The one who got away…
The one who got away turned into two… and then two turned into three… and then three … You get the picture. OLTLers will most likely feel nostalgic at the sight of Renee Elise Goldsberry (ex-Evangeline Williamson). REG’s Evangeline was one of the most unique new (female) characters in recent OLTL history, not to mention in recent soap history. She.Had.A.BRAIN! Not only did she have a brain, folks, she wasn’t afraid to use it!
Part of me wants to give credit to the writers for making sure that the character was as strong as she was and that they hadn’t decided to shove Evangeline into the deepest darkest corners of crazyland – where they eventually relegate all female characters. We were fortunate that there were no huge psychological breakdowns for this character after failed romances. She didn’t go on drinking binges, no drug use, she didn’t lurk in shady places trying to keep a watchful eye on ‘rivals’ – in desperation to hold on to a man. What makes all of that even bigger news for a One Life character? She dated John ”Sanity Killer” McBain, folks! She survived their relationship and remained healthy. Who could forget this moment between sisters Evangeline and Layla once it was clear to Evangeline that John was going to betray her:
The sane woman’s anthem when love goes wrong!
Whatever happened, no matter the writing, Goldsberry gave Evangeline a rare sense of dignity and strength for a female character in modern daytime. My best guess is that the writers got it – REG was a very different actress all together. She had the elegance and comportment of a more seasoned actress. Writing that may have been translated onscreen as shrill, needy, and whining by another young actress was treated as an opportunity to turn Evangeline into her own heroine – no need for rescue. The partnership between the writers and the actress gave OLTL fans like myself joy in watching one of the most memorable characters in daytime. If only the powers that be had been able to convince the actress to stay. Despite her unfortunate dalliance with John, and her flirtation with the mad-as-a-hatter Todd Manning (which I loved while he was still in the process of reforming and becoming a better person), it was Evangeline’s last relationship – with the lovely Cristian Vega that sealed Evangeline’s fate as a winner in life, but loser at love. Cristian walked away once he realized that there was more between Evangeline and Todd than she was able to admit, even to herself.
Rather than kill the character off when REG vacated the role, the writers decided to have the character succumb to a coma. While it preserved their right to bring her back (and I appreciate that), it’s awful thinking that the character remains there and life in Llanview goes on without her. I wish they’d thought to let her move on to another city, start a successful law practice and allow Layla to occasionally mention who well her sister is doing in her new life.
Sadly, I’m concerned that Layla Williamson will soon suffer the fate of her big sister. She’ll disappear from Llanview history with barely a second thought from those who knew or loved her. Overkill? Do you remember Rachel Gannon? Probably not. She was so rarely featured before the writers decided to dump the legacy character, yet again (and yet FORD remains). The Williamson family is relatively new. I have little hope for the rarely seen Layla – who is now dating Cristian Vega. While you would think that would be the perfect time for writers to wake Van up from her coma (even if they could only convince REG toreturn for a few eps to usher Van off to a new life), such is not the case with OLTL. The writers instead have Teen Tessica Buchanan, who can’t remember her life beyond the age of 17 returning to high school as a student (yeah right) and stalking ‘Mr. Vega’. Where is Layla while all of this is happening? Who the hell knows?
The more things change, the more they stay the same, One Life. One Life fans may remember Valarie Pettiford ( Sheila Price Gannon) for delivering a rousing rendition of ‘Dancing in the Streets’ at Megan’s funeral. Where is she now? Doing just fine without OLTL, thank you very much! She was one of the co-stars of the show ‘Half and Half‘ and ocntinues performing on Broadway and has her own Cabaret act:
Van, Layla, Sheila, Rika (Sheila’s younger sister), and the few very women of color before them. What a waste, OLTL.
As the World Turns
Smart women and the law? They seem to go hand in hand in daytime. OLTL’s Van Williamson and Nora Buchanan, GH’s Alexis Davis and Federal Prosecutor Claire Walsh, ATWT’s Margo Hughes and Jessica Griffin, all of whom helped make it ‘safe’ for women to be smart. Tamara Tunie’s Jessica was a no frills – no bullshit character who wasn’t exactly shy about telling Oakdale residents where to go and how to get there… of course, she did it in the most elegant way possible. TT’s Jessica Griffin McKeachnie brought as much to her show as REG’s did to OLTL later. Jessica was a beloved character who was respected by her onscreen peers -, and then the inevitable happened. Jessica found out where she really fit in the grand scheme of Oakdale life. Her ‘interracial’ romance with Duncan McKeachnie led to both heartbreaking and uplifting moments for the character.
She’d feared that her tough as nails, and somewhat conservative friend and client Lucinda Walsh would never approve of her relationship with Duncan. Lady Lu, CEO extraordinaire would have to protect her business interests from ‘scandal’, right? Jessica knew that the only person she and Duncan could share the news of their growing relationship with was their beloved friend and supporter, Lisa Hughes. Lisa was a woman of the world. She’d done something most women would never have thought of doing in her time – she’d left a husband and child and sought love elsewhere. She’d dated and loved brothers. She was a hellion in her youth and didn’t care who approved of her choices. So imagine Jessica’s surprise when she learned that Lucinda was the one to give the happy couple her blessing and Lisa was the person who disapproved.
Jessica found even greater strength and a stronger voice when she grew tired of defending her love for Duncan and their desire to be together. She remained a relatively strong character until the writers decided to SORAS’ young Bonnie into an adult woman. Bonnie brought many changes into Jess’ life, most of them lousy, including having Jessica watch her daugther grow closeto the man she knew raped her mother, and being accidentally shot by her daughter. When ATWT’s jumps the shark, it chums the waters, first. Where is Jessica? Around… somewhere… I hope.
The Young and the Restless
I’ve covered the topic of Victoria Rowell’s Drucilla Winters being absent from screen in several blog entries, most recently (HERE and HERE). I still can’t get over what insanity leads the YnR’s PLTB refusal to bring Dru back to screen. No matter how many times TPTB insists there’s no room for Drucilla onscreen, each new weak and snooze producing character they bring to screen in her place says otherwise.
Even worse than the above? The talented Latina American, American Indian, Asian American, and other actresseses who ever never give the chance to appear onscreen. It saddens me to realize that as networks are steadily shuttering soaps from the daytime schedule, Executive Producers and other execs don’t appear to be moved to change their practices before all soaps are eventually cleared from the schedule. There has be some growth when you think of where daytime started and where it is now, but how much growth? What will be the legacy of daytime and minority characters when all is said and done?
The REG you’ve never seen on OLTL. Goldsberry in RENT: