In the world of daytime soaps, romance is what keeps viewers tuned in. Day after day, millions of fans watch their favorite shows (or “stories”, as my grandmother called them) to see who the stars are sleeping with and to get the dish on the latest relationship news.
That’s why, Joanna Johnson says, it was so hard for her to be a gay woman on the cast of “The Bold And The Beautiful”.
The actress first played Caroline on the show, then was introduced as her identical twin sister after the character was killed off. She says it was tough back then, bringing a character to life which so many people identified with, but one she could never reconcile with her own feelings.
“After I started playing Karen, I remember doing a fantasy scene that showed what life would have been like if Caroline had not died of cancer,” she said. “She was married to Ridge [Ronn Moss] and had two kids and a wonderful life. When we finished shooting, I ran to my dressing room and just cried and cried because I knew I was never going to have that kind of life.”
Johnson is now happily married to her longtime partner, Michelle Agnew, and has two children. But it took her a while to become comfortable with coming out, even after it started to become more socially accepted in Hollywood.
“When Ellen came out she took a big hit. It certainly hurt her career as an actress,” she said. “When Angelina Jolie said she was bi, it was sexy. The industry wanted her even more. It’s quite another thing to say you’re a lesbian. Back then anyway. I really admire the courage of people who have been out and noisy. I had to struggle to become proud.”
With the recent announcement from President Obama that he supports same-sex marriage has come a lot of talk about the gay community and the issues they face; LGBT individuals are gaining more and more advocacy, now more than ever.
“The Bold And The Beautiful”, which became an instant hit after it’s introduction in the ’80s, is in its 25th year on the air and still counts Johnson in its lineup of stars, although she has a successful writing career as well; she is the creator of several sitcoms, including the Kelly Ripa vehicle “Hope and Faith”.