Tina Sloan Reminisces And Talks About Life After Guiding Light! Check out our interview here ---->>>
In honor of the 11th anniversary of Guiding Light’s finale, we had the pleasure of speaking with one of the soap’s longest-running cast members Tina Sloan!
Sloan, who was no stranger to the daytime drama world, had previously starred on Somerset and Another World when she was offered the role of Lillian Raines on Guiding Light by then Producer Gail Kobe. “She called me and asked would you come on for six months. I’m asking you to do it because it’s more interesting if a strong woman plays a weak woman. I came on for six months and stayed for 26 years,” she laughed. “There’s a lesson to take something even if you don't know where it will lead. You might gain a whole career out of it.”
Throughout its run, Guiding Light had some of the most impactful storylines in the history of soap operas. Two of the most poignant revolved around Sloan’s character. Lillian’s breast cancer story was in tribute to one of the show’s producers who had passed away from the disease. The actress recalled talking with Jill Farren Phelps about the plot and being reassured that her character would live. “Then I remember thinking that there are a lot of women who get this diagnosis and when they say am I going to make it they just say we hope so.” The narrative was influential with viewers as the American Cancer Society revealed that they had a record number of mammograms performed after Lillian did on the show.
Another memorable story for Tina was the reveal that Lillian’s husband Bradley was abusive and had raped her daughter. “It was one of the greatest storylines we’ve ever done. Poor James [Rebhorn] was just devastated when he had to play that part,” she shared. “I remember Lillian coming to work with black eyes because he was just so mean to her. That’s where they wanted a strong woman to play this character because I was able to play that weakness but still underneath I had my core. It was a very difficult story to show her living with the fact that this man was abusing her daughter. One woman wrote to me about being abused and was suicidal but when she saw the storyline it saved her because if she could get through it I could get through it.”
Something that I found incredible while talking to Tina about the storyline was how much she and the show took the audience into consideration. “I found out I was supposed to kill him,” she recalled. “I went to the producer and said ‘Look If I kill him no little girl will tell their mother because daddy is dead and mommy is in jail. They listened and said you’re absolutely right.” Instead, they had Bradley put in jail, and Lillian and Beth healed together through their visits with other victims at rape crisis centers. “I thought that was so good of them. I wasn’t trying to save myself when I went upstairs. I just thought of any little girl that’s in that situation.”
It’s safe to say that I am a little biased when it comes to soap operas. I consider Guiding Light the best of the best. A big part of that opinion comes from the number of stars who have spoken out about just how incredible the environment behind the scenes was for everyone. “It was just wonderful. Everybody was behind you and just so for you,” Sloan said. “I remember extras that would come to work and they would tell us that on the other shows they didn’t even talk to us and you all are nice to us and show us around. I remember being told that by someone pretty early on and thinking I’m going to make sure I continue to do that with any actor that comes on.”
While the memories are wonderful, it’s the friendships Tina made on the set that is special. It warmed my heart to hear that to this day Grant Aleksander (Phillip Spaulding) has a New Year’s party for the Raines and the Spaulding families with her, Ron Raines, Beth Chamberlin, Justin Deas, and Peter Simon all in attendance. “Those of us who worked together a lot are very close. We just took care of each other. We went to each other’s weddings - the real ones as well as the tv ones,” she joked. “I’m the godmother of Beth’s son. It was another family. You spent more time with them than you did your own.”
I asked Tina what she thought was behind the show’s success. “You know I think because we liked each other so much that it radiated to the fans. I think that somehow played into it. And if they came to the set we would all go over and talk to them. We really loved the fans. It was also just a good show with great people and great storylines most of the time. There was continuity on Guiding Light. People stayed for long periods of time. That gave the show a feeling of longevity or family, I guess.”
“It broke my heart when it was over,” she told us. “I was a grand-mother and about to be a great-grandmother on the show. I thought I’ll be here forever being a great-great-great-great grandmother. It was a wonderful family and it was so sad to lose everybody. I loved being there all the time. I got to see people come, leave, and come back again. We also went through 9/11 together. I often think about that being an important part of our relationships because we were all at the studio. We really bonded over that.”
While it was sad for everyone to say goodbye to the residents of Springfield, Tina’s life and career continued. Becoming a grandmother and making the move out of New York to the creation of some exciting projects. She wrote Changing Shoes, a play that ran across the US and a related book that told the story of a woman’s life journey through the shoes in her closet. She also wrote an enthralling new novel, “Chasing Cleopatra,” which we read, reviewed, and loved. Tina has been thrilled by the novel’s success and revealed that along with the release of the audible book version of “Chasing Cleopatra” a sequel is currently in the works!
Thank you, Tina, for chatting with us as we remember Guiding Light on this day! We are so grateful for what you have brought to the soap genre...and we are excited about what’s next for you!