Your Teen had the opportunity to speak with Genie Francis (Laura from General Hospital). We asked Genie about her life as Laura in GH and her life today as the mother of two teenagers.
Interview with Genie Francis
Have your kids been affected by your career?
I hope not in a negative sense. I made an effort not to bring my work home, and we don’t spend a lot of time watching ourselves on TV or anything like that.
Do your kids want to go into show business?
My son is not the slightest bit interested. He is an excellent musician. He has a terrific natural understanding of physics. And he is interested in film – working behind the camera like his father.
I think that my daughter wants to be an actress. She probably got somewhat influenced by what I do for a living.
Do you support your daughter’s career choice?
If she really wants to be an actress more than anything else, I will support her. But I feel really strongly that I don’t want her to go to work as a teenager.
At what age would you let her pursue acting?
I let her do local theater, and I let her take acting class with a very good teacher. I would let her do a guest spot for the experience. But I would never allow her to be on a TV series. That commitment pulls the teen right out of their normal life environment and their peer group.
I know this personally. I skipped too many developmental steps. I definitely have holes in my life. I started on General Hospital when I was 14 with a three-year contract for 52 weeks a year. Within the first six months of working, they pulled me out of school and gave me a full-time studio teacher. I never set foot in school again.
So you missed out on all of high school social life?
Completely. I missed the social and emotional development you gain in high school. My social life was at work, but I was nine years younger than the next youngest person.
There are important steps that happen during high school. Your first love should be in an environment with someone your own age. It should be private, and it should not be exploited.
Don’t get me wrong, I loved what I was doing, and I wanted it as much as my daughter seems to want it. I loved having the opportunity to prove myself as an actress. But she does not know what she is going to miss. I do know what she is going to miss, and I am not going to let that happen.
People who grew up with General Hospital want to know how you felt about the rape scene?
I was so young. The producer told me in no uncertain terms that it was rape and to play it as a rape. So I did. A 17-year-old doesn’t step back and judge whether or not she is sending a good message; a 16-year-old does what she is told.
How did you handle the controversy?
When the controversy began to bubble, they threw me to the press. I thought that was really unfair. People were angry about the rape, but they were also angry with me; I thought I had done something wrong. I think it was wrong of the people that where in charge to throw me out to the wolves like that. It was their idea and their story, and they really shouldn’t have put a kid out to take the heat.
And then you fell in love with Luke, your rapist.
I was looking at some old tapes, and they have a line where Luke and Laura are having a heated conversation. She’s getting emotional, and he says, “Laura, stop crying. Don’t make me hit you.” This would never go on the air today, but that was another era – a time before women took their power.
Did any roles prepare you to be the mother of a teen?
I learned some things when I was Lucky’s mom on General Hospital. But for the most part, not really. I mostly learned by trial and error. It bugs me that after you’ve done it, then you understand how to do it right.
Are you a relaxed mom?
With my first baby, I was not relaxed at all. I left the hospital in a full panic about the responsibility. I actually cried because I knew that I couldn’t be perfect, but I thought that my baby deserved a perfect mother.
And is your home relaxed?
I think we have a relaxed house. We have lots of open conversations. I ask tons of questions so my kids know that I’m aware of what’s going on. I don’t have GPS on their phones or stalk them on Facebook. I trust them, and I think they are really good kids. I am pretty permissive, but I ask a ton of questions so they know that there’s not much room to get away with stuff. But I don’t micromanage them.
You don’t seem like a helicopter parent.
No. I really do trust my kids. The more I talk to them, the more they come forward and tell me stuff. They will share moments of vulnerability and tell me about something that has happened – I feel like that’s a good relationship.
Interview by Susan Borison