Now that Renee Elise Goldsberry (Ex-Evangline Williamson, OLTL) is fast becoming a household name, the Tony Award-winning star of the Broadway smash Hamilton, and who has been cast in two exciting projects: Netflix’s, Altered Carbon and HBO films, The Immortal Life of Henrietta Lack, opened up about the path of her career for a feature for Cosmopolitan.
In it, Goldsberry who first shot to noteriety on ABC’s One Life to Live, related the inherant struggles of playing an African-American character on a soap opera, and then how being part of a successful soap formula triangle changed that, and why she made the decision to exit Llanview at the time in her career that she did. Here are some key excerpts below from the Cosmo piece:
Goldsberry on the original difficulties she encountered joining One Life: “At the beginning of my time on One Life to Live, I was very frustrated. This was a time in my life when I felt extremely marginalized. The formula of soap operas makes it really hard for an African-American to get any traction. There’s always a family that’s central to the story on a soap opera, and if the show loves you, you will turn into the long-lost brother or you will get married, which is easy to do for a white character. But as an ethnic person, they bring you on to be smart. You get to be the lawyer or the doctor for the family. No one sees where you live, they never bring you home. There might be one episode in February where they talk about your family because it’s Black History Month. Your character might be on once every three weeks. You walk into a room and you say something really smart and noble, and then you walk out. And you only make money when they write for your character. You couldn’t win the game as a person of color, no matter how talented or beautiful you were.”
Goldsberry on becoming front and center on One Life in story: “But after the first couple of years, they put me in a love triangle and it just blew up. The love triangle was interracial, there was drama, there was a war between fan groups — it was the best thing that had ever happened to my career. I was featured in magazines and I was being voted a fan favorite character. I was being asked to co-host, The View. At the same time, I was doing Shakespeare in the Park, being seen by the elite New York theater community and getting unbelievable reviews. I had high visibility and there were moments throughout this period where people said, “This is it.” But it doesn’t necessarily make you A-list. I was probably G-list most of my life.”
Goldsberry on her decision to not renew her contract with One Life: “In 2007, I left the soap. I wanted to evolve and do the next thing in my career. I used to joke that I wanted the Kelly Ripa deal. But I didn’t see that future for me in soap operas. Why would I give up another four years of my life for a new contract if ABC primetime’s not going to call me to do a job?”
So, what did you think of Renee’s thoughts and her experiences at One Life to Live? Share your comments below!