The Bay star Jade Harlow talks with TVSource Magazine about her troubled alter-ego Lianna, the difficulties involved in playing dark material and her upcoming film project, On the Horizon.
In the Emmy-nominated, four-time Indie Series Award winning online soap The Bay, soap alum Jade Harlow plays wild child Lianna Ramos, the prostitute daughter of the wealthy Janice (Lilly Melgar). Lianna blurs the lines between Bay City’s elite and its dark underbelly, resulting in a character that is as compelling as she is complex.
Harlow made her soap opera debut as Passions‘ Jessica Bennett in 2000. Over the years, the actress’ body of work has included guest starring roles in primetime and various independent film work including the short film she produced, Old Man Music. Earlier this year, she booked a recurring role on Days of Our Lives as Sheryl Connors, winning over fans while involved in an all-too-brief romance with Salem playboy Lucas Horton (Bryan Dattilo).
TVSource Magazine: Your Days of Our Lives character Sheryl had a hot romance blooming with Lucas before his meddling mother put a damper on things. Given the popularity of the #Lush pairing with Bryan Dattilo, any chance Sheryl might return to Salem in the future?
Jade Harlow: I really have no idea…I hope so.
TVSource Magazine: Let’s discuss your role on The Bay. Lianna comes from a very wealthy family, yet she’s turned to prostitution. What has led to her troubled ways?
Harlow: I think Lianna has zero self-esteem and no one in her life, including her mother, that shows her she’s worthy of love and of better things. She’s self-destructive because everyone she’s ever known has either ignored her or rejected her.
TVSource Magazine: You’ve tackled some heavy storylines as Lianna. How do you prepare for taking on the darker material?
Harlow: The heaviest material I’ve ever done emotion wise has been through this character. The preparation for putting myself in her shoes is very debilitating. Once upon a time, I felt exactly like she does – dejected, hopeless, lost – like I had nobody in this world that was in my corner for the right reasons. I’ve come a long way to come out of that. Then I was cast as Lianna and largely my preparation for this role has been revisiting the mental and emotional garbage that I have tried so hard to shake and overcome.
It’s been cathartic to go through the process, and also sometime toxic, but largely, when I went through those things, I covered or hid or suffered in silence- covering my pain in various ways. Lianna does too, to some extent but she’s more growing more confrontation with the people that have hurt her. She lays her pain out for all to see, they have to deal with this damaged soul. And when they see it and further ignore it, instead of going inward and feeling like she must be so low of a person that she deserves to be treated that way…she instead has started to cut them away from her. If she’s nothing to them, they are nothing to her now.
TVSource Magazine: In The Bay’s “Chapter 12, Part 4,” viewers were in for a surprise when Lianna and friend Will shared a romantic kiss. The exchange came after Lianna was told by a passerby, “Stay away from all those who trouble your heart. Be wise. Give your heart to the one, the man in blue.” Was Lianna’s attraction to Will a result of what the stranger said or was there more to it?
Harlow: I think Lianna is so desperate to be loved, to be wanted, to be valued that at that point she thought Will is the only person who has ever spent any amount of time or energy trying to “save her” and he just so happened to be wearing his blue police uniform that she threw herself at him hoping he’d be “the one”. Anyone who shows Lianna a kindness she mistakes for “the one” as so many of us females do when we have no self-worth.
TVSource Magazine: You have a couple of movies currently in the works – a film by visual poet Pascal Payan, On the Horizon; and a horror film written and directed by The Bay’s Gregori J. Martin titled Unhallowed. What can you tell us about the films?
Harlow: Pascal Payant has been a friend of mine for years. We’ve always wanted to work together but the right project never came along and he made it clear he didn’t want to just throw me in a short film but rather wait for his first feature. Over the time we’ve known each other, we’ve started to collaborate in a writing capacity. When On the Horizon started taking shape, we continued our writing collaboration and once it was finished he offered me the role of Christine as well as story editor credit. It’s a love story about two lovers who after they spilt, live life in opposite extremes, leading them into separate lives of flight and fancy and about how heartbreak and hurt has a ripple effect that touches everyone and is something that you have to heal and can’t run from. Looking forward to the shoot later this fall and to the release in 2015.
Unhallowed with Gregori J. Martin is something that he approached me with a while back, it’s a small role that is the kind of role I have yet to be considered for in other types of projects and doing something different as an actor is what attracted me to it. That’s all I can divulge about it at this point though.
TVSource Magazine: You’ve done primetime, daytime, web series and film. Many in the soap business have said soap operas are one of the toughest acting gigs out there. Having worked in different genres, what’s your take on that?
Harlow: Daytime serials and independent film are equally the most challenging, but for different reasons. In daytime, you get like maybe two takes and there is a lot of material pouring in all the time, so that’s the challenge there. To deliver the best work possible on a tight schedule with lots of material. But I kind of love the weight of that. In indie film, there is no such thing as comfort or a predictable schedule or circumstances that you often have in other types of shoots. You show up and do whatever it takes, for as long as it takes. You really soldier through with the cast and crew of indie film.