From time to time you come across staples of daytime television. People who originated roles as children and stuck with them for the better part of their lives. It’s rare because soap operas have a tendency to jump these characters in age to progress storylines. The exceptions, as I know them, were Jonathon Jackson (Lucky on GH), Kimberly McCullough (Robin on GH), and the source of this interview: Kristen Alderson. Introduced to the world of soaps at the age of six, she recurred regularly on 'One Life to Live' until she hit 11; she became the youngest soap actress of the time to be promoted to full time cast member. She remained as part of that talented family until 2012. Changes in programming on the ABC schedule had forced the longtime soap off television air waves. A fan favorite, as so many of them were, she and her cast found homes in the welcoming world of 'General Hospital' (the only one to survive the executive blow). Kristen stepped into newly-created character shoes and we, the audience, adored her all over again for the first time. Recently, she graciously took a few moments out of her busy shooting schedule to answer a few questions for us.
TVRage: To begin with, congratulations on your recent Emmy win! As someone who has watched your progression over the years, I can say it was well deserved. Most people automatically recognize you as Starr Manning from 'One Life to Live.' There have been a lot of shake-ups on that end the past year or two and that is no longer the case, as you’ve joined the cast of 'General Hospital' as Lauren Katherine “Kiki” Jerome. Kiki is not only one of the infamous Quartermaine clan, but she’s also coming to grips with a father she thought long dead. You’re no stranger to meaty storylines, which Kiki’s obviously are. Has having these intricate issues to immerse yourself in made the transition from OLTL to GH easier on you?
Kristen Alderson: Firstly, thank you so much! That's very sweet! I wouldn't say have such an intricate story is "easier', but it has definitely kept it exciting. Changing from such an iconic character to one that is BRAND NEW was a huge risk.
TVRage: You’ve also got some familiar faces, namely Roger Howarth who’s worked side by side with you for the better part of your life. Coincidentally, playing your father on OLTL as well, in the role of Todd Manning. Did you know ahead of time that you would be partnered this way, or was it just a happy surprise?
Kristen: A happy surprise. Roger and I really enjoy working together. It really helped that he, as well as Michael Easton changed characters with me and I wasn't the only one. Plus, Roger and I have fun trying to figure out ways to make it not seem so much like Starr and Todd.
TVRage: There seems to be an edge to Kiki that didn’t exist in Starr, not that she didn’t have her own roughed up edges. Kiki is a lot more self-sufficient, or seems to be. Are you enjoying this change of pace and the ability to branch out a little bit more?
Kristen: Starr went through so much in her life that really matured her. She grew out of that feistiness that she use to possess. So with Kiki, I got to get back into that side of Starr which has been a blast.
TVRage: Speaking of branching out, Kiki is in a bit of a mess right now with someone she didn’t realize she was related to: The adorable Chad Duell, who plays her cousin Michael. I follow your twitter fairly often and I recall a response from you when someone mentioned the two of them hooking up as cousins. At the time, Kiki wasn’t aware they *were* cousins (per the episodes that had been played thus far), which was your exact response! What’s it been like to be thrust into the middle of an old war with a love triangle that involves not only blood relations, but families who are literally trying to kill each other?
Kristen: It's a Soap Opera, I'm used to it! haha! Since you've written these questions the audience has found out that I'm not actually Franco's daughter and Michael and I aren't even cousins! LOL Things change so quickly! I have to say, this has been one of my favorite story lines. I think almost everyone can relate to loving someone but not being "in love" with them, and that's what Kiki feels for Morgan. Then she has someone that she does that "spark" with, who (as far as she knows) is her cousin and is unobtainable.
TVRage: The newest twist in this of course is the time spent at the hospital and the fact that Kiki’s father, Franco the psychotic artist, has been beaten up at the Quartermaine boathouse. Where do you see Kiki’s allegiances lying when she realizes that Morgan’s father basically paid him off to get the time alone with Franco? Kiki herself is starting to grow more worried and attached to this stranger she’s only ever heard about, but not really dealt with until now.
Kristen: It only helps Franco look better in Kiki's eyes. He's the victim to a beating, and Kiki's guard comes down because of it. Kiki has a softer side that I don't think the audience thought she'd have.
TVRage: As much as we all love the new character, I would be remiss if I didn’t bring up and discuss what launched your current role. You started on 'One Life to Live,' originating the role of Starr Manning when you weren’t even seven yet. This has really been your life since then, hasn’t it? You got to attend catholic school, but did that grant you some sort of, and I hate to use the word, “regular life”? How have you managed to stay so grounded? There are no scandals, no headlines about you getting into any trouble, and you are every bit as much a transitional child star as some of the others.
Kristen: I have my mom to thank for my "normal" upbringing. I'm the one that forced her to bring me to auditions, and she's the one that always made sure I stayed as grounded as possible. It makes me sad when I hear about child actors with "stage parents". I was very lucky that that wasnt the case with me. I still to this day live with my mom and brother. A lot of parents let their kids move out at 16 years old, most of the time the business swallows you up in that case. Also, everyone who worked at One Life To Live was like a second family to me. They looked out for me as well.
TVRage: In regards to your previous One Life Family, obviously you keep in touch with Mr. Howarth regularly, do you as well with Kassie Depaiva and the rest of the Llanview clan? Did they offer any advice when you made the leap? I assume they are all very proud of you. I know we, the audience, are as well.
Kristen: Aw! Thank you again! Every time I'm in NYC I make it a point to see as many OLTLers as possible. When I'm in LA I hang out a lot with Brittany Underwood, Nic Robuck, Melissa Archer, Bree Williamson, John Paul Lavosier (here&there). Kassie and I text & call each other from time to time to catch up. One Life to Live was a beautiful experience with great people that I'll always keep close to me.
It was a pleasure to have gotten this opportunity to speak with Kristen and we look forward to many more years of watching her light up our televisions. For all things Kristen-related, you can find her on Twitter at @krisalderson, and of course, Monday through Friday you can find her on your small screen via General Hospital at 2pm on ABC.