The shooting star of Santa Barbara

 By Alena Prime, TÚlÚ Star, 1990

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Gina Gallego's family is from Mexican origin, but it is installed in California since three generations, and it is at the school that Gina, who plays Santana in Santa Barbara had to learn Spanish. Her parents, George and Maria, get married very young and her mother was only eighteen at her birth. Four other children followed, and as only George could work (Maria has to do with the children) it was not the wealth : "We lived in apartment in one of the over-populated districts of Los Angeles, Gina says. I remember that the first time we left for holidays I was ten and I said to myself : "It is too weird to be in a place where there is no concrete !..." Afterwards, I insisted to go to the beach every Sunday..."

Thereafter, the things went better for the Gallegos. The father became a landscape designer, a job well paid. He drew the gardens of the stars and, sometimes, he took along his elder daughter with him. Fascinated by all that was linked with the cinema, he said to his daughter : "One day, you will also be a star !" While waiting, the young girl went wisely to school where she was one of the best  pupils of her class. Once her studies finished, she worked for a cameras seller. One day, on Hollywood Boulevard, a rather elegant man stopped her and said to her : "My wife is an agent and she looks for a Latin type actress. Here is her card. Give her a phone call." "It is always said that this is only in Hollywood that these things happen. But look at it, it is the truth", Gina verifies. She thus phoned to the woman who found her interesting and quickly obtained her her card of the Actors syndicate. Gina Gallego started to play some silhouettes, but in 1984, there was, at the same time, auditions for Rituals and Santa Barbara. She presented herself at the both of them and the two productions retained her candidature. "But Santa Barbara wanted me to make a screen test, she remembers, whereas Rituals took me without any. Quite naturally, I thus chose Rituals..." In fact, this choice was not very judicious because, one year later, the show was cancelled. Without being abashed, Gina called then the production of Santa Barbara, where they were happy to learn that she was free and she was immediately hired.

But this career beginning was to be accompanied of an unexpected incident. One morning that she was late to go to the studio, Gina forgot to take her pill and fell pregnant. Two years earlier, she had gone to consult a medium who had predicted her that she would have a child about the middle of 1988. As at the time she was not married, she found that funny and did not think of it any more. However, in a very few time, the things get in a hurry. Gina met Joel Bailey, an actor who is also a producer and scenario writer and who asked her to marry him. She accepted. The two young people joined their savings and bought a house not far from that of Gina's parents. Daddy Gallego planted some trees and redrew the garden. The young couple began to work on it : Gina and Joel remade the parquet floors, the paintings and the inside decoration all alone. Gina played without any problem in Santa Barbara, until the sixth month of her pregnancy. "Then in only a few days, she says, I took four kilos in one week. And then, of course, I had to stop..."

Last July, Gina gave birth to a nice boy, Brendan. Since, she did not work much. "Before his birth, she recognizes, the most significant thing of my life was my career. But now I realize that my son passes before everything. A little more than one month ago, I was proposed to do a movie, but the outside scenes had to be shot in the Philippines during five weeks. I thought about it a lot and I deduced from it that Brendan was still too small so that I take him along with me or that I leave him all alone here. Then, I refused. My living room became a vast park for children, Gina continues. Some pieces of furniture have been removed so that my son is more at ease to walk with his four legs. We, the adults, are relegated in the family room (the room which is a little library, a little smoking-room, although nobody smokes)." It is a room which opens directly on the swimming pool and of all its doors are closed with a special lock that a child cannot open. "I do not want, Gina says, that when Brendan starts to walk, he can go all alone to the swimming pool."

For the moment, in his little kingdom, Brendan appears completely happy to have such an amount of space. "My mother often comes to keep him when I work or when I go to auditions, explains Gina. I would be pleased to return in a TV show and even to return in Santa Barbara, but not before Brendan is one year old. Of course, in Santa Barbara, I know everyone and it would be like returning in family. The other day, one of the producers invited me to evoke with me some memories of shootings. He reminded me a scene of violence, during which I had to shoot somebody. Each time they put the revolver in my hand, I trembled like a leaf. I have a morbid fear of fire weapons. During the repetitions, we used a gun in wood, but during the shooting, it was well necessary to take the real one. The accessories supplier opened it, showed me that it were false bullets in the charger and that I did not have anything to fear. Despite everything, it was necessary to remake the scene several times before I can show a little insurance. After all, the scene was excellent..."

Mr. Gallego senior, the gardener, always encouraged his daughter to become an actress. "When I was little, she remembers, he repeated me : "Do not forget to wash your teeth on the morning and the evening. It is what gives to the stars their bright teeth." The passion of my father was dramatic art, closely followed by music. It was a strange thing, because he was rather deaf. Then, he played his discs at full volume, so much so that the walls of the house trembled about it. His preferred recording was the famous operetta No No Nanette he sang at the same time as he listened to it, by murdering it terribly. When I hear this operetta today, it reminds me so many memories that tears goes to my eyes !..." When her career really began, Gina Gallego took lessons of song, fearing of having inherited the falsetto voice of her father.

In spite of her multiple talents, Gina was several times close to unemployment : "It is very depressing to remain without anything to do for whole months, she says. But in this job, it is frequent..." On the other hand, there has been periods when she had too much work. During the eighteen months she worked in Santa Barbara, she found the way of making two films for cinema : "The outside scenes of one of them happened in New York, she says. During three whole weeks, I had to go and come back between the West coast and the East coast : five thousand kilometers in the two directions. I was exhausted. But I am the kind of people who needs to be all the time occupied. To work six days per week, ten hours per day, does not displease me, on the contrary. This why I like to play in TV shows, where we spend in studio from ten to twelve hours per day...". The family of Gina's husband live in Orlando, Florida, and Joel's mom is extremely disappointed that her son did not become a farmer. At the end of May, Gina, Joel and Brendan left for Orlando and looked for a property to buy. "The cinema industry is developing incredibly quickly in Florida, Gina says, and it is the moment to buy something everything becomes inaccessible. MGM and Disney joined to open very big studios in Florida. Thus there will have work over there, what will be good for us who have the sense of family. We would like to buy a quite oldish property with a lot of place around, and we adore to remake the interiors ourselves. I find that it is important to give to ones house a personal style..."

For the moment Joel works on a documentary series he is the co-producer of. As an actor, he played Lindsay Smith in Santa Barbara : a character, let us say, quite equivocal, who was in love with Channing, with who Santana was also in love. But at the time Santana was played by Margaret Michaels : "What a pity that I have arrived afterwards. Otherwise Joel and me would have been in love with the same man," Gina concludes while laughing.