JonnaLeigh Stack : «The people were great to work with.»
By Nicolas, exclusively for Santa Barbara : le site Francais, October 2009.
On last September 08 and October 24, JonnaLeigh Stack agreed to take on her time to answer exclusively the questions of Santa Barbara : le site Francais. The former actress talks about her debuts, the Santa Barbara years as Summer Blake, and at last about her life since her departure from the show.
The beginnings before Santa Barbara.
At first, I'd like you to tell us a little about you : How old are you today ? Where do you live ? Do you live in couple or have children ?
I am 46 now and I live in Pensacola Beach, Florida. It is beautiful here. I LOVE the beach. I am married now, three years, to my high school love. We have a sweet dog and two cats. I am a huge animal lover and end up saving almost every stray that finds me.
To know you better, what did you brought from yourself in the character of Summer Blake ?
I don't think I really brought much of myself into Summer's character. My knowledge of art is limited, though I do love it and appreciate great talent - she was a museum curator you remember. She was a bit soft spoken, which I can be at times, but not mostly. Also, her character was shaped a lot by the tragic experiences of her past that was referred to in the show - the abuse by her sister's ex-boyfriend. I have never experienced that and had to do some homework to get into that frame of mind.
How did you start your acting career ? Was Santa Barbara your first experience as an actress ?
I started modeling when I was 13, and went to New York when I was 18. There I studied acting. I started doing a lot of commercials and the acting division of the agencies I was signed with began sending me on acting auditions. I mostly did small guest appearances on TV shows, did a movie called Paradise Motel, a bit of theater, then Santa Barbara. I loved it. The people were great to work with. That is the extent of my limited acting career.
The time of Santa Barbara
How did you start in Santa Barbara ?
It seems like a life time ago... I was working in New York modeling and doing a little acting work when I had an audition for Santa Barbara. When I was cast in the show I moved to California.
How did Summer was presented to you at first ?
Summer was presented as a quiet, sweet character, and Gina's sister. And she loved history and artifacts, and her job at the museum.
Santa Barbara is known to have been a very expensive show in its beginnings and to have awaited months until finally know some success. Was it something you perceived during your time on the show ?
I was not in-tune with or aware of any of the production concerns related to the show. I am happy it did succeed and seemed to have gained such a great international interest.
Summer was a very nice character. Her love-story with Warren Lockridge was very strong and the remembrances of her rape in the past helped to deepen the character. What memories do you keep of Summer ? What other storylines would you have liked for her ?
The love story with Warren was nice. Since Gina and Summer didn't have any real family but each other, it was hard for Summer risk disappointing Gina and the Capwells by having feelings for Warren. It would have been neat if Gina and Summer had more storylines together to deepen their characters. Maybe Summer wanting to get some type of unique and difficult-to-obtain artifact for the museum that she enlisted Gina's help to go acquire from some distant location... and then they discover it had some interesting history connected to it that added to the Capwell - Lockridge rift and conflicts...
What were your favorite male and female acting partners as Summer Blake ?
I loved working with Nicolas (Mr. Lockridge)! He was such a fun and warm person. He taught several of us on the show to scuba dive! It was fun to work with John (Warren) too. We had done some modeling work together in New York some time before the show and thought what a great coincidence it was to be working together again on Santa Barbara.
You left Santa Barbara a few months after your arrival. What were the reasons of your departure ? How did you learn that Summer was going to be killed by the carnation killer and what did you think of that "end" for her ?
I was on the show I think for just under a year. I originally auditioned for two different characters that were then cast to others. But I was told the producer liked my auditions and wanted to find a spot for me. As it turned out, they added Summer's character for me. Because she wasn't part of the original show conception, I think they didn't really know what to do with her after a little while. Also, I was a young/new actress and I don't think quite as strong a performer as the main cast. Anyway, I wasn't renewed to stay on the show. Summer actually left the show before the carnation killer came on the scene. I was asked to come back after having left the show to do the few episodes with the carnation killer to round his attack on "blondes." It ended up providing a concrete exit for Summer rather than just leaving town to get counseling.
What were your best (and worst) remembrances from the show, on a relational and on a professional level? Did you continue to watch the show after your departure ?
One of my favorite memories is having met Ray Walston. When I was a child I watched him on a show in the United States called My Favorite Martian and I loved him. That was really cool for me at the time! I don't have any bad memories from my experience with Santa Barbara. I liked everyone I worked with and learned a lot. I have to admit that I didn't watch the show even when I was working on it. My parents taped some episodes now and then, and when I would go visit them we would sometimes watch what they recorded. Having been on the set so many hours a day, we all pretty much experienced the show in a different way than watching it.
These 25 last years after Santa Barbara and now.
Can you come back on the following years of your career after your departure from Santa Barbara ? Are you still an actress today ?
I continued to do some acting work, nothing major, after the show, and continued to do commercials and modeling for a little while. I really wanted to go to college and didn't have anything so special going on career wise that I couldn't just go. So I moved to Arizona where my boyfriend at the time had just moved and started college. I continued to do commercials and modeling in Arizona on a small scale and concentrated on my formal education.
I studied communication and did work in public relations and public outreach. I was also doing volunteer work for environmental causes - getting bills to the legislature and media coverage of events - and then decided to go to law school to try to do more for the causes I felt so strongly about. Then I worked in the environmental field for a while - enforcing environmental laws and regulations and helping the public communicate with the government regarding transportation plans affecting their communities and the environment.
Now I work for myself doing things I enjoy and on my own schedule. I provide legal services and mediation to help others solve conflicts. And my photography hobby is growing into a small business. I also run my own anti-aging and skin care company that brings the latest science and technology to the market. I learned a lot about skin care during my career in modeling and acting and people are always asking me about how to best take care of their skin. I started doing some research on anti-aging and when I found a company that is committed to the highest standards of scientific studies, innovative research, and quality, I decided I work with their products. I love it. I help place the products in med-spas and day spas, in aestheticians' and dermatologists' offices, and I help others learn how to work for themselves in this business and succeed. I love it and I love helping people.
I often think it would be great fun to do local theatre work, but I don't seem to have the time necessary to commit to a production with all of the other things I do. Also, I am trying to design a place and a business for rescued animals. So many passions and not enough time !
Is there something you would like to say to all the Santa Barbara fans all over the world ?
I think it is fantastic that so many people world-wide enjoyed the show so much and have fond memories of it. For the people working on the show, everyone, it is so rewarding to know that there are fans who really like the work they are doing. Thanks for keeping the show alive and well for so long.
Once again all my thanks to JonnaLeigh Stack for her time, her kindness and her generosity.