Denise Alexander, is a beloved veteran of network television and daytime soap operas. She appeared on the soap operas “Days of Our Lives,” “Another World,” and “Sunset Beach.” But her most recognizable role is Dr. Lesley Webber in “General Hospital” where she still shows up once in a while.
We got a chance to chat with Denise about working in web series, and her very diverse roles as Louise and Lola. Here is some of what she had to say.
Flo DiBona: You have worked for years in television and are beloved for your role as Dr Lesley Webber in “General Hospital.” As an actress what are the biggest differences working in a web series versus a network soap opera aside from the bigger budgets and crews?
Denise Alexander: I can only speak from a very limited perspective. I have been blessed to work with Steve Silverman but I've only worked with him on web series so I don't know how much of my experience is typical. Certainly working on “General Hospital” was not typical of working on every soap opera so I realize I have a limited perspective. There is a great sense of pioneering that is involved with working in web series right now. It is so individual. There is great freedom. I find no difference in the level of commitment and dedication from the people involved. I find brilliantly talented people in both arenas. I find no difference in the technical aspects, such things as sheets, scheduling, and scripts, figuring out wardrobes, trying to get a grasp on the character from the aspects of makeup and hair, which is always so helpful. It's the same work. But there's a feeling of being under the radar because you are not working under the all seeing eye of the network or a sponsor. So there might be a little bit more delicious sense of freedom to it.
FD: Can you tell us a little about the character Louise Fitzpatrick in “Pretty,” and what it was like playing her?
DA: I loved Louise. When Steve first told me about “Pretty,” and showed me some of the things he'd written for it, I thought, “Okay, it's not my kind of thing, but I bet there's an audience out there for it. I just don't get it.” So the first season I didn't have anything to do with “Pretty.” Then I started watching some of what they'd done and I thought, “Oh that's really kind of nifty.” He contacted me about the second season and he told me he had written the character of Louise for me. He had written just a little cameo where you didn't have to take a lot of time and I could come in and just have a little fun. When I first got there I remember feeling very much out of my comfort zone I didn't know that kind of comedy. I'd never played anything quite like it. It was a little concerning at first, but it was the best fun ever. I just wanted to come back for three more weeks. That was fun. Somewhere in the beginning, trying to find just the costume, I had the sense that Louise, who is the head of the pageant, loves pageants, breathes pageants. Ah, she was once in the pageants. I had been watching “Toddlers and Tiaras” in horror, unable to take my eyes away from it. I had seen this array of women who were running these pageants, and they were running them as their babies, as their fiefdoms, as if they were the queen of everything. They were very often Southern so that gave me that. Often, they were dressed up. I wanted to dress Louise up as if she was still competing. There wasn't time for that so from that I went into my own closet and found draping, flowing things in black. I thought if she can't be bright bubblegum pink then she's going to be dressed in black and she's going to have jewels. Out of that came the hairdo and from that came the tiara. It just unfolded almost organically. That was great fun. But then it was over. It was just two or three days. Fortunately there was yet another season. I could come back! Then it was, “Get me the biggest tiara. I need a taller tiara!” I had the best time! It was very freeing. What fun to do Louise. When do you get to do anything like this? Finding her, having the courage to go as far as she could go, working with the people I worked with, I had a great time. I love Louise. She's delicious. I adore her.
FD: In “The Inn,” Lola is a very mysterious character who seems to know much more than she is telling. What was it like playing Lola and filming most of your scenes in a working Los Angeles coffee shop?
DA: Oh that was fun. What a great location that was. I remember reading the script and saying, “So she's from New York.” I got her voice when I started trying to read what Steve sent me out loud and it became a different voice. I thought, “Oh that was interesting.” It was the first time that happened. I just got a sense of Lola being a straightforward, no-nonsense, doesn't take any crap, calls them like she see them character which you find a lot in New York. It's not an accent I'm comfortable doing at all, it's not an accent I think I can do. It was a very interesting thing to experience Lola finding me. I got to choose how she dressed. Louise and Lola are both dressed out of my closet. I like her relationships. I think Lola is the most interesting character. Lola can interact with everybody, she has an opinion about everything, nobody is righter than she is, nobody is smarter than she is as far as she's concerned. I love her!
FD: “Pretty,” and “The Inn,” are two very different flavors of web series, one is a comedy and the other is a thriller. Was one more challenging than the other?
DA: Physically, “Pretty,” was shot in a church hall and private home in the Burbank area. “The Inn,” was shot in a real diner, very traditional, very much looking the era it was built. It necessitated a long cab ride for me. “The Inn” was also shot in Ventura County on a private property so it felt a little more sophisticated location-wise. Very different feeling. Louise was a more peripheral character in “Pretty” because “Pretty” had been set so much in the first season. Louise came in more as a cameo role that you would normally come in and do if you were a person of a certain level of professional accomplishment. But you do it because it is so much fun and you can drop in and do it in a day or two and there's something really kind of delightful that you wouldn't get to do in your normal work life. Lola is much more integral. It's a very small cast of characters in “The Inn” so she's more integral, so that was different. Imagine for an actor that you got to do both of those, what a treat, what a gift!
FD: Are you scheduled to do more web series or are you interested in doing more?
DA: I like the concept. I'm a member of a troupe that belongs to Steve Silverman. That's my comfort zone. I certainly am open for it conceptually.
FD: Denise thank you so much for taking the time to share your thoughts with our readers. Is there anything you would like to say to our readers and your fans?
DA: I would like to find a way to express the gratitude that I have for everyone who appreciates the work that we all do and that's very personally true for me. I have always done it for the joy of doing it and for the connection with the audience. I never knew until the Internet gave it to me, the connection to the audience that I have had over the past couple of years. It is breathtaking. It has brought me to tears and it has opened my eyes and my heart to the deepness, the depth of the connection between the audience and the performer in a way that was never that available to me. I just want to say thank you with all my heart you all will never know the blessings that you have brought into my life.