very grateful to my die-hard fans. It does get sticky when you have an ultra-fan that takes it a step further by touching inappropriately or sending private messages that should be kept in ones private thoughts.

Donnell Turner, Photo Credit: Jim Warren7. In this world of acting, how do you stay grounded and when others have been lead down more trying roads? I think having a sense of who you are and what makes you tick is the very basis of staying grounded. Of course having a great group of family and friends that also know who you are helps to maintain normalcy in a world that is anything but normal. I’m an athlete. I stay healthy by keeping my body and mind focused on the things that are most important and will help me to continue doing what I do.

8. Like you, I'm very into fitness. I battle with eating healthy, but am dedicated to working out. On "Call Me Adam" I have a section called One Percent Better, where through my own fitness commitment, I try to encouragepeople to improve their own life by one percent every day. What is something in your life that you want to improve by one percent better every day? Any focus that helps to keep people on track is a good thing. Staying consistent is a challenge that we each face in our own way. With so much going on in terms of my schedule, I have to remain organized. That is the one percent for me.

Donnell Turner, Photo Credit: Jim Warren9. One thing that is very close to your heart is talking to youths at schools and motivating them for their future. Like Whitney Houston sings, "I believe the children are our future. Teach them well and let them lead the way." What is it about your story that made you want to inspire kids? Out of all the kids you have met, have any of them later contacted you with their success story or perhaps how you inspired them? What was the most heart-breaking story you have found out from the kids you've spoken to? As a kid, I was inspired by all of the professionals and motivators that I had the opportunity to listen to when I grew up. The idea that I get to do what I love for a living is an incredible gift. The fact that I also get to inspire others is a really big deal to me.

At Washington State I was speaking to group of youths at an event that was designed to reengage the young people and help them gain entry back into society. Since that time numerous students have contacted me through social media and have told me about the things they are doing because they were inspired by me. On the flip side, I have also seen either on social media, or have heard other students have succumbed to drugs and stints in jail.That is heartbreaking.

10. What are 8 things people don't know about Donnell Turner? I think everything that I want people to know is already out there. But to give you something that may be different, I would say that people might not know:

1. I played semi-professional basketball.

2. I have modeled around the world.

3. Last year’s Daytime Emmy Awards was my first award ceremony where I was asked to present.

4. I’m a Martial Artist.

5. I keep hand sanitizer on me at all times.

6. I am an ambassador for the No More organization that raises awareness against domestic violence.

7. A couple of my favorite clothing brands are Lululemon and Allsaints.

8. I am right handed but can only snap on my left hand.

Donnell Turner, Photo Credit: Caroline WhiteMore on Donnell:

Donnell Turner was born on January 8th in Tacoma, WA. When he was a baby his family relocated to Chicago. The love for acting was born as a child when Donnell participated in church plays. In high school he played basketball and played trumpet in the band. The talented athlete briefly played semi-pro basketball as a shooting guard before changing his focus to pursue acting full-time. After relocating to Los Angeles in 2001, Donnell has booked more than 100 print ads worldwide including: Nike, Pepsi, Hilton, Disney, AT&T, Coke, and Infinity. In addition to these major brands, he has also worked in nine national commercial campaigns in the United States, Europe, and South Africa. Donnell was the 2014 Mercedes Benz C-Class Spokesman. Donnell has modeled ALL over the U.S. and internationally including: Hong Kong, Thailand, France, Italy, Amsterdam, Belgium, and Spain. The actor has noted that one of his favorite places in the world is Florence, Italy. He trained with Northern California Casting, Van Marr Academy, Beverly Hills Playhouse, and Lesley Kahn Acting Studios.

In 2014 and 2015 Donnell was the lead in two important plays in Los Angeles including the classic, The Black Doctor (Ira Aldridge circa 1759) at the Legendary Matrix Theater, and, the modern Crescent City Ghosts (a tribute to the 10 year anniversary of hurricane Katrina).

Some of his television credits include: How To Get Away With Murder, Dexter, Anger Management, Rizzoli and Isles, 2 Broke Girls, Revenge, The Mindy Project, Teen Wolf, CSI, 90210, and Parks and Recreation. The versatile actor is not a stranger to daytime drama. He portrayed the character of "Dr. Aiden Williams" opposite to Kristian Alfonso on Days of Our Lives for five episodes between 2009 and 2010. He also briefly portrayed a doctor on The Young and the Restless in 2015 for two episodes. Donnell's perseverance and tenacity paid off. He grew up watching General Hospital and began writing to casting director Mark Teschner in the 1990's. He auditioned for the role of the District Attorney in 2014. However ABC had other plans for this hidden gem, and later offered a 4-year contract to bring life to the original character created specifically for him as "Curtis Ashford" on General Hospital. Since November 30th, 2015 he has been gracing our screens with his good looks, talent, skill, and charisma portraying this unpredictable anti-villain.

He has given motivational speeches empowering and encouraging others across the country at high schools, colleges, religious organizations, and professional business events. On April 2, 2016 (Global Autism Awareness Day), Donnell was an honored guest speaker at the Autism Speaks Walk Now event.

Fitness is an integral part of Donnell Turner's life. Aside from a regular workout routine that includes hiking and kickboxing, which he has been practicing for 30 years. He has Firearms (9 mm) training, Knife Combat, Nun Chuckas, Submission Wrestling, Tae Kwon Do, Tang So Do, Muay Thai and Yoga. He is very proud to have studied and practiced Muay Thai in Bangkok, Thailand.