In Parts One and Two and Three of our interview with Denise Alexander, the legendary actress spoke about her early career on radio and television, her early soap roles including DAYS OF OUR LIVES, her brilliant run on GENERAL HOSPITAL, and her stint at ANOTHER WORLD. In Part Four below, Alexander talks about meeting PRETTY creator Steve Silverman, working on PRETTY Season Two, and discusses the solid foundation her parents gave her which she credits with helping her have a lasting career as a working actress.
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: Let's talk about how your role on PRETTY came about.
Denise Alexander: I met Steve [Silverman, creator of PRETTY] because he worked on GENERAL HOSPITAL. Do you want to know how Steve and I got together?
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: Of course!
Denise Alexander: This kid called me and he was like 24 years old or something and said, "I have a play I've written and I want you to come and do it." And I said, "Who the hell are you? I don't think so." I used to get a lot of inquiries like that. Here's some kid who has really never done anything except be an intern at GENERAL HOSPITAL and wants me to come and do a play with him, and he was going to also direct and produce it. He was nice to talk to on the phone so I said I would read the script. And I read the script and fell madly in love with it. I was then kind of in my producing mode and said that I wanted to option it. This little punk kid said to me, "If you act in it, you can option it." The nerve of him [laughs]! So I said yes. But I made him suffer, waiting until the last minute. Now we've become great friends, and that's how I wound up in PRETTY.
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: You play Louise Fitzpatrick. You mentioned the comedy work you were able to do on GH, but this show is pretty wacky comedy. Have you done anything like this before?
Denise Alexander: I've done some. I think when I get a chance to do that it's not my comfort zone. I'm really good at comedy and comedy timing but I'm not sure this is my forte so it scares me a bit. When Steve got this on the air, I was thrilled for him but kept saying, "I love this show, but I'm not your audience." He's had a huge audience for this and I'm so happy for him. When I tell my most straight-laced, got-to-be-a-romantic-comedy friends about it, they say, "He's so wonderful, and isn't that so clever?" It's a wonderful company, wonderfully well run, made for a dime and a half, looks terrific, and, of course, what Stacy [McQueen, who plays Annette] does is amazing. Steve put this to me as he's written a couple of things. It's like a cameo, which would be called a bit part if you were a nobody. He said he wrote this with me in mind, and I prefer to believe that is true [laughs]. I couldn't imagine saying no to an experience like this. When people drop something so unusual, and weird and wonderful in your lap, you have to say yes. The hair and make-up people made me look terrific. I'm very grateful to them. I think if the audience loved last season, they will find this one such a treat.
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: Are you a web savvy person?
Denise Alexander: I'm not. I run a business online and I'm good with Word, but no. In this world, I'm like a 10 year old compared to what other people know about being online.
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: There are dozens of soap operas online now. Some of them are more comedy than drama, and some are more traditional than others, but there are a lot of creative talents out there like Steve that can put their vision on the web without interference from a network or focus groups.
Denise Alexander: That's great. Steve is genius. You could put PRETTY in the farce category or the outrageous category. But when you look at the world of children's beauty pageants, it's not that far out there! It may not even be as outrageous as real life, but having Stacy play the character [of Annette] is pure genius. It's really that world - how they talk and how they think. It has his wonderful oddball humor spin on it.
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: One question we ask a lot in interviews is, "If you could go back to the beginning of your acting career and give yourself one piece of advice, what would you tell yourself, knowing that you know now?" But you've never not been acting, starting as a young child.
Denise Alexander: Yes, 150 years! But what I would say is what I got from my parents. I have worked with so many kids who are new and they are just so pretty. Some of them are just pretty, and some really want to be good actors. Some just think they are beautiful and are meant to be stars, and have a lot of girls or boys screaming for them so they are really important in life. I would say the same thing my parents did for me. I grew up as a person. School was important. Education was important. Yes, I was an actress as a kid, but I was in school and girl scouts and lived in a wonderful town and had friends.
While show business was part of my blood in a way and the air I breathed, I lived a real life thanks to my parents. My dad was in the business. He started as a young musician, then became an agent, then a producer for some things, and then became a stock broker [laughs]. So he understood and dealt with the other side of it. He was very down to earth. My mother loved theater but I didn't get away with stuff. I grew up as a person and had the great gift of them in my life. Everybody who is a child actor won't have the benefit of having my parents, so I would say you have to keep that kind of a head on your shoulders. Sometimes the parents will get too full of it, like Lindsay Lohan's, for example.
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: She started on ANOTHER WORLD!
Denise Alexander: Yes! So the way to be an actor and have it be a way of life and have it last more than 15 minutes is to be a person first.
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: You appeared in our 50 Greatest Soap Actresses of All-Time list that was released earlier this year. I want you to know how much your work over the years has been respected and appreciated by not only the fans but people who cover the industry as well.
Denise Alexander: That is so nice. You couldn't have said anything nicer to me. Thank you, thank you, thank you.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Watch Denise's appearance on PRETTY below.
Roger Newcomb is a producer and writer in New York City. Aside from co-hosting WE LOVE SOAPS TV, he has written and produced a full-length indie film, Manhattanites, and two radio soap operas, SCRIPTS & SCRUPLES and ROCKLAND COUNTY. He has also made acting appearances in indie web series IMAGINARY BITCHES and EMPIRE. He has consulted on numerous indie soaps and is currently an associate producer on THE BAY and executive producer on the upcoming indie short May Mercy Lie.