Renée Elise Goldsberry Recounts Frustrating Early Time on 'One Life to Live'

Renée Elise Goldsberry
Renée Elise Goldsberry delivered some straight talk on life as an actor, especially a black actress in daytime, in an interview earlier this month.

These days Goldsberry is riding high on the starring role that won her a Tony Award. She plays Angelica Schuyler Church in the smash hit musical, “Hamilton,” currently racking up sold out shows on Broadway night after night.

It wasn’t always that way for Goldsberry, though. Her career has had many ups and downs like so many show biz careers. Navigating the unpredictability of a career in show has special challenges for African-American actors, she told Cosmopolitan.

“The formula for soap operas makes it hard for an African-American to get any traction,” the actress said.

Being connected to a central family is key. Often, however, African-American actors are brought onto shows as supporting characters, doctors and lawyers who say a few lines to move others’ stories along.

“At the beginning of my time on One Life to Live, I was very frustrated. This was a time in my life when I felt very marginalized,” Goldsberry said. “You couldn’t win the game as a person of color, no matter how talented you were.”

However, her character, Evangeline Williamson, then got involved in a love triangle with Shaun Evans (Sean Ringgold) and John McBain (Michael Easton). Her popularity with the show and its fans skyrocketed. Her fame entered stratospheric levels, as fan groups formed and magazines featured stories about her.

“It was the best thing that ever happened to my career,” Goldsberry said. People said to her, “This is it.”

Soap stardom, doesn’t necessarily make you A-list though, she added.

Goldsberry’s career is an inspiring lesson in hard work and perseverance. She studied acting at the prestigious Carnegie Mellon University. She consistently performed in theater, even during her tenure on “One Life to Live.” Eventually she got the part as Angelica in “Hamilton.” Now, the sky’s the limit for this award-winning household name.

Akbi Khan has been a soap mega-fan for 31 years. She has been writing about them and working to save the soap genre for several years. Last May she got her Master’s in rhetoric and composition, for which she completed a thesis on the Save Our Soaps (SOS) movement and created her own SOS group, thistimeitsforever.org. In her spare time she enjoys spending time with family and friends, activism for various progressive causes, traveling down her spiritual path, rollerskating, going dancing, anything having to do with language or words, and laughing heartily and often, and more. You may reach her at akbikhan@gmail.com.

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