Interviews Soaps

"Deadly Obsession," An Interview with Brianna Brown

'Deadly Obsession,' An Interview with Brianna Brown

Brianna Brown (Lisa Niles, General Hospital) dishes on her storyline, her character’s bunny boiling tendencies, the experience of working in daytime and so much more in this exclusive TVSource Magazine interview.

Brianna Brown is living it up as Dr. Lisa Niles on ABC’s General Hospital. Originally introduced as a light, fun loving doctor with a crush her former lover (and now very married) Dr. Patrick Drake, we’ve seen Lisa evolve into a woman determined to get what she wants at any expense. When she wasn’t shamelessly using fellow doctor Steven Webber (Scott Reeves) to make Patrick jealous, she openly flirted with Patrick, playing up his needs for attention. Lisa seized on an opportunity to tempt Patrick with the forbidden when his wife Robin left town for business. Patrick didn’t know it at the time, but his affair would set a series of events into motion that would come back to haunt him. After being rejected by Patrick, Lisa decided she wasn’t content with leaving their indiscretion in the past.

Lisa’s actions since their one-night stand has been well…a little crazy. In what can only be described as a bunny boiler like personality, Lisa surprised Patrick half-naked in an empty hospital room, defaced Robin’s locker, moved into the Scorpio-Drake household and threw Robin’s HIV medication away! Trust me when I tell you, that isn’t even the tip of the iceberg. Lisa crosses an even bigger line when she takes Robin & Patrick’s daughter without permission! It won’t stop there either….

The Minnesota born beauty is having the greatest time playing such an off the wall character. Usually restricted to ingénues and “dumb blond” characters, this was a chance for Brown to really sink her teeth into a meaty role. The girl with big dreams has accomplished a lot of what she set out to do, appearing in television series such as Entourage, Criminal Minds, Joey, Smallville, CSI: New York, CSI: Miami, The Closer and the films Timber Falls, The 40-Year-Old Virgin, Knocked Up and Night of the Living Dead 3D.

Brown lives a very active, healthy lifestyle and in her spare time, works to spread positivity and encouragement for women with her group The New Hollywood. During our almost hour long interview, Brown opened up about overcoming her stage fright, entering the world of soaps and portraying the heel in a controversial storyline involving one of General Hospital’s most popular couples.

Throughout the interview, Brown’s bubbly personality and humor offered an interesting glimpse into the life of a woman who made “the impossible, possible.”

“Go confidently in the direction of your dreams. Live the life you have imagined.” – Henry David Thoreau

On the Web: http://www.brianna-brown.com
On Twitter:
http://twitter.com/brownbrianna


{tab=Biography}Name: Brianna Lynn Brown
Birthday: October 2
Age:30
Hometown: Saint Paul, Minnesota
{tab=Hobbies}[Laughs] I co-founded an investment club [Green Goddess Investment Club]. I sing and obviously [I’m involved] with my non-profit group [The New Hollywood].  I love to dance and hang out with friends.

Any chance we’ll see you singing on GH on karaoke night?I’m surprised they haven’t used me for that yet. Perhaps. I know with my women’s group we plan on having a benefit next year and I’ll be performing then.
{tab=Just The Facts}Favorite Movie? I just saw The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and I’m in love with that movie.
Favorite Actress? I’d have to say Meryl Streep, Cate Blanchett and Kate Winslet. There are so many great actresses.
What’s on your iPod? A lot!  I love Mika and Christina Aguilera. I’m kind of a Top 40 girl so anything like that.
I heard you were a big NKOTB fan back in the day? Totally! I was a huge fan. Loved them.
If you could play any other character on GH who would it be? Honestly I never thought of that. Maybe Franco’s role.  It was very unique role.
{tab=One More Thing…}
What would your dream job be?
Other than being a rock star? [Laughing]
Anything. Acting or producing or writing, whatever.
My dream job would be to have my own production company and produce features films that I’m really proud of.
A fan wanted us to ask you what’s your beauty regimen? She says you have such beautiful skin.
Eating clean. Yeah, it’s not fun. I try to eat as much organic food and use organic products as [much as] possible.  Also I have a fabulous facialist [named] Jai Lone. www.jaiofbeverlyhills.com{/tabs}

TVSource Magazine: When you joined General Hospital, you first aired in the beginning of the year right?

BRIANNA BROWN: That’s right. My contract actually began in the middle of December 2009, and my episodes started airing in January.

TVS: How did you handle coming in as a recast? Was it difficult to take over the role of Lisa?

BRIANNA: Well, it wasn’t too terrible because when I came on board, I was given creative leeway from [head writer] Bob Guza and [executive producer] Jill Phelps to make it my own. I didn’t have to try and replicate what the previous actress had done. Plus, because there wasn’t a long history with that character and she didn’t have a huge following it was easier to change things up, so I was lucky.

TVS: Did you have any idea what you were getting into when you agreed to take the role?

BRIANNA: Well, yeah. Well…it depends on what you mean by that? [Laughs].

TVS: I mean, in regards to the pace of daytime and having to learn so much dialogue and things like that.

BRIANNA: Well I knew that there was going to be an influx of information that I would have to absorb and regurgitate quickly. So I knew that I was going to have to embrace that…but I did not realize how quickly they shot.  Daytime is a very different format than primetime television shows and film; it took a while to get used to the medium.

TVS: Did you have any preconceived notions about the soap genre coming in?

BRIANNA: Well I didn’t know exactly what it would look like with me being on the soap. When I started really watching GH when I was offered the role, I thought the acting was really, really solid especially considering the pace and the amount of dialogue that was thrown at the actors as well as the production value. I was impressed when I came aboard. I was hoping to be able to take what I knew how to do and be able to condense it and spit it out as quickly and do as good of a job as I was seeing everybody else do.

TVS: What was your audition at GH like?

BRIANNA: I was very fortunate. I didn’t have to audition. I was offered the role because of previous work that I’d done and because I was up for a role on Guiding Light long ago. I ended up not taking it at that time but ironically it was the same casting director — Mark Teschner. When my representation told Mark I was interested in being on a soap, Mark got really excited because he knew me from ages ago. He showed the reel on my website (www.brianna-brown.com) to the executive producer [Jill Farren Phelps] and to the head writer Bob and they really liked what I had done. We sat down, had a meeting to discuss the character and they gave me the role in the room! It was an ideal [situation]!

TVS: How would you compare soaps to that of film and primetime?© Brianna Brown

BRIANNA: How would I compare it? I would have to say that soaps are more difficult in having to make your choices and trying to develop your character because of the time constraints and not knowing what twist or turn is going to happen next. With primetime and film you get to have a table read, there’s more rehearsal time, more time between set ups.  Basically more time to prep. I give a lot of props to soap actors who’ve been doing it for a long time. It’s definitely a different muscle.

TVS: Do you think having to learn large amounts of dialogue in a short period of time has made you a better actress?

BRIANNA: Yes.  What I’ve tried to do is incorporate the process that I would use for auditions or working on a film.  Sometimes it’s easier to do, and other times it’s more difficult because of the dialogue or because of time constraints. But I try [Laughs].

TVS: Who encouraged you to become an actress?

BRIANNA: I always wanted to be an actress, but I didn’t know of anyone that made a living as an actress and it seemed like something that wasn’t really possible. I didn’t know of any thriving artists – I grew up in the suburbs of Minnesota and my family worked in the medical field and the business field. I was the first one in my family to move outside of a two hour radius from my grandparents, so for me to go all the way to LA to be an actress was new territory and seemed impossible.  Acting was something that I had always loved and wanted to do and I fortunately I ended up making it happen.

There was a student teacher when I was a freshman in high school who encouraged me to audition for the musical. Prior to that I had been really nervous with auditions (in middle school) and I didn’t make any of the plays because I was so shy auditioning in front of my peers. I couldn’t even project past the page; I was so nervous and awkward.  When I hit high school I had sworn off ever auditioning for another play. I was in the sophomore choir as a freshmen and a student teacher really pushed me to try out for the musical and so I ended up getting a part. I was one of the few freshmen to participate. We had a really great theater program and I was just sucked into performing.

TVS: How did you overcome that fear and fright of being watched by everyone and having the attention on you?

BRIANNA: It was really hard. It’s ironic because when I was younger I had no problem with the attention. I was really loud and hyper. I was more fearless then. In middle school I became very inhibited.  In high school I started taking more risks. I ended up falling a lot and getting back on my feet. I was terrified of auditioning and having to sing with my nerves clenching my throat.  And I would pray a lot, hoping that the nerves would cease for the audition or performance [Laughing]. Sometimes it would work and sometimes it wouldn’t. Eventually after taking enough risks and pushing myself I got used to being uncomfortable and learned how to deal with the fear.

TVS: Do you miss working in theater? What do you miss about it?

BRIANNA: I do. I miss how collaborative it is. I miss the process of theater.

TVS: What’s a typical day like in the life of Brianna Brown?

BRIANNA: Well there’s no typical, so that’s annoying. There’s no consistency. I try to have some sort of set schedule but things always vary. It’s more consistent now being on a show because I know what days I work and which days I don’t.   If I’m shooting I go to work depending on my call time. I either work out before, or work out after. Memorize at night and then try to do the million other things that I do with what little free time I have left.

TVS: Your current storyline involves your character Lisa attempting to come between one of GH’s most popular couples, Patrick and Robin. Why is Lisa so determined to get Patrick back? Even at the expense of using a great guy like Steven?

BRIANNA: Well I think Lisa really liked Steve, but I think she also realized it wasn’t going to last. I think when Lisa saw that Patrick was still interested it reignited her idea that there was something more or could be something more.  Or in her mind, there should be something more [Laughs].© Ron Tom/ABC Studios

TVS: Do you think Patrick may have led her on? Maybe sent the wrong signals?

BRIANNA: Umm….me, Brianna, objectively says no, I don’t think he tried to. But I think as Lisa, she saw they were attracted to each other and she saw that there was an opening. And like a lot of people do when there’s an opening, they jump on the opportunity.

TVS: One of the things I like about this storyline is that Lisa represents a link to Patrick’s past that was a fun, carefree time with a little to no responsibility. I think Lisa’s presence in Port Charles reminded Patrick of that carefree time that maybe a part of him longed for. I was very surprised when Patrick became jealous of Lisa’s relationship with Steven. I was like “Ok, this is just confirming everything I’ve believed for months.” Patrick may not have wanted Lisa, but he certainly didn’t want anyone else to have her either.

BRIANNA: And that’s just it. That’s exactly Lisa’s point of view. It’s that, “If you weren’t interested, you wouldn’t have gotten jealous.  You know we’re great friends; we’re obviously very attracted to each other otherwise you wouldn’t have let yourself do something when you’re married if you weren’t. We had this history and it wasn’t the right timing back then.” So that’s her rationale. I don’t know if she believes it’s right, but that’s how she justifies it.

TVS: When you learned the writers were going to have Lisa begin actively pursuing Patrick instead of her subtle (but very obvious) flirtations, and really go for it, were you happy to finally get something a little meatier to play?

BRIANNA: Yeah, for sure! They took their time introducing my character, which I appreciate, so that fans could warm up to my character and my version of her. But yeah once I was actually given some room to really act; it’s been a lot of fun. One of the things I love about Lisa is that she’s very ballsy and she’s doing some really crazy stuff.  It’s so much fun to be able to play.

TVS: So you enjoy playing a darker version of Lisa?

BRIANNA: I do enjoy it. I’ve played so many ingénues and being a blond, I’ve played a lot of bimbos, running away from “monsters” etc. People don’t normally cast me as a villain. It’s fun to be able to show that I can play these darker characters.

TVS: Some fans characterize Lisa of a villain. Do you see Lisa as a true “villainess?” If so, do you like that characterization?

BRIANNA: Hmm…well, ok. The actor in me says that no one in real life really believes their actions are negative, or views him or herself as a “bad” person. Everyone justifies his or her actions in life, right? So, in order to keep it truthful, [I] try to make Lisa really believe that what she’s doing is logical and makes sense to her, and she’s not a bad person for doing it.  But let’s be honest, she’s crazy and I love that she’s a villainess [Laughs]!

TVS: This is a two part question. Now that eight months have gone by and the writers are beginning to delve into other aspects of Lisa’s personality, how would you describe Lisa when you first began compared to now?

BRIANNA: When I first came on board, Lisa was a really fun, free spirit and talented surgeon who had a strong connection to Patrick because of their history in college.

Cut to eight months later, Lisa is….[Laughs]. Lisa needs to read the book He’s Just Not That Into You. I think Lisa is not used to being turned down. I think like what happens to a lot of people, and maybe hopefully not to the same extent, she has a hard time letting go of the past.  We’re seeing that come out and manifest in really….interesting ways.

TVS: What is it about your story that you like the most?

BRIANNA: I love that I get to play so many aspects of this woman. I love that I get to be really focused as a brilliant surgeon when truthfully I know next to nothing about medicine.  That Lisa is a partier and does shots on the bar, literally, which is something you’d never see me, Brianna Brown, doing. And then I love that Lisa goes from fun loving and laughing to a bit scary.

TVS: How do you like working with Jason [Thompson] and Kimberly [McCullough]? What are some of the things you enjoy about working with them?
BRIANNA: First of all both of them are sweethearts. Both of them are genuinely lovely people. Jason has a great work ethic.  And I love that Kimberly is also focusing on directing as well as doing such a great job on General Hospital. They’re not drama [centric] and it makes going to work a pleasure.

TVS: Has it been hard dealing with some of the negative responses to this storyline? Soap fans can be a very….vocal bunch at times.

BRIANNA: Yeah. I feel like I’m managing it better now. I’m a sensitive person and I want to explain if something is misinterpreted. So it can be complicated because nowadays people have so much access through social media. [Before] it used to just [be] fan mail and you could have someone go through it and make sure no one was writing anything really nasty or threatening. Now I find some of it a bit hilarious and entertaining. Someone said that I was, “born a whore from my mother’s womb.” [Laughs]. My friends and I now joke that I was a “slutty fetus.”

TVS: “Slutty fetus?” [Laughs]. That’s one I’ve never heard before. I think it’s important for those unhappy with storylines to realize that no matter how much they may dislike the character (or even its portrayer), the actors have no control over dialogue or story direction. A majority of fans realize that, but there are a few who cross the line.

BRIANNA: This is what he or she wrote: “You were born a whore from your mother’s womb. Your acting is too real for it not to be who you really are. You need to get a reality check before someone else gives it to you. I know it’s a soap, but I’m just saying.” I was like…I’ll take this as a huge compliment because I couldn’t be further from my character! [Laughs].

TVS: Well that’s an interesting way of looking at it. What would you like to see for your character outside of this story?

BRIANNA: You know I’m just having so much fun with what they’re throwing at me and I’m just riding the rollercoaster.

TVS: What are some of the similarities and differences between you and your character? We’ve already established that Lisa’s crazy. You’re like the anti-Lisa [Laughs].

BRIANNA: I’m grounded….rational…..[Laughing]. I’m very driven. I like to work hard and party hard, but on a very different level. My version of partying is a glass of wine, not dancing on a bar, that’s kind of about it.

The differences? I’ve been in a four year relationship. I couldn’t be further from someone who’d go after someone who’s in a relationship especially if they were married. I have a sense of reality when someone says “I’m not interested!” I think that kind of covers some big differences between myself and Lisa. She’s very creative in her being vindictive; I’m not like that at all.

TVS: Are there any other potential love interests you’d have in mind?

BRIANNA: Well I have a hard time thinking there would be another love interest because my character is so obsessed with Patrick! I don’t know how that would all work out. There are a lot of great actors on the show that I’d love to work with. Right now I can’t see how a love interest would fit in considering all the crazy stuff Lisa’s doing!

TVS: Whoever else it is that catches her attention needs to approach her with caution as there’s a chance she could become obsessed with them as well.

BRIANNA: For sure! Watch out!

© Brianna BrownTVS: Maybe it’s just a Patrick-specific kind of thing. Maybe she hasn’t found the right person yet to take her mind off of him.

BRIANNA: Maybe! I think they’re going to be getting very creative with my storyline.

TVS: If you could work with anyone on the show, who would it be and why?

BRIANNA: You know I really want to work more with Kirsten [Storms]. I think we’d have a lot of chemistry getting to act out catfights. Oh and Lisa [LoCicero].  She’s just a sweetheart so it would be fun to work with her more often.

TVS: Who’s the funniest person on set?

BRIANNA: Well you have to remember I don’t work with everyone all the time, so of the people I normally work with, I would say Scott Reeves is really funny. And then at Fan Club Weekend, I realized that John (who was emceeing it) was hilarious. So there are a lot of people that are really funny, I just don’t get the pleasure of working with them every single day.

TVS: Speaking of Fan Club Weekend, you attended your first one last month. What was your impression of the event?

BRIANNA: I was shocked at how pleasant everyone was. I didn’t know what to expect. I think I was forewarned for the worst but was completely surprised and elated that everyone was so nice and positive. In general I think soap fans get a bad rep. I met the sweetest most passionate lovely men and women.  It was a really positive experience for me.

TVS: Can you tell me about your non-profit group “The New Hollywood?”

BRIANNA: About five years ago I started a goal group with women I knew. Over the years it has turned into quite a large group and we even have a branch in New York. We donate money to various charities and throw events to help raise funds for other non-profits. The majority of women are in the entertainment industry – being writers, actors, directors, voice over artists, you name it. We turned it into a non-profit so that we can continue doing more charitable works and so we could expand. It’s been really lovely breaking the mold.  The idea of women in Hollywood being against each other instead of supporting each other and being excited for other people’s successes. It’s been very beneficial for me and has kept me motivated and focused. [You can learn more about The New Hollywood — http://www.thenewhollywood.org/

TVSource Magazine thanks Brianna Brown for a wonderful interview. For more on Lisa’s next set of antics and its impact on Patrick & Robin, check out our GH Previews for the week of August 23, available Friday morning.

Be sure to watch Brianna Brown on General Hospital, weekdays on ABC and weeknights on SOAPnet. Also available at ABC.com and Hulu.


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