Martha Byrne has won two Daytime Emmys and received eight overall nominations since she was introduced to audiences on As the World Turns. Since 2009, her series, Gotham – astoundingly, the soap was created during the height of reality programming - can be seen online and will soon be syndicated on cable television.
At the moment, you are mostly known to soap opera fans. How does or will your project take you out of this bubble so everyone will learn about you as a fine actress and creative personality behind the scenes?
Thank you for the compliment! Interestingly enough, with the return of One Life to Live and All My Children coming back online, the majority of the press has been mainstream for both shows. The reason the mainstream is taking notice, is because of the business model those shows are following. Three years ago when I did the web series for Gotham, the internet was considered the wild west. The advertisers didn’t know how to monetize the web. The world has since changed and with shows like House of Cards and others, the web market has exploded. All of the above will help Gotham as it comes to television because of our roots. Our existing fans will follow us and the new eyeballs might start to watch out of curiosity and then we’ll hook them in with the story.
You’ve been nominated for more Daytime Emmys than I own small dogs. How is that possible? Why did you want to take a risk? You were comfortably positioned on soaps for so long. Someone else might have decided to continue acting in similar roles on the same types of shows. Why did you want control over your work when you could coast along just fine?
I love a challenge. I played every storyline five times over on As the World Turns and I was never one to just punch the time card. This is a business for creative people and I felt like I had more to do. Or at least try to do something outside my comfort zone. When I left ATWT in 2008, I did a play, produced a short film with Malin Ackerman, wrote for Bold and the Beautiful and then produced Gotham. I tried on many hats. The one thing I do miss is acting on a daily basis. The only place you can really do that is on a soap opera. It is definitely a muscle that needs to work if you want to improve. A highly respected actor friend once told me, “When you think you’ve learned everything, just quit, because you never stop learning.”
For “As the World Turns,” you played what is probably the top soap cliche but loads of fun: the shocking twin nobody knew about. How is your new show breaking away from traditions like that into new territory for soap plotlines? The twin stories sure are fun, but I’m sure you also have something hidden up your sleeves for viewers.
We are sticking to what works for serial dramas, good storytelling. No one loves a good twin story more than me, but this show is new, so we are setting the tone for the future. It’s a classic story about two people torn apart by their circumstances when they were young and now have a second chance to right the wrongs of their past. Who doesn’t want a second chance at SOMETHING in their lives?
I’m not the biggest daytime fan ever, but I’m so sad seeing legendary shows go off the air for reality television. No, scratch that. New soaps like “Passions,” I should say. Everything. How long do you think it will take before reality programming gets tossed into the East River where some soap fans may think it belongs?
I think we have turned the corner already. There is a show on TV about bras…..and pigs….Not the same show, in case you were wondering. I think it’s almost the end of the reality train.
And while we talk about this subject, what do you think it will take for soaps to have their triumphant moment again – for today’s generation to know and love soaps like people did before TV executives deemed them too expensive? That statement is kind of odd, anyway. Don’t they pay reality stars so much that the costs eventually evens out? Weird.
The costs are very similar. The difference is reality shows are shot quickly and then cranked out, but the overall costs are the same. Talk shows are very expensive. I would bet 100 dollars the Katie Couric Show has a bigger budget than the show it replaced, One Life to Live. I think the moment is right in front of us for the soaps triumphant return. Revenge, Scandal, Grey’s Anatomy, Deception and lets not forget Dallas…all soaps. They really never left, but the daytime canvas was torn to shreds. I think the fans outcry was heard.
When you are working as an agent, do you believe that someone always has to have lots of experience? Or are you like the 1940′s days, where someone got discovered based on their eagerness to please, good looks, charm and raw talent?
I’ve seen kids walk in my door at the studio in Paramus, New Jersey with no experience and I just know they have a gift. You can’t create something out of nothing. I do encourage actors to start young, even if it’s just local theater, to get anything on their resume.
Remind people about your show! How are you cultivating something exciting for people who have never liked soaps?
If you’re not a soap fan but maybe you’re into marketing and branding? Or producing? Curious about the trends and future trends of the entertainment industry?…Listen to our story of success, you might be inspired. Oh, and the cast isn’t so bad to look at either