Nobody plays a bitch like All My Children's Alicia Minshew. After all, it wasn't just anybody who could follow up Emmy-winning actress Sarah Michelle Gellar in the role of Erica Kane's vindictive daughter Kendall. She had to be tough, she had to be talented, and she had to be loveable -- all of which Minshew was, and more so. And after immediately wowing fans when she arrived in Pine Valley in 2002, she went on to win their everlasting love with a ten-year run on the ABC soap.
The question now is whether or not she's struck gold again. Minshew's latest series, digital drama Tainted Dreams, was picked up by Amazon and began streaming in late December. It's too early to tell if the soap, created by former AMC and One Life to Live producer Sonia Blangiardo, will be a success on the über popular digital platform. But from what Minshew reveals in this candid interview with Soap Central, there's no reason why it shouldn't be. After all, she shares she pulled a little bit of Kendall out in order to portray her Tainted Dreams character, Angelica Caruso, in the series that follows the behind-the-scenes drama of a fictional series called Painted Dreams. And where there's even the faintest bit of Kendall, there's magic.
soapcentral.com: Congratulations on the Amazon pickup! That's such great news for you and Tainted Dreams.
Alicia Minshew: Thank you! It's really cool. We filmed the show awhile ago, and Sonia has been working hard with a distribution company to try and get it out there, and finally Amazon said they would pick it up for two seasons. What's cool is we actually filmed one big season, which was 14 episodes, and they said to chop it up into two seasons, [which worked] because there are so many places to end one season and pick up another; there are so many cliffhangers that it worked out beautifully... It's fun to have it out there. We had so much fun working on it, and I think it's fun for the soap fans because there are a lot of faces they haven't seen in a really long time, or faces they haven't seen in this way, and it's great to have all these faces come together and the fans see them in a different way. There are some people who are playing characters who are so different than the characters they played on their former shows, so it's been fun hearing how the fans react and how they feel about seeing us all.
soapcentral.com: It's only been out a couple of weeks now, but have you noticed a difference in viewer response now that it's on Amazon? And what have viewer reviews been like?
Minshew: Everyone has their opinions. Most of the responses have been great, but there have been some negative reviews, too. Some people don't understand it because it's a show within a show, so some say, 'Oh, I don't know, which is the soap and which is the story?' So I can understand how people can get a little confused. But what I always say is give the show a chance. You have to get a few episodes into it. I believe the first episode is fun, but like with a lot of shows, you have to figure out who the characters are, what they mean to you, and that's when things really start happening. But overall, the response that I've been getting has been wonderful. Viewers think it's fun, and they've been enjoying seeing the behind-the-scenes antics, which is all based on real life stuff, by the way.
soapcentral.com: Things are so juicy, William Shatner even tweeted that he plans to tune in!
Minshew: I know! I shouldn't keep saying this is a show filled with people from soaps. It is, but there are a lot of people from theater, there are some off-Broadway actors, there are some reality stars. It's a nice mix of different genres. And Jesse Godderz, who is this actor and wrestler who was also on Big Brother -- he's like this giant reality TV wrestler star -- worked with William Shatner on a project, so they were talking on Twitter, and William is just so supportive of him. I guess he loved Jesse and he was thrilled for Jesse, and he tweeted about it. So that was great for us, to have somebody like that supporting us.
soapcentral.com: You were such an excellent crier on All My Children. Do you have crazy emotional scenes like that in Tainted Dreams?
Minshew: Not as many as I did on All My Children! [Laughs] I did have a lot, a lot, of crying scenes as Kendall. In the first season of Tainted Dreams, you might see a little moment or two. But my character is kind of the glue that holds everyone together while all the other characters crumble around her. She's trying to be a supportive friend, a supportive boss, a supportive girlfriend. But then, if you tap into season two, then you'll see some tearful moments. But you've got to wait until season two... and that's when you'll see some Kendall-like tearful moments, for sure. A lot of people have them in this show, and some people have them in the first episode. There are some nice moments for some people. Mine happen later. Not as much drama as All My Children. I have more fun moments in this show. Like I said, I'm the one trying to help and support everybody. But then, ultimately, you'll see my character have her moment. Something bad happens, and she blames herself. So season two! You've got to watch season two. Season one sets everything up beautifully, but season two is where the shit hits the fan. I'm just going to say that, because it does! And I hope I haven't said too much!
soapcentral.com: How do you normally get yourself to that emotional point, to do so much crying? Like you said, you basically cried every day on AMC!
Minshew: After awhile, you get into a zone where you just feel for what your character is going through, and you don't even have to try. If someone says, "[Your son] Spike is losing his hearing," then forget it, I'm gonna lose my mind and cry! It came very easy to me at that point.
soapcentral.com: Speaking of children, has your seven-year-old daughter, Willow, seen any of your acting work, perhaps Tainted Dreams or anything on AMC?
Minshew: When she was little, she did. She used to come visit me on set at AMC, but she didn't really understand what it was. But it's funny, I did a guest starring role on Royal Pains a little while ago, and she saw that and just said she thought I looked weird [laughs]. It's funny, because if they do your hair and makeup a certain way, the lighting can look a certain way, or if I'm frowning or being kind of bitchy and don't have that warm, nurturing mommy way about me, it's kind of weird for her. I guess if you think about it, she's used to seeing me a certain way at home, so you put me in this makeup or you make me look a certain way, or you light me in a certain way and my attitude is a certain way, I'm playing somebody else. So it's not authentic to her, it's not mommy to her, and she's like, "Why is mommy acting so weird? Why is she playing such a weirdo?" [Laughs]
soapcentral.com: Well she'd definitely think that if she ever saw some of Kendall's finest moments! And speaking of AMC, I know you were close with a lot of the cast members. Do you still keep in touch with everyone?
Minshew: Oh, for sure! I just spoke with Rebecca [Budig, ex-Greenlee, AMC; Hayden Barnes, GH] two days ago. And I'm supposed to call Thorsten [Kaye, ex-Zach Slater, AMC; Ridge Forrester, The Bold and the Beautiful] when I'm off the phone with you... If you work with somebody long enough, you become very close with your coworkers. And for us, we were like a big family. I was on for ten years, and Rebecca was on for about the same, on and off, and you have people like Rebecca, Cameron [Mathison, ex-Ryan Lavery], Thorsten, these were people I worked with for years and years every day, so they really became my family here in New York City, and then in California when we moved to California. When the show went off the air, it wasn't like I was just going to say bye to my family; they were my family. I love them, I know their families, I know their children, our children are all friends, and I believe that they will always be a part of my life. And I do feel very lucky that I have that from the show. I obviously gained so much from being on the show, but I think some of the most important things I've gained, besides just having a great job, is having these people in my life. That's how I met [my husband] Richie -- we met through Thorsten -- and that's how I had Willow. So I just feel like I wouldn't have the people I have in my life right now if it weren't for me being on that job for so long, so it's pretty cool.
soapcentral.com: Did you hear about ABC regaining the rights to AMC and OLTL?
Minshew: I did hear that. I don't know what the hell that means, but I think it's cool! [Laughs] I can appreciate what Prospect Park tried to do, I really can, and I'm glad that they tried, but now that that didn't work out, I feel like it's always been with ABC, and it feels right; that's where the rights should be. As for what it means, I don't really know.
soapcentral.com: Whether or not they decided to revive the shows remains to be seen, but there's the hope that some characters could come over to GH. So what would you think about Kendall popping into Port Charles?
Minshew: Oh, my God, my Kendall! My dear Kendall, how I've missed her. [Laughs] You know, I would not be opposed to playing her again. I've been asked if I would do another soap, and I always say, let's face it: will I ever play a character like that again? That was one of the best characters to play. There are some good characters out there, and the writers are all now with other shows, but it's hard to top her. I got to do everything with her. I got to be the witchy bitch, I got to be vulnerable, I got to be the mommy, I got to be businesswoman, a wife, I really got to do everything. So it's a hard one to top, but if someone brought her back to another show? That's very interesting. I'm definitely not opposed to anything like that. I say why not! My only issue, and it's a bummer, but everything is in California now, and my life is so engrossed here in New York City. So if I did do something, it would kind of have to be a short-term kind of thing. I'd pop in, I'd tell a fun story, and I'd pop out. For now, just because I'm so engrossed in Willow's life and everything is here. I don't want to turn that upside down right now.
soapcentral.com: What if a primetime role came about? Would you consider moving then?
Minshew: It's so funny you ask that because I've had this conversation so many times with my agent and my husband. If an opportunity comes up, whether it's a soap or a primetime show, I have a feeling it would have to be the right role and the right time. I can't say that I'm not going to leave New York long term. If something came up that was just fantastic and the timing was great for the family, I'm certainly open to it. My preference is to have something here, but if something came up -- daytime or primetime -- that was just too good to be true and worked out with my family, then why not! It's one of those things where everything would have to fall into place perfectly. I'm definitely open to it, whereas I wasn't a few years ago, because Willow was smaller. But she's bigger now, and they become more independent and more self-sufficient, so it's a little easier to plan things. So I'm open.
soapcentral.com: So what is on your horizon for 2017? Have you set any career goals?
Minshew: I used to make more career goals, and now I just kind of do life goals in general. Just with myself, with my family, how I handle things. Right now, I'm trying to just be more in the moment as opposed to worrying about this or planning that, or if I'm playing with my daughter, I'm checking my email. So now I try to put my email down and just play with my daughter for a half hour, as opposed to, "Oh, I have five emails and I need to get back to them." They can wait, let's just be in the moment, because it's all we have. And I know that sounds pretty cliché, but I'm learning that it's true, because before you know it, my daughter is going to be 17 years old. So I want to enjoy her now and be present for her now and listen to what she's saying instead of worrying about checking my emails or texting somebody. And the same career wise, I'm just going to enjoy where I'm at, enjoy whatever I'm working on and whatever will come will come. If a theater show comes, great. If a series comes, great. If a little indie film comes, great. I'm open to playing whatever character comes my way because I enjoy it, and I have fun doing it. I love all different genres and I feel like whatever is the next thing out there is what I'm meant to do, whether it's big or small, and I'm just trying to enjoy the ride a little bit more rather than saying, "I need to do this by this time." I appreciate that, but for me, it's more about being in the moment. It's hard, because there are so many distractions for us, for anybody. So I'm trying. I'm not saying I'm wildly successful right now, but it's something that I want to work on.
To catch Minshew in Tainted Dreams -- which also stars soap favorites Terri Ivens (Simone Torres, AMC), Walt Willey (Jackson Montgomery, AMC), Michael Lowry (Jake Martin, AMC), Larkin Malloy (Travis Montgomery, AMC, and Sky Whitney, Edge of Night), Grant Aleksander (Phillip Spaulding, Guiding Light), Kelley Menighan Hensley (Emily Stewart, As the World Turns), Marnie Schulenburg (Alison Stewart, ATWT), Colleen Zenk (Barbara Ryan, ATWT),Natalia Livingston (Emily Quartermaine and Rebecca Shaw, GH, and Taylor Walker, Days of our Lives), and Austin Peck (Rick Powers, OLTL; Brad Snyder, ATWT; and Austin Reed, DAYS) -- check it out on Amazon.
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What do you think about some of the things Minshew revealed in her Soap Central interview? Are you planning on tuning in to Tainted Dreams? Would you love to see Kendall appear on GH? We want to hear from you -- and there are many ways you can share your thoughts.