Learning Life's Lessons
By Michael S. Rush
Thanks to Lawless for providing this interview.

      Enter Sarah Michelle Gellar as Kendall Hart, the long-lost daughter of Erica Kane (Susan Lucci). This exciting new character popped into the minds of the head honchos at All My Children years ago. However, the timing for her arrival never seemed quite right, after all, Erica was too busy battling Adam (David Canary) and falling in love with Dimitri (Michael Nader). Just as Erica and Dimitri were settling into a blissful life as an engaged couple, the show decided it was perfect for Kendall to hit Pine Valley and stir up some trouble.

      The next problem presented itself - who would portray her? All characters on a show are important, but this wasn't your average, run-of-the-mill role - this was the infamous Erica Kane's unknown daughter! It had to be an actress of great range and ability, one who could not only match wits with her mom, but actually win a few battles as well.

      "I didn't know when I auditioned for Kendall that she would turn out to be who she is," Sarah shares. "I had heard rumors, but they were squelched very quickly. I was scared enough just to be working with Susan, and then when they told me I would be playing her daughter, I was like 'I'm her what?! Daughter? Me?!'" Sarah's initial shock turned into a mild state of jitters as she reported for her first days of work playing the most important role of her young, but busy career. "I remember on my first day when I walked into the rehearsal hall, Susan and Michael were rehearsing a scene and I just snuck in the back and tried to blend in with the coffee machine, when all of a sudden, Susan said, 'Hold it, we need to stop for a minute,' and she walked over to me and said, 'Congratulations! I'm very glad you're here' and introduced me to everyone who was there. She really helped me and always made sure I was okay during my first couple of weeks when I was still unsettled."

      Now, the gregarious teen is loving every minute of her time playing the troubled and feisty Kendall. She's especially grateful to have found a role in her age category which is so complex. "I thank Judy Wilson (AMC's casting director) so much for giving me the chance to actually be a teenager playing a teenager on the show. In this business, if you're a young person who doesn't look like your in your forties, it's really hard to get a role that has any meat to it," she states. "To get a role like Kendall, I feel so lucky because it's so rare. They just don't write for kids anymore. You always have older people playing younger people. I'm sorry, but 90210? Hello! I go to school and our seniors sure don't look like that! There are some very talented teenagers who can do just as good, if not better, than any adults but they're not given a fair chance."

      Sarah's opportunity came at age four when she was cast in the film An Invasion of Privacy and she's never looked back since! She's been hard at work at her craft ever since and is quick to defend the choices she's made in her life to people who may look down on children getting involved in the very adult world of performing. "i was not meant to be in Little League or the local ballet school," she says with a big smile. "I'm tired of people who say, 'Acting corrupts these young people.' You know what? There are a lot of actors who have been working since a young age and they're just fine. Look at Susan! My stepfather always says that when he sees how many things I handle in a day, he'd be willing to hire a young person like me because now he sees what an incredible thing it is to see kids so focused and how much they have to offer."

      The young lady knows of what she speaks. Currently in the 10th grade at New York's famous Professional Children's School, Sarah is surrounded by people, including her best buddy and the person she shares a dressing room with, Lindsay Price (An Li), who have the same desires, dreams and even disappointments as she, and they're all in the same age group. But doesn't she feel like she's missing out on the so-called 'typical' teenage stuff? No way. "At this school, I do have it all. I go to proms and I go to formals, and you know what? I yawn at them!" she giggles. "I don't have any regrets. I've done a tremendous amount of traveling and it's given me the opportunity to see all the different things that are out there in the world."

      For now, Sarah is more than happy to stay right where she is at AMC. "I can't believe they're paying me to do this!" she exclaims. "They're such great people, it's a great studio, and Chinese food is delivered right to the door! I've got to have it at least three times a week. We're very lucky that they clean out our dressing rooms very day because Lindsay and I have a problem with that! There's Chinese food everywhere!"

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