PEOPLE Online Chat - Jensen Buchanan

PEOPLE Online Chat - Jensen Buchanan

Actress Jensen Buchanan - "Another World's" Vicky Hudson

"We work hard and a lot. Another World has been patient and understanding- not only with me but with other parents on the show. They really do try as best they can given their constraints to make it as comfortable as possible. Burnt out is not really the right word. I really love my job and have been more often than not challenged. And maybe tired from the challenge - but not burned out by the medium."

"I always say to my husband - whom I first met in high school - that history is one of the most powerful aphrodisiacs. And I think that's one of the reasons why soap operas are so powerful - because you have a history with them."

PEOPLE Online: Hi everybody! I'm Patrizia DiLucchio, this is PEOPLE Online on Pathfinder - and tonight's guest is actress Jensen Buchanan who plays Vicky Hudson on the daytime drama, Another World . Vicky's getting married next week to childhood friend Jake McKinnon - but you can expect some unpredictable things to happen on the trip down the aisle because dashing doctor Shane Roberts has not given up hope yet! In real life Jensen Buchanan is happily married and the mother of two small sons. For her work on Another World she's been nominated twice for Daytime Emmy Awards for Outstanding lead Actress, and was also recently nominated for a 1997 Soap Opera Digest Award as Hottest Female Star.

PEOPLE Online: Welcome Jensen! We're so thrilled you could join us tonight. I gotta ask you - I think Vicky still has feelings for Shane. Why did she propose to Jake?

Jensen Buchanan: That's a complex question...Vicky believes that Jake can offer the kind of life that she and her family should and are ready to have. I think she believed that their love was strong enough to push these nagging thoughts about Shane aside. But if that were so, it really wouldn't make for a good story. (Smile)

PEOPLE Online: A word on the drill for our audience - if youd like to ask Jensen a question, either click on that red question mark icon with the other icons on the left or type /ask (without the quotation marks) into the command line interface.

PEOPLE Online: So many good actors have started out in daytime television. What craft lessons did you learn on Another World? Do you do a lot of other acting work, and if so do the lessons you've learned here translate?

Jensen Buchanan: I guess working on Another World and One Life to Live before that, I've learned a lot about flexibility, and working quickly. I haven't done a lot of work outside my current job because I'm pretty busy not only with Another World but also as the mother of my two children. And I'm really fulfilled at Another World, Vicky is a very complex character. I enjoy my job. I am challenged at this job.

PEOPLE Online: So, Jensen - I want to pump you for plot details but I have this feeling you've been sworn to secrecy. Can you tell me a little about Vicky's wedding plans themselves? WHERE is Vicky getting married? WHO did her dress and what does it look like?

Jensen Buchanan: My dress was designed by our costume designer Sean Dudley. And Sean drew from a number of different inspirations and put together what I think is an absolutely breathtaking gown. I wish I had worn it at my wedding. The location site was Brooklyn Botanical Gardens. Another World made a real effort to make it quite spectacular and romantic. The scenic department did a fabulous job. It's going to be worth the wait.

Question: Tom Eplin and RKK are incredibly attractive guys. How does your husband feel about your working with them all day long? You seem to have such chemistry with them! Is it keep your professional and private lives distinct?

Jensen Buchanan: [laughs] My husband is pretty secure - not only in our marriage but he's pretty secure in himself. He doesn't know Robert Kelly as well as he knows Tom Eplin. But he knows Tom well and he's comfortable with my working relationship. He understands that it's my job. I'm pretty fortunate that he doesn't feel threatened by my relationships with the men on the show.

Question: Hi Jensen - thanks for doing this chat. I've been Another World fan for years. My question is: how is Marley going to respond if Vicky does end up marrying Jake? I mean - she used to be married to Jake, right?

Jensen Buchanan: The angle that the show has taken with the history between Marley and Jake - and also between Donna and Jake - is that everyone has moved on. Both Donna and Marley are forgiving characters. They both also deeply love Vicky and want her to be happy.

PEOPLE Online: Personally who would YOU like to see Vicky end up with - Jake or Shane?

Jensen Buchanan: Mostly I don't guess I want to end up with anyone. I think makes for a good soap opera is a good triangle. But I enjoy working with both actors. And I don't really take that on - who I would rather be with. It's out of my hands. I just try and do the best I can for what's written for my character.

PEOPLE Online: Out of curiosity, as a young actor, starting out, how familiar were you with daytime television, and how did your perception change when you began working in the genre?

Jensen Buchanan: I wasn't familiar at all. My perceptions didn't change because I didn't have a perception. I didn't have a newfound respect for daytime actors. I just simply respected them. It's demanding work - but it's also great fun. I think that anyone who's lucky enough to have a steady job in this medium can really have a great time if they want to. I know I certainly am.

Question: Do you know if RKK is leaving or not?

Jensen Buchanan: I believe that has been reported in the press. But Robert should probably speak for himself on that matter.

Question: Daytime drama seems like a really intense job. Do you ever get burned out by it?

Jensen Buchanan: Not particularly burned out by daytime drama itself. Occasionally run down by the demands of motherhood and career. You know we work hard and a lot. But Another World has been patient and understanding- not only with me but with other parents on the show, so they really do try as best they can given their constraints to make it as comfortable as possible. But burnt out is not really the right word. I really love my job and have been more often than not challenged. And maybe tired from the challenge - but not burned out by the medium.

Question: How did you get started in show business?

Jensen Buchanan: I was a music major at Boston University, but a number of serendipitous events occurred that led me to NYC and eventually to daytime drama.

Question: Is Marley ever going to come back on the show?? I miss her!

Jensen Buchanan: Marley was on today! I played her. Marley has come back for Vicky's wedding - and I had so much fun rediscovering Marley. I made the choice that since she has been away for three and a half years, she would have changed in that time. And this last three weeks I've discovered a sense of humor I didn't know she had. I had a fun time playing Marley and I did ask Charlotte if Marley could move a little closer to the US than China. I wouldn't want to play the twins full time but it's really fun once in a while.

PEOPLE Online: Obviously when you've played a character for quite some time, even in the ever evolving world of daytime television, you become comfortable inside her skin--you feel you know her...Do the writers ever surprise you and make you rethink who Vicky is?

Jensen Buchanan: I think they're about to. Although I've enjoyed growing and maturing with Vicky, as an actress it's a little scary when you get too comfortable in a character's skin. I think some of the changes you're going to see in Vicky will be challenging and scary and exciting. I don't ever want to get complacent. So I - like the viewers - will watch the next couple of months with anticipation.

Question: Jensen, what was it like working with Paul Michael Valley? You and Ryan were the best and good luck at the Soap Opera Digest awards.

Jensen Buchanan: Thank you! I always have a little trouble seeing myself as "hottest" anything, but I am very grateful to Soap Opera Digest and my fans for my nomination ! (Smile) Paul Michael is one of my favorite people in this entire world. He is so talented and so funny and kind and I love him from head to toe. I miss him. What we had a chance to share on Another World together was so fun and exciting. It might sound strange to fans who were big Vicky/Ryan fans - but Paul Michael is like a brother to me. I just went to see him recently in 1776 on Broadway... and just fell in love with him all over again. He's really happy doing theater - it really suits him.

PEOPLE Online: I hear you have two young boys, Jensen. Would you ever let your children be child actors? Why or why not?

Jensen Buchanan: No, I wouldn't. For a number of reasons. The first is that I think a TV studio is a very adult atmosphere - as much as we try to edit ourselves when the children are around, I know we don't as well as we should. The second reason is that childhood is so brief - and one of the reasons I moved out of New York to a very rural environment is because I want my children to embrace and love the innocence of their childhood. On the other hand, true child talent can't be repressed. And if you have a child - which I don't thank heavens! - who is bursting at the seams to be in the business, I don't think it would be fair to hold them back.

Question: What was it like going back to the "Another World" set after yr six month absence? And what did you do while you were gone?

Jensen Buchanan: I took a road trip and paraded my new baby all over the country. And it was great to go back! In retrospect I probably just needed a long vacation - but when you're in the midst of postpartum, that's not how you see it (very big smile!)

Question: Can you compare what it was like to play the characters of Vicky Hudson on "Another World" and Sarah Gordon on One Life To Live? Were their personalities separate in your mind? Which character did you secretly like best?

Jensen Buchanan: I'm thinking... Vicky pushed me as an actress much more than I think Sarah would have. I loved working with Robert Woods and the whole gang at One Life to Live (Erica, Jessica, Clint etc) but I probably wouldn't have personally grown had I not met Vicky Hudson.

Question: Is it hard keeping up with Tom Eplin?

Jensen Buchanan: (Laughs) Ohhh! No, because I just beat him silly when he needs it! Tommy is enormously talented, always striving and pushing and tormented , he has been both challenging and phenomenally freeing to work with. He's improvisational which is exciting. Over the years I have grown not only to deeply respect him as an actor, but deeply appreciate him as a friend. My husband likes him too!

PEOPLE Online: Why do you think that soaps are so amazingly popular? What is it about them that turn otherwise rational people into obsessives?

Jensen Buchanan: I think first of all the opportunity to watch people change and grow and make mistakes and learn from their mistakes. I also think that soaps become a part of the routine of your day. So that when you're nursing your newborn baby and you turn your show on, somehow there's a psychological connection that means family to you.

I still remember hearing my grandmother turn on As The World Turns, I remember hearing that music...

I always say to my husband - whom I first met in high school - that history is one of the most powerful aphrodisiacs. And I think that's one of the reasons why soap operas are so powerful - because you have a history with them.

Question: What's the most exciting thing to happen to you during a taping?

Jensen Buchanan: When I'm surprised! To be surprised by my fellow actor; to have somebody make Jensen laugh during a scene - that's the best feeling!

Question: Do fans ever recognize you on the street? What's that like? Do they call you Vicky? Do people have a hard time separating you from the role you play?

Jensen Buchanan: Yes, I am recognized on the street. Sometimes it's great. Sometimes it's not so great. But soap opera fans - they're the best! They feel like they know you so with that comes a certain familiarity. Most people are very respectful of your privacy. My positive experiences with being recognized far outweigh any negative ones. There are times when you dash out for that cold medicine that you need late at night looking pretty scary when you probably would rather not be recognized! But I think most fans understand that we're just people. I mean - I'm Jensen, I'm not Vicky when I'm not on the set.

PEOPLE Online: You mentioned starting out in Boston as a music student? Is music still your first love? Might we ask what you play? How does acting differ from a musical performance?

Jensen Buchanan: I think I would have to say that over the years acting has replaced music as my first love. That's probably partially because now I feel I'm a better actress than a musician. But both require commitment, intensity, and so in that way I think they're related.

PEOPLE Online: Actors in daytime dramas have to do a lot of memorization, don't they? A whole new script every show! How long do they give you to learn your lines? How do you keep it all in your head? And what are some ad lib stand-byes when you happen to forget what comes next?

Jensen Buchanan: Short-term memory must be like a muscle: the more you work it , the stronger you get. I can learn my lines after reading my script through twice. But the minute I speak my lines in front of a camera, they go completely out of my head. I can walk out of the studio at the end of the day and barely remember what I did.

PEOPLE Online: Jensen, we have time for one last question. You've been a wonderful guest. And it's so nice that we can all turn on our sets and feel invited to Vicky's wedding! We always save this question for last...What was the best advice you ever received as an actor, that you would pass along to those who aspire to be actors themselves?

Jensen Buchanan: Robert Woods told me: Never let them catch you acting. Never let them see you work at it - just be it, don't show them that you're "being " it.

PEOPLE Online: Thank you, Jensen. This has been wonderful. And thanks to our audience for your great questions.

Jensen Buchanan: Thank you! This has been fun.