To many TV viewers, Joan Pringle still is best known for her portrayal of high school vice principal Sybil Buchanan on "The White Shadow" from 1978-81. But the actress is now enchanting daytime audiences with her role as the driven Ruth Marshall on "Generations."
"Ruth is trying to get a piece of the American pie for herself and her family through hard work and perseverance," says Pringle. "Since Ruth didn't have very much when she was growing up, she not only wants material things, but power, recognition and security."
Pringle doesn't mind a little security herself. Aware of the scarcity of acting work available to black actors, the actress (who has also been seen on "That's My Mama," "Moonlighting" and "L.A. Law") considers herself fortunate to be steadily employed on NBC's "Generations."
"I don't worry about the so-called stigma of working on a soap opera," she says. "As a minority actor, if you're offered a good part and turn it down, I think you're foolish. Ruth Marshall is a wonderful role. Playing her has strengthened my performing abilities.
"As a black actress, I'm one of the lucky ones," Pringle adds. "My children and I thank God every night for 'Generations.' For a show to stay on the air for a year is a minor miracle. I'm committed to 'Generations' for the duration."
Exactly how long that "duration" will be is anybody's guess. Despite the hype and hoopla surrounding the premiere of "Generations" on March 27, 1989, the show has failed to make a dent in the ratings. Pringle admits that the poor showing of the soap in the Nielsen ratings causes her some anxious moments.
"I do worry about the possibility of 'Generations' being canceled," she says. "I try to forget about the ratings and just do my work, but the pressure's always there. Our show's competition is very stiff. I think if we went to an hour, it would help. But it's a 'Catch 22' situation. We need better ratings to go to an hour."