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Liza stars as "Gwen Winthrop" on NBC's soap opera "Passions". Confident and independent socialite Gwen is the daughter of Rebecca and Jonathan Hotchkiss. Gwen is married to her childhood sweetheart, Ethan Winthrop, despite her husband's lingering feelings for his ex-fiancée, Theresa Lopez-Fitzgerald. Gwen was elated to be pregnant with Ethan's baby, but suffered the most tragic of losses when her daughter died at birth. Gwen is the best friend and confidante of Sheridan Crane. Liza was born on February 22, 1975 in Long Island, New York. Liza, who is the daughter of daytime legend Susan Lucci, loved acting and performing from the time she was a little girl. "My parents realized they had a performer on their hands when, at age 5, I called the house painters in to the living room for an impromptu, solo dance recital!" Since the fall of 2000, Liza has been studying with the renowned acting coach, Alan Savage, in New York City. She has also studied at The Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute, The Terry Schreiber Studio and at the Lynette Sheldon Actors Studio. Additionally, Liza trained extensively in improvisation at the prestigious NYU Tisch School of the Arts with Richard Schechner. Liza received her undergraduate degree in Communications (film production) from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. In addition to "Passions", Liza made her television movie debut in Lifetime TV's original movie "Ebbie." On stage, she co-produced and starred in "Four Dogs and a Bone" at the Harold Clurman Theater. She also recently signed with the famous Ford Modelling Agency for commercial print.
Liza is thrilled to be back on "Passions" and following her dreams...as well as her heart! She no longer believes in being a meticulous planner, "You have to leave room for life to surprise you!"
Huber grew up on Long Island, NY where she was a competitive equestrian. She serves on the Junior Committee to support Little Flowers Children's Services of New York, is an avid skier and golfer, and is fluent in German and Italian. Huber resides in Los Angeles, CA with her husband, Alex Hesterberg, who she married on March 13, 2004.
More fun stuff about Liza Huber
loves to travel
has a brother named Andreas
was Miss Golden Globe 2000
featured in TV Guide, US Magazine, People and numerous other magazines
loves cheeseburgers, French fries, ice cream and anything chocolate
she loves music and going to concerts especially, Lenny Kravitz, Puddle of Mudd, Andrea Bocelli, Mary J. Blige and Dido
her favorite time of year is Christmas in New York with her family
she has a golden retriever named Charlie
Vermont is one of her favorite places
she has been skiing her entire life and loves being in the mountains
Liza Huber talks about landing a prime role on 'Passions'
How did you get the role on Passions?
It was really funny because I was out in Los Angeles for the second half of pilot season last year and then I was getting ready to meet my parents for Easter Vacation. Passions had already cast almost everybody. I got a phone call from my agent saying that the producers of Passions heard about me and they wanted to meet me-they thought I'd be perfect for the part of Gwen. So, I cancelled my flight and auditioned and then they invited me back for a screen-test. Two weeks later I got the part!
What was your reaction when you got the part?
Usually you find out if you got a part within two weeks. The two week mark had passed and so every time the phone rang I was really nervous. The day I found out, I was in my kitchen at my parent's house in New York and suddenly a bouquet of flowers showed up in the door of the garage. My dad's head poked out from the flowers. He was a little teary eyed and he told me I got it. It was so incredible. I feel the stars lined up for me.
When you were young, did you ever envision yourself on a soap?
I never did. In fact, when I came out here, I wasn't even auditioning for soaps. It wasn't something I was going to do...for every obvious reason. When my agent called me to audition for Passions, the reason I decided to do it was because I wanted to work. Also, it was a new show-it wasn't like I was walking into something that was already established for thirty years. And James Reilly is really creative. And when I met the producers I got a positive, wonderful feeling. I decided to go for it and luckily I got the part. The show's been very good to me.
What would be your dream storyline for Gwen?
I'd love to see Gwen really be happy. I'd love to see them bring on an older man for Gwen-an older man who adores her, who she actually has a good time with. And I'd like to have a fantasy, too. Gwen has never had a fantasy!
Do you get recognized in public a lot as Gwen?
A lot of it has been from the Golden Globes because we did so much publicity for that. It was funny - I went shopping with my boyfriend, Rob, the day after the Golden Globes and so many people said, "You looked so great last night!" It was so nice! It also depends on where you are--I get more recognized as Gwen in a mall then I would on Rodeo Drive. But I remember standing outside Williams Sonoma on Rodeo Drive and some woman drove by and yelled, "Oh my God! You're Gwen!" It was so funny and unexpected.
Can you talk about personal highlights from the Golden Globes?
First of all, I was so honored to be chosen because there are so many celebrity children out there. Probably the most wonderful part of the experience was how welcoming everyone was, and how nice everyone was. Julia Roberts introduced herself to me right up there on stage. After Michael J. Fox won, he turned around and shook my hand. Everyone was so nice and friendly. And then of course, to wear such a beautiful dress by James Purcell, and have Harry Winston diamonds on … it was such a dream. Having my family and Rob there made it complete.
Where do you see yourself ten years from now?
Definitely back in New York-either doing films, or being on a primetime show in New York, or even doing theater. It's where I belong.
If you weren't an actor, what do you think you'd be? I don't think any profession would satisfy me as acting does, but I'm very intrigued by mystery and the FBI. I'd probably be a crime scene forensic scientist.
What do you like to do in your spare time?
I love to go to the Third Street Promenade in Santa Monica. You're outside and you can just walk around there. But if I have any days off at the end of the week, I go home to New York. It makes me feel good to be there. In New York, my mom and I always have teatime at the St. Regis. I love walking around the city. I love having lunch at Bergdoff's ... walking around SoHo...taking walks with my best girlfriends down Fifth Avenue ... having dinner with Rob. And I love going to Garden City, my home town.
What's something people might be surprised to know about you?
I'm very handy. Also, I'm crazy into the FBI world. And I needlepoint too!
List three words would you use to describe yourself?
Dedicated, intense, and loyal
What are you most proud of in your life?
I've done so much on my own and am very independent. I've traveled the world by myself. I've lived in Europe and Asia by myself. Without question, I picked up and moved out here in three days by myself. I'm very independent-I know I can get along without anybody. Although I need people in my life, I am so independent. I'm very strong in who I am.
Liza With A "Z"
Passions' Liza Huber doesn't need to rely on any name but her own
Ask Liza Huber (Gwen Hotchkiss, Passions) a question - any question - about her famous mother, Susan Lucci, and she'll respond with ardent aplomb and dauntless daughterly price.
Queried, for example, about how La Lucci balanced motherhood and a career, Huber responds eagerly. "One of the most wonderful things about my mother is that she is family first. End of story. She always was there for us,"
Huber contends, referring to herself and younger brother Andreas. "She always let us know that her job was secondary."
So Huber had a pleasant childhood? "A really wonderful childhood," she stresses, "and I owe it all to my mother being so grounded and such an enormously loving woman. She is one of the most giving, generous people I know." She even gave her daughter some professional words of wisdom before she embarked on a career in the soap world. "She just reiterated things that I already knew - be a professional, do the best work you can, be gracious to everybody and be on time," Huber says.
Clearly, chatting about her mother does not bother this young actress in the slightest. "I absolutely understand that people are curious about her," Huber acknowledges over lunch at Stanley's, a trendy Los Angeles eatery. "My mother is such a force on daytime. Of course, people want to know about her. She is the best at what she does. She has an incredible reputation and is extremely beautiful. She's been a fantastic role model for me."
Nevertheless, landing her first major acting gig in her mama's domain meant receiving some flak. "It comes with the territory," she concedes. "I knew there were going to be comparisons. I knew that people were going to criticize me harder and single me out. But I can't say I was trepidatious about it, because I have worked very hard to achieve my own success. I've studied very hard, and I think that the work speaks for itself."
It certainly did for her Passions' audition. "After I was hired and started working, (NBC publicist) Michael Feeney told me that (creator/head writer) James E. Reilly had no idea who I was when I read for the show," Huber explains. "Apparently when Jim was reviewing the tapes for the character of Gwen, he wanted me immediately. After he chose me someone said to him, 'Do you know she's someone famous' daughter?' Jim said, 'Huber? Who's Huber?' He had no idea I was Susan Lucci's daughter," she says, noting that landing the job on her own merits "was extra-flattering."
Huber, who describes herself as "a natural-born performer," admits that she was allowed to tune in to AMC from time to time as a kid. "But I had no interesting in television. That was just my mom's job," Huber says, noting that she was just as blase about frequenting the show's ABC studio complex. "Just like the child of a lawyer has really not too much desire to hang out in a courtroom. I did go on the set every now and then because I was very intrigued by the whole business, but it was never, 'Oh! I'm going to spend the whole day here.' I was in school and had my own life."
That life included "horseback riding, hanging out with my friends, taking ballet classes," Huber says. "I remember making up this whole dance routine when I was 5. Our house was being painted at the time. I put on my tutu, summonded in all the painters and did my dance for them. That was my first audience. I loved it. My mom was like, 'Oh, my goodness! I have a performer on my hands."
Huber started studying acting while in middle school, and performed with a theater group on Long Island, N.Y. "My mother always said to me, 'Find something you love to do and make it your life's work.' Both my parents have always taught me to strive for my goals. Whether it was acting or something else, as long as I was committed to it, they were behind me."
During Huber's college years it was her mother's connections - "As in anything, it's who you know that helps you get through the door" - that helped her land three summer internships. "My parents wanted me to get behind the scenes and learn about the business," says Huber, who worked as an extras' wrangler on Lucci's Lifetime film, Ebbie; at a public relations firm; and on the One Life To Live set. "That was pretty cool," she says of the latter. "I started writing the breakdowns, and I also loved being in the editing room."
Meanwhile, it was Huber's father, Helmut Huber, who stepped in when she began questioning her career goal. "I was taking a little bit of a hiatus from acting," she explains. "Growing up around it I knew how difficult the business was, and I wanted to make sure that [acting] was really my thing, what I really wanted to do."
So Huber got an undergraduate communications degree in film production from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and started to consider film school. "That's when my father told me, 'Your initial dream in life has always been to perform. Why don't you get into a summer acting class? See if this really is your dream.' And I did," she says. "I went to the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute in New York, and on the first day I just knew it was right. I really fell in love with [acting] all over again and dedicated myself to it.
Huber never looked back. She made her stage debut last November in the off-off-Broadway play Four Dogs and a Bone. "I played Brenda, a very comedic character, and had a blast," she says with a smile. When an audition came up for Passions' more serious socialite, Gwen Hotchkiss, Huber was up for the challenge. "I don't consider myself one or the other - comedic or dramatic [performer]. I love doing both. That's the fun part about Gwen. She's not a stereotype. She can be playful and funny one day, gut-wrenching the next."
While Huber adores the role and her soap gig, there has been one drawback: having to relocate across the country. "That's the hardest thing," she says, cracking that she's been adjusting "by going back on the red-eye every other weekend." Huber stays with her parents in the Long Island home she grew up in. "My parents still live in the same house. I still have my room. My mom would never change it," Huber says with a laugh. "She always says, 'Darling, you will be my baby even when you're 55 years old.' "
Family aside, Huber admits that there is another New York draw. It's where her significant other resides. While Huber will say that the year-plus relationship is serious and that her parents approve, she prefers that her mystery man remain nameless. "I want to try to keep him private for as long as I can," she says.
She no doubt learned all about guarding her personal life from the master who never exploited her children for publicity's sake. "My mother never wanted us to be photographed. That was her job, it wasn't our life. She always wanted to protect us." In retrospect, Huber says that it made for a normal, healthy youth. "I have nothing but happy memories. I'm very fortunate. I know not everyone can say that."
So normal and healthy that Huber classifies those years as "so boring it's ridiculous." Ditto for her teen-age years. In fact, she insists that she never had any real teen battles with her parents. "Was everything peaches and cream? Did I come home a little bit too late every now and then? Sure," she says. "But really it was all love, and that's boring."
What, not one wild-child moment? "No not at all," she insists. What about the worst thing she ever got caught doing? Huber stops, thinks long and hard, then delivers a playful laugh before revealing the secret behind her model daughter act. "I fear to think that my father implanted a chip in me when I was born, because he always knows where I am. One time, I'd just gotten my license, I was a junior in high school, and you were not allowed to leave the school for lunch unless you were a senior. Well, I cut two classes and lunch, and left the school in my dad's car. As I was driving to the bagel place, my dad was driving right past me. [All my friends] were down on the floor in the backseat, because my dad can be very intimidating. He rolled down the window and said, 'Vat are you doing here?'" Huber recounts, mimicking her father's Austrian accent. "I just got so caught. Anytime I ever tried to pull anything like that, he (was there). My dad really does have a sixth sense. It's unbelievable."
Aside from her psychic connection with her father, Huber also has a professional one. The senior Huber, who manages her mother's career, is now doing the same for his daughter. "My father is very smart; his business ideas are brillant, and he lets me keep my 10 percent," she says with a grin.
Huber's high regard for her father is matched only by her admiration for her mother. "She's my best friend, a fantastic person," Huber offers, conceding that while the pair bear no real physical resemblence to each other - "My dad, brother and I are all fair, blond and tall, while my mom's olive-skinned and 5 feet 2 inches" - she believes she's inherited quite a bit from her.
"I'm not afraid to speak in public, which is a great attribute in lifem," she says. "And people say that when they're listening to the TVm, not watching it, sometimes I sound just like my mother. They say we have the same mannerisms, too."
And, like her mom, Huber is also quite driven and determined. "I'm not a doormat kind of a woman," she says. "I don't let anyone push me around. I stand my ground. I know I'm intelligent. I know what I want in life, and I intend to work hard to achieve it."
What Huber wants is not only a successful career but also a relationship as fulfilling and perfect as the one her parents have. "I believe in true, passionate love for the rest of my life. I don't want to marry someone because it's the right time of my life. I don't want to marry someone for the wrong reasons. I don't want to marry someone for the wrong reasons. I don't want to fall out of love with them when I'm 45," she says. "I want it to be a perpetual date. I think that's the way it should be, if you find the right person. My parents are blissfully in love. More in love than ever. Being raised with that, you know it's possible."
While Huber awaits her happily ever after, she's content with her job and acclimating to L.A. life. "I haven't been lonely, because I work with so many young people. I wouldn't hesitate to call any of them," she says, noting that she's gotten particularly close to Travis Schuldt and Lindsay Korman (Ethan and Theresa). "And one of my best friends from New York now lives in L.A. So I've met a lot of people through her. I'm getting my own little group, slowly but surely.
"Not that I mind being by myself," she adds. "It's nice to have some time for that, because this [job] is a major change for me. It's been a whole different way of life kind of overnight, to start to become somewhat of a celebrity and work very hard."
Having the alone time to reflect on it all has actually been a welcome bonus. "I've been working out a lot and doing a lot of needlepoint. My mom taught me when I was younger. I love to do it, because I'm very much a head case. I'm always trying to solve the problems of life and the world," Huber says, noting that the simple pastime helps her unwind - and allows her time to contemplate things, like what it will be like when her parents visit her in Los Angeles for the first time. "Once I get settled and get my apartment together, they're going to come out. I definitely want them to," she says, admitting that she's especially looking forward to bringing her mother to the Passions set. "I want her to see where I work, see my dressing room, see what I do.... Because she is my mom above all else."
Take A Good Look: Liza Huber
With Her Hard Work Finally Paying Off On PASSIONS, Liza Huber Wants To Be Seen As More Than Just Susan Lucci's Daughter
Here's the problem: You're 23 years old, playing a rich and glamorous debutante on a brand-new soap opera. You've got a B.A. from a great college, ride horses like a pro, have relatives in Europe, and serve on charity committees. You ski and golf. You've acted off-Broadway, and the Hollywood Foreign Press Association wants you to be their next Miss Golden Globe ("I was just eating my bowl of oatmeal and the phone rang …"). In short, you've got plenty of interesting things to say about yourself … but the pesky reporter who's interviewing you just won't stop asking about your mother.
"It's really important to me that I be judged as an individual and not just as Susan Lucci's daughter," Liza Huber eventually says, not ungraciously, but firmly, like enough is finally enough. Don't get her wrong: She totally understands the curiosity and reverence that Lucci – ALL MY CHILDREN's Erica, 1999's Best Actress Emmy-winner (or hadn't you heard?) and one of Barbara Walter's 10 Most Fascinating People of the Year – inspires in her gazillions of fans. It's just that, well, Huber's trying to create an independent professional identity – and constant references to you-know-who don't exactly help. "I'm always going to be Susan Lucci's daughter because that's who I am," the actress acknowledges. "She's an icon in this genre and here I am on a soap myself. But I've been working very hard to achieve my own success."
The hard work started after some serious soul-searching at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. "[Acting] has been my dream for as long as I can remember" Huber says, "but then when I went to college, I suddenly wasn't sure. Did I want to be an actress? Or was acting just in my brain because I grew up around the industry? And I really needed to figure that out because this business is so hard that unless you want it with everything you've got, you shouldn't even bother. I just wanted to make sure, before I dove into the pool of sharks, that this was really what I wanted to do."
Those conflicting feelings led Huber to major in communications, not drama, with a concentration in film production. "So I wrote my own screenplay, produced a documentary, took a lot of writing courses and had three internships in production. But I realized while I was going through all of it that I really missed acting and being creative in front of the camera." With her mind finally made up, the actress returned to her native New York upon graduating in 1998. There, she plunged headfirst into drama classes (including the prestigious Lee Strasberg Theater Institute), student films and Four Dogs and a Bone, the off-Broadway project that convinced agents she was ready to give L.A. a whirl.
PASSIONS came next – along with the inevitable whispers that she somehow got her job through nepotism. "People are always going to say that," she shrugs. "They've said that about every celebrity child that's ever gotten a job and they will till the world's end." Surprisingly, Huber understands the resentment behind the gossip. "I mean, you have to face the fact that the child of a celebrity obviously has doors open for him or her. But what people don't realize is that we, as the children, have to work 10 times harder than anyone else to prove ourselves."
That said, the actress feels secure about the dues she's paid. "Anyone who knows me knows that I studied very hard before I even started auditioning. It's not like I ever went to [any daytime execs] and said, 'Okay, I'm ready to act, let's do it.'" And even if she had, Huber adds, it wouldn't have worked. "NBC is not going to hire someone based solely [on] who their parents are," she reasons. "Does it bring a little more publicity to the show? Absolutely. Does the fact that my mom is Susan Lucci open doors for me? Definitely. It would be silly to say [otherwise]. But I pushed myself to NBC. I've put my soul into this and I can put my head on the pillow at night knowing that I've done the best I can possibly do."
The effort's paying off: The Gwen/Ethan/Theresa triangle has emerged as the show's first storyline with true rooting value, with fan mail coming in by the sackful. Consequently, days off are rare. When Huber gets one, she heads from her place in Beverly Hills )"Not 90210") to the Santa Monica promenade, just to walk and think. And when she gets two, well, she likes to head back East. "In L.A., I'm all by myself," she notes. "And that's fine. I'm carving out a professional life for myself there, and it's a good feeling to know that the things I'm doing out there, I've achieved on my own. But I'm a New Yorker through and through. New York's my family, my friends, my history, my life."
And her boyfriend. "I'm very much off the market," laughs Huber, who is reluctant to elaborate. "I really want to maintain his privacy," she explains. He's not an actor. He's a civilian – a businessman in New York – and I don't think there's any reason to exploit him. But it's very serious." The duo have yet to make it official – "That's all up to him. I'm old-fashioned that way" – but Huber's just glad the 3,000 miles that now separate them haven't proven to be as much of a problem as they could have been. "We get to see each other every other weekend, and then it's nice, like a honeymoon. We're a bit spoiled, really."
Indeed, the grounded young woman knows all to well how lucky she is. "I'm just doing the best I can and whatever comes my way because of the show is wonderful," says the actress, who admits she was initially fazed by her own escalating popularity. "it's funny – my mother is my best friend, so we do everything together, always have. I'm very used to people coming up to us and asking her to sign autographs," she muses. "But now, people come up to me and it's for me … it took a little time to make that switch [mentally]. It's so incredibly flattering."
Liza Huber: Second Time Around
Passions' Liza Huber Had To Find Herself Before She Could Find Happiness.
Now It's Gwen's Turn
Passions viewers may have done a double take recently when Liza Huber first popped up onscreen – not just because she's back as Gwen, the role she originated, but because she seems … different. In a very good way. Is it the hair? The wardrobe? The makeup? Even off-camera colleagues were pulling her aside to comment on her new "glow." "It's been a combination of my life experience and personal growth," explains Huber. "In that year-and-a-half, a ton of life experience just changed me," she elaborates. "We all went through September 11th, in which I lost a lot of people I knew, one being a very good childhood friend. Then, two weeks later I called off my wedding. I realized that I had completely sacrificed everything of myself for someone else, and acting was one of those things."
Huber recalls the day she had that epiphany. "I was sitting in my room, and I realized I didn't have my job that I had worked so hard for. I wasn't acting, and that had been my love my whole life. I hadn't traveled in years, which is an immense passion of mine. I had let so many things go by the wayside for the sake of trying to give myself to someone. I realized that I needed to pick myself up by the bootstraps and take charge of my life – and never do that again."
Huber credits a pivotal conversation with her mother, Susan Lucci (Erica, All My Children), for giving her the confidence to perform emergency surgery on her life. "I was very confused for a while. My mom was the one who sat me down and told me I had to get back to myself, back to the things that I love. She told me to get back into acting classes, and to start traveling again. Fortunately for me, both my mother and my father are very headstrong and determined people, and once we have something in our head it's going to happen. So, I, too, was determined, and I took flight from that moment on."
Huber admits that Passions had been one of the biggest casualties. "The first time around, my heart wasn't in it. I had to be bi-coastal, because my ex-fiancée lived in New York. I was very young, and I followed my heart. When it came down to it, I said I need to get back to who I am. So I went back into acting classes, and I immediately fell back in love with it. I studied for a year with Alan Savage, who's one of the top acting coaches in the country. Alan transformed my work, so I came in being stronger."
Reclaiming her old job and finding new love were among the treasures she accumulated as her life reached a new cruising altitude. Her "new" boyfriend, Alex, is actually someone she's known her whole life. "We grew up together in New York, and went to elementary school together. I still have a class picture with the two of us from the first grade. It's funny. Here we are, we've known each other our whole lives, and yet we hadn't ever considered each other romantically. The last time I saw him was my Sweet 16 party, and still, we were just friends. But this past May we ran into each other in Manhattan and hit it off. We've been inseparable ever since. To think I've gone from almost going all the way to the altar with someone who was so totally wrong for me, to now having the eyes to see the real and immediate connection I had with someone this time."
"We both knew it was going to be a very special thing right off the bat," she asserts. "I went into this relationship knowing that we would maybe have to make compromises, but I would certainly not sacrifice my career or myself ever again. And he loves the fact that I have a career and am independent; I'm strong and he supports me. I'm happy I learned my lesson now in my 20s than down the road."
It's no coincidence that Gwen also has tapped into a newfound sense of determination and strength. "I did not want to pick up where anyone had left off – not where Natalie (Zea) had left off, and not even where I left off. I wanted to start fresh. So I spoke to the producers about it, and we all agreed on the direction we wanted to take Gwen, because she was never a fully fleshed-out character." But now, like Huber herself, "she's finally coming into her own."
Huber is especially proud of Gwen's choice to not attempt to use her unexpected pregnancy by Ethan to force him into marriage. "I was so happy to get those scripts. A lot of the girls who post on my Web site write how they admire Gwen and her choices. It's refreshing to see a woman taking charge of her own life."
Huber only hopes for more meaty material for her character in the year to come. "I would love to see Gwen keep her strength and fight back. And I would love more than anything to have some of those fun scenes with Lindsay (Korman, Theresa) like we had when Gwen tried to clobber her with a baseball bat. That was hysterical, and we had the best time."
Is it time for Gwen to find a new beau, too? "I would love to see another love interest come into Gwen's life, she's become such a strong, desirable woman. But I'm also have the best time with Eric (Martsolf, Ethan), so either way it will be fun. I've been so lucky, so thankful to Passions for calling me back, because it's such a rarity in life to get a second chance. I'm even thankful for the tough times that I had, because they ultimately put me in the spot I'm in today. We all need a good kick in the pants every now and then to learn who we are."