Birthday: April 18
Hair today: Naturally a brunette, Braun dyed her hair blonde for the role of GH’s Carly.
Don’t rub her the wrong way: Although she excelled in school, the onetime psychology major is a licensed massage therapist.
School days: The actress went to London for a summer to study at the Royal Academy Of Dramatic Arts [ RADA ].

Making Carly My Own: How Tamara Braun took on the toughest challenge of here career and came out on top

Steady work as an actor is a rare thing — every showbiz wannabe knows that. Yet When Tamara Braun hit a two-year-long dry spell, she came thisclose to throwing in the towel and setting her career sights on a new target. Somehow the regection had become personal: her hopes, shattered. Then GENERAL HOSPITAL, called and offered her the plum part of Carly Corinthos. Now, not only does she have a new role, she feels like a new person, “I feel more grounded now,” she says, “just knowing that I’m on the right track.”

Calling It Quits

In her three years in Los Angeles, the native of Illinois would get disappointed when she didn’t book jobs. But she didn’t take it to heart. However, when two years passed her by without a single gig, a grim reality started to take hold. “I told my boyfriend, ‘This is it. I’m done,'” recalls Braun. “He held me while I cried. I didn’t know what to do. I didn’t want to stay here as a reminder of my dreams not coming true.”

Right on cue, the phone rang: Her manager related that GH wanted to screentest here. “I when ‘Nooooooo! I don’t want any more rejection!'” she admits. “I pulled myself together, but to be honest, I wasn’t happy about it. I felt like, ‘Here’s that carrot again.'”

Identity Crisis

Since a casting call had gone a month earlier for a character neamed Sarah, friends of Braun’s mother had her convinced that she was trying out to be the recast of Liz’s sister, Sarah Webber. [ See related article: Myth or Reality ] Even after she got the job, the show didn’t tell her for a week who she would be playing. As it turned out, she was replacing a Sarah of a different sort: three-time Emmy winner Sarah Brown, “Lo and behold,” marvels Braun, “I”m Mrs. Carly Corinthos.”

After she learned what a powerhouse her predecessor had been, the daytime newbie was intimidated. “What was a bit daunting was that people would come out of the booth after we would do a scene and I would here, ‘That was good, but this is how Sarah did Carly,”‘ she says. “That was hard.

“I understand it, believe me,” she adds, “because I think it was frightening for them to lose such a big staple of the show. Everyone was tyring to make me look like her and explain to me how she would do it. All I could do was hear what they said and interpret it as if I was playing this character.”

Turning the Tides

Braun needed to psyche herself up for the long hard road ahead — and so she did. “I had a job to do,” she says confidently. “I heard rumors that initially they were going to write Carly out. The Carly character was definitely written as desperate, needy and at her wit’s end. Carly has done unattractive things. But we’ve all done things where we feel so desperate that we act out that way. I think it went on a little long, and I know that the fans werne’t happy with it.”

However, viewers soon warmed to Braun. “I have gotten beautiful letters from people saying they didn’t think they could accept me, but they do,” she relates. “I feel like I really have passed the test. It makes me so happy that I’m making poeple experience things in their own lives through what’s going on on-screen.

“To touch somebody, give them a hug, to share humanness with people…” she continues. “Those are the amazing experiences I would never had without this job.”

Looking Ahead

Now, nine months into Braun’s GH stint, Carly is clearly all hers. “They’ve let me be the Carly that I am,” she says, adding with an ear-to-ear smile that she’s thrilled that her alter ego has remained unpredictable. “It’s good to be able to speak your mind. I like that about Carly. She’s very straightforward, but she’s got a lot of baggage. She’ll get from A to Z but it’s nonsequential.

“We all make mistakes and do crazy wield and wrong things — we’re not human if we don’t. But to learn from it and to take steps from that experience is a wonderful thing to do as an actor, as a human. That’s not to say Carly’s not going to fall or make mistakes, because she will. It’s her nature.

“But,” she concludes, “the first step is admitting it and saying, ‘This is who I am . These are the things I don’t like about myself, but I can work on it.’ There’s a calmness about Carly because it feels honest and real.”

Reported by: Rosemary A. Rossi

Tamara Braun Thanks Heaven For One Star In Particular

Since day one, the GH freshman’s leading man, Maurice Benard (Sonny), has been her biggest advocate. In fact, he played a major role in her finally feeling completely accepted as Carly. “I remember one day, Maurice walked onto the other set, he touched me and said, ‘Hey, do your own thing. You’ve passed the test.'” she says. “That felt really good to hear. He always said, ‘Forget what people are telling you about how Sarah [Brown] did it. You make it your own.’ He’s been such a pleasure to work with. I respect him tremendously. He has helped me grow. He has given me such a safe place to open up and show all those sides and all that vulnerability. I feel very blessed.”