Martha Byrne is a two-time Daytime Emmy-winning actress, producer and writer. She played the fabulous Lily Walsh Snyder for two decades on As The World Turns, and is now branching out with her own soap, Gotham, which she wrote and created. This busy mother of three – Michael, 11, Maxwell, 7, and Annmarie, 3 – reveals to Celebrity Baby Scoop how she manages her busy life and gives us a candid look inside the wonderful world of soaps.
CBS: You are set to star as Catherine Prescott in the indie soap, Gotham, in which you wrote and created. Have you always wanted to create your own soap? Tell us all about Gotham. Where and when will it air?
MB: “Gotham is the creation of years of soap opera experience coming together on a project of love for the genre. My co-creator Alexandra Verner Roalsvig worked in production at As the World Turns and, like myself, was a huge soap fan. We had many discussions about daytime television and what our favorite story lines were over the years and we kept coming back to the classics; boy meets girl, boy loses girl, girl falls for the wrong guy, etc. We decided to write an hour pilot for Gotham and pitch it to some major production companies.
The response to the script and marketing plan was very positive, but the future of soap operas in the industry was unknown and a financial investment in the medium was considered high risk. I continued to pitch, make phone calls, send out scripts and knock on doors. Then I met with Fox Television Studios and was encouraged to start the show online. On the web we had the freedom to produce the show the way we wanted and show our vision. I came home from LA after that meeting and started breaking down episodes for online. The show airs on www.gothamtheseries.com and YouTube.”
CBS: You played passionate role of Lily Walsh Snyder on As The World Turns for 2 decades! Do you miss playing Lily? Would you ever go back?
MB: “I loved the character of Lily and I miss certain aspects of the show, but it was time to move on. One thing that made the transition easier for me was knowing there would be more opportunities to connect with an audience after I left ATWT. My relationship with the fans wasn’t over, it was just changing.”
CBS: You recently played Andrea Floyd on General Hospital. Is GH much different from your days at ATWT?
MB: “General Hospital and As the World Turns couldn’t be more different in many ways. Since I was a guest in the house at GH, I really kept to myself, but then everyone was so friendly and supportive, I started to relax and form relationships with everyone that worked on GH. Then the gig was over. I miss the set and the cast and crew on General Hospital, they were very kind to me.
I got the job on GH because I was chatting on Facebook with my friend Lisa who is an AD (Assistant Director). The head writer (Bob Guza) walked by her office in LA and she IM’d me and asked if I was interested in coming to GH. I said yes, I would LOVE to be on GH. Lisa told Bob, and a few days later I was playing Andrea, the antithesis of Lily on ATWT.
I grew up on ATWT. Everyone there was my second family. I had my first kiss on that set. I met my husband, got married, had three children while I was on that show. I will never have another job like that in my life. I’m not sad that I don’t have it in my life anymore, I’m grateful to have been so blessed to have had so many life-changing experiences with all of the ATWT family. It was an incredible journey.”
CBS: You are mom to Michael, 11, Maxwell, 7, and Annmarie, 3. How do you maintain your acting career with 3 kids at home? Do you have a nanny? A cook? A housecleaner?
MB: “No cook, no nanny, cleaning lady once a week that I apologize to for the chaos that is my house :). My husband is incredibly supportive. Without his support, I couldn’t do anything. He is my rock. He is an amazing father and husband. I told him he should write a book on how to be the perfect hubby.”
CBS: In terms of being a working mom, what are the pros and cons of working on a soap opera?
MB: “Working on a soap is the best gig if you are a mom. You have steady hours and you’re still doing what you love.”
CBS: Have you gotten to know other soap stars? Who are some of your best friends in the business?
MB: “The soap opera world is like living in a sweet bubble. We all understand the difficult job we have on a daily basis and we support each other. I got to work with Kin Shriner (Scotty GH) when I was on ATWT and I love hearing his stories about the early crazy days of soap operas. I cast him in Gotham, and many other friends, because of their work ethic, sense of understanding of the genre and their belief in the future of the medium. I cannot tell you the overwhelming support I have received for Gotham from the daytime community of actors.”
You’ve been acting since the age of 10 when you appeared in the Broadway musical Annie. What was it like acting as a child? Do you want your children to be in showbiz?
MB: “I had a great experience in the business as a child. I’m celebrating 30 years in January. I got to travel, work with icons of the industry and sing and dance for a living. I never though of it as a job, it was just fun. I still feel that way today, although I am much more aware of the pitfalls and the dark side of the business.
To me it is a necessary evil to understand who has your back and who doesn’t or else you will be eaten alive. So far I haven’t been anyone’s main course. I see it coming a mile away. If my kids want to be in the business I will encourage them to do whatever they dream. My parents never pushed me into the business, I begged them everyday until they finally took me to an open audition for Annie on Broadway to stop me from begging. I got in the show, much to their surprise. The rest is history.”
CBS: If you are working on any other projects or with any charities, please feel free to discuss.
MB: “I’m on the Professional Advisory Board for St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital in Memphis, Tenn. This has truly been an honor. I’ve been raising money for the hospital for over 15 years doing large events in the NY area.
When I was a child actor, my mother always gave a percentage of my earnings to St.Jude to give back for all our blessings. As a member of the PAB we have to raise over $ 600 million a year to keep the hospital running. We spend countless hours brainstorming on ways to raise as much money as possible.
No one is turned away if they cannot pay at St. Jude’s. The hospital was started by Danny Thomas who said, “No child should die in the dawn of life,” I couldn’t agree more and I made a vow to myself to help continue Danny’s dream.”View Slideshow »»