In Part One of the WE LOVE SOAPS TV interview with Carmen Thomas, the former ALL MY CHILDREN actress talked about landing her soap gig, "Hillary's" romances with Tad and Mitch, and working with the legendary Ruth Warrick. In Part Two below, Thomas shares thoughts on her post-soap career, the 50 Greatest Soap Actors she worked with, and the new gifts and talents she's discovered in her life over the years.
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: When Ruth Warrick (Phoebe) died, that's when I thought Hillary could have come back, at least for the day.
Carmen Thomas: I was really surprised about that too. I didn't get in contact with them or anything. My life has been so busy as it's been going on, I haven't thought to reach out to them. But I really would have thought I would have gotten a call from them then.
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: You went to London and did a lot of theater. You also did a lot of episodic work on shows like MELROSE PLACE and BABYLON 5. How was that type of work for you compared to the soap pace? Sometimes the work is more sporadic once an actor leaves a soap.
Carmen Thomas: At one point I think I got burned out with even pursuing acting. Auditioning and running around and pursuing it is not doing it. If you want to be an actor, that's a part of it you have to accept, unless you're on a show and know you're there. At one point, you know you have to make money to survive, and I had to find other things to do to make money. Then you're fitting in pursuing acting along with other jobs that you're doing. It's been a question of am I going to let go of acting. But I've never been about to say, "Yes, I will." It's always been something on my plate one way or another.
But I have found what other gifts I have. Growing up and being ON ALL MY CHILDREN I just thought I wanted to be an actress and that's what I would do the rest of my life, and I would be a star, and that's what I would do. But that not being the case, I had to sort of look at how do I want to contribute to the world, and what gifts I have. I discovered that I have a gift in the healing arts and can give in that way, so I studied massage therapy, aroma therapy, and physical therapy. Still now I do a lot of massage therapy, and that kind of led me to be learn to teach yoga and become certified as a yoga teacher. That led me to help couples who are having babies. I'm a labor support doula. I'm on call for a delivery right now!
I have all of these other things going on that have nothing to do with acting. I have a few celebrity clients that I massage and I've never told I'm an actor. In my life I have all these different roles that I play - I have two kids, I'm a mother and I'm a wife. But I've always been acting. I'd do a play for a couple of months. I've never gone a year without doing some type of production.
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: How old are your kids and what do they think of your acting career?
Carmen Thomas: I have a four year old and a nine year old. To them I'm just their mother. They know I do all these other things but I'm able to be a star in their life by being there for them and having that be my number one priority. All the things I've done for work have been able to be worked around their lives. If I was an actress doing nighttime or movies I would be more first to them an actress or a celebrity because they would have to fit their lives around my work schedule. But I fit my life around their lives and that's really a blessing. I have a lot of friends who have their own series or are working and their biggest dilemma is feeling like they can't be with their kids, and having to find a nanny who will spend most of the time with them. I feel like now I'm at the point where I've laid the foundation so I could go away and do a movie and they could come with me or it could fit in their life in some way.
I was explaining to my daughter recently that I did this soap and about Hillary and she's never really seen soaps. She's heard me talking to people about it [since the character of Damon came on] and had this weird look on her face when hearing that people were suggesting the character come back. So one day I said, "What's wrong?" I told her, "This could be a great thing if I were go to back on the show." She said, "Well, if you do it, only do it for a month or two." I said, "Why?" and she started crying and said, "I don't want you to have to kiss anybody else but Papa." Somehow she heard all this talk about Tad and knew what happened on soaps.
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: Do you have any interest in behind the scenes work like writing?
Carmen Thomas: I have done some collaboration with producing and writing which I love. I also have a few ideas for some shows. But I haven't had the time to sit down and work on that. I feel like that is something that could be in my future for sure. My advice to young actors out there, if you want any power in the industry, you have to write.
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: WE LOVE SOAPS TV counted down the 50 Greatest Actors of All-Time this year. Can you comment on the actors you worked with at ALL MY CHILDREN? Of course, Michael E. Knight (Tad).
Carmen Thomas: He's just a sweetheart. It's really touching seeing him now being gray. When I knew him he was really this soap stud, yet he was this sweetheart teddy bear with his insecurities in this soap star stud body. The biggest thing that stands out for me when I think of Michael is his sense of humor. He has a great sense of humor.
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: I feel like the Tad and Hillary story was never really finished. Now that Hillary's son Damon is on the canvas, would you return?
Carmen Thomas: If this had happened a lot earlier I might not have been as ready or interested but now I feel like it would be so much fun. When I think about that time with Hillary and Tad's relationship, we never got the chance to be together. It was just this long time of unrequited love. When we finally got together Michael decided he was going to come out to L.A. and be a movie star so they had to figure out something quickly to have it end between us. Then I left before he came back. I was so young on the show. I look back at old clips and feel like I've grown so much as an actress.
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: How about Larkin Malloy (Travis)?
Carmen Thomas: He was always so charming, a really nice guy, sharp wit.
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: Maurice Benard (Nico), who has gone on to become the star of GENERAL HOSPITAL.
Carmen Thomas: I really liked him. He was unpredictable and you were never really sure what Maurice was going to do. He was more of a wild child, but very devoted and dedicated to acting. When Maurice wanted something, and went for it, there was no stopping him.
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: Peter Bergman (Cliff)?
Carmen Thomas: All I can say is, "The Doctor is In." That was the sign we put on his dressing room door. He was always available and accessible and such an all around really good guy. The advice he gave me when I first arrived was, "Always keep your bags packed."
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: David Canary (Adam/Stuart)?
Carmen Thomas: We didn't have a lot of scenes together but when I worked on the show we were all in the same building for 12-14 hours a day and really all knew each other and hung out together. I watched him a lot. He is ultimate technichian of crafting in terms of an actor. He knows how to craft a scene and knows where the cameras are and takes all that in when he does his work. He's really a hard worker. Some actors show up they know their lines, they know the instincts and connect with their partner, but have no idea what the camera is doing. David was always a craftsman.
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: Thanks so much for your time. I would love to see you back on the show as Hillary.
Carmen Thomas: Thank you. I really feel it's people like you that elevate this to an art. Like when you talk about remembering characters like Myra. That was the cool thing about doing the show in New York City, even the day players were on Broadway. I appreciate all the details you bring to the surface for people to appreciate.
EDITOR'S NOTE: For fans interested in seeing Hillary on ALL MY CHILDREN once again, here are a couple of key addresses to write to:
Brian S. Frons
President of ABC
500 South Buena Vista St
Burbank, CA 91521
Julie Hanan Carruthers
Executive Producer of AMC
4151 Prospect Ave
Los Angeles, CA 90027