Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Diary Of A Single Indie Soap Award Winner: Monica Calhoun, Part Two

In Part One of our interview with Monica Calhoun, the Indie Soap Award winning actress shared the acceptance speech she would have made at 2011 Indie Soap Awards, described learning about DIARY OF A SINGLE MOM, and backstage technical insights about how to put together an Indie Soap Award winning drama in 18 days.  In Part Two, she shares more about her technique as an actress, the future for the show, and ways she is similar and different to character.  Will Ocean ever give Mike a chance? Find out below!

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: So much of the success of DIARY depends on how you express emotion on your face.  In the first episode, whether we get hooked into these characters and invest time in them or not, depends on you.  And that continues through season two and three.  If Ocean is afraid, the audience is scared.  If she smiles then we are reassured that everything is going to be okay.  Is that conscious on your part?
Monica Calhoun: The only thing that I’m focused on is what Ocean is feeling in that minute.  I’m not necessarily prepping my mind for what someone else is going to say.  Sure, there is preparation and memorizing dialogue and so on.  But I’m focused on how Ocean is feeling and how she is responding to what her friend Lupe is feeling, what her friend Peggy is feeling, what her children are feeling, what Mike is feeling.

My focus in that moment is how Ocean is going to get through that day.  Outside of that moment, I’m hoping that I was true to feeling what Ocean felt, and then hoping that the audience can connect to it. I am hoping that I gave enough as Ocean so if the journey has permission to continue that the writer will be able to craft a new story that adds to the last couple of episodes.  I am giving just enough so there is more to be added, instead of giving it all, and then not having anything left to give of Ocean. 

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: I think that is the beauty of the continuing story format and the layering of stories that takes place in DIARY.  Are we going to see season four soon?
Monica Calhoun: I don’t know. 

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: No! Don’t tell me that!
Monica Calhoun: (Laughs) I don’t know. 

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: Part of the reason why we hold the Indie Soap Awards every year is to reward excellence, and also to validate this as a form of entertainment that would be wise for sponsors to get behind.  People watch some of these shows, especially DIARY, over and over and over.  I have seen every episode of DIARY at least four times.  Why wouldn’t an advertiser take advantage of that?
Monica Calhoun: I agree.

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: Assuming the story will go on, what would you like to see happen for Ocean? Will she ever give Mike a chance?
Monica Calhoun: I think Ocean and Mike’s relationship will continue.  How far they will continue remains to be seen. They have a beautiful relationship.  They have a beautiful friendship.  With all the things she has gone through, we still don’t know if she has been involved with other men besides Senior.  We don’t know how well she adapts in relationships.  That is another roadblock for her to get over and get past.  And then her relationship with her sister and her six other siblings is unknown.  And then there is her Uncle Bo.  He is her Rock of Gibraltar.  He leans and helps her, she leans and helps him.  Those relationships exist around the world.  It is a wonderful opportunity for real life based scripted story that has a healing message, and a thought provoking message.

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: Everything in her world is complex.  Sometimes I think, “How much more can this one woman take?” She is constantly putting out fires.
Monica Calhoun: But isn’t that life? Like the other day I took my car to the mechanic to get it fixed.  I was happy, I rolled up the window, and broke the glass.  I was so excited to get my car back and I broke the glass.  I was like, “Gosh, I didn’t mean that!” That was just one thing.  It is wonderful in every day life, and that is the beauty of DIARY OF A SINGLE MOM.  I am really curious if we do season four where Ocean is going to go. 

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: There are a lot of cliffhangers at the end of season three, including Trina’s profound betrayal of Ocean.  We have Lupe’s recovery, Uncle Bo’s relapse, there is just so much that was left for viewers to look forward to.  Some shows like Crystal Chappell's VENICE, are doing a subscription based model where viewers have to pay.
Monica Calhoun: It’s logical.

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: I would pay for DIARY, that’s for sure. 
Monica Calhoun: That’s the natural progression in the steps of Capitalism.  It’s just natural.  Many moons ago you had to have a membership to pay for AOL. 

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: Many online have thought that DIARY is a perfect fit for Oprah’s new OWN network, as it is in alignment with so many of her messages of education, empowerment, and changing your life. 
Monica Calhoun: If Oprah decided to adopt DIARY OF A SINGLE MOM, it would take the production to a completely different level.  We’d film longer than 18 days, that's for sure.

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: It seems to make sense.  It is so consistent with what she has stood for the past 25 years.
Monica Calhoun: It has many subliminal enlightening messages.  If she adopted us we would get a new life.

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: You’ve been working with legends in this role.  What was it like to work with Billy Dee Williams from the very beginning?
Monica Calhoun: Every project for me is like school.  Each artist plays with a different instrument.  The ability to connect with each artist and each coworker, to really listen to their instrument, and to get that back and forth of their kinetic energy and chemistry, it is a phenomenal.  Then stepping outside of that as a total fan of his, and decompressing at the end of the day saying to myself, “That was Billy Dee Williams, that was Richard Roundtree, that was Diahann Carroll!” I read their memoirs and biographies and get a different understanding of their journey through entertainment. It is a true blessing.

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: These are people that have not only been role models to you, but you are playing in scenes where you are in direct confrontation against them.
Monica Calhoun: I prayed I would be able to hold on my own with these legends and give them what they needed to give that energy back.

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: Do you think you were successful with that?
Monica Calhoun: I’m hoping I gave them the energy that I needed to give them to fulfill everything those scenes were about.  I’m hoping I will have the opportunity again.  By not giving you the answer I’m saying that I’m feeling I didn't, but hoping that I have the opportunity again to meet that challenge.

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: Those scenes with Diahann Carroll are electric.  Ocean is respectful of her son’s therapist, but is somewhat horrified by her as well.  She is enraged, but understands the therapist is trying.
Monica Calhoun: It is a wonderful back and forth between those two.  But again at the end of the day I had to decompress and say, “Oh my God that was Diahann Carroll!”

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: Do you go back and watch the show?
Monica Calhoun: I started to watch it this morning and then I changed my mind.  I don’t know why.  I do often go back and look over it and say, “I could have done that better, I should do that better, I could have connected that way.”  I am always self-critiquing. 

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: Does that serve you?
Monica Calhoun: Yes. Again, it goes back to meeting the challenge of meeting those emotions in those moments and trying to do better the next time.

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: Do you get recognized on the street?
Monica Calhoun: Some people are afraid to speak to me.  And some people say the wrong things.  It’s weird the way people recognize me.  Some people treat me like an every day person and some people treat me like, “Wow.”  And I feel “wow” that they would treat me like “wow.” It’s hard to describe that.  For me, in order to make sense of it, I brush it off and say, “Hey, I’m just every day people.” I just start talking about every day things like accidentally breaking the glass on my car window (laughs).  That’s the best way for me to deal with it.

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: How are you similar to Ocean?
Monica Calhoun: I’m a single parent.  I have trust issues in relationships with starting again.  Those are our similarities.

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: How are you different?
Monica Calhoun: I didn’t have to get my GED.  Ocean is not an actress, and I am an actress.  We are different in many ways.  I don’t have two kids and I have not been involved in an abusive relationship.  Maybe some of them were mentally taxing, but I won’t say abusive. 

WE LOVE SOAPS TV: Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with We Love Soaps today.  Can  I ask you do one of Ocean’s trademark voice overs for me?
Monica Calhoun: “This is Ocean Jackson and this is an interview from the diary of a single mom in a world that is trying to hold her under.”

WE LOVE SOAPS TV:  Beautiful!

If you are in any way upset or enraged by network soaps at this time, do yourself a favor and check out the Indie Soap Award winning drama, DIARY OF A SINGLE MOM.  You will not be disappointed! 

Damon L. Jacobs is a Licensed Therapist in New York City who specializes in treating depression, stress management, 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. For more information about scheduling an appointment or a speaking engagement, please email him at [email protected].

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