Despite gloom and doom about the state of daytime in almost all of its aspects, fans have been treated to some good soap opera lately. The Young and the Restless is the Must See Soap right now. One Life to Live has regained it's glory and Guiding Light is steadily improving. Some of daytime's best actors are giving some of the performances of their lives. With that in mind, there are three performers new to their respective shows deserving of special mention who I think are doing a bang up job.
JR MARTINEZ (Brot Monroe, All My Children)
Introduced amid a publicity blitz, JR Martinez came aboard AMC with a fascinating, real life backstory: an Iraq War veteran seriously injured and disfigured by explosives, eventually becoming a noted inspirational speaker for and on behalf of veterans coping with their life altering injuries. His addition to AMC's canvas was purposeful and deliberate. The show wanted a real life injured vet to play Brot, former love of newcomer Taylor (Beth Ehlers).
AMC has received much justly deserved praise for casting Martinez, but make no mistake, this was as much a bit of stunt casting as it was groundbreaking decision. There is nothing particularly "new" about the character of Brot either. We've seen many characters who have been injured and/or disfigured on soaps, who have wanted to reconnect with the love of their lives. So what makes Martinez, despite his real life experiences, different?
The man can act. Don't get me wrong, Martinez is no David Canary or Michael E. Knight. He has rough edges and there are a few kinks in his performances. However, in a soap world full of hair models and glistening pecs, it is refreshing to see an actor new to the genre (I don't like the term "newbie") who hits his marks, knows his lines and can deliver them with believability and emotion. In fact, Martinez seems clearly enthusiastic about his role and one can see his efforts to be good is paying off every day he is featured. Martinez also has great chemistry with just about everyone with whom he has come into contact, including a refreshingly sympathetic Colby (Brianne Moncrief), romantic rival Jake (Ricky Paull Goldin) and the previously hard to grasp Taylor.
As a character, Brot has potential to bring a unique set of stories to AMC. Martinez's physical appearance provides the opportunity for the writers and producers to explore a wide range of stories and issues without easy fall backs like miracle plastic surgery to turn the character into a himbo. So far the show has slowly and wisely integrated Brot onto the canvas without sensationalizing or exploiting his portrayer. Here is hoping that as Martinez improves, we will get to see more of what the character of Brot and this young actor is capable of delivering. (continued)