|GENERAL HOSPITAL star Rebecca Herbst|
In August 1997, Ms. Herbst originated the role of Elizabeth Webber on GENERAL HOSPITAL. She's been honored with three Daytime Emmy® nominations for her work on the soap, including one nomination earlier this year. She met her husband, Michael Saucedo, on the show, and the happy couple now has three children: Ethan, Ella and Emerson.
We Love Soaps caught up with the talented and generous Ms. Herbst to talk about GENERAL HOSPITAL and to find out what makes Smile Train's Season of Smiles campaign so important.
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: You've been through several transitions behind the scenes at GENERAL HOSPITAL. This year we've seen some people come and go, and a lot of familiar faces return, either short-term or long-term.
REBECCA HERBST: I'm an easy going person and just go with the flow. But I'm excited to see so many familiar faces, and to see where the stories are going. Frank [Valentini, executive producer] and Ron [Carlivati, head writer] are doing the best they can to keep our feet on the ground and to keep GENERAL HOSPITAL going.
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: After GUIDING LIGHT and AS THE WORLD TURNS were canceled, then ALL MY CHILDREN and ONE LIFE TO LIVE went off the air, things looked pretty dire for GENERAL HOSPITAL. But the show has really turned things around and the ratings have gone up.
REBECCA HERBST: I feel like a lot of people are sad their shows aren't on the air anymore. I think now it's like guys we have to band together and make this work because we could be next. We're all doing the best we can to keep it going.
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: How did you first become involved with Smile Train?
REBECCA HERBST: I've been involved with Smile Train for many, many years. During all the events I do during Fan Club Weekend we raise money for the Smile Train. The Seasons of Smiles is a campaign to help Smile Train reach their goal of a million smiles. To date they've already fixed over a million children's smiles, and we're just trying to bring awareness, and let everyone know it only costs $250 to fix a child's mouth. They send doctors to countries where their doctors are not educated in doing cleft lip and palate surgeries. Smile Train has 2,300 partner surgeons and 1,100 partner hospitals.
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: Why is it so important for you to support this cause and to give back?
REBECCA HERBST: It's really easy in the world we live in to make everything all about you. We all get wrapped up in what we're doing day to day and only thinking about our needs, and what we need at that moment. Sometimes we need to be woken up and reminded there are children out there not receiving these operations because their families are too embarrassed to take them to the doctor or they just don't have facilities in their country. It's up to us to bring awareness to everyone.
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: Another worthy cause is the Nurse's Ball which we are hearing about every day on GH. I'm assuming it's actually coming back.
REBECCA HERBST: That's assuming correctly!
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: Lucy Coe is coming back on Friday, which will be interesting...
REBECCA HERBST: I've already been working with Lynn [Herring]. She's amazing and she looks exactly the same as when she left all those years ago. She's so much fun to work with.
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: The hospital has its share of drama happening, but there's been a lot of comedic stories happening lately. Are you enjoying that?
REBECCA HERBST: Yes. And you are right. It's a nice break from all the killing and the darkness. It's nice to see this light in the hospital, especially with the new characters. Teresa [Castillo] is as sweet as can be, and Sabrina is a funny little character that plays so well off everyone. Felix brings this comedic side to everything. It's been a lot of fun.
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: And evil Britt!
REBECCA HERBST: You always need to have one person in the hospital you can give that evil soap eye to. [Laughs]
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: Scott Reeves (who plays Steve Webber) tweeted the news last night he would be leaving GENERAL HOSPITAL. A lot of fans have expressed concern about the character of Elizabeth, and the fact she doesn't have much family on the show. What does the future hold for Elizabeth?
REBECCA HERBST: I wish I had a crystal ball! In regards to Scott leaving, it's sad. I adored working with him and I loved the relationship between Elizabeth and Steven, and the fans loved to see a sister-brother on the show. I know Scott is going to be fine.
And Elizabeth is going to be fine. She's weathered a lot of changes over the past 15 years. Maybe her sister needs to come back to town?
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: I'm thinking Jeff Webber--MacGyver! I wonder what Richard Dean Anderson is doing now.
REBECCA HERBST: Oooh, that would be a better option! Or how about we explore who Elizabeth's mom is? We don't know who she is. We haven't even given her a name. She could come back to town.
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: GENERAL HOSPITAL is celebrating 50 years on the air in a few months, which is incredible when you think about what an accomplishment it is for a primetime show to even last five seasons. You've been on for over 15 years now. What is your favorite thing that's happened to you on the show?
REBECCA HERBST: Well, my favorite thing over the 15 years is I met my husband. That was pretty cool. [Laughs] On the show... There have been so many moments. I loved the beginning years of Liz and Lucky. I loved that relationship and working with Jonathan [Jackson]. His wife is one of my closest friends.
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: Have you checked out Jonathan in NASHVILLE?
REBECCA HERBST: Of course I have!
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: Do you have any musical talent? Maybe we could see you guest star on that show?
REBECCA HERBST: I don't have any musical talent. I wish I could sing. I pretend to myself that I do, but I don't. Jonathan is amazing on that, like he is on everything.
And I loved the Jason years as well. The fans are so passionate about it. That's what makes me smile.
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: Daytime soap opera fans are passionate but Liz and Jason fans are one of the most devoted groups of people I've ever seen.
REBECCA HERBST: They're pretty incredible, a great group of people.
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: Elizabeth had scenes with AJ (Sean Kanan) recently. This might be blasphemy but would the show ever go there between those two romantically?
REBECCA HERBST: You know, there have been a lot of things that have happened on the show lately that surprised me. So I would not count anything out.
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: I guess if Faison's Duke face can melt off anything can happen.
REBECCA HERBST: Yes, anything can happen.
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: And it's all thanks to Elizabeth drawing Faison for Robert Scorpio.
REBECCA HERBST: She's a pretty good artist, isn't she? [Laughs]
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: If you could go back to the beginning of your acting career and give yourself a piece of advice, knowing what you know now, what would you tell yourself?
REBECCA HERBST: It sounds cliche, but I would tell myself "don't sweat the small stuff." It's okay if your house is not perfect every day. Just enjoy the time with the people you love and know it's not forever.
EDITOR'S NOTE: To donate or to find out more about Smile Train and the Seasons of Smiles campaign, visit http://www.smiletrain.org.
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, worked as a producer on the first two seasons of Emmy-nominated THE BAY, and is executive producer on the indie short May Mercy Lie, which is currently making the rounds at film festivals.