WE LOVE SOAPS TV: We often see young people in the spotlight who don’t have a healthy support network. How does one find an authentic team of people to help stay grounded?
Genie Francis: It’s hard to say how. Hopefully you have a family that is involved with providing that. If you don’t, hopefully you have surrogates that provide that. It’s hard to know who is there just for you and who isn’t. I was fortunate in that I had people that were really there for me who truly loved me. If I hadn’t had a couple of those people I don’t know what the hell would have happened to me. I think I would have been a lot worse off.
I was fortunate. I had a wonderful studio teacher who put me first in her life and cared for me like a daughter. She was like the good Jewish mother everyone should have. And I had Denise [Alexander]. So there were enough good people around that didn’t have an agenda of feeding off my agenda. I think that is really important. To have people who love you for you. When you are very successful and making a lot of people a lot of money, that is very hard to find.
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: You were hired on DAYS OF OUR LIVES as Diana in 1987. What were those two years like?
Genie Francis: The first part was kind of difficult. They didn’t really write a character for me. It took them awhile to find a character. Once they found it, it ended up being a lot of fun. I worked with Drake [Hogestyn] and Drake is a very sweet man. I enjoyed him a lot.
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: You were part of one of the most cherished locale shoots in daytime history as Diana and Roman and many others ran off to Greece. What do you remember about that?
Genie Francis: It was a little crazy. Soap operas don’t go on location very well. They were not prepared, they didn’t have housing for us. They didn’t have places for us to stay, and everything went a little crazy . I remember a producer breaking down and not knowing how to handle it. It was really bizarre. Ultimately we all found housing and we all did our work and we all went home. But it was a classic soap-opera-trying-to-go-on-location moment where nobody knows which end is up. [Laughs] It was ridiculous, but it got done.
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: What led to your decision to leave DAYS in 1989?
Genie Francis: That was just a breakdown in negotiations.
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: Have you ever thought or considered returning to DAYS?
Genie Francis: No, I really like THE YOUNG & THE RESTLESS, I can’t think of any reason I would want to go back to DAYS OF OUR LIVES.
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: After DAYS you created the role of Ceara on ALL MY CHILDREN in 1990. What was that role like?
Genie Francis: Initially she was meant to be predatory. She was actually written maybe a little bit like Susan Lucci’s character . She was kind of a manhunter. Eventually they flipped it around into what made her that way.
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: She started off as an antagonist, but became a heroine figure on the show, a survivor of sexual abuse.
Genie Francis: I loved the way they handled that story. I loved being on ALL MY CHILDREN, those were two of the happiest years I’ve had as actress. I had a great time doing that. I wanted to stay on there.
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: What happened?
Genie Francis: Tony Geary came back to GENERAL HOSPITAL, he was playing Bill Eckhert, and it wasn’t going well. I think ABC decided that they had me on contract, they had him on contract, wouldn’t it make more sense for us both to go back to our old roles which they knew were money makers.
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: Did you have any qualms about returning as Laura in 1993?
Genie Francis: I did. I didn’t really want to go back at that point. I was in New York, I asked them, “Are you going to keep me on ALL MY CHILDREN?” They said, “We want you for fifteen years” so I bought an apartment. And then they fired me! I was like, “Oh my God.” It was so awful, especially since I had gone and asked. But nobody could have predicted that Tony was going back, that the Bill Eckhert thing wasn’t going to work, and that they would ultimately want to use me to bring him back as Luke.
Genie Francis: No. I knew she did RYAN’S HOPE. But I didn’t know anything about her, except for the fact that Maxine Levinson, an exec I really loved, was thrilled about getting Claire to write GENERAL HOSPITAL. I mean she was over the moon about it. So I was encouraged by that.
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: Claire Labine had a very down-to-earth way of writing realistically for this over-the-top fantasy supercouple. Did you like that Laura became a more realistic character?
Genie Francis: Yes, I thought Claire did a great job with that.
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: The show then changed drastically over the next nine years. The focus became on violence, mobsters, short-term plot based gimmicks versus psychological characterizations.
Genie Francis: For me the part where it started to not be fun anymore was with Jonathan [Jackson] left the show [in 1999] and they decided he was dead. That was so crushing for Laura. After that Laura wasn’t much fun to play.
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: How did you continue to work with these changes?
Genie Francis: You just push yourself and try to find something interesting day to day. But my heart went out of it at that point. I just didn’t understand who she was or what to do with her. It didn’t have the same meaning that it once did.
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: I have spoken with Jacklyn Zeman, Wendy Riche, and Claire Labine, about the changes at ABC over the past decade and the shift away from telling stories with strong mature women at the forefront.
Genie Francis: I don’t think ABC values our demographic. They really want that 18-25 demographic. And they did have it at one point, they had it in a big way. They ultimately don’t give a shit about our age group. Interestingly, THE YOUNG & THE RESTLESS really does. They know their bread and butter, they don’t want to alienate that part of their demographic.
Genie Francis: It came after the OPRAH interview. I got a call from Maria Bell saying, “I have something that I think sounds like what you were describing, would you be interested?” Then it went on to my agent after I said “yes.”
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: Any concerns about returning to the pace and scheduling of daytime?
Genie Francis: No. It is a really nice job for me, I’m working with very professional people who are kind hearted and smart. It’s an in-town job for me, which is a gold nugget, most of the work is all over the country right now. So I’m very grateful to have the job. They can take it any direction they want to, they’ve covered themselves in that way. My heels are not dug in any way, like, “It has to be like this.” I’m willing to do the show that they want to do it.
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: Anything you can preview for us about Genevieve?
Genie Francis: I’m working an awful lot this month. There is a big story that is brewing. It will air around Christmas time.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Thank you for reading! Please watch Francis's new role as "Dr. Kate," Licensed Pageant Therapist, on the hit Indie Soap PRETTY THE SERIES.
Damon L. Jacobs is a Licensed Therapist in New York City who specializes in treating depression, stress management, anger management, ageism, and grief/loss issues. He is also the author of the popular book "Absolutely Should-less: The Secret to Living the Stress-Free Life You Deserve," currently available at Amazon.com. He is currently helping thousands get through the holidays stress-free at http://www.shouldless.com/. To learn about scheduling a session or speaking engagement, write him at Shouldless@gmail.com