Monday, October 25, 2010

By Susan Dansby

When I started working at GUIDING LIGHT in 1984, I was 29 years old, and my goal was to be a television director. I was told that the only way to the director's chair was to start in the office; so, that's what I did. And I sloooooowly began working my way up: first as back-up production assistant, then full-time production assistant, then associate director. Five and a half years later, I still hadn't directed.

But a good friend was dying of AIDS. This friend also happened to be someone who so believed in my directing talent that he had commissioned me to direct his original play. What was I afraid of?

I decided one Sunday that I was going to go into that studio on Monday and demand that my boss give me a directing shot! I marched into work, filled with determination and spunk, and was told my boss had been fired. Fired?!

Who was going to replace him? Nobody knew.

In a way I was relieved. There was nothing I could do about this, right? But I knew that was just my fear talking. So, I planned a next step. The Procter & Gamble executive for the show - a lovely man named Ed Trach - would be overseeing the executive producer duties (from Cincinnati!) until a replacement was found for my old boss.

So I called Ed, and - well, that's an embarrassing anecdote I recount in my book: How Did You Get That Job? My Dream Jobs and How They Came True.

The cleaned-up version? I harassed Ed into giving me a shot at directing an upcoming audition session. And that's how I came to direct the Melinda Sue Lewis and Hampton Speakes auditions at GUIDING LIGHT.

Kimberly Simms landed the role in that particular incarnation of Mindy Lewis. I don't remember much about her audition except that Kimberly was the actress who looked the most like Krista Tesreau (the original Mindy). I also remember that she didn't force a Southern accent (wisely), and that she had sincerity and vulnerability.

I remember more about the Hampton Speakes auditions (the role was won by the amazing Vince Williams). All the actors auditioned with Jordan Clarke (Billy Lewis). And though Jordan - always a pro - helped each auditionee give his best performance, Jordan seemed to have a real connection with Vince.

What got Vince the job? He had this moment where he had to recount his adventures as a football star. Instead of just "saying the words," Vince physically recreated the moment of running with the ball, scoring the touchdown, and hearing the cheers. I can still see him doing that.

After the taping was done, I added my two cents, and said Vince should get that role. Soaps are so fast, producers need actors creative enough to bring something to the table instead of being spoon-fed.

Vince Williams has since passed away; but I will be forever grateful to him, and to Kimberly Simms, for taking my direction and making me look good on that all-important first day.


Was there a ghost on the set the day Susan directed Kimberly and Vince's auditions? Find out, here!

Catch up with Kimberly Simms at Soap Opera Digest.

1 comment:

SoapFan78 said...

Sadly, it looks like P&G has taken down the site.