Calling all Passions fans. There’s been a mermaid sighting! That’s right, I recently caught up with none other than Brandi Burkhardt, who in 2006 infamously donned a pair of fins to play the role of Siren the Mermaid on the now-defunct NBC/DirecTV soap opera. The pretty and talented Burkhardt is appearing in Episode 7 of the insanely funny web dramedy Then We Got Help!, portraying one half of a new couple who joins Emily’s (series creator Julie Ann Emery)’s warped therapy group for people who can’t afford therapists.
We chatted about what it was like for this Lee Strasberg alum to find herself splashing around on daytime, what Passions taught her as a performer, whether or not she’ll be appearing in more episodes of one of the web’s best serials and most importantly, what the former Miss New York thinks of Jay-Z and Alicia Keyes‘ "New York State of Mind".
Daytime Confidential: On the now-defunct soap opera Passions, you played the mermaid Siren. I gather anyone would need a bit of therapy after that! What was your experience appearing on the wacky sudser like?
Brandi Burkhardt: Working on Passions was such a joy. Because it was supernatural, and at times ridiculous. We had the most fun! When am I ever gonna get the opportunity to swim in real fins again?! Every little girl wants to be a mermaid! The cast and crew all had a wonderful sense of humor and were ready for anything. It was such fun to go to work everyday. I wish we were still on the air! Put us back on the air! It was always an adventure.
DC: You studied at the famed Lee Strasberg Studio in the NYU Tisch School of the Arts. Did that experience prepare you for donning Siren’s fins?
BB: As Lucille Ball says, "I’m not funny. What I am is brave." I don’t think any education can prepare you to be brave. At times, I remember just thinking to myself, "Gotta do it! No matter how silly it sounds." And so I did. There is such freedom in letting yourself be silly, and not worry about how you come across. It’s about letting characters live. Giving life to the story and to the writing. That was a great lesson that Passions taught me.
DC: Tell me about the role you’re playing in today’s installment of Then We Got Help!?
BB: I play Ashley, a friend of Emily’s [Julie Ann Emery] from Yoga class. Emily tells Ashley about this group she has started to help couples. Ashley and her husband Ned [Michael Weiner] show up to see what it’s all about, and to see if they can contribute to the group… maybe even help some couples themselves. These two have a little secret that helps their marriage. I am so excited about this show, not only because it is really funny, but because we are all friends. It is a wonderful thing to create something with friends that makes other people laugh. Its a wonderful cast, with very funny writing.
DC: You seem to have a strong knack for comedy. The We Got Help! is one of the most hilarious shows on the web. Any chance you’ll be sticking around for more than one episode?
BB: I hope Ashley and Ned will be around for Season 2. Their relationship can get very complicated, and reaches into some realms that have yet to be explored in the show. I think they are willing to put it out there and be controversial. That could be a good thing for the other characters to have to deal with. This storyline could go anywhere and everywhere!
DC: You are a former Miss New York, and an accomplised vocalist. So what I really wanna know is, what do you think of Jay-Z and Alicia Keyes’ "New York State of Mind"? Does it sum up life in The City well enough for you, or could you have done it better?
BB: "New York State Of Mind" is one of my favorite songs! I think New York is what you make it. I’ve been spending lots of time in Los Angeles lately, so I love to put the song on in my car and drive around LA feeling like a New Yorker!
Photo courtesy of Midlothian Road Productions