Gregory Zarian is riding high on his Daytime Emmy nomination for his impressive work as twins Nate and Nick on Venice the Series. If you haven't caught up on Venice, please do so now...but daytime veteran Zarian (General Hospital, Days of Our Lives) has a rich resume of acting and activism to his name.
In an exclusive chat with Daytime Confidential's Carly Silver, Zarian opened up about his Venice role, his work to combat bullying and homophobia with The Trevor Project with twin brother Lawrence Zarian, and his dream role on GH.
Daytime Confidential: Please tell me more about your work as an anti-bullying advocate and how it ties into your own experience. With that in mind, how did you approach this complicated role for Venice: the Series? Was this a challenging role to occupy—especially since you play twins and are one in real life?
Gregory Zarian: My work as an anti-bullying advocate is very personal. My twin brother Lawrence and I were bullied independently and together when we were kids, all the way through middle school and for a time in high school. We were bullied because we were different. We wore matching outfits, had matching haircuts, we were chubby and unpopular. We were always picked last in sports. We were good kids, we just wanted to be accepted. As we grew up, we realized there was nothing wrong with us. We were lucky because we had one another.
Most kids that are bullied, especially now with cyber bullying on the rise as an epidemic, feel like they do not have anyone to turn to. However there are many organizations out there today that are there to lend a hand, a voice and an ear. I’m a proud supporter of the TheTrevorProject.org They have services where someone is there 24/7 online or on the phone to assist you and be there for you. I'm also a huge fan of Free2luv.org It's an organization that is designed to teach you how to celebrate loving yourself and loving others! Bullying really is just a conversation! It's a conversation you have with yourself and others letting each other know how special you are and how different each one of us is and how so very important that is. We are all unique!
As I say to my nephews Alexander and Christian, go up to that kid at school or the kid on the team that is by themselves introduce yourself, ask them how they are. They may be scared, have no friends and could be being bullied by someone you know. You can bridge that gap. One day may they may end up becoming your very best friend! I feel a bully is somebody that is screaming out for attention. I feel anyone that is being a bully is just looking for love. So, if we all can extend our hands to the person right next to us, no matter race, color, size, sexual orientation, religion, etc., and accept everyone with an open heart, this world would look so much different. Also, if anyone is being bullied online, close your computer or phone, and walk away from the abuse. Talk to your parents, family, loved one. No one has to go through this alone.
Regarding playing Nate on this season of Venice: the Series, it wasn't as complicated as much as it was personal. My boss on the show “Holland” portrayed by the amazing Orlagh Cassidy, her character was bullied and so she bullied me. My character Nate, and his twin brother Nick (whom I played in Season 5) were also bullied as kids growing up on the show. There is a beautiful scene where all this plays out and there is a heart-touching understanding between the Holland and Nate. You can see the scene here.
DC: Where were you, and what were you doing, when you heard about your Emmy nomination? Walk us through your reaction; who did you call first? What does this acknowledgement mean to you?
GZ: Oh wow… Ok... I was here at my desk, getting ready to write a letter to God… I put special letters & things in my God box, and I realized while I was waiting to hear, or see if I've been nominated, that I had not written a letter to God. So I sat down, got a buck slip and a pen and I was getting ready to write 'Dear God…' that's when my publicist called me and said that I've been nominated for an Emmy! I sat in silence, my eyes welled… And I said, 'aare you serious… I was just writing a letter to God,' and he said yes and then I screamed out loud, 'yeah!'
And then I think, from what I remember, I just laughed! And the first person I spoke to was my older brother Vincent who happen to call right at that moment and as I was trying to explain to him what just happened, he said, 'dude I didn't see you in Venice… however, I remember you on that car commercial!' It made me laugh and it made me realize that what I do for a chosen career not everyone understands. This acknowledgment means the most to me because I have been judged by my peers. People in the Academy had to watch my work & acknowledge my storytelling and judge it. I am so very proud to be part of this love story that is 'Venice: the Series'
The show takes on tough topics and address the realities of being human, the ups and downs and laughs and tears of finding true love. I feel that what I do as a career is extremely hard, so I am so very grateful. Many, many times I had questioned, what am I doing in this business?? Every time I asked myself that, something happened, and I got hungrier, more determined! Went to more classes, studied harder and went deeper. Being an actor is a commitment and a choice. So, knowing that talented people in my business judged me and brought me to this point, I am so very grateful. Thank you!
DC: I know you’ve worked on daytime and digital soaps. Besides the amount of dialogue to memorize, what makes working on a soap different from working on any other type of show?
GZ: I've been very lucky in my career to have worked on daytime, primetime and feature films. For me, every job is an awesome ride, however on the bigger jobs you get to start at the head of the line. On the smaller jobs you still get a fantastic ride, it just may take a few extra minutes to get to the front. I'm grateful for every job I get because each job is personal.
The difference working on a soap opera versus any other show, primetime, streaming or feature film, is the speed. Daytime is a lot faster. Because time is money and the genre of soap operas has changed so much because there is more content from streaming to web series and everything in between, you have to be on point and at the top of your game with every take. We are not giving as much time anymore to rehearse to do run-throughs, so every time I am called to set, I am game on… Ready to go!
DC: Tell me a bit about how you got involved with Los Angeles LGBT Center Rainbowthon Fundraiser. What did it mean to you to be a part of that event?
GZ: I got involved with the Los Angeles LGBT Center Rainbowthon Fundraiser because it was brought to my attention about homeless youth. It breaks my heart that any child, teen or anyone, would be homeless, simply because they identify as LGBTQ+. No one should sleep outside, be on the street or go hungry, so it was very important for me to get involved and make a difference.
Especially now during Stay At Home, more people are concerned about their own safety and their family, which of course makes sense… I just wanted to lend a hand and use my voice to make a difference! It is not just about the financial assistance, it’s also about donating time and effort. WE can all make a difference!
DC: You appeared briefly on General Hospital a few years ago and have mentioned that you’re good friends with Emma Samms. GH recently “killed off” Holly (who know if she’s really dead?). If you could write your own return to Port Charles, entwined with Holly’s storyline, what would it be? Would you be a secret Cassadine holding the devious Holly captive? A WSB super-spy?
GZ: I love my Emma Samms! We have been friends for a very long time! She holds a very special place in my heart! If I could write my own return back to Port Charles and it would include the devious Holly Sutton, I would in fact be a secret Cassadine and I would be held captive with her.
The character I played, Julius, was also undercover and he become an enemy to the Cassadines. Why do you think he was not at Kate’s wedding years ago? Julius and Holly are being held captive together and are trying to get off the private island they are prisoners on. They also believe that Luke Spencer and Madeline Reeves are prisoners as well. Donna Mills is such a dear friend, that would be so much fun! OK GH writers, game on :)