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Life is a Soap Opera
By: Beth Zumwalt
July 1, 2004
When Ryan Carnes found out he landed a role on General Hospital,
he was sitting in his broken down car along the Los Angeles
"It's really a funny story," said the Pittsfield native.
Carnes will portray General Hospital's teenage Lucas, a role he
considers a breakthrough.
In early June, when he found out that he was being called back for
a final audition, he was in Hawaii on vacation with his mother,
Sandy Carnes. He got a phone call from his agent with the good news,
but he had to come back from vacation a day early.
He agreed to come back and got a flat tire on his way from his
apartment to the audition.
"It was just like in a movie," he said. "It was horrible."
Luckily, Carnes had his cellular phone and was able to call his
"He said sit tight and don't panic," Carnes said. Soon, the acting
coach came to Carnes' rescue. With that, Carnes turned on his hazard
lights, locked his car and headed off to the audition for General
Hospital with his coach.
When he returned to his vehicle, he still had to wait another three
hours for someone to come and repair his tire. About an hour and a
half into his wait, he got the call offering him the job.
Carnes has been living in California for nearly two years, taking
every opportunity to work and audition for acting jobs. After
portraying roles in two independent films, he is now entering the
world of soap operas, which he says is not anything new to him.
Growing up, he had plenty of exposure to them.
"I can thank my mother for what I know about soaps," he said. "She
loves 'The Young and the Restless' and 'The Bold and the Beautiful.'
I always knew what was going on the soaps, whether I wanted to or
not. I'll admit, I got into them a little bit."
Initially, after receiving the role of Lucas, Carnes had five shooting
dates in the last two weeks. He said it was a strange experience
compared to working in movies, and he was pretty much on his own to
figure out his character.
"Soaps just move very quickly," he said. After arriving his first
day on the set after a wardrobe fitting, Carnes went through
make-up and hair stylists, quickly got dressed, rehearsed a scene
then taped it with one take. He said the whole process took about
two hours with the actual shooting taking about 10 minutes.
"It's sort of like hurry up and wait," he said. Since then, he has
been through more taping, and is set to shoot more scenes after the
Fourth of July.
Carnes is playing a recurring role on the soap, which he said is
not the same as a contract role. The recurring role of Lucas
allows Carnes to continue auditioning for other parts in movies,
plays and television shows.
Carnes, who graduated from Pittsfield High School in 2000, said
his acting aspirations were always there in the back of his mind.
But being from a small town in the Midwest, he always felt the
back burner was a good place for them.
"I would watch TV and movies and think, 'I would like to do that,'"
he said. "It never once occurred to me that I could do it."
A glance at Carnes' old high school yearbooks proves he was active
in everything from sports to academics, but ironically, not active
in drama club.
"I never really took the time to do plays in high school or in the
Theatre Guild," he said. When Carnes was in fourth grade, he acted
as one of the Herdmans in Pike Theatre Guild's "The Best Christmas
Pageant Ever." He didn't step on-stage again until college.
After high school, Carnes went to Duke University. His interest in
performing was piqued when he took a theater class. The class involved
watching plays at the college and writing critiques of them. He
decided he liked that class so much, he signed up for more theater
classes, and eventually his friends convinced him to audition for a
play called "Love's Fire." It was a series of eight short vignettes,
and Carnes was chosen to act in three of them.
"I had a really good time with it," he said. "I decided, 'This
is something that I want to pursue in some form.'" With that, Carnes
declared a theater minor during his sophomore year.
The summer after his sophomore year, Carnes decided to attend a
scouting event in Chicago. At the event, several modeling and acting
agencies were conducting auditions for new faces, and Carnes acted a
monologue he had rehearsed. It was at this event that he met John
Simmons, the man who is now his manager.
"After he heard my monologue, he said 'I'm interested in seeing what
else you can do.' He told me to go home and tape another monologue
and send him the tape," Carnes said. Simmons called Carnes back after
receiving the tape, reviewing it in Los Angeles and showing it to
some business partners.
"He told me he would represent me, but in order to do that, I had to
move out there," Carnes said. "He knew that I was still in college,
but he told me, 'If you wait two more years, I probably won't want
to represent you. But it is up to you. If you want to break into
Hollywood, now is the time. You've got youth on your side.' I took
the weekend and talked it over with my parents. They were cautious,
but in the end, they were very supportive of me. They told me I had
to do what would make me happy."
Carnes moved to the Los Angeles area in August 2002. Since then,
Simmons and another manager with the same firm, Carl Scott, have been
helping him coordinate auditions and hone his acting skills.
"I owe a lot to John and Carl. There may not be anybody more legitimate
than them," Carnes said. "TV and film acting is so much different from
stage acting, and I had a lot to learn. I've got to give them a lot of
Carnes has appeared in two independent films, and the tentative air
date for his first episode of General Hospital is Thursday, July 8.
In between acting jobs, Carnes has been working as a personal fitness
trainer and as a server for two catering businesses. The catering
businesses provide food, drink and service to many celebrity events,
and these are where Carnes has hob-knobbed with the stars.
Carnes recalls that one of the most gracious and humble celebrities
he has met was Brendan Fraser. Carnes complimented Fraser on a recent
movie, and Fraser was thankful.
"He was quite the gentleman," Carnes said. "I told him, 'I thought
you did an amazing job,' and he was thankful."
Among the other celebrities Carnes has seen at events are Tom Hanks,
Ashton Kutcher, Demi Moore, Warren Beatty, Kate Hudson, Steve Martin,
Halle Berry and Adrian Brody.
"Basically, my job is to keep them happy," he said. "Part of my job
is fraternizing with the guests, because it plays into their experience
at the parties."
When it comes to meeting celebrities on the street, Carnes said he
just isn't very skilled at picking them out of a crowd.
"I'm sure I've seen them and just not known it," he said. "I have
some friends who are very good at that."