JSaysOnline: First off, welcome to soap-land and General Hospital! Your entry into daytime is on a 52-year-old serial in a character family with a 37-year legacy and a big reveal. Did you know when you booked GH that you would be a part of such a rich history, and was it intimidating for you?
Sarpy: Thank you! I found out about Valerie's history the day I found out I booked the role. Previous to that, I wasn't given that information. Upon finding out I would become a Spencer, I was given a “Spencers 101” lesson, if you will. Learning that I would be working with Tony [Anthony Geary, "Luke Spencer"] was probably the most exciting part, and has been one of the most humbling and educative experiences in my acting career.
JSaysOnline: What brought you to audition for GH and what's the back-story of how you were cast?
Sarpy: I have been in [auditioned] for GH several times; last year I screen tested for the role of Jordan, but was too young for the role. When the role for Valerie came about, Mark [Teschner, casting director] had me in mind for the role, and the rest is history…
JSaysOnline: Did you watch any soaps growing up? If so, which ones, who were your favorite characters and what were your favorite plots?
Sarpy: My mom watched GH and All My Children when I was growing up, so I'm pretty familiar with the soap world.
JSaysOnline: What we presume/know about Valerie right now is that she grew up the only child in a single parent household and, in recent days, was held hostage, gained an extended family she didn't know about and suddenly lost her mother, Patricia. Will we learn more about Valerie and Patricia's life together? What's on the horizon for this character? What are you hoping will happen?
Sarpy: I think Val's relationship with her mother will always be integral to her character, as it defines her. I think here and there you will find out bits and pieces about her relationship with Patricia. Val's main focus will be finding her place in Port Charles, in regards to her living situation, possibly a job, friends, etc.
JSaysOnline: When Valerie first meets her aunt-in-law, Tracy Quartermaine, she has a hard time processing that Valerie is biracial. In the 1990's, her biracial nephew, Justus Ward, confronted her about her prejudice. Were you surprised to see Tracy's pause with Valerie in the script? How would you feel if racial dynamics became a part of your character's storyline?
Sarpy: The script was written slightly different than how we ended up performing it. We felt it was important to answer the question of Valerie's mixed ethnicity head on. I think racial dynamics as a part of my character's storyline is less likely, but there are great things to be said about being an actress of differing ethnic background in a traditionally Caucasian family, and the prevalence of diversity in writing in today’s age.
Sarpy: I have never experienced a need to assimilate to any one culture. I have certainly lost jobs for not being stereotypically ethnic and unfortunately, the amount of acting jobs available for ethnic women is on the lower end. I think more than racial politics, gender relations are an important focus for the generation of younger women. I personally love what [actress] Geena Davis is doing [Geena Davis Institute on Gender & Media] in the name of “gender balance, reducing stereotyping and using research to influence the media and entertainment industry to create more diverse female characters in entertainment.”
JSaysOnline: According to your interview last year with SwirlGirlArmy.com, your ethnicity consists of Creole (French, Italian, African American), Filipino, and Apache and Cherokee Indian. Other multi-racial actors, like Jessica Alba, have said they've been overlooked or denied roles for being "racially ambiguous" and if they do get cast, it's for a character of mono-race or a completely different background, and that feels like a denial of heritage. What are your thoughts on these sentiments? Do you relate to them?
Sarpy: I do not believe that I am denying my heritage in anyway by ever being cast in mono-race or different background roles. I consider it a part of the work of an actor, relating to different characters and cultures, and thus being able to embody and live them.
Online magazine Deadline recently printed a story that questioned if the surge of "ethnic castings" in 2015 was "too much of a good thing," suggesting that Caucasian actors will soon endure difficulty finding work because of a skyrocketed desire for diversity. What was your opinion of the piece? Note for readers: The original headline was: "Pilots 2015: The Year of Ethnic Castings – About Time or Too Much of A Good Thing?” The title was changed after a backlash.
Ms. Sarpy refrained from responding to this question, explaining: "I chose not to answer every question as I didn't feel I had a formulated enough opinion on them."
Sarpy: The things that come to mind are the choice to stay true to my ethics and personal beliefs and the choice to receive an education in my field. I think taking the road less traveled has proven to be my safe haven in this industry. The ability to earn work based on my merits and talents, as opposed to connections and fleeting looks, has given me a sense of appreciation for each small success along the way. Needless to say, it has required a great deal of patience and tenacity to invest the time, energy and resources needed to build a solid foundation for a lasting career. As far as pivotal people in my life...I have a strong bond with my father; he has influenced my life in the strongest and most positive way. I learned my sense of responsibility and work ethic from him. He has amazing insight and is the most pivotal person in my life.
JSaysOnline: You're approaching 30. Have you gone through a quarter-life crisis (the 20-something's equivalent to a mid-life crisis) where you're discombobulated about your direction in any or all areas of your life, haha? If so, how did you get through it?
Sarpy: I don't know if I would characterize it as a quarter-life "crisis," but I have definitely had my quarter-life evolution. I think I’ve been on the path of understanding myself and being comfortable with my journey. I have come to appreciate the growth I experience daily and learned to be less critical of myself and others.
JSaysOnline: How would you describe your personality? What do you like and dislike the most about yourself? Who and where do you want to be 10 years from now?
Sarpy: I have a lot of maternal qualities, I'm conscientious, always thinking and consistently moving; I don’t do well with stagnancy. I love my evolution of self: my journey is everything I’m not and everything I’ve learned. I will still be me in 10 years, just a better version of "me." I would love to hit a few career milestones that I’ve been visualizing and working towards...and a family; I’d love one of those too.
JSaysOnline: Just for fun--you and pop-star Beyonce` are the same horoscope sign (Virgo). Would you happen to be a fan of hers? If so, what's your favorite song? What genres and artists do you love most?
Sarpy: Beyonce` is a force, who doesn't appreciate her?? I'm a big fan of pop and oldies :)
Check your local listings and watch Brytni's adventures as Valerie Spencer weekdays on ABC's "General Hospital." Find out more about her at Brytni.com.
Editor's Note: If you're wondering why questions about Lulu and Dante weren't asked, communications for this interview started in early April. Sorry, guys!