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Renee has been starring as defense attorney "Evangeline Williamson" on ABC's soap opera "One Life To Live" since February 2003. She graduated from Carnegie-Mellon University with a bachelors degree in acting, and went on to attend graduate school at the University of Southern California, where she received her masters in vocal jazz performance. Along with her OLTL role, Ms. Goldsberry performed the role of Nala in the Broadway production of Disney's The Lion King until July 2003. Her previous credits include the national tour of Dreamgirls, the movie soundtrack for the feature film Amistad, and a recurring role as a featured, on-camera singer on Ally McBeal. Ms. Goldsberry starred in the independent film All About You, for which she co-wrote more than half of the soundtrack, including the title song. The film received the 2002 Grand Prize at both the Pan-African Film Festival and the Hollywood Black Film Festival. It was also awarded the top prize at the 2003 Miami Film Festival. As a singer, Ms. Goldsberry has performed with various well-known artists, including Barry White, Patti Austin, Al Green, Rod Stewart, Yolanda Adams, Whitney Houston, Mariah Carey, Brian McKnight, Jeffrey Osborne, Faith Hill, Barry Manilow and Vonda Shepherd. She has been honored with the grand prize for the John Lennon Songwriting contest. Her first album, entitled Everything But the Kitchen Sink, features three Lennon award-winning songs. Renee was born in San Jose, California, and raised in Houston and Detroit. Ms. Goldsberry resides in Manhattan with her husband.
Getting To Know Renee Elise Goldsberry
On February 25, Renee Elise Goldsberry debuted in the recurring role of Mitch's feisty lawyer, Evangeline Williamson, on ONE LIFE TO LIVE. A few months later, Goldsberry was put on-contract, and Evangeline was paired with Llanview's unpredictable bad boy, R.J. But, in true soap fashion, there have been bumps in the road for the twosome, as when Evangeline represented R.J.'s nemesis, Antonio, when he was accused of murdering R.J.'s daughter. Though R.J. and Evangeline are back on the road to reconciliation, fans can expect to see R.J.'s blood pressure soar again when Evangeline's old friend, Dr. Jordan Kingsley, becomes more of a presence in her life. In late 2003, Digest caught up with the affable actress, whose beautiful brown eyes peeked out from behind a fetching pink hat -- and got the 411 on life in Llanview and some insight into her character's romance with R.J.
Soap Opera Digest: What were you doing before you came to OLTL? We'd heard that you were on Broadway as Nala in The Lion King.
Renee Elise Goldsberry: I was. I came to New York from L.A. to do The Lion King. Fortunately, after six months I happened to audition for ONE LIFE, and it grew to doing both roles.
Digest: Was it overwhelming to do the show and the soap at the same time?
Goldsberry: It really wasn't. I feel like you do whatever you have to do at the time. When I look at Kathy [Brier, Marcie, who is starring in Hairspray], I think, 'Poor girl [laughs].' It's harder on her than it was on me, definitely. But doing a soap opera and a Broadway show is amazingly compatible if you're working for people who are sensitive to each other. Fortunately, I was in that situation, so it worked out well. But now that I'm done with The Lion King and have a life again, I'm like, "This is awesome." I love having weekends off and having time here to get to know the cast better.
Digest: Are you from L.A.?
Goldsberry: I'm from Texas, but I lived in L.A. for a while. I was actually born in California. Houston and L.A. are relatively similar -- very spread-out cities with people from all over the world living there and a lot of traffic. So, I felt very comfortable in L.A. But the longer I've been in New York, the happier I am here.
Digest: Do you feel like a New Yorker?
Goldsberry: I do. I've always felt that way. New York is the kind of place that -- it's totally cliche because it's the song -- but if you can make it here, you can make it anywhere. There's something about being here and being kind of successful that makes you feel unstoppable.
Digest: Let's talk a little about R.J. and Evangeline.
Goldsberry [as Timothy D. Stickney, R.J., walks by]: Yes, let's talk about Tim while he's standing right here [laughs]. It's great. [Whispering] It's an honor being paired with him. Acting for me is like tennis. You're as good as your partner. You have to lift up your game when you're dealing with someone so talented. I feel like he makes me really good.
Digest: What have you learned from him?
Goldsberry: I have learned a lot. He's been on the show a long time, and even if he had not, he has a natural ability for stage or screen. And, most importantly, he's a nice guy -- really patient, sweet. No stereotype of a soap opera actor at all, or I should say, no bad one. So, it's been awesome. And his character is fun to play off of because he's so bad.
Digest: R.J. and Evangeline are so different. What does she see in him?
Goldsberry: Another thing about the character that's good is that he's this brooding kind of villain. There's maybe two people R.J. has a vulnerability to. One was his daughter, Keri, and the other is Evangeline. That vulnerability is attractive to the character because she has a different relationship with him than anyone else and feels that she understands him more than anyone else in town.
Digest: So, why did she choose to represent Antonio?
Goldsberry: It was a good thing for Evangeline to do because in any relationship, conflict makes things more interesting. This showed a side of her that we hadn't seen before. Especially having come in representing Mitch and turning off any sensitivity to what the person she was representing might be doing to someone else, which we might stereotypically think a lawyer has no problem doing. So, I'm glad that she's [defending Antonio]. Sometimes, you have to make those decisions that might hurt people you're close to. It's a really interesting twist for this story.
Digest: So, do you think R.J. and Evangeline have a future?
Goldsberry: I do, and who knows what it will be. But the town is small, and what pulls them together is so great.... He'll forgive her, I'm sure.
Digest: What about the new Jordan? I hear there's going to be a love triangle.
Goldsberry: Oh, Jordan. I'm excited that he's in the world because it's more drama [laughs].
Renee Goldsberry on the campaign trail
WEEKLY: So tell us about your experience.
Goldsberry: Oh, my gosh, it was amazing! It's called Women on the Move for Kerry. The Democratic National Committee put an e-mail out to the different publicists to invite anybody that wanted to join to come on the campaign trail. I had the opportunity to go to New Hampshire for the day and I spoke at some rallies at colleges.
WEEKLY: Were other celebrities there?
Goldsberry: Deidre Hall (Marlena, DAYS OF OUR LIVES) was there. She was amazing and wonderful. I've seen her and met her briefly a couple of times, but to hear her speak and meet her more intimately was really a gift,as was meeting Sharon Stone and Ellen Tauscher, she's a congresswoman from California. And I met Alex Kerry and Peggy Kerry, John Kerry's sister.
WEEKLY: Were you a little nervous?
Goldsberry: It was really scary, I must say. It was definitely one of those moments where I felt like, "What am I doing here? I can totally imagine sitting out there and listening to them speak, but what do I have to say that's going to mean anything to anybody?" I haven't been that scared in a long time. But I was blessed at the last minute with something to say. Deidre Hall finished talking and she looked back at me, and said, "From ONE LIFE TO LIVE..." and I was like, "Oh, my god." But I got up and I talked to young people about the importance of voting and the first time I had ever voted and how awesome it was.
WEEKLY: This is obviously something you feel strongly about.
Goldsberry: I believe there's no more important right that you earn just by turning an age than the right to vote. I was really preaching to the choir because these kids were like paraphernalia-ed down. They had T-shirts and stickers and everything. They were really, really excited about voting, but I encouraged them to get out there and to distinguish themselves as independent-thinking adults by using their right to vote. It went over really well and I had an awesome time listening to these women and meeting them.
WEEKLY: Did it make you want to get into politics?
Goldsberry: I don't know, maybe one day. I got the bug. I'll do anything if I feel like I can be helpful. So once they convinced me that I had something to say, I would go anywhere to do that. Sharon Stone said something interesting. She said, "I'm not here because I'm a celebrity. I get to be here because I'm a celebrity." And I felt that way to. I felt like, "What afforded me the opportunity to be standing on the stage with these women that are so intelligent and so passionate and so civically-oriented?" I was so impressed and blown away by them and I thought, Thank God for ONE LIFE TO LIVE, that it would give me an opportunity to do that. I felt so overwhelmingly blessed. It was a wonderful day and I encourage everybody to be that involved with whatever they believe in.