July 11, 2014 - 15 years of Santa Barbara : le site Francais
July 30,
2014 - 30 years of Santa Barbara

Margaret Michaels : «I met many wonderful people that I will never forget.»

 By Nicolas, exclusively for Santa Barbara : le site Francais, July 2014

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On last July 11, Margaret Michaels agreed to take on her time to answer exclusively the questions of Santa Barbara : le site Francais. The actress talks about her beginnings, of her time on Santa Barbara as the second interpreter of Santana Andrade, and at last about her career since her departure of the show.

The beginnings before Santa Barbara

At first, can you tell us a little about you : where do you live ? Do you live in couple or have children ?

Lets see... I live in Los Angeles. I've been married to the same wonderful man for over twenty years. I meditate every day, and write a gratitude list every night. My husband and I are animal lovers, so they are our children. Currently have two kitties, Scooter and Dice. Robert Wagner named our little black and white kitty Dice. We've been fortunate to have many other cats, dogs, and horses and they've all lived very long lives.

To know you better, what did you brought from yourself in the character of Santana Andrade in Santa Barbara ?

Santana was a very different person than I am. When I first received the script and it said she was an Interior Designer, I could easily relate to that as my mother-in-law was an interior designer and I've had a design company for many years. Yet on a personal level, we couldn't be more different. She was easily engaged in confrontation and always seemed to be defending her point of view, I am always seeking to be centered and peaceful. However as an actor, you have to find the inner workings of a character. Santana's love of family and her son, is a place where I think we can all relate.

How did you start your career as an actress ?

I was working as a make-up artist which in turn introduced me to many photographers and agency people. Several times I was ask to step in front of the camera. A friend of mine was a print model and introduced me to the Joan Mangum Agency. One thing led to another and I began doing a lot of print work and television commercials. It was very simply the natural progression from behind the lens, to in front of the camera.

 

The time of Santa Barbara

How did you start in Santa Barbara ?

I had an audition for the producers. I read for them twice, then they set up a screen test which I did with A Martinez. He's a wonderful actor and could not have been nicer. Within a week I had the role and started shooting Santa Barbara.

How was it to play a character that had previously been played by another actress ?

I had a lot of catching up to do. Santa Barbara had many storylines with endless twist and turns. While we are truly only involved with the storyline of our characters, I needed to find out who Santana was as quickly as possible, and just move forward.

How was Santana introduced to you at first ?

The information given to me was that she was an interior designer, driven toward success, that she was the mother of Channing's son, that her parents still worked for the Capwell family where her son was being raised, and that she was determined to get her son back at all cost. That was my first description of Santana.

You played Santana during the time she learned of Channing Junior's homosexuality and had to fight a lot against Gina to stay close to her son Brandon. What did you think about these storylines ? Weren't you afraid of letting Santana be seen only as a victim of the turn of events ?

Two difficult questions. I truly believe that Santana loved Channing deeply and to truly love someone is unconditional. We're human beings and very complex, yet losing anyone that we love is more devastating than anything preceding their death. Channing's death was what I had to deal with as an actress coming onto the show. Having lost many people that I love, I could certainly feel the pain of Santana's loss.
With regard to Gina and Santana's quest to win back her son... I must say that the constant, endless, battling between Santana and Gina wasn't easy. As an actress you don't create storylines or dialogue. You work with what's given to you. Linda Gibboney was a terrific person to work with and it was the saving grace to an otherwise difficult and exhausting dialogue. I often wished they had moved Santana's storyline in another direction while I was on the show. I think it could have been stronger and much more interesting. And yes, when you are always at battle with another person you do lose your inner strength, and become victimized by those very events.

Who were your favorite male and female acting partners as Santana ?

Easy : A Martinez and Lane Davies. Your interview isn't long enough for me to give all the positive, beautiful, accolades that come to mind about both of them ! Your readers should know that not only are these two men favorite characters, but they are remarkably kind and generous human beings. I worked with them more than anyone else. They will always hold a place in my heart.
With regard to women, I probably spent more time with Linda than anyone yet. I must share with you how wonderfully kind are Judith McConnell and Louise Sorel. A dear friend of mine's mother was dying of cancer with only a few days to live. Her favorite character was Augusta Lockridge. I almost never saw Louise on set, but she went out of her way to write kind words to my friend's mother. I've never forgotten her efforts, and my friend's mother was so filled with joy, even if it were only for a few days.

What were your reasons for your departure from the show? Did you meet your successor, Gina Gallego ?

Why I left Santa Barbara really isn't important. It was only important that the fans were quickly gifted with another actress, keeping the character of Santana alive and well. Unfortunately I did not have the pleasure of meeting Gina Gallego before I left.

What are your best remembrances from the show, on a relational and professional level ?

This type of multi camera television works very fast. It's a lot of dialogue, and set changes every day. I have tremendous respect for the cast and crew, and especially producer Jill Farren Phelps. On a relationship basis, I met many hard working people, wonderful people that I will never forget.

Did you keep in touch with members of the cast or crew after your departure ? Did you continue to watch the show ?

I did not keep in touch. Everyone is so busy with their own lives and the show itself has such long hours, not to mention that Los Angeles is anything but a small community. I have however run into Nicolas Coster several times. What a great guy. I'll bet you already know this, but he's an avid scuba diver and has a foundation that does amazing work with disabled people. It's always a pleasure to see him.

If you hadn't played Santana which character would you have liked to play ?

I don't know. I've never thought about it. You get terribly consumed with the character you are playing.

 

These 29 last years after Santa Barbara and now

After Santa Barbara you had a recurring role in Dallas, after having replaced Victoria Principal for one episode before. Can you tell us more about that experience ? How was it to play on such a popular program ?

Dallas was great fun. Patrick Duffy and Larry Hagman were pure joy. As an actress I try to simply know my character and do the job. When I arrived in Dallas, Texas to do the scene as Pam Ewing, I distinctly remember how quiet the set was. It was the closure of an iconic character. That experience was much different than my time on the show as Jeanne O'Brien. The Dallas family were all wonderful to work with. The original Dallas had a very strong fan base and the new Dallas on TNT seems to have an equally strong base. I think that show will always be popular. I'm grateful for having been a part of it.

After Dallas we didn't see much of you on television. What happened ? What are your new occupations ?

I did some episodic, did an independent movie that was never released, some theater, and then chose to take time for family issues. We always get to choose where we devote our time. My family who are still here on this Earth and those who have left, are near and dear to me. And I had a second career in design, which to this day I still love. So I took several years doing design work for clients, then my husband and I took almost three years to build the home we are currently living in. Right now I've shelved the design business and am back with the film industry.
I have several projects as a writer / producer. My partners and I have a feature in development. The screenplay and budget are ready and we're looking for distribution. I've written a television movie for the holiday season, and I am working on a television series. I've already written the pilot and three episodes. Nothing will happen this season, yet I am hopeful to get things off the ground very soon.

What is your television series in production about ? Do you plan to play in it or acting is totally behind you now ?

I did create a character for myself in the series. She's a strong woman who will rise above her complected life and broken marriage. When working to get a show off the ground it's all about negotiation. I've created a character which I like, yet one never knows what agreements will be reached with a network. We will all have to wait and see.

 

Once again all my thanks to Margaret Michaels for her kindness and her big availability.
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