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One on One with Megan Ward

One on One With Megan Ward

Megan Ward shares her feelings and thoughts on her character, Kate Howard and what the future holds for her on ABC’s General Hospital.

 

Los Angeles native Megan Ward has played fashionista Kate Howard on ABC’s General Hospital since May 2007. Upon her debut, she immediately captured the attention of fans with her fierce and layered portrayal of such a complex character. Fans reacted to the chemistry between Megan and co-star Maurice Benard (Sonny), quickly making turning them into a popular staple on the show.

The youngest of four children, Ward and her family moved to Hawaii at the age of four. Megan was bitten by the acting bug at a young age, thanks in part to her parents, who were actors & acting coaches. Ward had already begun amassing her portfolio by the time she graduated from Kaiser High School. Soon after graduation, she moved to Los Angeles to pursue her career in acting.

Prior to joining General Hospital, Megan booked various various lead, supporting and guest starring roles in primetime series such as Class of 96, Party of Five, Dark Skies, Melrose Place, Friends, CSI: Crime Scene Investigation, Boomtown, Without a Trace, NCIS, Boston Legal, CSI: Miami, ER, and Sleeper Cell. You’ve also seen her on the big screen as well in films such as Encino Man, The Brady Bunch Movie, and Joe’s Apartment. Her new movie, The Invited, starring Lou Diamond Phillips, Pam Grier and Dana Barron is scheduled for release later this year.

With a career that has spanned the daytime, primetime and film, the only question is what does the future hold? The married mother of two has already proven she can handle anything thrown her way, juggling both a family and a career, and her fans are anxious to see what project she tackles next. Earlier this week, TVSource Magazine had the opportunity to speak with the actress, who is a self described “open book.” We hope you’ll enjoy!


What do you enjoy most about portraying Kate Howard?
I’m not like Kate Howard in my everyday life so it’s fun but also a challenge to put her on every day I go to work.  She dresses like a grown up, has so much outward confidence, runs a company, isn’t afraid to say what she thinks, to delegate, and have ownership of her position.  I don’t like confrontation and I’m still learning to speak up for myself, so I enjoy the opportunity to embody the person I sometimes wish I could be.

Why do you think the pairing of Sonny and Kate became a popular GH couple with the viewing audience?
The relationship for Kate and Sonny was very beautifully set up. From what I understand, the character of Sonny had been in a very dark place.  Kate brought back the boy, the part of Sonny that was denied for so long.  He was flirty and fun, engaging and charming, and I think the same thing happened for Kate. She was set up as someone who had developed a very thick shell of protection and in a professional position where she needed to project a certain image and strength for boardroom war.  She had given up on real love having not felt it since she was a girl in Brooklyn with Sonny.

Both characters made difficult personal choices to advance their careers and both paid the consequences. So you had two characters starting on equal footing.  It was the perfect romantic comedy set up: Sonny breaking down Kate’s barriers and Connie charming the boy inside Sonny.  It was reminiscent of Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew.  The more Kate protested the harder he would push.  Kate was forced to open up her heart and break down her walls.  It was a very mature, sophisticated journey to watch, one you could hope for and root for.

It was also a storyline where you didn’t know the ending. Sonny had never been with a woman like this. Maybe these characters could actually change at this intersection of their lives.  They found each other at a very appropriate point where they could both be reflective about how they got to where they were.  They could ask themselves what would have happened if they had taken a different road.  They were both brave to venture down this alternate path and see what their lives could have been if they had made different choices.  That’s a very relatable and hopeful situation for people.

Maurice and I had an instant connection.  We challenged but trusted each other.  We were both committed to telling a good story with strong character development.  Working with him has been one of my favorite career partnerships.

Were you surprised when you learned Kate would have sex with Jax, her business partner and a married man?
Sort of… But not really.  I think it was a logical story point to happen for both of them.  I do remember feeling at the time Kate was very, very conscious of her feelings for Sonny.  So it was challenging for me knowing it was a daring character choice. That being said, Kate and Jax are an obvious coupling. They have a lot in common, they have a long history of friendship and they were both grieving in the same way. They were both betrayed by people they were very invested in.  So it would be logical for them to both make a mistake like this, together at the same time.

Outside of a story with Sonny, what would you like to see for Kate?
I think it would be interesting to see a coupling who live more of a professional life. What would it be like to have a power couple in Port Charles?  To see Kate actually living the life she created for herself with someone who challenged AND loved her. Kate lost everything for Sonny and when she went down that path with him, it changed her. There was a scene where she said if you don’t ever have love, you can’t miss it, but once you have it, it will leave a hole when it’s gone.  And I think what Kate needs, honestly, is someone who loves her, someone who puts her first and cares about her.  I mean, doesn’t everybody?? But she doesn’t have somebody like that on any level so you can imagine it would effect her emotionally.  So even if Kate connected with someone as unpredictable as Coleman, someone who might enjoy her, it would be a nice change and seriously a lot of fun.

Beyond romance, I have about 20 other ideas for Kate. (Tracy becoming an investor at Crimson, Kate mentoring Maxie, Kate making Kristina a successful teen model!)

Speaking of Coleman…. Many were surprised by Kate’s interaction with Coleman at the wedding reception.  We don’t get to see that side of Kate very often.
It’s been a while since we have seen that side of her.  It’s not out of character, its just been a long time since she allowed herself to have some fun. That night, she decided to celebrate, to leave her problems at the doorstep.  And it’s one of my favorite days I’ve spent at GH.

With the news about Sarah Brown leaving GH in October, what are your thoughts on a reunion for Sonny and Kate?
It’s a very complicated question and answer.  I don’t feel Sonny and Kate have completed their story.  External forces broke them up. Sonny was motivated by actions against Kate and so it really, to me, feels there is still more story to tell. Their journey was stunted and it’s not impossible to pick up the unanswered questions. That being said, Kate has been very, very hurt in the last year, by all of the circumstances and it has forced her to put her walls back up.  Personally I would love to explore it and find out what they have learned. I believe in their love and can still hope for a future.  But at the same time, the character of Sonny has gone to a dark place again and the character of Kate would have to forgive a lot, so what would it take for that to happen?

Kate is one of the best characters I have ever played because she’s so complex.  She can be tough but she also is a very vulnerable little girl who has a good heart.  And so there is this very big spectrum for her to both make mistakes and to do the right thing.  There are endless possibilities for the character to play.  I feel like, sometimes I’ve had jobs in the past when I knew the journey was over for the character. Usually I am confined with a limited role. But with Kate, I do feel that there is more story to tell.

I think in the position Kate is in [owner of Crimson], she has to be sometimes controlling and strong willed.
I wish they would show that a little more.  I think if people are unfamiliar with such a high stress work environment, they need to see how work gets accomplished in the real world.

Her personal life is another side of Kate and we should see the vulnerability, we should see both sides of Kate Howard.
That’s why I think she’s such a great character.  You’re not sure how she is going to react, what choice she will make.  She’s a character with duality, but still believable.

What kind of relationship with Olivia does Kate really have?
Historically, they were like sisters.  They come from close Italian families. Olivia only had brothers and Kate didn’t have any siblings. Their relationship is very love/hate. They can be competitive AND have each other’s back.  Kate made the choice to leave her family and Olivia chose to keep the paternity of her son a secret.  So they both made decisions the other couldn’t stand for. They haven’t written exactly what caused that final big fight.

You have to remember everything about Kate and Sonny’s adult relationship started from her guilt of walking away from him.  Perhaps if Olivia had told Sonny the truth, maybe he wouldn’t have become a mobster, just like if Connie had run away with him, maybe he wouldn’t have become a mobster.  Kate thought she could never go back.  She burned her bridges and regretted it. So Sonny brought Olivia back hoping to heal Kate.  But Kate knows they had this relationship before her, knows she had his son and it’s obviously a dangerous/messy reunion for her.  What is that going to mean for the three of them?

Now of course, it ends quickly for Sonny and Kate because she gets shot and Sonny makes his choices.  Olivia did everything she could to keep them apart.  Kate kept Olivia’s secret, this life changing secret, but Olivia had no problem disclosing Kate’s secret (and calling her Connie exclusively) because she didn’t believe in it.  Kate didn’t believe in hers either but still consciously kept it in spite of everything. This is something that has never been acknowledged but is still part of their character’s history.  Kate still feels guilt for having made a bad decision at 18 when she was ignorant and naïve about what the world held for her.  But Olivia continues to remind Kate of her mistakes.  Now Kate is grown up and trying to move forward.

I think Kate still truly loves Olivia, even though they haven’t had an opportunity to show it to each other.  They’ve had interesting conversations, especially when Olivia came to town.  They were very sophisticated, mature conversations about the nature of their relationship but it has kind of gotten stuck in one gear.  I think that Kate ultimately, fundamentally believes for better or for worse, this secret needs to come out for Olivia’s sake, for Dante’s sake, for Sonny’s sake.  Whether or not Sonny’s children are safe changes day to day. [Laughs]  But Kate believes in disclosure because of the choices she’s made and the consequences she’s paid.  The secret could have been part of the reason she said no to Sonny’s first marriage proposal and the reason she said yes the second time. She took the risk and moved forward and when she laid there bleeding, she regretted not having told him.

I think Kate wants to have a relationship with Olivia but until Olivia really acknowledges Kate within the situation, in a positive way, I think it’s very difficult for them to have that sisterly love.  Kate is trying to reach out, trying to help Olivia.  Eventually, the conversation progresses. Circumstances have changed and there are scenes that haven’t aired yet, where Kate starts to make conclusions about who Olivia really is if she is so adamant about refusing to discuss it.

It’s complicated because I think Kate misses family, and again, just like love, she feels like she’s made choices where it’s not available to her.  I think Olivia and Kate have tremendous potential to bond again, in a loving way, but I think it’s always going to be touch and go because of their history, their own strength of character, and opinions about choices.  They’re stuck in their individual point of view. Something needs to shift with both of them to rekindle the good part of their connection.


You can be seen in the film The Invited, which stars Lou Diamond Phillips and Pam Grier.  Can you tell us about your character Michelle and about the movie?
Yeah I think they are finally getting it released.  It’s the little movie that could. It’s a small movie and they had to keep raising completion funds.  It’s a true classic horror movie about the devil and a woman’s soul.

It was a unique experience for me because I was actually in my first trimester with my daughter, Audrey.  Coincidentally the character was pregnant.  Because it was the only time I worked while pregnant, it was challenging and enlightening. I had all these hormones going on giving me a different on-set persona and confidence.  I found my voice to speak up for myself within those kinds of circumstances. I had to be careful with stunts and getting proper rest.

It’s pretty scary [the movie], but it’s basically a morality tale. I haven’t seen the finished product.  I saw most of the film when we shot pickups, additions, and a new ending.  Hopefully it will come out soon so I can finally see it!

What was your experience working with Lou Diamond Phillips and Pam Grier?
Lou was great.  He is such a professional. He really is comfortable on the set and works very hard. He was a good match for me because he really wanted to do it right and get it done, but was still really fun and always entertaining the crew. Then Pam came on for her supporting role. It’s fantastic to watch people like her. She’s so iconic, had a lot of ideas about her character and was very creative. Actors like her keep you on your toes.

Are you looking to do more in film?
Yeah sure.  I’ve been very lucky, I’ve had a varied career of going back and forth between episodic, feature films, TV movies and commercials.  General Hospital was my first daytime experience.  I’ve always enjoyed going from one to the other because all mediums have advantages and disadvantages, pros and cons. You use different tools from your toolbox and they are very different experiences.  I’m always up for change and for something new.  It will be interesting for me when I go onto a different set. Having worked on General Hospital where you work so quickly, I wonder if I’m going to be bored when I go onto a set that has a slower pace.  I wonder if I’ll be like “we got it, come on.” [Laughs]

I certainly don’t miss the long wait time for your scene to come up or big set changes to be ready. It’s tedious to be stuck on set for hours and hours.  I do miss the attention to detail when you have time to do a scene more than once, rehearse, to make choices with the director, have multiple cameras set ups so that the actual story on the page is realized in more of specific way.

When you’re working on a soap opera because of time, you have two words of direction from the director and you’re doing 5 scenes together without any real rehearsal. You just have to throw it out there and hope people perceive all the nuances of the material and the character choices. You hope you’re on camera when the character makes a realization or has an important line in the scene. Quite honestly, often you’re not. I miss that character point of view, large or small. A small character can have a specific and strong point of view in a single camera production.  Daytime is much more literal and ironically up for interpretation.  It’s frustrating when people say Kate said this or that, but that never happened, she never said that. [Laughs]

Daytime doesn’t always connect the dots; the viewers have to do it for themselves.
There was one scene in particular where Kate was trying to get Sonny to leave. She said to him “You don’t know what that word means, if you finished high school, you would.”  It was a very cruel thing to say, but the way I saw it as an actor, her intention was simply to get him to leave. He wouldn’t listen to her opinions or acknowledge her emotional needs.  It was a frustrating and awful situation for her and so she had to say something to make him go. People lash out like this in real life all the time.  It didn’t mean she thought he was stupid.  I was disappointed the completed scene made you think she was only trying to hurt him, not actually protect herself because he was insisting on his version, which was not the whole truth.

Situations like that are difficult for actors accustomed to having an equal point of view within a story. The show by nature, and I didn’t know this, doesn’t do that.  Sometimes it can be frustrating for the actor who is trying to communicate a larger, more detailed story. The viewer who is on board with both characters will have a thrilling scene to watch but a viewer who roots for one character in particular might feel slighted and want to defend their favorite.  The viewer who is on the opposing side of the battle then feels they have to defend the bigger story.  But the characters aren’t having such a literal battle. History needs to apply and it’s frustrating for everyone. I love when a good soap creates water cooler talk. You can dissect the actions and points of views of characters.  But when the characters are not represented equally it sort of invalidates that conversation. You’re not really talking about anything; you’re not talking about the points of truth, what the story really is.

Everyone’s points of views and perception are different, when we as viewers don’t have the connections of dots by the writers, we get lost in what they are trying to get across and it feels like parts are missing.
With any role you have a spectrum or arc of the character.  You know where you’re building to and have an alphabet of story to tell.  With this role, it’s the only time of my career I’ve felt so unpredictable.  It’s frustrating to say something logical for your character with conviction then two months later be faced with a contradiction or an omission of all the facts.  All you can do is justify why you changed your position.  Sometimes there may not be the words on the page to explain it.

Because you are left with so much responsibility as an actor, you feel somewhat protective of your character.  Often you’re the only one tracking the history of what you’ve established but for several reasons you may not be able to make adjustments.  I actually don’t believe it’s the actor’s position to change the words of the writer but if there are inconsistencies there can be a natural desire to correct them.

My experience is not unfamiliar to anyone who has worked in daytime, or specifically on General Hospital, I can’t speak for the other shows.  It’s been a new challenge but I have to say rewarding to work it out for myself when I go to set.  I have to ask myself what do I want from the other character? If the scenes are repetitive, what makes these scenes different?  Are the stakes higher? I am a different actor because of it.

What made you decide to start your own blog and website?  Has it been a great experience for you?
Actors in general have websites, across all mediums.  I was late in the game of creating a professional website. But due to the character’s popularity, I was overwhelmed with enthusiasm from fans. They wanted to know more about me, be more in touch with me, and be able to express their well wishes about my character. It’s something I’ve never experienced partly because this is my first soap opera and partly because internet/mobile communication between actors and viewers didn’t exist five years ago.

So, I made this little website to stay in touch and make announcements.  Since then the appetite has grown. It is my responsibility to keep those interested up to date and reward them with communication. They are so devoted and invested in me and my character. In some ways it gives me a platform to have a voice within my connection to the show.  Sometimes it’s one more thing I have to keep up with it. But once I sit down to blog, I truly enjoy it.  I have a comfortable, old friend kind of relationship with these fans. They come to my events, they write letters, they send presents, they are really involved and committed.  They also mirror my own personal commitment to my character and the show. I try to keep the posts interesting because I’m not sure how I feel about a “I’m getting a coffee at Starbuck’s right now” connection with the fans or anyone for that matter. But at the same time I want to be inclusive with them about working on the show and my experiences in life. It’s really another great surprise to find this community participation.  I like it, I like it a lot.

What has kept you busy since being bumped to recurring on GH?
I don’t know if many people really understand what happened.  I had a limited contract on the show and always expected the character to have a finite ending. I had the ability to leave half way through.  But I was enjoying the role, they had story for Kate and viewers were responding so the character lasted through the contract’s contingency and continued on until it expired. They didn’t take away a contract; they just didn’t offer a new one. Also there were changes in the show’s budget during my second year and financial decisions were made across the board. When I got the call from my agent that there wouldn’t be a new negotiation, I was expecting it, but was also sad knowing Kate had more story to tell and viewers wanted to see it.

It’s interesting; the end of the contract came at the same time we moved back into our house after an extensive remodel.  During the last year of my contract, I had spent countless hours making every construction and design decision.  This alone was more than a full time job, plus I have two little children.  Because we moved out, I boxed everything up and put everything together twice.  There are still projects left on the list, so I’m still just as busy as I was a year ago. I just spend less time at GH and more of my time doing the other things. Honestly it’s been good for me to have this time. I don’t have to set the alarm to get to work at 7am.  I can get up to make breakfast, pack lunches and get the kids to school. I don’t have to delegate my kid’s time. The house project was an epic life event. I don’t have a designer or people who do things for me. I do everything myself. Having a lighter work schedule saved my sanity. It had been a very long year.

Also I’m auditioning but have the luxury to be selective. I’ve been lucky to have had so many experiences as an actor.  Leaving home for a job can be difficult and the business in general is much slower than it was 5 years ago. So there are limited opportunities but still good ones.  It’s been fantastic to get back into rooms and see people that I haven’t seen for a few years.  I’ve felt welcomed back into the pool.  It’s been rewarding for my ego to have validation for all of those things I accomplished before General Hospital.

It’s a tricky career being an actor. You’re perpetually unemployed.  Which is why being on a soap is so addictive.  It’s a dangerous job to have for an actor, because there is a consistency most actors rarely have.  It’s so practical and once you know the rules, sharpen memorization skills, know your characters/actors you’re working with, it can be very rewarding too.  You have a set of tasks to accomplish in your day then you get to go home and do it all over again the next day.
When you do a movie, you could have 5 auditions, negotiate, wait a month to start production, travel to the location, do the hair, makeup and wardrobe tests, wait in a strange town away from home until your work day, wait 8 hours for rehearsal, wait for 2 hours of lighting set up, then finally spend 8 hours filming 1 page of dialogue.

On a soap opera you perform 10-60 pages of dialogue in 30 minutes to 3 hours.  You’re intensely problem solving and as soon as you say it, you have to let it go because you’re on to the next.  Ironically it’s possible to become lazy and not reach for the difficult choice because you simply may not have time to.  You must learn to quickly identify and contact everything important about the scene and your character. This is probably the greatest gift I’ve received from General Hospital.  To be confident and trust my instincts.

I’m excited for whatever new story lines or projects come my way because I like to do all different kinds of acting.  I’m not summed up by one particular role, it’s the combination of opportunities I’ve had that make me the actor and the person I am.


What did you think of our interview with Megan Ward? Would you like to see more of Kate on-screen? What story would you craft for Kate Howard if you were in charge? Send your comments to: mailbag@tvsourcemagazine.com to be included in our upcoming article.

On The Web: http://www.generalhospital.com | http://www.meganward.tv | http://meganwardblogged.blogspot.com/

Want to show your support for Megan Ward? Write to her at:

Megan Ward
c/o General Hospital
ABC-TV
4151 Prospect Ave
Hollywood, CA 90027

You may also call in support of Megan, her character Kate and/or her storyline:
GH Fan Comment Line: 323-671-4583 | ABC (LA): 818-460-7477 | ABC (NY): 212-456-7777


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