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Past Perfect, Present Tense

September 05, 1993|NANCY M. REICHARDT

To Cari Shayne, (Karen Wexler on "General Hospital"), being a successful actress isn't just about fame, fortune and recognition.

"What I'm looking to do with my career--and it's something I've discovered in myself since I've been on 'General Hospital'--is to play strong women who inspire people," she says. "The projects that are important to me are the ones that send a message to people; the ones that move them to become the best that they can be. That's really what I hope to accomplish with my career.

"That's why I'm so thankful to have this storyline," she says of the current "General Hospital" plot that has uncovered Karen as a victim of childhood sexual abuse. "Hopefully, I can help people going through this, people who have been victims personally in their own life."

Daytime insiders would agree that Shayne has risen to this acting challenge. But how would she rate her performances?

"I've given it my all," she says. "I've given it everything that's inside my soul, and I think that's coming across on screen. Yet, I'm still pretty critical of myself. I always will be. Sometimes I'll watch a scene and think, 'Oh God! That didn't come out like I wanted it to.' But overall I feel good about my work. I know I'm doing the best job I can, and I really feel for Karen."

Bringing Karen's painful past to light has been quite an undertaking for Shayne, who had a healthy childhood in real life. "I grew up in Washington, Mo., with my parents and brother, Corey," she says. "We lived in a nice house with a backyard, and we had a dog and a cat. I come from a very normal family."

Shayne's background, and her sweet and innocent look, have made her a natural at landing roles as good girls. But while she enjoys portraying Port Charles' resident model teen, Shayne admits to often feeling limited by the restrictions of the role.

"Sometimes it's frustrating playing the good girl," says Shayne. "It's hard always being the victim and never having any fun. You want to be the one in power once in a while."

For just that reason she has particularly enjoyed her cat-fight scenes with Vanessa Marcil (Brenda Barrett) in recent months. "I've gotten to slap her a few times, spray her with whipped cream and throw stuff at her," Shayne says, laughing. "It's kind of been a release for Karen."

Needless to say, Shayne has welcomed the addition of a nemesis to the show. "I love having Vanessa here," she says. "I was getting sick of being surrounded by men. I was working with men all the time, so it's been great having another girl around who's around my age, to have a friend to hang out with on the set--even though nobody believes we get along.

"My mom couldn't even believe that Vanessa's actually a nice person and that we really like each other," she says. "We were talking once and my mom said, 'I just know it! I know that she's really nasty.' It wasn't until she finally met Vanessa that she realized she was wrong."

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