Living Large
Soap Opera Digest Magazine
Dated: January 26, 1999

Sherri Saum (Vanessa) and Jason George (Michael) came from different worlds before they both landed at SUNSET BEACH. Her experience was in commercial and print modeling; his was in classical theater. Despite the differences, the duo clicked and have become one of the hottest couples on the Beach. On-screen, they have survived crazed psychopaths and a devastating earthquake. Off-screen, their lives have been a little less stressful

Soap Opera Digest: What were your first impressions of each other?
Jason George: Hair. Lots and lots of hair.
Sherri Saum: That's what Tim [Adams, Casey, and Saum's real-life boyfriend]said.
George: And once I got past that, she's pretty.
Saum: Awww! Jason can act. He was the last guy that I screen-tested with. Not that the other guys weren't marvelous ... okay, they weren't marvelous. Jason knew what he was doing, and I felt like, "Oh I'm so lucky."

Digest: How have your characters grown over the last two years?
George: Michael started out as a black Superman with a big, bad "S" on his chest, and he could do no wrong. I do a lot less action now, much to my chagrin. But the relationship between him and Vanessa has deepened.
Saum: Well, I think Vanessa started off as a hard-ass. Can I say that? She started out a little cold, driven and anti-love and now, she's warm and fuzzy and kind of feminine.

Digest: Do you like that?
George: She misses the episode where the guy beats me up and then she beats him up.
Saum: Yeah.
George: Basically we want more action.

Digest: What do you admire most about each other?
Saum: Oh, God [Laughs]. I admire the way that Jason really is a superhero. He would always put a blanket down for the woman. He'd always be there to save the girl.
George: You can't not love Sherri - she's immediately accessible, She's like, "Welcome to my world."

Digest: Does it bother you that they've isolated your storyline?
George: I'm mixed on it. On the one hand, I'm glad that the story represents the good, the bad and the ugly. For a while, African Americans always showed up as thugs, and then for a while, they only showed up as perfectly good people who do no wrong. And now, we have representation across the board. That's cool. But at the same time, we lost any interaction with anybody else on the show. But that's changing, and I'm happy about it because I think the interaction needs to be there.
Saum: I would love to work more with...

Digest: Tim Adams.
Saum: No. I was going to say maybe Aunt Bette [Kathleen Noone] because we both work at the same place, or...
George: Tim Adams.
Saum: Or ... anybody, like Ben [Clive Robertson] just to mix it up. I enjoy that. Not that I don't enjoy working with our little family.
George: Hank [Cheyne, Ricardo] and I have this whole storyline worked out where Michael becomes a private detective. [Virginia's son] Jimmy gets involved with gangs again and Vanessa and Michael and Ricardo have to go back into South Central to save the kid, go undercover in gangs.

Digest: It could be "A Very Special SUNSET BEACH."
George: Right.

Digest: How do you feel about the current portrayal of African-Americans in the media?
Saum: I see a lot of progress. I'm a very optimistic person.
George: She's right. I definitely think there has been progress. Of course, there's a long way to go. But I dig seeing things like The Shawshank Redemption. Morgan Freeman played a character named Red, who, as far as I can tell from the novel, was supposed to be an older Irishman. And there's a line when they actually say to him, "Why do they call you Red?" And he says, "Because I'm Irish." Or you see things like Wesley Snipes in One Night Stand. As I understand it, Nicolas Cage was supposed to play the role and then things got turned around.

Digest: Are you dreading your character being pregnant?
Saum: I've been having nightmares about being pregnant for real. Because every day that I'm saying, "I'm pregnant, I'm pregnant," it's transferring into my dreams. I'm not ready for that. I love babies; just don't let them come from my womb and I am a happy camper.
George: I look forward to being pregnant [laughs]. If it's good enough for Arnold Schwarzenegger [Junior], it's good enough for me.

Digest: How do you like two women fighting over you?
George: You could do worse.

Digest: Have either of you ever been involved in a love triangle?
George: Once I was dating ... we'll call them A and B. I was good friends with both A and B, and they were best friends from the time they were little girls. I started dating B, and A liked me for some time. Next think I know, A tells B they can't be friends as long as she was dating me, so B breaks it off. When I found out by B broke it off with me, I told A that whether or not I was dating B, it wouldn't change the fact that she and I would only be friends.
Saum: I had a little triangle. I was dating two different guys, who were both in different divisions of law enforcement. They were constantly trying to one-up each other and show me their Smith & Wessons and which was shinier or whatever.
George: Is that a metaphor for something else?
Saum: [Laughs] I hate you!

Digest: Are there any actors who you miss working with from BEACH's past?
George: I miss Kelly Hu [ex-Rae]. It was funny, because we were at the Diversity Awards, and the next thing I know, I'm presenting an award to Jackie Chan, my hero, with Kelly Hu, who I hadn't seen in several months.
Saum: I miss Nick Stabile [ex-Mark]. He was so meaty, and I wished they would have exploited it.
George: Actually, we all went and supported him at the Bride of Chucky premiere. That was fun.

Digest: Both of you are in serious relationships. Is it ever weird acting out love scenes?
George: Sherri's got the weirder situation.
Digest: Because your boyfriend is on the set all the time?
Saum: It's not that big a deal. Of course, I don't glue myself to the set if I know he's on kissing Shawn [Batten, Sara]. You don't want to hear the guy you love profession his love and lust for someone else, but you get over these things.

Digest: How does Tim feel about your on-screen love scenes?
Saum: I don't know. He doesn't care.
George: Yes, he does. The TV gets turned off at specific points during the show, that's all I'm going to say.

Digest: Did you make any New Year's resolutions?
Saum: To stop eating all of Gary Tomlin's [BEACH co-executive producer] Red Vines [licorice].
George: My New Year's resolution is to read more. I've been bad. I finished Beloved before I saw the movie, and I'm trying to go back and polish off Toni Morrison's other work.

Digest: How long do you think these resolutions will last?
George: Oh, what was it I said?

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