INTERVIEW: General Hospital's Carolyn Hennesy is flying high after her Emmy nomination -- literally!

Posted Tuesday, June 08, 2021 12:20:44 PM
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Life in Port Charles can be a circus, so it's a good thing General Hospital's Carolyn Hennesy (Diane Miller) has the high wire act down to perfection. The actress spoke with Soap Central about her Emmy nomination and always being on her A game so there's no chance of an epic fall.

The soap opera community is thrilled to pieces for Carolyn Hennesy, who was nominated for a Daytime Emmy Award in the Outstanding Supporting Actress category this year for her work as General Hospital's Diane Miller. The super talented Port Charles staple perfectly summed up the name of her category during the über emotional storyline in which Diane was there to help and support Alexis (Nancy Lee Grahn), who was battling alcohol addiction and was miffed beyond belief that her family and friends staged an intervention.

In celebration of the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences' nod to Hennesy's performance in those scenes and other select moments throughout Diane's turbulent year, Soap Central spoke with the actress to get her reaction to receiving her fourth Emmy nomination and how acting on a soap is a lot like flying trapeze (without the safety net!).

Soap Central: Congratulations to you on your Emmy nomination! How do you feel?

Carolyn Hennesy: Thank you! Thank you so much. Here's the thing -- I try not to be too excited, because with this sort of thing, excitement can so easily be followed by despondency when the name is not called. So, I'm just sort of trying to pay bills and live life and try not to get the hopes up too high! [Laughs] Of course, one would always love to win, but as they say, and this is the God's honest truth, and nobody believes it: it is just thrilling to be nominated.

Soap Central: I can only imagine, and the feeling must be, "Wow. I've made it into this really fabulous group of people."

Hennesy: Especially considering the field was so large! And the group that I am included in is just ridiculously stellar. So, I'm like, "Okay, I'll just enjoy the ride!"

Soap Central: How did you find out that you'd been nominated?

Hennesy: Another journalist, a very sweet young man... posted it on Facebook with congratulations. He's one of those eagle-eyed watchdogs that is just on it when it happens, possibly even before it happens. So, that's how I found out. It was very early in the morning.

Soap Central: How did you react when you read his message, and who did you share the news with first?

Hennesy: After I picked my jaw up off the floor, I posted it on Facebook, and I said, "So, this happened!" [Laughs]

Soap Central: Which scenes were on your reel that led to this fabulous nomination?! I have a few guesses, especially considering you're in the Supporting category, and there were several scenes where Diane was very supporting in every sense of the word...

Hennesy: I was very supporting! And I think the scene that probably got the most attention was the Alexis intervention scene, where I pull out this letter that I had written to her. It is very, very difficult for Diane to get through it, and Alexis is cold and stoic and unfeeling. Obviously, there are rivers of emotion running underneath that, running underneath Alexis, but she's not going to show any of it, which makes it all the more difficult for Diane and everyone else involved in this intervention to get through what they have to say, because she is putting up such a wall. I think that's the thing that possibly got the most attention. And there again, Diane is being supportive of Alexis, so, yeah, it's supportive on many levels.

Soap Central: It was very emotional material. Do you remember how you got in the mood or prepared for the scenes?

Hennesy: At this point in the career, in the life of the show, and standing across from Nancy Lee Grahn, it is not difficult at all. It all just comes rushing forward. And to ask how? It's umpteen decades of doing this. It's not rote, but it's easily tapped into at this point, especially working opposite Nancy, who can just hold that emotion right in the corners of her eyes. It's easy to get lost in that tension that she's got, that struggle that she's got going on. It's very easy to get yourself as an actor and as the character to become involved in that. And so, therefore, it's kind of a clear pathway that the writers have created, that the director creates, that Nancy creates -- it's a clear pathway to honest emotion.

Soap Central: As the viewer, we saw Nancy's emotion and your emotion, and it was easy for us to get there, as well. And we even had the added music that added to all of that emotion! But in person, dang, it must be powerful to see, that tangible performance right in front of you.

Hennesy: That is absolutely true, and yes, you do have the music to overlay it, but we don't. We have nothing. We only have the silence, and the silence is often much more powerful.

Soap Central: Have you been in contact with the other nominees at all?

Hennesy: No, I haven't, but I did give a shout-out that said the air is very thin where all of these ladies are -- where all of the nominees are -- because they are up in the clouds, up in the stratosphere. All of them. So, I gave a shout-out to everyone that said I was so honored to be in this company.

Soap Central: Did you celebrate your nomination the day you found out?

Hennesy: I think I had flying trapeze class that day.

Soap Central: Flying trapeze?!

Hennesy: Yes! I have a been a flyer for about 21 years now. I'm a flyer and a static trapeze aerialist. And we can thank COVID for making me stay at home, so it was practice, practice, practice!

Soap Central: Wow! How did you initially get into trapeze?!

Hennesy: Many years ago, when I was in university, I was in a production of Comedy of Errors, and the director chose a circus theme. So, the two lead females were up on static trapezes, and I had to choreograph monologue after monologue, scene after scene, from Shakespeare -- hanging by my ankles! So, that's how I got into it, and I discovered that my third home, aside from my actual home and my home on the soundstage, is in the air.

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Soap Central: Do you get a rush, then, from being on the edge? I ask because I feel there are so many similarities between trapeze and acting on a soap, like having to think on your feet, be in that moment, jump off the cliff sort of thing.

Hennesy: Yes! And above all of that, you have to bring your A game so that none of that can falter -- unless you want to fail, and then, well, fail big! [Laughs] That is the exact same with trapeze. You have to bring your A game to every move you do, to every trick, unless you want to land in the net when you're not supposed to, unless you want to miss that catch, unless you want to miss that rope. You have to bring your A game to every single thing you do. It's a great analogy to life: bring your A game to every moment.

Soap Central: I love that you said that, and I think your fans can find inspiration in that, as well. And speaking of bringing your A game and being prepared, are you the type to prepare a speech on the chance that you win the Emmy, or are you the type who prefers to wing it?

Hennesy: No, I can't wing it because I will inevitably forget someone, and that is criminal to me! So, I will write it out. When I won five or six years ago for The Bay, I brought my paper up on stage with me, because I do not want to forget anyone important. Everyone that [I reference] has contributed to that gold statue that I'm holding, in both major and minor ways. Everyone that I announce has contributed, so I've got to be prepared.

Soap Central: I've seen so many actors accidentally forget to thank their spouse or their child. That would be so mortifying!

Hennesy: Or their director, you know?! Because it's true: your mind just goes blank when they call your name. And you worry about getting up those steps in that gown, in those heels, and then you look out at the audience, and you're like, "Oh, my goodness, I'd like to thank my dog!" [Laughs] You have to thank the people that had a hand in it, so, yes, I'll be prepared!

Soap Central: Speaking of a gown and heels and all of that, have you started thinking about what you might wear to the ceremony?

Hennesy: Pol Atteu. They've had a gown in the making for me for, I think, years! [Laughs] So, I'm going to go and pay a visit to them. We're all being recorded, I believe. I think there's some sort of event where there's a shortened version of a red carpet for press, and then I think we will be going in front of the camera and saying a few words. So, I will be wearing that gown, and I will still have the paper in my hand! [Laughs]

Soap Central: You have an insight, an expertise, about the Daytime Emmys that not many other actors have, as you've actually hosted the red carpet before. I'd love your thoughts on how they handled the production last year with the COVID restrictions and what you think about how they're going ahead this year?

Hennesy: It's going to be the same -- all virtual -- which is such a shame, I think, because the state is opening back up on the 15th. I know that preparations, of course, needed to be made, but I think that we've known that everything is opening back up on the 15th in California, so contingencies should have been in place. And I think we could all have gathered! And if people wanted to still wear masks, great, let them! If they wanted to maintain a safe social distance, fantastic, let them! I personally think that we are all fine if we stay conscious and aware and respecting of each other. I think we all would have been fine. But, they're going to be virtual again, and because of that, I'm not quite sure why we have to record thank you speeches ahead of time, unless it's someone who plans on not being there virtually. I do! I plan on being there and Zooming in -- if they let me! [Laughs]

Soap Central: I'm inclined to agree with you about the in-person thing, because you're all working, anyway! You're together and working, so...

Hennesy: Right? I mean, people are kissing each other, aren't they?! [Laughs] I'm not, but I think people are, and you can't get more intimate than that! If we've all been tested and we all have little pieces of paper that say, "Hey, we're okay," then why not? But I don't make those decisions. I wish I did, because then we'd all be hugging each other! [Laughs]

Soap Central: Fingers crossed for next year. Let's hope we can do the in-person thing again.

Hennesy: Absolutely.

Soap Central: Is there anything else that you'd like to add before I let you go?

Hennesy: I think it's important to reiterate how thrilled I am to be nominated with those in this category, because they are all powerhouse actresses and gave powerhouse performances. It's truly an honor for me.

What do you think about Carolyn Hennesy being nominated in the Outstanding Supporting Actress category at this year's Daytime Emmy Awards? Do you think she'll take home the win? We want to hear from you -- and there are many ways you can share your thoughts.

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