|Parents: William and Mary Buchanan
Children: John Conor O'Brien (born April 24, 1994)
Angus O'Hagan O'Brien (born Feb. 26, 1996)
|Jensen Buchanan was born in Montgomery, Alabama on July 18, 1962. Raised in Neenah, Wisconsin, her childhood was a happy one, even though her parents William and Mary Buchanan divorced when she was a toddler. "My mom and dad grew up on the same street, so I had two sets of grandparents and a great-uncle who lived on the same street," Jensen recalls. "I used to run into one house, out the back door, into another, and out the back door again. It was neat. In that sense, my childhood was sort of Norman Rockwell."|
|Jensen developed an interest in music at an early age when she began taking voice and piano lessons. She loved to sing at family gatherings and dreamed of one day becoming a singer. "The first time I ever sang in public was with this friend of mine when we were in grade school. We sang Red Roses for a Blue Lady," laughs Jensen.|
|After high school, Jensen studied at Tanglewood, the summer home of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. She then attended Boston University and majored in voice with a concentration in opera. She also studied at the Boston University Theater Institute, and|
|appeared on stage in musical productions of "The Gondoliers," "They're Playing our Song," "Pippin," "The Sound of Music," "and "Babes in Toyland." After spending a season at summer stock, where she filled in for a friend, Jensen became hooked on theater for good. She moved to New York and performed with the Light Opera of Manhattan. While in New York, she studied at the Circle in the Square Professional Workshop, where she was 'discovered.' "I was taking a class and somebody in an elevator said 'You should meet my agent. You have a really commercial look.' So I met her agent and that was the beginning."|
|That agent introduced Jensen to Mari Lynn Henry, who was in charge of casting at ABC. Not long after, Jensen was invited to join ABC's developmental program, and Mari Lynn took her under her wing. "Because I was such a green girl from the Midwest, Mari Lynn wanted me to work on my sex appeal. She would give me these completely mashing, chest-heaving panting scenes," laughs Jensen.
In 1987, One Life to Live's executive producer created the character
|of Sarah Gordon, which became Jensen's first ever daytime role. "I just couldn't believe it," she says. "I kept pinching myself and thinking, 'What am I doing here?' I was just so nervous."|
|But after playing Sarah for three years, Jensen grew bored with the role.� "I didn't think that that character was going to let me grow [as an actress] at all," she recalls.� "So I had to go out and try to find something else, push myself a little bit more."|
|So in October of 1990, Jensen decided to try her luck in California.� The day after she taped her final scene on One Life to Live, she headed out to Hollywood, stopping at her high school reunion on the way. "That's where I met my husband Gray [O'Brien]. Then I got all off-track again,' she smiles. Gray had been one grade ahead of Jensen and they|
|had even dated a few times in high school.� "I had this sense of 'Aaaah, here he is.'� Like I'd just found him, it was so natural and right."�|
|Jensen continued on to California, but soon realized Hollywood was not for her.� "I just went out for the pilot season and never moved out there," she recalls. "I stayed for three months with a friend. It was hell, and I missed Gray the whole time."|
|In February of 1991, Gray proposed and the couple moved to Chicago, where Gray worked on the Mercantile Exchange.� Four months later, Jensen's agent called and told her about the plum role of Vicky/Marley on Another World.� "I wasn't looking for a job at the time at all.� I was really quite happy living in Chicago;� it was close to my family in Wisconsin," she says.� "But I didn't have to convince myself for these parts either.� It was these parts that definitely lured me back to daytime."|
|At the audition, Jensen gave it her all.� "I'd never seen the show and didn't know the part," Jensen remembers.� "I walked into the room and saw Ellen Wheeler and Judi Evans Luciano, and I'm thinking, 'What is this part?'� Those are two actresses I really respect.� I thought, "It is a really good part, maybe I should go for this in a big way." It was that attitude that won her what would become her most popular daytime role.|
|Walking onto a new set after being one of the top dogs on another show was a bit unnerving for Jensen, but she had help from her co-stars. "There were so many people whom I have relationships with [on the show], especially playing two people, that I really count on other actors for help, and they've been great," she says.� "They pull me aside and say, 'I thought you might like to know|
|this is what we've gone through together,' and it really helps a lot."
In addition to the normal stresses of trying to play two parts, Jensen also had to face the fact that both previous actresses (Anne Heche and Ellen Wheeler) had won Emmys for their performances as Vicky/Marley.�
|At first, the fear of negative fan response kept Jensen from feeling truly at home. "I didn't go to the Another World fan luncheon the first year I was on the show; I chose not to. It was just too|
|sensitive of a time and I didn't feel, really, that I had been accepted on the show yet," she recalls. But it didn't take long for even the most dedicated Heche-fans to be swayed by Jensen's sexy, yet sweet approach to the characters. The roles were finally her own. "The Another World fans, they're very passionate, and when they do embrace you, it's a wonderful feeling."|
|On December 28th, 1991, Jensen and Gray were married in Wisconsin, and Jensen discovered|
|On December 28th of 1991, Jensen and Gray were married in Wisconsin, and Jensen discovered married life. "I just really like being married a lot," she smiles. "No matter what happens outside of us, I know that we'll continue to communicate and take care of each other, that I'll always have that safety there, and I love that feeling!"|
|Over the next two years, Jensen became one of the most popular actors on the show, alongside her co-star Paul Michael Valley (Ryan). "One thing that was always kind of interesting to me was that people were surprised that I did a good job," she says. "That was always kind of irritating to me."
Then at the start of the summer of 1993, Jensen and Gray decided to try for a baby. "I had to go out to Milwaukee for a meeting, and that was the day I was supposed to call the doctor's office to get my test results. I called and got the results that I was positive. Then I had to go
|back and sit in a meeting and wait the whole flight home before I could tell Gray," she remembers with a smile.|
|The timing couldn't have been better for the show. By having her character Vicky become pregnant, the show didn't have to worry about trying to hide Jensen's pregnancy from the camera. On April 15, 1994, Jensen left the soap, and nine days later, John Conor O'Brien (they call him Conor) was born. "Having a child really puts a lot of things into perspective," Jensen says. "You realize what's important and what isn't."|
|Jensen enjoyed being a stay-at-home mom and had no intentions of returning to work. But try as they may, Another World couldn't find anyone to replace her and recreate the chemistry she had shared with leading man Paul Michael Valley. "I was flattered," Jensen admits.
So six months after leaving the show, she returned. "I came
|back for two separate reasons. My husband was accepted to Long Island University for the master's program in physical therapy. We decided to stay rather than to move back to Chicago because it was the best program for him," Jensen recalls.|
|"But there's another set of reasons. I missed my friends, and I love the studio and the show. They made it very easy for me to come back...I get to bring the baby to work with me everyday."|
|But upon returning to Another World, Jensen decided she could no longer handle two roles and still have time for her husband and son. "I just couldn't do it. It's too much work," she says. And there was no question in her mind which twin she wanted to play. "When I first joined, Marley was the character I loved most. Now, when I came back, I was like, 'I'd love to come back, but I'm only playing Vicky,'" says Jensen. "I love playing her."|
|"It takes a lot of confidence to play this character," Jensen admits, "because as strong and mischievous and fun as Vicky is, she is also very needy and desperate to be loved. That is a hard thing to show, because it is a hard way to feel. The more secure I have gotten with the Another|
|World family and the stronger I feel in my life, the more I am able to reveal those parts of Vicky. That has been an interesting area to explore."|
|Another two years went by with Vicky again being one of the most popular characters on the show. Then Jensen became|
|pregnant again, and on February 26, 1996, she, Gray, and Conor were joined by Angus O'Hagan O'Brien. Unlike when her first baby was born, Jensen didn't opt. to leave the show permanently. She realized this time that if she wanted to raise a family while continuing to act, the soap environment was the best. So after four months home with newborn Angus and two-year-old Conor, she once again returned to work.|
|Jensen continued to play Vicky for several years. During that time, Jensen and her husband Gray were divorced. On June 25, 1999, the last episode of Another World was aired. For a brief time, Jensen appeared as Vicky on As the World Turns along with her AW co-star Tom Eplin. However, the character was killed off the show in 2001.
On January 29, 2001, Jensen entered the role of Melissa Bedford on General Hospital. Shortly after,
|Jensen was sued by Televest for a breech of contract, and it looked like her days on GH were over already. But the suit was quickly settled and she returned to the show,|
|where she acted alongside leading man A Martinez until her character was killed off in 2002.
Today, Jensen is married to Sam Gores, CEO of Paradigm Talent and Literary Agency, thus changing her name to Jensen Buchanan Gores. The couple lives in Beverly Hills with Jensen's two sons.
|***Biography was complied of facts and quotes taken from NBC's official Jensen Buchanan biography, and from the following publications: Soap Opera Digest, Soap Opera Update, Soap Opera Weekly, NBC Soaps In Depth, and Soaps People Weekly|