Welcome to TAMARA OBSCURA @ tamara-braun.com & tamarabraun.org, the largest site on the web dedicated to Emmy Award Winning actress Tamara Braun. Included: Biography, detailed filmography, large press section, multimedia, graphics and a unique media site OBSCURE MEDIA containing clips of Tamara's various episodic and film work. This site aims to provide the most up-to-date material on Tamara available online. Please come on in and find out about Tamara and her work. Make TAMARA OBSCURA your #1 place for all things Tamara.
Dead Trigger playing Gloria Russo Year: ???? Status: Filming Information | Pictures | Twitter | Official
Untitled Marvista Entertainment Project playing Beth Year: 2016 Status: Post-Production Information | Pictures | Twitter | Official
Days of our Lives playing Ava Vitali Year: 09 December 2015 - 01 March 2016 Status: Archived Information | Pictures | Twitter | Official
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TAMARA OBSCURA @ tamara-braun.com & tamarabraun.org is a website dedicated to the work of American actress Tamara Braun. I am in no way affiliated with her person, her management, nor her family. All content, except otherwise noted, is copyrighted to their original owners and no infringement is intended and no rights implied. Content contained within are subject to fair use and used here either in whole or in part as a commentary on the work and career of Tamara Braun.
DISCOVERING TAMARA BRAUN … AS OPPOSE TO BEING JOHN MALKOVICH
I began watching the ABC soap opera GENERAL HOSPITAL around 1978, around the time that Laura Webber, the pre-phenom half of the ‘Luke & Laura’ Genie Francis, had killed the older man she was having an affair with. In what became known as The David Hamilton Murder Case was classic GH at it’s best. Lesley, played by the wonderful Denise Alexander, had taken responsibility for her daughter’s indiscretions. I watched almost sporadically throughout that time until the character of Luke Spencer, perennial Anthony Geary, waltzed into Port Charles at the behest of his former call-girl-come-student-nurse Bobbie Spencer (Jackie Zeman). I continued to watch throughout the better part of the Beecher’s Corners Caper, Left Handed Boy, Ice Princess, and the disappearance of Laura on the docks. While all emotions and the right measure of gravitas was there and the popularity of Laura & Luke, Robert Scorpio (Tristan Rogers) and Holly Sutton (Emma Samms) and then Anna Devane (Finola Hughes), I never felt there was a need to create anything of a tribute to any of these fine actors… though that call-girl past of Bobbie was forshadowed in the summer of 1996 when Laura and Luke’s young daughter Lesley Lu needed a bone marrow transplant to save her life.
Carly Benson began life on GENERAL HOSPITAL as a relative outsider. As much a Spencer at the core to rival that of her Uncle Luke. In the skin of Sarah Brown, Carly was infused with the right amount of spit and fire as she entered the life of her birth mother Bobbie. Having taken the test to see if she was a compatible donor to her cousin, Carly was sure to be outed as the long lost daughter of Nurse Bobbie, still grieving the loss of her beloved Barbara Jean. Sarah Brown was able to convey that essence of the Spencer line. Whether it was sleeping with the two Quartermaine brothers Jason (Steve Burton) and AJ (Billy Warlock) or sleeping with her step-father Tony Jones (Brad Maule), Carly was certainly enough of an instigator to remain on the canvas for a long time to come. When Carly met Port Charles’ crime boss Sonny Corinthos (Maurice Benard) in what soap fans came to call ‘hate sex’, Carly’s future was uncertain as she battled to be respected by both Sonny and his friends. Not to be considered as trash, I never really felt Carly was being respected as a character in her own right. Although Sarah Brown did infuse Carly with a certain bit of vulnerability, there was too much child-like fragility to consider her a viable long-term character unless she changed to suit the growth that is needed in any character to have them remain viable. Having had a child by AJ, Carly was a mother now. Someone who needed to be validated and wanted as a fully-fleshed character. Somehwere along the line, Brown seemed to lose that fire, that spit that made Carly as original a character as could be on a long-running show. Carly was slowly becoming a one-note character with no substance and no identity outside that of the penthouse she and Sonny shared. Then abruptly in early 2001, Brown announced she would not be re-signing with the show that made her a household name. She would be leaving the role of Carly Benson Corinthos for greener pastures. A recast was announced, but not anticipated by the legions of Sarah Brown fans (like me) who couldn’t accept a new Carly Corinthos. But change is inevitable.
TAMARA’S FIRST WEEK: THE HUGE MISCONCEPTION
When Mark Teschner, casting director for General Hospital, first saw Tamara Braun, he thought immediately that should Sarah Brown ever leave the role of Carly, “I think Carly was Tamara’s fourth time reading for the show, but I had always filed in the back mind that if we had to recast Carly, Tamara embodied what we would be looking for,” he says. “It was our good fortune that she had the kind of chemistry with Maurice Benard [Sonny] that you die for. The chemistry between two actors that lights up the screen is that indefinable magic. You hope with a recast that you get that.” (Switch Hits SOD April 6, 2004)
Little did he know the amount of rancor Tamara’s casting, when announced, would engender from the core fanbase Sarah Brown had gathered through her five years on the show. Tamara had been in three other times to audition for various roles on the soap, but Teschner decided to hold her back. After two audtions and one screen test, Tamara was asked to take over the part of Carly Corinthos, arguably, one of the most coveted parts in daytime. Once the recast was announced, Sarah Brown’s fans went wild with their criticisms of this new ‘untried’ actress who was coming in to take over their favourite role. So much was the advance word on Tamara’s initial casting, there erupted a campaign to write as many negative letters to ABC Daytime as possible to protest Tamara Braun’s casting. After seeing a photo of Tamara in a soap opera publication I thought she looked enough like Sarah and Carly to hopefully make the transition as seamless as possible. Admittedly, I was less than pleased. Having watched Sarah from day one, I was leary as anyone would be to accept someone new in the role of Carly. Sarah had seemed to make Carly uniquely her own, and I was not happy when I saw Tamara’s first week.
Within Tamara’s first week as the new Carly, she had given Sonny up to the Feds, a trait we Carly fans knew Carly would never do. The above scene, the infamous Wedding Dress scene was key to validating those Sarah Brown fans, into believing a horrible injustice had been done to our once beloved Carly. Perhaps the naysayers were right. Carolyn Aspenson of Eye On Soaps stated in her August 2003 column When Is a Recast, An Even Better Recast, about Tamara: “There were other scenes with Tamara Braun where I felt she just didn’t cut it. With Sonny, for example, it went flat. Jason and Carly seemed to have a fizzle instead of a sizzle. Those limited scenes with Michael were all right, as well as those with Bobbie but that wasn’t enough to turn me or to make me not miss Sarah Brown’s Carly.” This pretty much summed up Tamara’s seeming ‘short’ stay in Port Charles. The rumours went that Tamara was on her way out due to the lack of her ‘understanding’ the character and moreso, there were futher rumors her co-stars weren’t getting along with her. “Scalpels were out,” they said. Maurice Benard, it had been said, “thinks Tamara is a nice person, but out of her league.” It was believed the writing was on the wall. Tamara would be gone from the show in short order. By this time though, I had already tuned out. I wasn’t impressed with Tamara’s acting nor her interpretation of the character. I wished I’d hung in there longer.
ENTER: STEPHEN NICHOLS
Way back in the good old eighties, I began watching another soap opera called Days Of Our Lives, I fell hopelessly in love with a wonderful actor by the name of Stephen Nichols. He played the part of Steve “Patch” Johnson. Stephen was one of those actors you couldn’t keep your eyes off of. When he left daytime in 1990, I believed it was a dark day in the soap opera. Not since Genie Francis’ departure in 1982 from General Hospital did I feel there was a dark pall over daytime television. Around the time Sarah Brown started on General Hospital, Stephen had been cast as the Hamletian Dark Prince Stefan Cassadine and I was, to say the least, overjoyed. When Tamara joined the cast, Stephen was in his final year as Stefan and I didn’t feel even he had the ability to keep me tuning in daily. The storylines were getting too outlandish and too convoluted, especially when they brought back the long-dead Stavros Cassadine (originally played by John Martinuzzi). This Tamara Braun, I felt, was going to be the death knell to the character of Carly and that Stephen was on, didn’t stir me enough to keep me as a loyal viewer. I’ve learned people do make mistakes, sometimes big ones.
When Stephen Nichols bowed out of Port Charles in February 2002, I came back only briefly to see him wrap up his final scenes as Stefan. I saw Tamara a few times and didn’t feel particularly moved by her or the character of Carly or Carly’s storyline at the time. I had officially given up my membership in the Carly Club. With Stephen’s last scene, I was done. Finito. No more General Hospital.
CARLY, BY ANY OTHER NAME
Fickle be thy name.
Stephen decided to return to General Hospital to reprise, albeit for a short time, his role of Stefan Cassadine. That was to begin in June of 2003. This was preceded by the return of the popular Tyler Christopher to his role of Prince Nikolas Cassadine. I was in heaven. Both my Cassadine princes returning was more than my heart could take. I was prepared for some good scenes and for some good dialogue and the typical Uncle/Nephew/Son scenes both Nichols and Christopher shone so brightly in before both decided to leave to pursue other things outside daytime. My delight at having Stephen and Tyler back was soon forgotten when I finally Discovered Tamara Braun.
CARLY, BY ANY OTHER NAME
A little Carly update is required at this point. What was happening to the character I thought I was done with when the recast came in? Carly had found out she was pregnant, but wasn’t sure if the baby’s father was Sonny or newcomer Ric Lansing’s (Rick Hearst). Lansing, I found out, had drugged Carly and taken her to a hotel room where he told her they’d made love. Carly had been raped by Ric and he held that over her to keep her in control so Sonny, who’d dropped Alexis (Nancy Lee Grahn) as his laywer, and taken Ric on. Ric Lansing was a man with a mystery…he was Sonny’s half-brother and he planned on getting even with Sonny for their mother, Adella, chosing Sonny over Ric. This Ric had planned through the only thing precious to Sonny, Carly. Carly was underwent an amniocentesis on her unborn child to find out if it had any defects and also had a paternity test to see who the father of the baby would be. Waiting nervously in her hospital room with her close friend, Courtney Matthews (Alicia Leigh Willis), Carly found that Sonny was indeed the baby’s father and Ric’s threats would no longer be her secret. It was this scene that made me stand up and take notice of Tamara Braun:
THE SCENE CLINCHER
This scene really changed my very hasty opinion on Tamara Braun as both actress and craftswoman. What I saw when viewing this scene made me realize THIS was the Carly I wanted to see when Sarah Brown played her. THIS is the Carly I always KNEW she could be. As Soaptown USA‘s columnist Max stated: “[Sarah] Brown always played Carly with a coarse, unrefined edge that while seemed fitting at the time, sometimes bordered on the vulgar. From the moment Braun appeared, she softened Carly’s rough edges, allowing me to see the vulnerabilities that shaped the character more clearly.” THIS is what I wanted to see in Sarah’s version. Upon second view, I found Carly in the incarnation of her originator, was becoming stale and hard to root for. When I tuned back into General Hospital to see the long awaited return of Stephen Nichols, I saw a Carly that had grown, had matured, had become a fleshed out character with substance. Those ‘rough corners’ were gone and a more human character had emerged. Classic soap heroine along the lines of Genie Francis’ nurturing Laura Spencer. But there was more that I would come to not only appreciate about Tamara Braun’s performance, but marvel at her ability to handle subtleties and to allow only her eyes say what other actresses of the medium rely on histrionics to convey. The scene below is what capped it all for me and told me Tamara Braun was more than just a recast, she was truly an evolution in the character:
Sitting in the bed wearing that lovely pale blue Japanese-style Ao Dai, Tamara Braun with mere words and controlled actions showed why Mark Teschner held her back to in effect ‘break glass in case of emergency’. Teschner saw, what I refused to see on first view, how Tamara would take Carly from that roughly hewn rock to a finely polished diamond. When Sonny stated he would sleep downstairs, Carly’s and by extension Tamara’s response was to say the least realistic. Her actions as both victim and family caretaker was evident. With a subtle change in her eyes, Tamara conveyed both Carly’s pain, but also care for Sonny’s state of mind. Tamara didn’t stop there. With how she metered her fear with not resorting to nostril-flaring, sleeve-wiping antics of Sarah Brown, instead she showed us that mature side of Carly. Not the Carly that would run off half-cocked with one of her many ‘plaaaaaans’, but a Carly who had come into her own. A Carly that was less impulsive and more in control. With this one devastating mistake…. Carly had evolved, and that could only have happened under the careful and skilled acting of Tamara Braun.
THE MEASURE OF SUCCESS
My measure on who makes a good recast is usually defined thusly: If I can see the recast in the scenes played by the originator or by a the recast before him/her, that to me, is the essence of not only a good recast, but an exceptional twist of good fortune.
Through the miracle of this medium called the internet and the gift of a very good friend (Amanda – many thanks is not enough), I was able to see some of the scenes I missed after I hastily departed General Hospital. I missed the textured scenes Tamara played out when Sonny took Carly to Martinique to obtain the divorce. Seeing how Tamara played Carly then made me wish I’d stuck by her: How she became Carly. When Tamara talked of the miscarriage Carly suffered, I believed Tamara had played Carly during that period. When Tamara talked of Carly’s proclivity to lie and Sonny would love her, yet wouldn’t accept her lies, I believed Tamara had played Carly all along. When Tamara would talk of Carly coming to town to break up her mother’s happy family, I believed Tamara played those scenes. When Tamara talked of Carly almost bleeding to death when she gave birth to Michael, I believed Tamara played those parts Sarah played. That is the mark of a good recast. But Tamara took Carly beyond merely being a recast. She took Carly into womanhood: A wife and mother worthy of being loved, worthy of having a true friend in Courtney. Worthy of men such as Stavros Cassadine (the recast and ill-suited Robert Kelker Kelly), Sonny Corinthos and the deleriously handsome Lorenzo Alcazar (Ted King) to pursue her…covet her.
Throughout 2003 and into 2004 as Tamara played the after effects of Carly’s gunshot wound to the head while giving birth to her son Morgan, I saw Tamara play layer upon layer of Carly’s insecurities, her fears, her love for her children and in 2005, the devastation of having to lose a child to a senseless death. In Carly’s communion with Bobbie in discussing the loss of their children in Michael and BJ, Tamara brought Carly to another level…that of survivor. Her fierce determination in deciding to find her son, knowing he wasn’t murdered and left in a swamp, was Carly now as independent woman, charter of her own course without Sonny or Jason to have to come to her rescue. Carly, in the personage of Tamara Braun, would forge her own path as a woman who’d come to a sense of peace and self-knowledge. What would have become of that mother and child reunion between Carly and Michael (Dylan Cash) would not be realized. Tamara, after a long night of the soul, decided to leave her comfortable berth at General Hospital. She would strike out on her own buoyed with the knowledge she could trust in herself, sound in mind she wasn’t just a simple recast, but a crafter of her own who had left her mark upon Carly’s soul.
ALL GOOD THINGS ….
In what would seem to be a slap in the face, Tamara’s last day on General Hospital ended with Carly discovering, as she had many times, Sonny in bed with a current paramour. April 15, 2005 was a dark day for this viewer. I did tune in briefly to see Tamara’s replacement. Though I came to resent the treatment Jennifer Bransford received at the hands of ABC and the powers that be at General Hospital, I felt nothing of the amazement I felt with Tamara. I know what you the reader of these words would say: “But if you were wrong about Tamara, why don’t you feel you could be wrong about Jennifer and now Laura Wright?” Simple: Neither Jennifer nor Laura had what Tamara had and has, the ability to forge a character of substance. Pick through the sophomoric writing and misogyny to bring about an equality with her male leads. Tamara was equal in all aspects to both Steve Burton and Maurice Benard, in fact in this writer’s viewpoint, even surpass them in all aspects. I can honestly say, I don’t care about Carly anymore. At least not the Carly that is currently on General Hospital‘s canvas now. Tamara Braun brought a sense of humanity to the part. She brought humility, compassion, a sense of dignity. I felt for her and with her, I moved with her joys, her passions, her losses. I can easily say now, the chimera that was Sarah Brown and Tamara Braun is truly gone, and with Tamara’s leaving Carly behind, I can also mourn that loss of what Sarah Brown began, but Tamara Braun brought to a state of grace. I also realize, Tamara didn’t need three Emmys to be considered memorable. She didn’t need the awards usually associated with a fickle medium. Tamara had proven herself with gaining her own following, and she did it with sub-standard writing and her own innate ability to understand what was being asked of her and for what she demanded of herself.
Now as Tamara Braun embarks on a post soap opera career, I can truly say I’ve never been more proud of her. Never more in awe of her ability to become any character she plays with the same intensity and same seamlessness she brought to the role of Carly Corinthos. For me, this simple viewer, Tamara Braun is what some might consider an architect in her craft. Someone who can use both Stanislavsky methods and go within and without, using her surroundings and her own essence to bring about that sense of the real. Give us, her audience what we only saw a glimpse of on General Hospital. I see great things ahead for Tamara. I see a woman capable of excelling in her chosen field, but also I see a woman confident in herself and in her own strength in that if this ‘business’ fails to impress or enlighten her, Tamara will walk away. She almost did it before the soap opera called on her. She could do it again, only it would all be on her terms. That not only takes guts but it also relies on something Tamara has stated she found out about herself: “I’ve learned that it takes a lot to break me. I may wilt, and I feel deeply when things hurt me. It’s experiencing life and challenges. I feel good about now being able to go through challenges and to come out on the other end with a positive attitude.” With that positive attitude, I feel Tamara Braun will not only excel, but survive with that positive attitude intact and with that smile, ready for those willing to watch to her do what she loves. Now that she is winning awards for her work in the indie project, LITTLE CHENIER, Tamara’s star is definitely on the rise.
It is to Tamara Braun I dedicate this website.
– Dianne B. Dee 15 February, 2007 Canada.
AN ADDENDUM: RE-ENTER STEPHEN NICHOLS
When I wrote the tribute you just got through reading, I had no idea that Tamara would be returning to Daytime, let alone on Days Of Our Lives as the mysterious Ava Vitale. Ava is a woman from Steve ‘Patch’ Johnson’s past. And who plays Steve? You guessed it, Stephen Nichols. As of this writing, Ava has come back into Steve’s life with a vengeance. having sabotaged John Black’s (Drake Hogestyn) plane, which crashed in Greenland killing Brady patriarch Shawn (Frank Parker), we’ve been told it was Ava’s intention the plane not be able to take off. We’ve also been told Ava’s a little on the ‘touched’ side. She is bitter at Steve for leaving her when she loved him truly. Of the role Tamara had this to say: “She has layers, which means there’s a lot to explore. I think the most interesting characters to play on a soap are those trying to deal with their past and struggle through this life that they have to live. I think she could be a very interesting character to play. I’m really looking forward to exploring her motivations for why she does what she does.” And judging by what we’ve seen so far, Tamara is eating Ava up-relishing in playing this character she will create on her own. Given the awards she’s won for the independent film Little Chenier as Marie-Louise LeBauve, I’m sure we’ll see some award-winning scenes here. And have I mentioned, I’m thorougly delighted with the pairing with Stephen Nichols? Talk about someone’s ultimate dream coming true. Call it kismet that both Tamara and Stephen should be on the same soap again, and able to work together in a way I’d wished they’d been able to on General Hospital. Watching the limited scenes both Tamara and Stephen have played out thus far, I’m feeling only positive vibes [insert steamy] coming from my television screen. Stephen had this to say about Tamara and her arrival on Days Of Our Lives: “I’m really looking forward to working with Tamara. I read with some very good actresses. When I heard Tamara was interested, I told Ken [Corday, executive producer] and Ed [Scott, co-executive producer] and Marnie [Saitta, casting director] I thought Tamara would be great for the role. I remember when she came to GH, faced with the task of taking over the difficult role of Sarah Brown, who was wonderful, Tamara did an incredible job and made Carly her own.” Truer words were never said. Mr. Nichols sums up the reason Tamara deserves what she is getting. She takes the incredible and makes it credible. No matter where DOOL takes Ava, I’m sure Tamara will have a ball playing her.