Emma Samms: The secret service
PUBLISHED: 12:21 07 August 2015 | UPDATED: 12:52 07 August 2015
So there I was in Los Angeles having a whale of a time and I couldn’t tell anyone
Last month I spent 10 days working in Los Angeles. Annoyingly, I haven’t been allowed to talk or write about it until very recently. This was in order to preserve the element of surprise for when my character ‘Holly’ made an unexpected return to the US daytime soap General Hospital. I’ve been on and off that show (sort of the US version of Coronation Street) for most of my adult life and to my great good fortune, they keep asking me back.
I’m not very good at surprises. Neither orchestrating them nor receiving them. You would think as an actress that I’d be just the right person to participate in an elaborate set-up, to get the birthday girl or boy out of the house whilst the tables and chairs were arranged, party food prepared and guests ushered in, but no. On the occasions that I’ve been entrusted with said task, my failure to resist the urge to snicker and giggle at the impending shock and merriment, invariably gives the game away.
And as for being surprised, my family have been well trained in the vital importance of the Advanced Warning Phone Call. They are all too well aware that failing to give me a quiet heads-up will lead to a level of grumpiness undeserved by the no doubt kind and well-meaning surprise party host.
I also have a tendency to buy Christmas presents throughout the year, hiding them away in order to both ameliorate the financial sucker-punch of Christmas, and also to have the luxury of choosing things carefully, with no stress or time pressure. Well, that’s the plan. One of two things usually happens; I either misplace them (resulting in a desperate search of the house, closely followed by a Christmas Eve shopping trip rife with stress and time pressure) or I find myself unable to resist the urge to give the presents at the time of purchase. Just knowing I have the perfect present for someone is simply too much to bear.
I once worked with a very famous magician. (He shall remain nameless and you’ll see why in a minute). We did a live stage show together and I ‘levitated’ him high into the air, dancing around underneath to demonstrate that there were no hidden supports. This meant that not only did I have to know how the trickery was done but I actually had to perform some of it myself. I was, of course, required to sign a document obliging me to keep this valuable inside knowledge to myself and I most certainly would have done so if I hadn’t found him so utterly dislikeable. I concede that this argument would probably not hold up in court.
There is only one circumstance in which I excel in being the keeper of a secret and that is when I am the keeper of someone else’s personal, precious secrets. To be chosen as a confidante is an honour and a privilege that I take very seriously. And besides, the people who entrust me with their secrets are often the people with whom I entrust my own secrets. Enough said.
So there I was in Los Angeles, having a whale of a time and I couldn’t tell anyone. The concept of a press embargo is taken very seriously by television networks and people have been fired for letting the cat out of the bag prematurely. So I would drive along boulevards lined with towering palm trees, park my car right beneath the Hollywood sign, tuck into the biggest plate of pancakes ever served to one person and despite veritably bursting to share all these LA eccentricities I had no choice but to keep quiet. Not easy for someone like me.
On returning from Los Angeles I immediately started another job. This one is a wonderful opportunity with a whole new skill set required. I’m working with some fabulously talented people and I’m really excited about it. But guess what? It’s embargoed. So, once again, when asked what I’m up to I have to bite my tongue and offer the vague response of “A couple of projects in the works, but I can’t really talk about them yet”. As we know, this usually translates to “I have no gainful employment whatsoever on the horizon.” But I do, I promise. Just please don’t ask me about it, because if you do, if you push me even slightly, despite not being allowed to, I’ll tell you. Because I’m rubbish like that.
For more from Emma Samms, follow her on Twitter @EmmaSamms1