A Fish Tale

Soap Opera Digest: You moved to L.A. to play Siren. How’s it going?

Brandi Burkhardt: I drive down Ventura Boulevard and see the Hilton that they put me up in and it’s nostalgic. I’ve gotten into the swing of things and being [at the set] pretty much every day all day, you roll with the punches. I’m so comfortable here. I don’t know how that happened so quickly. I do miss New York a lot. I think I’ll miss it even more once fall starts hitting because that’s when Fashion Week [happens] and the sweaters come out.Digest: Are you used to driving in L.A. yet?
Burkhardt: I am. I had my license already and my mom actually shipped my car from Maryland, so it smells like my Maryland home. Digest: But the traffic isn’t like Maryland.

Burkhardt: I’m pretty acclimated to it. I find that California drivers are nice and let you in, but in New York, you have to wrestle for your space on the road.Digest: When you were growing up, did you think you’d be a singer or an actress?
Burkhardt: I was down the middle. I wasn’t sure which one I would flourish in more, or which would be my forte. It seems that I keep flip-flopping back and forth pretty consistently. Hopefully, there is room for me in both areas. Digest: And now you’re acting and singing on a soap.

Burkhardt: Yeah. It’s funny because learning that [mermaid] song, it didn’t have a pop kind of hook to it. It was hard to learn at first. There were odd changes and then once I learned it, the crew and I were singing it all day. We couldn’t get the song out of our heads. Digest: You recently became engaged to composer Frank Wildhorn. How did he propose?
Burkhardt: It was a series of events. He got back from Japan and he said, “I know we weren’t going to do this yet, but here, let’s get married.” I almost didn’t know that he was asking me for real. Then I was like, “Sure, I’ll marry you!” Digest: Since he lives in New York, do you know where you’ll get married?
Burkhardt: My family is in Maryland and he has family all over the place. Would we do it in New York or where? There are so many questions to answer.Digest: How does he feel about your love scenes?
Burkhardt: He’s been a good sport about it. The fact that he’s in the business helps. Digest: There is a documentary based on your life. Tell us about it.
Burkhardt: Oh, my gosh, yeah. My college roommate at NYU was doing her thesis project and that was the year that I was Miss New York. She basically followed me around all the time. It’s kind of like on a reality show when you forget that the camera is there, so I don’t remember what I said or what I did. So she followed me around for a year and has submitted it to festivals and it’s won some awards. I’m interested to see how she framed it because I haven’t even seen it. We lost touch for a while and then ran into each other in New York. She’s working at MTV. It’s funny to watch people come around and see where they wind up.Digest: What did she title it?
Burkhardt: I don’t know what she called it. I wish I did. I have to call and ask her. Digest: What are the main differences between beauty pageants and the acting world?

Burkhardt: In pageants, you’re fitting into a mold in order to get a job to represent an organization, so it’s more like a CEO job, on a much lower scale, of course. When you’re auditioning [for acting jobs], I think it’s the most important thing to really be yourself and be like, “This is me. These are my tricks. If you want these, great, if you don’t, next.” I think it’s better for an actor to think of an audition as just an opportunity to go in and show yourself, and pageants are a little bit different than that. Digest: Were you once on GUIDING LIGHT?
Burkhardt: I was an under-five, like five years ago. I was a waitress. I don’t really know which storyline it was. I wasn’t a soap-opera watcher at that point.Digest: Did you have any stage acting habits that you had to get rid of for PASSIONS?
Burkhardt: Sometimes they tell me I’m turning out because on a stage you would act toward the audience, so your shoulders would be a little turned. So I have a tendency to do that instead of being straight on with everyone. Digest: Do you want to go back to doing plays eventually?
Burkhardt: I certainly do. I’m having a show written for me. It’s called Mary Shelley and it’s about the author Mary Shelley and her writing of the book Frankenstein. It will be very strange to play a real person who existed on the earth, as opposed to playing Siren, who is of another world altogether. Digest: Who is writing it?
Burkhardt: Gregory Boyd, who runs the Alley Theatre in Houston. It would start in Houston.Digest: Did warn your family about your sex scenes?

Burkhardt: My grandmother watches every day and tapes it for my mom. My grandparents are really progressive. They haven’t said anything bad about it. They’re like, “You really like that Miguel, huh?”Digest: Do you watch every day?
Burkhardt: Not every day. But when I can, I do. Well, after I got over the initial shock of seeing myself. The first time, I was in the makeup chair and I was like, ‘Turn it off, turn it off.’ And my makeup guy turned it up louder. He was making me very nervous. It’s better now.Digest: When you had to first kiss Adrian Bellani (Miguel), you had just met him. But when you had to kiss Mark Wystrach (Fox), you had worked with him for a while. Which was easier?

Burkhardt: It was easier with Mark, much easier. Kissing someone you don’t know is like, “I don’t want to touch you.” But I’ve learned to say, “I’m going to touch here.”

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