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Parallel Lives: Actor Sees A Lot Of Himself In Soap Character

August 15, 1993|NANCY M. REICHARDT

In a medium with a serious dearth of meaty roles for black actors, Monti Sharp is one of the lucky ones.

In the short time Sharp has played mysterious David Grant on "Guiding Light," he has made a major impact on viewers. Not only did the actor recently win a soap-opera magazine award, but last May he took home a Daytime Emmy Award as outstanding younger actor.

Sharp, who was discovered by "Guiding Light" while he was performing at the Public Theater in Manhattan, says he believes that he landed his soap role by taking an unusual approach to the character at his audition:

"When I auditioned, I had my own idea about the character and tried to go against the grain. In fact, I went so far out on a limb at my audition that I felt almost as though I was putting myself in a position where I wouldn't get the role. Since I wasn't falling into the soap mode, I figured there's no way they're going to hire me, but I had a blast at the audition.

"Since the character uses a lot of slang, I wrote this code language for the audition and dressed in a hat and hiking boots. I was on pins and needles for three weeks, until the show called and said I had the job."

Before joining "Guiding Light" in April, 1992, Sharp was seen in a day-player stint on "One Life to Live." He describes the experience as a disaster.

"I got home that night and swore I'd never do another soap," he recalls. "It was so fast, with little or no rehearsal time. But after the initial shock wore off, I found myself wanting another shot at it."

Sharp says he feels right at home on "Guiding Light" because he can identify with his character.

"What David and I have in common is a renegade spirit," says the actor. "Like me, David likes to cut against the grain. I see David as a good guy, but I'd like to see him get back to his more dangerous side that pushes the wrong buttons with people. I like it when he skates in and out of trouble. Now that David is in love with Kat (Nia Long), the audience will probably start seeing a more colorful side of him."

Because happy couples on soaps are boring, Sharp is hoping the love story of David and Kat will evolve slowly. "I don't want to see them get married any time soon, because I want the audience to have some time to root for us," says Sharp. "I would like to have David stay with Kat for a while, but I want to see him find intrigue outside of the love story."

Like David, Sharp is single but not unattached.

"I just met someone very recently at a party who makes me happy," says the actor. "She makes me feel like a kid again. I'm pretty old-fashioned in that I see myself getting married and having kids at some point."

When Sharp isn't working or dating, he can be found painting at his easel.

"I work in acrylics on canvas, and most of my stuff is pretty abstract," he says.

"Guiding Light" airs weekdays at 2 p.m. on CBS.

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