INTERVIEW: Tamara Braun Moves to Tennessee in the Summer

The Daytime Emmy Award winner discusses her new stage role and her television career.

Tamara Braun
(© Helen Watson)
Tamara Braun
(© Helen Watson)

For much of the past decade, Tamara Braun has been one of daytime drama’s most beloved leading ladies, having played mob wife Carly Corinthos on General Hospital, Reese Williams on All My Children, and two different roles on Days of Our Lives: Taylor Walker and Ava Vitali, the latter of which earned her a Daytime Emmy Award.

For the moment, Braun is not on the small screen. But this talented actress can be seen on the stage of Burbank’s Sidewalk Studio Theatre as “Woman” in Joe Besecker’s play Tennessee in the Summer, based on the life of playwright Tennessee Williams. TheaterMania recently spoke to Braun about the play, her daytime roles, and her future career plans.

THEATERMANIA: How did you get involved with this project?
TAMARA BRAUN: The director, Sal Romeo approached me with the project. I have known Sal since I moved to Los Angeles and trust him immensely. When I read the beautiful script written by Joe Besecker, I was so moved, I had no choice but to say yes.

TM: Can you tell me who exactly “Woman” is?
TM: The character is the inner voices in Tennessee’s head. You know, the critic, the teaser, the trouble maker, the supporter, the playful one, the contrarian, the sex. The anima.

Tamara Braun and Jack Heller
in Tennessee in the Summer
(© Janice Allen)
Tamara Braun and Jack Heller
in Tennessee in the Summer
(© Janice Allen)

TM: Are there roles of Williams’ that you’ve always wanted to play?
TB: Tennessee Williams is one of the all-time great American playwrights, and his characters embody such complexity, depth, pain, joy and truth. Blanche in A Streetcar Named Desire is a part I would love to play one day, and so is Maggie in Cat on a Hot Tin Roof. One day, a little farther away from now, I’d love to play Amanda in The Glass Menagerie. But honestly, I feel like the role I am playing in Tennessee in the Summer embodies aspects of all the characters I just mentioned.

TM: I read you once considered quitting acting. What else would you do with your life?
TB: At the time I was ready to leave the business, I thought that I would do work in the healing arts. I was a certified massage therapist and I know that there is so much healing that can take place with positive touch and alternative forms of medicine. What else would I consider doing? If I was guaranteed to do well at it, I would be a clothing designer and make healthy snacks. Weird combo, huh? Maybe I would make clothing from healthy snacks! That way if you were ever hungry, you could eat your sleeve or something!

TM: What do you miss about being on a daytime drama?
TB: I miss being able to work every day in a role that I love. But what I don’t miss is the pace at which the soaps are now moving. I think that a certain quality gets lost when you have to shoot 120 pages every day. Everyone’s work gets compromised. But they are still fighting for their rightful place on television. General Hospital just got renewed after a lot of concern that it wouldn’t! Congrats to them.

TM: Which of your daytime roles did you most identify with?
TB: I identified with all of them on a human level. I must find a common human thread with all the characters I play; otherwise, I fear I would be playing a caricature. Carly and Ava were the most dynamic and colorful. Reese was the most normal, yet she had the most historic impact. The storyline I was in with Eden Riegel (who played Bianca Montgomery) was nominated for a GLAAD Award, and I feel very proud of the work that Eden and I did portraying the first same-sex married and parenting couple. We tried to bring honesty and integrity to the story we were given. I was so proud of the show for bringing the issue to the forefront and for being a part of it.

TM: What did winning the Daytime Emmy mean to you?
TB: Winning the Emmy meant so much to me in that I was really proud of my work as Ava. I was only on Days for six months! Ed Scott (our executive producer at the time) gave me the freedom to fly with that role. It was a great gift. I’m so grateful to him and for the cast that I got to work with on that role. My mom attended the awards with me and my winning it made her proud. It was nice to share that with her. She has been such a big supporter of me.

TM: Would you consider going back to daytime?
TB: Daytime changed my life and taught me to become a better actress. If the right role and situation presented itself, then I would be open to it.

TM: You’ve spent most of your career in California. Would you come do theater in New York?
TB: Would I do theater in New York? If they would have me, I would gladly accept!

Featured In This Story