Every now and then, I like to give some of our S&Bers a voice and let them blog from time to time. Today, I introduce you all to Hilary, a friend of mine who wrote a nice piece about Brenda Barrett Corinthos/Vanessa Marcil Giovinazzo. Hilary admires Vanessa very much and just loves Brenda to pieces. This is a thoughtful piece about Brenda thru the years and how she grew from the spoiled-little-rich-girl seeking attention to the incredible woman she is today.
It all began with a simple knock on the door in September 1992 when that little spitfire Brenda Barrett breezed into Julia’s apartment, bell boy in tow, carrying all that luggage setting off a 20-year love affair with a character who is in my humble opinion the best ever penned. I remember her first words like it was yesterday: “Nice place. I see your cash is still flowing.” If there was ever an argument for love at first sight, this was it. We learned quickly that for the past few years she’d been gallivanting around Europe spending her family’s money bouncing from boarding school to boarding school. She was gorgeous and spoiled, a deadly combination and had come with one goal in mind: to get her hands on her big fat trust fund. Here it was: the setup – the bad girl we love to hate. The writers thought they had us and had gold. Not so fast…enter Vanessa Marcil Giovinazzo, Brenda’s portrayer with other ideas. She was green but had the makings of a big star. She decided to draw on experiences from her own life and show the audience that the bad girl really does have a heart and is good in a lot of ways. And so was born an even more captivating character, Brenda Barrett: the bad girl we love to love.
She was still devious of course. Let’s not forget her breaking up Ned and Jenny’s marriage, putting naked pictures of Karen in everyone’s lockers and sabotaging Karen’s term paper to make it look like she had plagiarized. Yet still none of these ruses could turn the audience against her; she had our hearts and we planned to stick by her.
But her vulnerability shone through in her young “love” story with street kid turned boxer, Jagger Cates. I tread lightly here with the word love so as not to incur the wrath of SnB nation. If we stay true to the story Brenda did think she was in love with Jagger and in a breakout scene by Vanessa she told him so. So let’s call it puppy love or what she thought was love. Let’s not have a Kate repeat here and rewrite history. We all know the first true love Sonny or Brenda ever felt was with each other. Call it what you will but Brenda felt something for Jagger and she felt it strongly. My SnB loving heart can still not deny the obvious chemistry these two had. Can anyone say desk? LOL!
The Jagger story should be important to SnBers for a few reasons. First, it gave Vanessa a chance to connect with the audience and wet her acting chops. Second, it taught us who Brenda is at the core: fiercely loyal, loving, determined, passionate, understanding; in essence, a softie with a tough shell. But lastly and most importantly it taught us what we wanted for Brenda, our beloved heroine, someone to put her first, make her feel special, love her unconditionally, look at her like she’s the only woman in the world and we all know where she eventually found that.
I don’t have to recount Brenda’s whole history to illustrate how much she’s grown, that goes without saying. My main point here is that the writers may have created Brenda in their image but the one we fell in love with came from Vanessa herself. She infused herself into Brenda from Day 1 and that’s what makes this character so magical.
It is no secret that Vanessa is oozing talent. Watching her play Brenda is ten parts awesome. It’s fun, it’s exciting, it’s emotional; it’s funny. It’s all around epic. It’s captivating – I love to watch Vanessa play Brenda because she’s just so good. She’s such a physical actor and always does the little things to make a scene pop. My favorite part of any Brenda scene has nothing to do with the characters involved or the dialogue. It’s how she interacts with others in the scene; the way she’ll touch another character. Brenda’s so physically loving and I love that about her. She’s so emotional and she expresses her emotions physically; she’s so warm. But that’s all Vanessa. That stuff’s not scripted. It comes from Vanessa understanding who Brenda is at the core, inhabiting her and realizing as an actor that the audience picks up non-verbal cues as to who Brenda is. Case in point: the kiss at the old apartment. I thought Vanessa was brilliant in that scene. Of course, we all loved it because we finally saw our beloved Sonny and Brenda kiss for the first time in seven years but I loved it for a different reason: the way Brenda grabbed Sonny and never looked up. All I can say is WOW! That split-second decision by Vanessa on how to play it made the scene magical. It was genius, the stuff legends are made of. Because of that, it remains my favorite scene of this year beating out love scene, proposal, rings, and anything and everything from the wedding if you can believe it. Just with that simple gesture of never looking up, Vanessa made us feel Brenda’s vulnerability pouring over. What would have happened if she had indeed looked up? Crumbled? Lost her nerve? I don’t know and I don’t want to. The scene was perfect just the way it was.
But the best work Vanessa ever did in 20 years as Brenda was in ’98 when Sonny returned for the first time since leaving her at the altar and she went over to the penthouse to confront him and tell him about her breakdown. It was like a clinic; watching a master at her craft. Granted, not everyone may agree with me. There are some other major contenders out there: the breakdown, the wire but this is just my point of view. From the minute she heard him breathe on the other line and not say a word I knew it was gonna be phenomenal. The way they stared at each other when she showed up at the penthouse – WOW! She was about to speak, stopped herself, looked down and then finally gulped out a “Hi, Sonny.” The tears slowly falling down Brenda’s face when Sonny explained that he left her to save her. Of course, there’s so much memorable dialogue from those scenes: “I’d rather be alive than be Mrs. Corinthos”, “We were so beautiful, weren’t we? Yeah, now we’re just done.” But it was the nuances and gestures Vanessa infused into the scene that made it special. The pace she set, when she spoke up, when she whispered, when she chose to tear up, when she chose to let a tear fall. It was sensational and the fact that she didn’t win the Emmy that year is laughable! Let’s not forget she also had Lily’s grave scene early that year so if those two combined don’t garner you a statue, I don’t know what does?
We all know this past Daytime Emmy’s was lackluster at best and it was missing more than just Vanessa but I guarantee it would have been exponentially better had she been there. I know we’ll all be cheering for her to win next year and we all know she deserves it. Her acting prowess shone through Guza’s crappy writing all year-long. No matter how he tried to destroy Brenda, Vanessa’s grace on camera kept our love for Brenda burning. Good writing, bad writing, it doesn’t matter. Vanessa makes Brenda special – she gave her to us and what she gave us is forever.
A special thank you to Hilary aka @UltimateMzB on Twitter for this weeks’ blog. It’s always nice for me to read some one else’s perspective and opinion about Brenda, Sonny, S&B and V&M. It opens our minds, gives us some food for thought and opens the line of communication between all of us S&Bers, which is always fun and amazing.
If anyone is interested in writing a guest blog, please let me know thru the board via PM, on Twitter via DM, email me or PM me on FB. If more people wanted to get involved, we could have a guest blog at least once a month or more!
TTFN xoxo ~Ro