Photo Credit: Lesley Bohm
After almost ten years of playing Kendall Hart Slater on All My Children, Alicia Minshew had played more angst, tears, medical conditions, and romance than most soap heroines who had been on their respective soap operas for decades! After AMC was canceled by ABC in a heartbreaking move for the cast and crew, and the legions of fans of the series, Minshew had to decide what her next career move would be. When Prospect Park decided to revive the series and move it online in 2013, much to the dismay of her many fans, Minshew did not sign on to return to Pine Valley as a series regular, but did make a guest spot appearance.
But 2013 was an extraordinarily productive year for Alicia with new exciting projects including roles in independent films, and two new soap web series about to launch in 2014, Beacon Hill and Tainted Dreams! In Beacon Hill, Minshew is part of an all-star stellar cast of soap notables in which she plays Sara Preston, a reporter who has had a romantic past with Sarah Brown’s character of Katherine Wesley, and the stage is set for political and passionate sparks between these two strong women and their dysfunctional families.
On-Air On-Soaps chatted with one of the most endearing people we know, the always effervescent Alicia Minshew to get the lowdown on what to expect when Beacon Hill debuts online on March 5th. Yes, girls make out, but there is much more to this drama than meets the eye! For starters, picture Crystal Chappell as Alicia Minshew’s on-screen mother! Plus, Alicia shares her thoughts on the ending of the online reboot of All My Children and the return that never happened for the season finale, and also shares a few interesting tidbits about Tainted Dreams. Here now is our conversation with the uber-busy and in demand, Alicia Minshew!
You are becoming the queen of the web series! First, you have a starring role in Sonia Blangiardo’s Tainted Dreams and now Crystal Chappell’s Beacon Hill. What went down for you to decide to take on the role of Sara in the upcoming political soap drama?
Photo Credit: Lesley Bohm
ALICIA: While I was shooting Tainted Dreams, I got an email from Crystal Chappell and she said she had me in mind for the role of Sara in Beacon Hill. And then when she told me who was in it and what it was about, and then sent me the script, I loved it. I thought, “Oh, my God! I am a huge fan of Sarah Brown’s and a huge fan of Crystal’s!” I thought, “I get a chance to work with these women that I totally admired and how cool is that. And, I get to a play a lesbian! Yay! How cool is that?” I thought what a fun different experience for me and Crystal knows her stuff. I know she gets the job done. It was a no-brainer. So as soon as I finished Tainted Dreams, I began Beacon Hill. Both shows have been a fun ride, but both very different.
Crystal cast Beacon Hill amazingly well!
ALICIA: Crystal did cast Beacon Hill so well. I completely believe Sarah Brown could be a senator, and pass for a young politician. She has that strength and charisma and that strong woman energy. Not only does Sarah look the part, but as a person she is very political and very strong. She has that in her. I thought it was perfect casting. But listen, Crystal is also too young to play my mom, but a little aging make-up and her terrific acting, and she still looks gorgeous and her acting was so believable. I completely bought her as my mother. Also when Crystal offered me the part, I immediately sent Sarah Brown an email right away. I said, “I want to introduce myself and I want you to know I am a big fan of yours. I am honored to be working with you …”
… And I am ready to kiss you … (Laughs)
Photo Credit: Lesley Bohm
ALICIA: “… And I cannot wait to make out with you.” (Laughs) I knew it was going to be her first kiss with a woman, by the way. It wasn’t for me, but it was for her. (Laughs) I basically said, “Call me and let’s go over the script together, and let’s do this.” And so we would talk on the phone and read the script together, and it was great. By the time we got together in Boston to shoot Beacon Hill there was a comfort level that was there. I felt safe with her. We were able to do those emotional scenes and those kissing scenes. We were very lucky in that respect.
Sarah Brown was a bit nervous about her first kissing with another woman, I hear. From your perspective, how did the make-out scenes go between the two of you?
ALICIA: Well, Sarah had a scene with Katherine’s on-screen girlfriend in Beacon Hill played by Rebecca Mozo. I think she actually kissed her first. She may have gotten that out of the way with her, but in terms of our first kiss, our characters were on a date and we were sitting outside and it’s a flashback. We are sitting outside on this patio having a nice dinner and there were a bunch of extras around, so it was not like we were sitting in a bedroom. We had a sweet moment and a sweet real kiss. When we were done Sarah exclaimed, “That was my first kiss!” and, “Wow! You have soft lips!” (Laughs) And I said, “Well, you have soft lips too! This is fun.” Sarah was very cute about the whole thing. I made sure I wore lipstick that wasn’t too glossy and did not get all over her! (Laughs)
Did she ask that of you?
ALICIA: I know that there are certain things that she is allergic to, and so I needed to make sure that the make-up I was using had all natural ingredients so she was cool with it. But then we just did the kiss. We actually had to do it a few times. I remember it was cold outside and the two of us were huddling up against each other and holding hands. Sarah was a natural, my friend! You would never know she never kissed a woman before! (Laughs)
Jessica Morris (Ex-Jen, OLTL) plays Diane Hamilton in Beacon Hill and is involved with your character too!
Photo Credit: Lesley Bohm
ALICIA: Isn’t she the most adorable thing? Jessica has got this sweet little personality. We hung out and I said, “How did we not hang out before in New York?” With Jessica, we did our scenes and we kissed for a little bit, and again it was easy. I thought, “Lucky me! I get to kiss all these pretty girls and they are so cool, too!” (Laughs) In the story, Jessica plays Sara’s current girlfriend. Sara gets a phone call that her grandfather had a stroke, and when she gets back to Beacon Hill she realizes her ex-girlfriend Katherine just got a seat in the senate. Sara comes back and bumps into Katherine for the first time in six years and it re-ignites everything between them. Sara wants to pick up where they left off. Katherine is saying, “How can we pick up where we left off? You left me. You can’t expect me to be OK with everything. You left me and you haven’t spoken to me in six years.” She has a point! (Laughs) There is also a little bit of … does my character really wants to be with her again? Or, does she just want to get a good story? So here she comes back with all these feelings for this woman, yet she wants to get a story. You’re not sure where she is really coming from. I tend to lean towards she wants both – a good story and Katherine back.
So just a bit of background into the story of Beacon Hill … six years ago Katherine and Sara were together, but what happened to break them up?
ALICIA: They were madly in love and they were going to have a life together, and my character up and left! So Sara took a job in New York, and Katherine was getting ready to take a seat in the senate and it appeared that she would be working with Sara’s grandfather played by Ron Raines. Sara was so disgusted with the whole thing. So for her to hear that her girlfriend might be working with her grandfather pissed her off. She decided to put her career over her girlfriend, and she just left. Sara is the one that does not talk about things. She just shuts down and leaves and avoids everything.
John-Paul Lavoisier (Ex-Rex, OLTL) is playing your brother, Eric Preston in Beacon Hill! What was that like working with him as your sibling?
ALICIA: I adore John-Paul so much! He is a gem. I have known him over the years casually, when we would see it each other at Super Soap Weekends. Again, I never really hung out with him, and on the set of Beacon Hill all we did was laugh! We both have a filthy sense of humor. (Laughs) JP is so gorgeous. I said to him, “You used to look like a beautiful boy a few years ago and now you are a handsome man.” He is such a strong solid actor. I wish I had more scenes with him. I only had a few. But maybe in season two I will.
Crystal Chappell was saying she was willing to go more matronly for the part of Claire, the mother of Sara and Eric. Do you have many scenes with her in Beacon Hill?
ALICIA: Yes, and first let me say her matronly is so beautiful. They put her hair up and she wore these little pearl earrings. It was a very different look for her … yet elegant. I had a very powerful scene with her after Sara has a big fight with Katherine. I am sitting at the table with her and she comes over and offers me a drink! And Sara says, “Mom, it’s not even noon yet!” So we end up having a drink together and all I can say is; we have a pretty intense mother/daughter moment!
And wasn’t your old All My Children pal, Ricky Paull Goldin around too?
Photo Credit: Sue Coflin/Max Photos
ALICIA: Yes! Ricky was around, too. In fact, Ricky and I drove to Boston together from New York. He picked me up in his car. I did not have scenes with him which I was bummed about, but I got to hang out with him because he is one of the producers on Beacon Hill. Hillary B. Smith is one of the producers also. I love that both her and Crystal are actors. They know what it takes, what to look for, and know how to get stuff out of actors and how to deal with us. They both know what looks good, because they both have been doing this for a long time. Hillary and Crystal are funny together; you can tell they love what they do!
Jessica from Bella Productions was telling me that the story of Beacon Hill mirrored her life in that it revolved around two successful women who fell in love. For those who may not know what to expect, what would you say the series holds in terms of how graphic the sexuality is in it, etc?
ALICIA: It is very conservative in terms of the sexuality. There are some kissing and hot little moments, but it truly is a love story and a political story about these two families, and all the screwed up things that happens with them. It has more of a Dallas and The West Wing vibe to it which I know Crystal had said previously. It’s not so much about sex. It’s really about these political families and what they go through. It’s really more about emotions and not about a bunch of hot chicks making out.
An observation that I have made is that it seems that a girl/girl love story seems more palpable to an audience, and Crystal has been groundbreaking with bringing this to an under-represented part of our population in the entertainment genre. But, you have never really seen yet two guys in a love story featuring a lot of familiar faces of the daytime genre in an all-star cast. I think it’s easier for the mainstream audience to accept two girls together over two men. Why can’t we see more stories about two successful men who fall in love like the story of Beacon Hill?
ALICIA: I agree and it almost offends me for the guys. I have so many gay male friends. I even have had an argument with my straight guy friends like, “OK, so you guys are OK seeing two girls, but you won’t watch two guys in a story?” It is a common weird thing. However, I do agree with you. It would be interesting to have a show like Beacon Hill centered around two men in a love story. It would be interesting for someone to do that. You should do it! I feel like people are coming around overall with same-sex marriage being legalized in more states. I feel like people are opening their eyes to not judging people and instead saying, “These people love each other. Let’s support them.”
Let’s talk All My Children. What did you think of how the revival of the series via Prospect Park ended up getting shelved after one season?
ALICIA: When I was doing Tainted Dreams, AMC’s executive producer Ginger Smith called me and said, “Lish, I know you are doing Tainted Dreams, but is there any way I can have you for a few days to be part of the finale of All My Children?” She told me what the story was going to be. I thought, “Wow, I get to work with Thorsten Kaye (Ex-Zach) and Eden Riegel (Bianca) again. This I could totally do.” So she said, she would let me know. I was waiting to find out as I was going towards the end of Tainted Dreams. Things were happening with the production of All My Children, and I was kind of forewarned by Sonia that this might not be happening. Then, I just started feeling bad for the actors and the crew and everyone involved. I thought, is everyone going to lose their jobs? So when I finally heard the news online that it was cancelled again, I was not surprised at all. I felt bad for the fans as well, because they lost their show. They finally get it back and are enjoying it again, and now they are going to lose it again? It was disappointing for everyone involved.
Photo Credit: TOLN
So they were talking to you about having Kendall be part of the season one finale?
ALICIA: I think it was going to be Kendall coming back and helping her niece Miranda (Denyse Tontz) with what she was going through since she too was a child of rape. I believe the scenes were going to be with Eden Riegel as well. It would have been a nice way for them to cap it off for the first season.
Why did you decide not to participate in the reboot of AMC, initially?
ALICIA: I never had a great feeling about the reboot. I so wanted it to go well for the fans and all of my friends that were involved. I had some other things going on at the time and felt a little removed from it. I thought, “OK, maybe I can’t be a part of this now, but maybe I can be a part of this later on,” which is why when Ginger called me I was excited to be a part of it. I did do one day on the reboot and the show was going well then. It’s unfortunate how it all ended.
Your pal, Thorsten Kaye went on to become the new Ridge on The Bold and the Beautiful! What did you think of that news when you heard it?
ALICIA: When I heard the job that Thorsten got at B&B, I thought, “Good for you, my friend. You have a family. You have a home. You have bills to pay.” He took another job and who could blame him … as did some other people. I know how stressed Thorsten was when he did not get confirmation that AMC was continuing. I thought, “Yay for B&B to get Thorsten!”
Have you watched Thorsten on B&B yet?
ALICIA: No. I am a terrible shitty friend! (Laughs) I said to him, “I got to check you out.” He is like, ‘No, no. No worries. It’s not a big deal.” You know how Thorsten is, but I think my husband Richie checked him out on B&B and said to me, “Thorsten’s looking good!” Thorsten was here on the east coast a few weeks ago and I said, “I am sorry I have not seen you yet on B&B, but my soap opera right now is Dora the Explorer, because my daughter Willow watches it.” (Laughs)
If a role came up on a network soap in L.A. would you consider taking it?
ALICIA: I honestly don’t know. I am in a different space in my life and my child is getting older, and she is in school. But at the same time, I don’t rule it out. It would have to be the right situation. I don’t know what that right situation would be. But I never say, never. It is a grind doing a network soap opera. I see what Thorsten goes through. He goes back and forth to Connecticut every week. It was a choice. He is doing great with it. Thorsten has worked it out with his family and he has a great gig. Sometimes I think if Thorsten can do it, maybe I can? But I really don’t know.
Now on to the other web series you are starring in Tainted Dreams, in which you play the character of Angelica. What did you think about mirroring Sonia Blangiardo’s life on-screen in a role that is sort of modeled after her behind the scenes experience producing on a soap … with a comedic twist?
ALICIA: Angelica is the hands-on line producer on Tainted Dreams. So when Sonia told me about the character I said, “Oh, do I get to where my hair up and wear a business suit? She is like, “No. Just look like you. When I used to go to work I would have my hair down and I wore my jeans.” I felt like I was playing an extension of me in some ways, because I am very similar to Sonia in a lot of ways, as we found out. I do like that I was playing a nurturing character. She is the one who takes care of everyone’s problems but her own.
Michael Lowry (Ex-Jake, AMC) plays Jordan Bradford who Angelica has a past with! Clearly from the first three episodes that have been released there are some unresolved feelings there!
ALICIA: They have had something that happened, and they are definitely drawn to each other, but they are both with other people right now. I think they definitely want to be together. In story, my character is with Austin Peck’s character of Max Hillstone right now. Honestly, I love Austin. He is so funny. I am surrounded by all these gorgeous funny people. Then I got to have some fun and some sexy scenes with Michael Lowry. I thought, “Well, this is sort of a fun gig.” So again, these were people I knew of but never had the chance to work with and I got to make out with both of them…
… And Sarah Brown and Jessica Morris all in one year! (Laughs)
ALICIA: You know, I have really gotten around, haven’t I? (Laughs) If there is anybody else I can think of I will let you know! (Laughs)
With Tainted Dreams, will the audience come to understand the story better as the episodes move along? There are a lot of characters to grasp! (Laughs) How do you define what the series is? Would you in essence call it a ‘dark comedy’?
Photo Credit: Sue Coflin/Max Photos
ALICIA: I do feel the shows get better as they go along in Tainted Dreams. The first one sets everything up, but it’s really about the relationships and how these character progress. You then see the connections of all these people, and by the time we finish it feels like it’s almost a completely different show, because so much stuff has happened. I do feel like it’s a dark comedy with some very funny moments, but also some very dramatic real life sad moments, too. I think Tainted Dreams offers a satirical look at a soap opera.
In closing, you busy bee you, what would you say about the ride the viewers will go on when Beacon Hill debuts on March 5th?
ALICIA: There is definitely less humor in Beacon Hill for sure than Tainted Dreams! (Laughs) Beacon Hill is so flawlessly written and acted. It is dramatic and there are some major surprises in it! I can’t wait for people to see it.
What do you think about Alicia’s preview of Beacon Hill? Are you excited to see her in her new role opposite Sarah Brown? Will you be watching Alicia in both Beacon Hill and Tainted Dreams? What about her thoughts on the ending of All My Children? Would you have liked to have seen Alicia return as Kendall for the online version’s season finale? Comment below!