Over the decades, soap operas have given birth to some of Hollywood’s biggest stars. Oscar winners like Morgan Freeman, Brad Pitt and Julianne Moore all got their starts on daytime serials. Ruby Dee, Jackée Harry, Tichina Arnold, Taye Diggs and Nia Long have also enjoyed great crossover success since cutting their teeth on now-defunct soaps like Guiding Light, Ryan’s Hope and Another World.
And who could forget Shemar Moore, a former model turned soap hunk who portrayed Malcolm Winters on The Young and the Restless? The long-running soap served as a launching pad for the Oakland native, who went on to star in Tyler Perry’s groundbreaking first film Diary of a Mad Black Woman and the long-running hit primetime CBS drama, Criminal Minds.
With the recent introductions of actors Redaric Williams, Lamon Archey and Lawrence Saint-Victor (on CBS’s The Young and the Restless and The Bold and the Beautiful, respectively), there seems to be much more where that sexy blackness came from. These brothers are among the newest faces of daytime television—and there are no holds barred with their steamy storylines and sexy on-screen scenarios.
“Every single time I walk into that building, I say, ‘Wow, this is my job. This is really, really cool.’ ” Williams, who portrays hot, young marketing wiz Tyler Michaelson, shares his experiences on the CBS lot in Los Angeles. He’s come a long way from doing Carling Black Label beer commercials in South Africa just a few years ago. The Detroit area native originally started out as a Canadian TV child star who went on to pursue theater at the University of North Texas, where he was a burgeoning sports star.
Never imagining he would become a soap stud (he admittedly never watched the show before being cast), Williams also lived in the heart of Harlem, where he worked as a fashion model and endeavored in independent theater. He also dabbled in a career as a conscious rapper—that’s how his unique “Redaric” moniker came to fruition (his real name is Jimmy).
“It stems from the word red,” says Williams. “People have been calling me that for years because of my skin tone from the time I was a little kid. I was doing music before any of this stuff so when I was looking for a name to use, nothing [else] was really giving me that feeling. I always liked Greek words. I came across the word rhetoric, [which means] the art of language, conveying a message to an audience. I took that word, changed the spelling of it, and incorporated the word red in it.”
His Y&R co-star Lamon Archey originally was the first one in mind for the Tyler role, but the Bay Area native wound up steaming up the scene as Mason Wilder, a slick opportunist seemingly doing whatever he can to make it in the big leagues of the small fictitious Midwest town of Genoa City (where the show is set).
Archey’s life parallels that storyline a bit—just a bit. As an aimless youth from Daly City, California, Archey dabbled in unsavory street activity briefly before being kicked out of his grandparents’ apartment, and later relocating to Los Angeles with an uncle. There, in the City of Angels, he did carpentry work to make ends meet. “There will always be someone who wants to walk on hardwood floors. That’s for sure,” he quips. He also worked as a veterinarian technician.
An agent who scouted him from his San Francisco modeling agency promised that if he took acting classes, he could get him cast on a soap opera. Two years later, he got the call. “I was picking up my son from school and pulled over on the side of the road, got out of the car and did a couple of jumps. I was so pumped,” he reveals.
“Honestly, I’m so blessed to be a part of the show,” adds the father of three. “I feel like the year that I came on was just a good year because it’s the 40th anniversary. There’s so much going on with the show that I’ve been blessed to be a part of. I was able to build relationships with many of the actors and get to know them, which definitely helps.”
While both Williams and Archey can share similar war stories about fashion modeling, their brethren on their sister soap took a different path to daytime.
Lawrence Saint-Victor, who swears his name isn’t made up (his lineage is Haitian), hails from the Rockland County section of New York and has been immersed in the world of soaps since studying at SUNY Purchase’s Conservatory of Theatre Arts. “I got Guiding Light right out of college,” he says. “I met the casting director a couple of years before graduation. He came to see one of my plays. He liked me, I went in and read, and a year later, four months before my graduation, I started Guiding Light. To be working while still in school was unbelievable.”
Happily married since the age of 25 (he and his wife Shay also co-produce independent films), Saint-Victor is heating things up on The Bold and the Beautiful as Carter Walton, a clean-cut corporate lawyer falling in love with an ex-con with a heart of gold. Since joining the show earlier this year, he’s spent lots of time shirtless on camera. “It’s something I didn’t think about when I was training, but I knew it was something I had to be aware of. That’s why I stayed in the gym,” he maintains.
“When you join a show called The Bold and the Beautiful, you have to go hard.”
Karu F. Daniels’s work as an entertainment journalist has been featured in The Daily Beast, CNN.com, Essence and Uptown. His website is www.karudaniels.com.