Beth Raines is one of the most famous and important characters of Guiding LIght. Judi Evans originated the character in 1983 but then left the show in 1986. Beth was apparently dead, until in 1989 when she returned to Springfield alive but played by Beth Chamberlin, the actress. who made the character her own and played it (with a break from 1991 to 1997) until the last episode of Guiding Light in 2009. We had the honor of interviewing this talented actress who told us many stories about the period in which she worked on GL.
Sentieri OnLine – What does it mean for you to have been part of the longest-running Soap Opera?
Beth Chamberlin – An incredible honor. I wrote a book in 2001 and went around the country on a book tour. Everywhere I went there were women and men from multiple generations. I would meet the great grandmother, grandmother, mother and daughter from hundreds of families. It really made me see how I was a part of something unique and special. I had the honor of being a part of a family tradition. I had the honor of being part of a show that brought generations together.
SOL – Do you remember your screen test for GL or your first day on the set? (Is it true you also played a girl who looked like Beth, when Judi Evans left the show?)
BC – I remember my screen test very well. I screen tested with Grant Aleksander. I had a great dress rehearsal but was not happy with my actual test. I left the studio crying. My first day was something every actor would hate. The show was shooting a huge party. All I had to do was a voice over. The director, a guy I love but who wasn’t thinking, made me record the voice over in front of the entire cast, whom I hadn’t met, on the set. It was very intimidating. Yes, it is true I played a character that Lillian thinks is Beth when Judi left the show. That is the first day I met Tina Sloan and her son Renny. Little did I know that that show and Tina would become such a huge part of my life two years in the future.
SOL – Did you know Guiding Light or Beth Raines before joining the show?
BC – I did not know the show or the character. I think it was helpful. It freed me from trying to be like someone else.
SOL _ – Were you worried about having to play a much-loved character played by another actress?
BC _ I honestly never thought about it.
SOL – Have you ever met Judi Evans or talked about Guiding Light with her?
BC _ I have met her briefly, but only at the Emmys. Those things don’t tend to be a good place to have good conversations with people you don’t know. Too loud with too much going on.
SOL – What was your favorite and least favourite Beth story?
BC – I have two favorites: The storyline on Lizzie killing Carl, my abusive ex-boyfriend. That was the story when I first returned to GL in the late 90’s. The other was when I had the alter ego of Lorelei Hills. David McDonald and I had so much fun.
SOL – Do you know about some story for Beth that has been scrapped and/or do you know which were the stories for Beth planned before learning about the cancellation of the show?
BC – I was very disappointed when I was to first to appear on GL in 1989. The story planned to bring Beth back was scrapped because Procter and Gamble did not like it. It was a great story where Beth had become brainwashed by a cult and that is where she had been. I also think it could have been an important story. Cults are dangerous and we have seen it over and over. They operate in such a way that people get pulled in gradually. No one goes out to become a member of a cult. They end up being pulled in through manipulation. I didn’t know anything about what was planned for Beth when the show was cancelled.
SOL – Beth Raines has had several partners. Which of them did you love most to work with?
BC – Oh Goodness. When you list them out it is a lot. Grant and I became like family through the years so that will always be a special relationship for me and will be my favorite. But I also loved working with Ron Raines and David McDonald. David and I just laughed so much. Ron and I became great friends and I loved the time we got to spend together.
SOL – And who did you like to work with among your female colleagues?
BC – I loved working with Tina of course. I just loved that we got to hang out so much whenever we had scenes. I loved those times. I also wished that Yvonna Wright and I got to work together longer. Our story fighting over Rick was too short. We felt safe with one another. It is good to feel safe with someone when your characters are supposed to hate each other.
SOL – Are you in touch with someone of the cast?
BC – I remain in touch with Tina. She is my son’s Godmother. I am also in regular contact with Grant, Yvonna and Ron. Three are lots others that I continue to see, but just not on the same regular basis.
SOL – What do you miss most of that period?
BC – Getting to act all the time. Getting to spend time with people I loved and had fun with. It was a wonderful time and I am so glad that during it I would constantly remind myself to appreciate what I had.
SOL – Do you have any particular memories you want to share?
BC – Not a particular memory but a time. I feel very fortunate that I got to work with Paul Rauch when he was executive producer. If you look back on those shows what he did was amazing. Every show looked as beautiful as any prime time show. This is incredible because each prime time episode takes 10 days to shoot. On a soap opera you shoot the same amount of material, but in one day.
SOL – What are your current projects and future plans?
BC – I am waiting to hear on a project that may have me on a foreign soap opera. That doesn’t happen until middle of 2021 so not expecting to hear right away. That would be fun. I own a gym, Nyack Boot Camp that I opened 8 years ago. We teach live stream classes as well as in-person classes. I am also currently putting together a proposal for a new business that I am very excited about. Don’t want to go into that one as I am superstitious.
SOL – Would you come back as Beth Raines if Guiding Light were produced again?
BC – Absolutely!
SOL – Have you something to say to your Italian fans?
BC – I have never been to Italy. When the current pandemic is over I want to take my husband and son there. Any advice would be appreciated. We, of course, want to go to see some of the most famous sites, but we like to go to small towns too.
We thank Beth Chamberlin for her kindness and for this wonderful interview. Thanks also to Ross P.S. for the collaboration.