Temple of Vanessa

Room 16

The 'Mean' Event - SOD Nov 97

The Meanie: Sonny Corinthos
The Gross Indecency: He left his fiancee, Brenda, standing at the altar and lookin' like a fool in front of all their wedding guests.
Who Got Hurt: Brenda Barrett
Why He Did It: The week before the wedding proved to be a tense one for the groom-to-be, and we're not talking about your normal pre-wedding jitters. Sonny not only had his and Brenda's lives threatened, but he got into a deadly gun battle with archenemy the Tin Man (which T.M. lost) and had a blood-chilling nightmare about his beloved Brenda dying the same way his first wife, Lily, did. Minutes before he was to leave for the church, Sonny realized he couldnt watch another woman he loved die. Brenda would be better off without him, he decided, and then hightailed it to parts unknown.
The Bottom Line: Brenda is bitter, bothered and bewildered. And even though Ms. Barrett has plenty of good friends who rallied by her side after the not-to-be nuptials, she still has a long way to go before the words "life without Sonny" dont bring tears to her eyes.

Performer of the Week - SOD Nov 18, 1997
Vanessa Marcil - Brenda, GH

If there's one thing we know about Vanessa Marcil, it's that she can act. Not just boo-hoo on cue or looking really panicked when danger is near, but performing so seamlessly that you cant even see her act. And throughout the year, GH has called upon every aspect of Vanessa's formidable talent by turning her character's life into a major roller coaster ride. Let's briefly review: Brenda's wedding to Jax was derailed. She became addicted to pain pills, which led to an addiction to Sonny Corinthos -- and we all know how well that turned out. And now, Brenda's dealing with the crushing reality of having been left at the altar by the love of her life. Despite more storyline than most actors see in a lifetime, Vanessa has managed not only to remain consistently outstanding, but to exceed expectations with each new scene.
Take, for instance, her realistic behavior following Sonny's departure. Instead of having Brenda dissolve into a pool of tears, Vanessa expertly guided us through very marked stages of her character's grief, from denial to anger to sadness and back to anger. Brenda's sarcastic reading of wedding-gift cards in her hotel suite was inspired, each written sentiment bitterly recited, then tossed aside.
Yes, things are becoming more settled in Brenda's life, but that doesnt mean Vanessa's performances have become any less compelling. Bolstered by visits from best friend Lois and sister Julia, Brenda is slowing moving through her recovery, with help from protector Jax. And we've learned Brenda doesnt need trauma and action in her life to keep her interesting: She's got Vanessa Marcil to do that.

Brenda Breaks - SOD Nov 97

Most people would argue that Brenda has not effectively dealt with her breakup with Sonny. Rather than allow herself to feel the pain, she has suppressed it. "Brenda thinks that she's handling life after Sonny in the way that she should," argues Wendy Riche. But is she? Desperate to push thoughts of Sonny out of her mind, the emotionally fragile model throws herself back into several projects to keep the demons at bay. "She's going to put things back together, keep herself busy," continues Riche. "Brenda gets a new house and she's going to fix the new house up." In addition to pulling a Martha Stewart, Brenda returns to work, jumping right back into modeling and running L&B Records.
As Brenda takes on more and more responsibility, the cracks will begin to show -- if not to Brenda, then to the audience. And certainly to Jax. "Jax is concerned," Riche concedes, "but he doesnt want to be discouraging. He believes in her, and he believes that she will survive in the end. Jax knows she just has to get through this. So, he'll let her do it for herself, but he is there to encourage her."
After all that's happened to Brenda in the past few months, though, it remains to be seen whether she can "do it for herself." Riche allows that Brenda's path may be leading her straight to trouble; clearly, by streching herself so thin, she's gone too far. "She does seem to be moving forward and making decisions too quickly," warns Riche.

Brenda Breaks Down
A shell-shocked Brenda reaches the end of her rope
SOW Dec 23, 97

Brenda's world comes crashing down this week on GH. It happens at a photo shoot, seemingly all at once although, in retrospect, it has been coming on for a long time. No one -- particularly Brenda, herself -- saw it coming, but the signs were there for anyone who cared enough to pay attention.
The circumstances are classic for a breakdown: a high-pressure situation in which self-esteem and confidence are sorely tested. Brenda, surrounded by lights, cameras and glamour is attempting to project her accustomed professional gaiety and beauty, while her inner demons gang up and prepare to attack. She struggles to maintain control until some exploding lights, sounding a little too much like the gunfire that echoes through her nightmares, startle her and force her over the edge. The distraught young woman has to be carried from the studio and checked into the psychiatric ward of GH for observation and care. If Brenda's therapists at the hospital could somehow discuss her condition with Vanessa Marcil, the actress who plays Brenda, her cure would be assured because Vanessa's understanding of what is wrong, and right, with Brenda is both deep and extensive.
"It's actually pretty simple," Vanessa declares. "She has suppressed so many emotions, beginning from her childhood and continuing into her 20s. You got to see a little of what she's repressed when she went into therapy with Kevin before she got back together with Sonny. That was the closest she came to understanding all of her issues. But then, in a relationship again, she didnt face any of the real emotions of her whole life."
In an attempt to put her disappointments behind her, Brenda resurrected L&B Records, then made the ill-fated return to modeling. But she wasnt ready. "Sonny's leaving her at the altar was just too much for her," Vanessa says. "She tried to suppress the feelings again. I mean, she kicked the drugs on her own without really having to go through rehab or therapy. She has done everything without ever really getting to let her feelings out. So she finally just explodes. She truly believes that there is a conspiracy, and that Sonny hired all these people to kill her. Paranoia is often a problem when people have nervous breakdowns, especially people who have had a problem with drugs, and Brenda definitely believes that there is some kind of conspiracy against her.
"She has always been fragile at photo shoots," Vanessa insists, "even when she was doing well. She feels that her looks dont match the way she is on the inside because of what she went through in her childhood. Nobody told her that she was beautiful when she was a child. She doesnt know any of those things, naturally. Photo shoots always were a fragile place for her; she used to pop pills beforehand to relax. When you are modeling in a shoot, you are supposed to feel beautiful and happy and free. Brenda has not been feeling any of those things, but for the last month, she has been pretending that she does." Although Brenda put on her happy face and tried to conduct business as usual, when lights started popping, the jig was up.
"Dont forget, Brenda has been shot at before. So when those fixtures burst, which happens a lot at shoots, it takes place in her head; she thinks they are gunshots and that's the last snap. She thinks people are trying to kill her and that Sonny has hired all of them. The only person that she doesnt believe Sonny has bought is Jax. She doesnt trust anybody, even Lucy, because she has that feeling she had when she was a little girl. She feels alone. She has no family and has no one who represents security for her, no matter what. The only people whom she started to feel that way about were Robin and Lois, but they are gone. So Brenda feels alone.
"In many ways, my own life is very much parallel to Brenda's," Vanessa reveals. "She has everything that she could ever want, but she doesnt know it. She never has. Daddy never loved her when she was a kid, and if Daddy doesnt love you, then who will? She always carried that 'I'm not good enough' thing around with her from her childhood. That part of Brenda is very parallel to me."
The similarities to her own life have made this storyline very painful for the actress to play out. "At one point, I told them (the GH producers and head writers) they may have to shorten the storyline, because I dont know how much more I can take. It really stays with me because I pull from a lot of personal stuff to play it. Over the weekend, I just lay in bed and sleep. I need to have people around me who love me a lot. Tyler (Christopher, Vanessa's fiance, who plays Nikolas) comes down to the set when he isnt in that day and just sits there to be there for me. You can either give 100 percent to a storyline and have it wear on you, or you can give 50 percent, and it wont drain your personal life. But then you are only giving 50 percent. It depends on how much you care about your craft."

How Vanessa Marcil Triumphed Over Her Personal Demons
SOW - Dec 23, 97

When Soap Opera Weekly deputy editor Linda Susman conducted the interview for this week's cover story, she found Vanessa Marcil to be an uncommonly articulate and forthcoming subject. But Susman had no idea exactly how forthcoming until she innocently asked the actress, "Have you done a lot of research?"

Had she ever! Here is what she told SPW:

"I guess you can say that I did a lot of research because I work with drug addicts and alcholics. Personally, I am 6 1/2 years sober. I got sober when I was 20 years old. I used drugs when I was a teen, but alchol was the main thing. I cant tell you how many times as a child everyone wrote me off as a bad kid. Everyone needs someone to believe in them. I didnt really have that. My mom was there for me as much as she could be. She was there for me at times that no one else was. But my father was really abusive, so it was hard for her to be strong, too.

"I have to say that Prince (the pop musician who no longer uses a name) was the one. I became friends with Prince before I got into acting, and I think it was meant to be because he believed in me. I was just a small-town kid from Palm Springs with a drinking problem and bad grades, and he was someone I had on the wall in my room. He was this bigger-than-life rock star, which was fine, but the other part of him was this amazing, very spiritual person. And he believed in me. He didnt care that I'd gotten into all this trouble, and he told me that I was beautiful.

"This is how I recognized that the only reason for fame is to help people. Because he was so much bigger than life, I really believed him. It doesnt really make sense, but it is a reality in our world. I'm no better than someone who is not an actor, but for some reason, kids will listen more to what I have to say. I can use this to my advantage only by telling people positive things. He told me that I could do whatever I wanted to.

"I met him at a music club, he asked me to dance, and we've been friends ever since. It totally changed my life. I dont believe it has to be a big rock star. It can be your next-door neighbor, but every kid needs someone to believe in them. I hope people who watch Brenda can be helped to understand their own lives. I like it when kids write to me and say that there is abuse in their house, or they have a problem with drinking, or they feel ugly - all of these things I felt as a kid. When they can relate to you personally and see what you have done with your life, it helps them to believe that they dont have to end up being drug addicts on the street. A lot of the friends who I was drinking with in high school have ended up like that, with really tragic lives because they didnt believe that they could pull themselves out of it. I believe it takes just one person to believe in you. Just one."

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