Mentoring Yourself

In 1983, sometime around my 20th birthday, I met “The Queen of Daytime Television,” soap opera star Mary Stuart. I was a young aspiring actor living in NYC and she was the grande dame of TV’s longest running serial drama, Search for Tomorrow. I landed some extra work on the show that eventually evolved into a small part and I was so besotted with the medium itself that I took on side work in the production office…not only to earn a living, but to be around the excitement of the daily inner workings of the show. I floated between the writing, casting and executive offices learning all aspects of what goes on “behind the scenes.” Mary took notice of my skills on both sides of the camera and offered me yet another side gig: she would give me personal acting coaching in exchange for helping her answer her fan mail and type up the edits of a new play she was writing. How could I refuse!?

Mary was not only an esteemed and groundbreaking TV star, she was a fine actress, having graduated from a Hollywood career in B-movies to being a co-creator and main character of television's very first successful soap opera. Search for Tomorrow, debuted in 1951 and Mary was there from Day One, creating a whole new form of storytelling that continues to this day. She was very famous (my grandmother indoctrinated me to the world of soaps and Mary was, of course, her favorite star; I’d grown up watching the trials and tribulations of her long suffering character, Joanne) and also an accomplished author, singer and songwriter.