Well known for her 41-year run as the much married vixen Erica Kane on the soap opera All My Children, Susan Lucci is one of the few bona fide celebrities to emerge from the world of daytime drama.
Whether or not Lucci can return to the recently revived serial remains in question, as she's committed to playing a leading role in Lifetime's new prime time series Devious Maids, which premieres on June 23.
Set in the same "universe" as the mega-hit Desperate Housewives, Devious Maids comes to the small screen via Housewives creator Marc Cherry. There's a definite gay vibe in openly gay Cherry's work. A self-described "somewhat conservative gay Republican", Cherry was awarded the 2006 Visibility Award from the Log Cabin Republicans, a conservative gay political advocacy group.
"I love working with Marc Cherry," Lucci said in a telephone interview with SFGN. "He's a great writer. I love the scripts and I love my character. I love her name, Genvieve. Like Erica, she's got great clothes. She's been married five times. At the moment she's not married. She's not feeling very attractive and fears she's losing her mojo. So she starts seducing pool boys."
Genvieve "self-medicates" according to Lucci. "Every single character, the maids and the homeowners, are fully developed," she says. "No character is one dimensional. There are many twists and turns. It's fantastic stuff: I'm a very lucky actress."
The series will follow the comic adventures of four Latino maids and their wealthy employers. One of the maids, Carmen (Roselyn Sanchez) was introduced in the final episode of Desperate Housewives. SFGN asked Lucci if she thought the new series would appeal to gay viewers, as the previous show did.
"It's all up to the individual," she said. "I think it will appeal to gay and straight viewers. I can't give away too much, but there are great stories and great humor."
A supporter of LGBT equality, Lucci shared fond memories of her favorite All My Children storyline: In 2000, Erica's daughter Bianca came out as a lesbian. At first, Erica tried to pay Bianca's girlfriend to leave town, but eventually she came around. When the series ended its network run in 2011, Bianca was a happy lesbian mom who had her mother's love and support.
"I was thrilled to be a part of it," Lucci said. "It was an important storyline. It breaks my heart to think of people committing suicide because they got no support. If I can help one teen be more comfortable in coming out, I'd be honored."
All My Children fans are hoping that Lucci will return to the beloved serial, which now produces two episodes per week for online viewing. Since returning on April 29, the new All My Children has consistently been counted among Hulu's top ten most viewed shows.
"In my heart, I hope I can return to All My Children," Lucci said. "I adore AMC creator Agnes Nixon. My schedule is crazy, their schedule is crazy. But we're going to meet and see if we can make it happen."
As Erica's popularity grew, Lucci's star ascended. Though her loyalty to All My Children never wavered —she stayed with the show until its final broadcast episode — she became the first soap star to appear regularly in other roles. After guesting on numerous prime time series, she began appearing in TV movies, garnering high ratings and decent reviews. She also enjoyed a high profile story arc on the mega-hit Dallas. Her starring role on Broadway in a revival of the classic musical Annie Get Your Gun made front-page news and played to sold-out crowds. Yet, to-date, Lucci has yet to appear in a theatrically released feature film.
"It's the only area I haven't worked in," she said. "I hope it will happen. I love movies."
Devious Maids premieres on Lifetime on June 23. Episodes will be available On Demand and online after they air. For more info, go to mylifetimetv.com