I 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!
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.
5. 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.
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.
9. 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 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.