For a total of eight years, and 957 episodes, soap opera viewers around the world knew Anna Holbrook as soap opera heroine, Sharlene Frame Hudson. This beloved soap opera vet has been off the soap scene for awhile now. But, that doesn’t mean she didn’t love the time she spent in the genre. In this exclusive interview, Anna spills all about her time on the former hit NBC sudser. And, she even catches fans up on what she is doing today!

DAYTIME INDULGENCE: What do you remember about getting your role as Sharlene and your first day in the year of 1988?

ANNA: I vividly remember being extremely nervous. I had never met David Forsyth before my screen rest. And, I had to jump into this on camera relationship with him with only a handshake. But, David was and always has been extremely warm and gracious. He put me at ease immediately. However, when my screen test had ended, I had to head straight back to the Off Broadway play I was doing at the time. And, I remember being backstage crying my eyes out with my dear friend and fellow castmate, because I was so sure I had failed miserably! Now, when it comes to my first day, I can’t remember a darn thing. Isn’t that funny? I do recall the early days on the show and feeling very insecure. I also recall looking back at my early work. Some of it was actually very instinctive, some horribly over sone! Oh, actually, I do recall my first limo ride out to the studio. The show used to provide transportation to the sound stage. One day, I hopped in the car and found myself face-to-face with Anne Heche and Joanna Going. Since I had never watched the show prior to auditioning for it, I had to do a crash course in watching it in order to catch up. And, the Vicky/Jamie/Lisa storyline was front and center. Therefore, when I hopped into that car, and saw those two, I recall being totally tongue tired and starstruck! However, they were extremely kind to me.

DISOAPS: What was it like to work with David Forsyth and create the supercouple that was John and Sharlene?

ANNA: As anyone who has ever worked with David can tell you, he is such a treat! Solid, professional, always prepared, and great fun! David saved me on several occasions early on by using that cane ‘John’ walked with. He would tap me in the right directions when I was out of my shot. Though I was, and still am, happily married, I know that I fell in love with David right along with the character he was playing. I didn’t have to do much acting with him. And, our relationship was healthy and never crossed a line. He is still, to this day, one of my dearest friends.

DISOAPS: What was it like for you to play a sexual abuse story?

ANNA: Well, that’s an interesting question. When this story played out, I was a young actor. My goal was to be the next Meryl Streep. So, I took every job extremely seriously. Therefore, I was often frustrated and disheartened by the fact that I had done my in-depth research on the kind of abuse Sharlene withstood in order to create this alternate personality of Sharly, and the producers never told a plausible story. It’s like when they took on an interracial storyline but never let the characters kiss. Looking back now, I realize it was daytime. There would always be compromises and limitations. But, I did the love the opportunity to play such different character. It was great fun!

DISOAPS: What was it like to play out the D.I.D story?

ANNA: Again, fun! David always hated me as Sharly. He really did. And, I can’t blame him! But, I just loved the fun of walking an entirely different line, thinking so differently, being another character. Yet, having that internal struggle. I learned so much. You know, it’s funny, I have gone back and looked at some of the old episodes. And, there are so many that I simply have no recollection of doing. But, there I am, doing them, saying those lines. There’s even one I found of Sharly with one of her ‘john’s’...kissing him. And, it was actor Lewis Black! But, I have no memory of that!

DISOAPS: How did it come to the decision for you to be written out in the year of 1991.

ANNA: My contract was up and I wanted to test the waters elsewhere.

DISOAPS: What was your return in 1993 like? And, what was it like exiting again in the year of 1997?

ANNA: My return in 1993 was a bit strange. And, that is only because I did a big tearful, hugging exit...and...bam! I’m back! But, you know, it was like old home week. I have always loved the cast, crew, and production team of Another World. We were very tight out there in our little Brooklyn ‘island’. A real company. I will admit that even though it was a bit odd, it also a bit funny to step back in with that bad wig and find ‘Kate’ working at the same hospital as John Hudson...who think Sharlene is dead...blown up by my shrink, and he doesn’t realize it’s me! Too funny...and too fun. Ah, the suspension of reality for a good soap story! Anyway, I had won the Emmy in 1996 and then I was let go in 1997. Charles Keating and I used to sadly joke about when you win an Emmy, you get the boot. I will never truly know why they let me go, but, it’s the way of the business. It is a business. I just happen to think they made some poor decisions. Soaps were in trouble and everyone was scrambling.

DISOAPS: What were your feelings/emotions when you won a Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in 1996?

ANNA: Everyone should have the chance to have that feeling and stand on that stage in the iconic Radio City Music Hall. You know, it is funny though. With all the award programs that are on now saluting actors and the industry, it always makes me wonder...where are the ‘plumber awards’, the ‘teacher awards’, the ‘airline pilot awards’, the ‘subway driver awards’, ‘the mom and dad awards’, etc. I mean, why are they not celebrated in the same kind of way with the same platform? Actors are so lucky. We get to dress up and pat ourselves on the backs and get all sorts of attention. I did have a total, memorable blast that night. Oh, in one more thing, in my dry spells since winning, and there have been many, it truly has been nice to glance over at that beautiful statue to confirm with myself that I am an actor!

DISOAPS: What was it like to return in the final year of Another World?

ANNA: Odd. It was like returning to high school when you’ve already been through graduation.

DISOAPS: What were your feelings/emotions when you heard the show was getting the axe?

ANNA: I was sad. But, I also wasn’t surprised. When you remove core family figures, there is no trunk to the tree. Some of the moves that were made at the time just made you feel they were trying to kill the show. I don’t know. Mainly, I felt badly for that huge crew and production team that counted on those paychecks week after week.

DISOAPS: If there was an Another World reboot, would you want to step into the role of Sharlene again?

ANNA: I would be delighted!

DISOAPS: What is your favorite part about living your life right now?

ANNA: What a fantastic question! Well, after really stepping out of the entertainment business for over 15 years, my youngest child, Henry, left for college and I’ve stepped back in and I am in utter Heaven. I have the time to say ‘yes’ to projects that pay little but are rich in content. I get to do theater without rushing home to kids and pets. And, my husband and I get plenty of time together. I just don’t have to worry about the rest. I’m doing a lot of episodic work, auditioning, risking, taking workshops, and classes. And, I have met an entirely new world of peers. I love the collaboration. I’m often working with young people who weren’t even born when I was on the show! It’s a hoot! Honestly, I get to taste an entirely different chapter of my life. And, I’m finally aging into some really terrific roles that I could’ve never played when I was younger!




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