ATWT’s Colleen Zenk’s 32 year run as Barbara Ryan ends this Friday. The actress caught up with TV Guide to share her thoughts on the shows final moments, her real life cancer battle and how it affected her both on and off the television screen, and how through it all she still brought joy to the role that has made her beloved to long time fans of As the World Turns. Here are a few excerpts!
Zenk on how she is feeling with just a few episodes left to air! “All I can think is why? The cancellation makes no sense. The last few episodes have been wrenching. Oh, my God! Those scenes with John and Lucinda! And Reid’s death! And the ashes! It’s all so emotional and poignant. I just can’t believe we only have a couple of episodes left because I still haven’t dealt with the loss of the show and the loss of Barbara. To continue shooting months and months after we got the cancellation notice created a grand illusion. It was easy to fall into a place of denial and say “We’re fine!” because we were still telling great stories. Someone told me it took Victoria Wyndham five years to accept the loss of Another World. [Laughs] I’m a different kind of human being than that, but the loss is still huge.”
Zenk on dealing with her cancer battle in such a public way: “I had a lot of resistance at home and elsewhere about taking it public. But I did it anyway. It was a lot harder than I thought it would be, but I had tremendous emotional support from everyone at work. Procter & Gamble didn’t have to keep me employed, and certainly not under contract, after I got sick. They could easily have said, “This is not going to work.” The show worked around all my surgeries and treatments and radiation. And I sounded like hell for a very long time, and I didn’t look so good, either. I’m told no one can hear my speech impediment anymore. I sure can hear it, and it doesn’t sound so good to me. But people have ignored it, and that’s extraordinary. Having that kind of love all around really changes you. Having that unrelenting, unquestioning, no-holds-barred kind of love was what kept me alive.”