"I Would Survive If I Couldn't Act"
Soap Opera People Magazine, March/April 1977
by Lydia Robbins
Maureen Garrett, the pretty new face on the daytime television scene who has taken over the role of Holly Bauer for the departing Lynn Deerfield on The Guiding Light, does not describe herself as intensely driven. "I'm not one of those actresses who wouldn't survive if I couldn't act," she points out. "I never thought I couldn't be happy doing something else."
A relative newcomer to the acting profession, having only made a commitment to it two years ago, Maureen had had the opportunity to actually put that hypothesis to the test. At various times she's earned a living as a film programmer and freelance photographer, and she found both to be an excellent opportunity to enter the lives of people she never would have met otherwise, however briefly. Meanwhile, though, acting was always on the back burner.
"Acting had been hand in hand with me for some time, even though I was doing other things," Maureen explains. "I always kept at it because it was how I felt I could best express my creative side. I found the most personal growth through acting. As I got older and time became more valuable, I saw that my best time was spent acting, so why not really pursue it? Acting simply excited me like nothing else did."
Maureen boasts a personality trait that will serve her in good stead as an actress. An Army brat, she grew up in such far-flung parts of the world as Germany, France, Texas, England and Pennsylvania (where she stayed for a four-year dose of American high school), but she never minded being the new kid on the block. It's said that most actors have plenty of gypsy in their souls, and Maureen is no exception. "I always loved the traveling, I love change," she notes. "That's one of the things which draws me to acting. There's always lots of change; always new roles to play, new scripts to learn and explore, new plot developments to look forward to. Now, playing Holly, I can even have constant change while staying in one place, which is nice. It's true that as one gets older, more and more you begin to appreciate the idea of staying put. But the idea of touring with a wonderful play wouldn't distress me at all."
Maureen came to New York last spring after two years polishing her craft in Philadelphia working with the Drama Guild, the local repertory company and the Shakespeare Festival. Prior to that she was busy earning her degree in broadcasting and film from Temple University. In town a grand total of a couple of weeks when she landed the very first commercial she auditioned for - a Pampers spot in which she was required to play a very nervous mother-to-be - Maureen couldn't believe her good fortune. "I guess it was just a case of being in the right place at the right time," she laughs.
Six months passed, however, before a good fortune was to strike again, yet Maureen was "riding high on optimism" from her first encounter with it. "I never got discouraged," she insists. "I went on many auditions, and I looked upon it all as valuable experience." Indeed it was. Maureen had done a one-day bit on The Guiding Light, which impressed the show's casting director enough to warrant a call-back when the part of Holly was being recast. And for this audition, Maureen was cool as could be.
"With all those hours and hours of on-camera experience I had auditioning for commercials, I felt like an old pro when they screen-tested me," she explains. "The camera was my friend by then."
But she wasn't at all cool when she found out the part was hers. "I was home sick in bed with the flu when my agent called. I couldn't stop jumping up and down. I was so excited. Since I couldn't go out and celebrate, I channeled all my excitement into polishing a big brass bed. You know what one of the most wonderful things about getting this role is? It's being able to share it. My mother and I now have this whole new world that we share. And it's just lovely the way my relatives and friends all over the place are getting such a kick out of seeing me on television. This past Thanksgiving I went home to Pennsylvania and attended a high school reunion, and everybody knew about it and was so pleased for me. It's just been incredible. And today I got my first batch of fan mail! I was warned that the viewers would probably have a hard time adjusting to a new actress taking over the role, but I'm delighted to see that doesn't seem to be the case.
Welcome aboard, Maureen!
[Maureen appeared on Ryan's Hope as E.J. Ryan, albeit some years after this interview.]
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