The co-stars tackle difficult subject matter but manage to find humor along the way.
A familiar face to General Hospital fans graced the chair across from Maurice Benard on his video podcast, State Of Mind, this week as actress Bonnie Burroughs joined him for some frank discussion on the many shades of mental health.
Bonnie Burroughs: The Road to Hollywood
Bonnie Burroughs, known to GH fans as Sonny Corinthos’s troublemaking cousin, Gladys Corbin, became the latest cast member to contribute to his YouTube show. After a warm welcome from Benard, the two quickly dove into her background starting with her journey from the suburbs of Georgia to the streets of Hollywood.
The veteran actress spoke about how acting offered her a safe refuge. “I was one of those super shy, introverted in school, with very few friends, so the drama club was my outlet in high school. I didn’t get asked to the prom, and in that place, and that time, in the south, the boys had to ask you. I think I went on one date in high school.
The fear of floundering socially had Burroughs questioning going to the University of Georgia. It was her mother who came up with a solution. “My mom said, ‘There’s a regional audition for a drama school in New York.’” The idea seemed like a welcome respite from attending college. “‘We could go to Tennessee, and we could go to the audition if you want to.’ And I thought, ‘Okay.’ And I did that, and I got into the Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York.”
Small roles on primetime’s Houston Knights and the daytime serial One Life to Live led to a move to Hollywood in 1988. Shortly after, the budding actress landed a lead role as Steven Seagal’s wife in the 1990’s Action Thriller, Hard to Kill.
Breaking The Silence On Sexual Harassment
“So, I go in to audition,” she began as she recounted how the audition played out. “This was 1989 at Warner Brothers, and the director was in the room, and Steven Seagal was in the room. You know he is a big guy, like 6’5’ — I went to shake his hand and said, ‘Oh, big hand!’ And he said, ‘Well, you know what they say.’ I said, ‘Oh, big hand, big glove,’ and he burst out laughing. I think that is why I got the job.”
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She was thrilled at what appeared to be her big break. “I played his wife. I got killed in the first few minutes of the movie. We were in a love scene. I think he had done one other movie at the time, and it was like a B movie, kind of a sleeper hit, and this one was still a B movie but with a little more budget.” Burroughs wanted to share her news. “I called my mother and said, ‘I’m going to be in the movies!’ It was a big deal.”
But, like many women before her, she found herself in a very uncomfortable position. “So, we are doing this love scene,” she began, as she described the incident. “We are both dressed, but he is more dressed than I am. But, in between takes, the blocking, and there were no intimacy coordinators back then, so the blocking was that I was on top of him, and then I would slide off of him because they would come in and shoot me, and I would have to reset and climb back on top of him.
“He was like ‘helping’ me [finger quotes] get on top of him.” The anger still lingered beneath the surface after all these years. “I didn’t need help [to] get repositioned. It was such bullsh*t. And, again, I don’t mind talking about it now because it is important. And because everybody knows how he is.
“I was definitely sexually harassed,” Burroughs revealed to Benard. “I mean straight-up harassed, but I wasn’t going to say anything because I didn’t want to jeopardize the job. I wasn’t raped, but it was unambiguously inappropriate treatment that I kept my mouth shut about. I think everybody did back then.” Both agreed it was a common occurrence back then, although more women are breaking the silence today.