“hit alt.”

“I Want To Be A Soap Star” had me remembering a time long ago, far away, when I, too, wanted to be an actress.

The new SoapNet original reality-TV series – begun in earnest early last month – has managed to tap into my unrealized, unfulfilled early childhood ambition, one of them anyway.

My first aspiration had something to do with taking my blue hairbrush, watching out for little brother, hitting play on my tape recorder and pretending I was Karen Carpenter, singing along in my cracking soprano to “Superstar.” Music filled my world a half-step before soaps did. My parents listened to big band, show tunes, Herb Alpert & the Tijuana Brass, mellow listening ‘70s hits, classic rock, while they puttered away at home and I pored over the Sears Roebuck catalog, the Norman Rockwell picture of contentment.

In our household, happiness meant dad whistling and mom humming along to their favorites on the radio or stereo, euphoria when they danced too. I lived for those days, because they meant the temporary postponement of verbal and physical abuse for me and my brother. In the bargain, I grew up with a heightened sense of appreciation for musicians and singers, my brother became a proficient saxophonist, guitarist and rock singer in his own right.

Me... I bought a lot of albums and CDs, married a jazz musician, and lip sync in the church choir. I cannot sing, no matter what my husband Eddie or a soprano buddy Terrie says. I cannot hold/read notes or stay in pitch long enough to last through a “Mulan” soundtrack, much less the Christina Aguilera hit, “Reflection” – however often and in private I’ve tried.

Since soaps quickly followed the music, then blockbuster movies and CBS’s movie of the week, I next turned my attention to acting (when I wasn’t wondering what it’d be like not to have to do anything but stamp books in a library or mark up grades with a red-penned flourish in English class).

The acting bug lasted well into high school, until I attended a drama workshop at Punahou in Honolulu as a junior. I wanted to sign up for the performance portion of the annual series, which drew an obscene amount of fellow wannabes different and more outrageous than me. But the good classes were taken, so I had to settle for stuntwork.

A newbie teetering on the edge of total humiliation at even going on the stage as a tree much less in the lead has no business starting off in the dramatic world of poseurs and clowns learning how to take and give a punch. I felt like a complete fool, slapping my chest as I lunged my right fist forward (some things I never forget), or falling on my rump too numerous a time to mention trying to drop-kick an opponent in the sparring position.

“Is this how Vivien Leigh started out?” I wondered, pulling up my beige corduroy pants over my butt crack, and sweating like a jungle animal (thanks, Steve Burton!). “Do I really want to associate myself with these phony-baloney drama queens?” “Am I the only fat Korean around here?” “Who’s gonna want me on their TV screens everyday?”

Obviously, the answer rests in the fact that I’m sitting here at the keyboard, typing out another column for Eye on Soaps, instead of suffering the slings, arrows and fortunes of fame as the next Vivien Leigh – or Susan Lucci... with slanted eyes and a flat face.

I chickened out. I bowed out. Whatever it took to disassociate myself from the cattle calls, the sea of blonde hair, blue eyes and pale faces overly made up (makeup? I have to wear makeup?!), and general pretensions, amplified, inherent in the industry in order to survive.

There are more than a few working actors out there I’d share a pork sandwich with, normal, humble, ordinary people with extraordinary talents they can’t help but share in an effort to enlighten and enrich other people not so inclined. But for the most part, either intrinsically or through fame’s adulterous influence, the greater majority of actors who make it wind up looking like the drama department of Punahou Schools’ annual show-off fest.

And yet, lately there I am every Saturday night, acting my little heart out along with the 12, then six, then five, then four, and now three finalists of that SoapNet reality-TV competition for a three-month GH contract role. I don’t need the acting coach (from ATWT) to tell me how to cry on cue, the three judges to show me how to find my motivation, objective and obstacles, remember my lines, my story, remain true to my self and just be convincing, adaptable, real and likeable. Okay, the likeable part may need some work; I’m shy, cantankerous and generally anti-social by nature, which goes against the actor credo.

I’m also intense, egotistical, overly sensitive and gifted with the ability to empathize, even with the bad guys, which should make me perfect for the part.

In my sophomore year at Aiea High School, I discovered Christianity, varsity line backer Scott Hernan and the power to command an entire crowd of jocks, valedictorians, cheerleaders and losers in the audience to cry on my cue. Campus Life recruited me with its banana split parties and burger barbecues so that I may convert a legion of other lost teenaged souls like me. I failed in that regard.

But I did discover the only perk to the bi-annual camping trips the Youth for Christ organization went on: the dramatic portion of the friendly rivalry of teams formed from the attendees. There was athleticism in the volleyball games by the beach, choral vibrancy in the choir worship, and then, there was me as a nobody dying to know God better through the only friend I had, Lisa, who couldn’t help me in the end because she didn’t want the enormous responsibility God laid at her feet as a converting Christian.

That was the short drama’s premise our winning God Squad team put together the summer of ‘80.

I’ve told this story so many times, including in this column. But it bears repeating for the sheer unconscious joy that happened to me when I left my body to become someone I made up, with the help of my teammates. I went on our makeshift stage, hit my marks, waited for my turn in the spotlight and when it came, I disappeared into this character.

Later on, as I left and the show ended, I could hear roaring in the background, but had no idea where it came from or what caused it. As we, one by one, stepped back onstage to receive our applause, I saw for myself that I had caused the roar. My teammates and several members of the audience came over tearfully, heads shaking in disbelief, to fill me in on what actually happened.

They told me I broke down and wept, as if being torn apart from the inside out, prompting them to weep, and for 15 minutes of our play, forget they were only at a Christian camp to promote God. They were amazed that someone shy, quiet and unassuming could transform herself so instantaneously, charismatically and effectively.

I walked on water for the rest of the semester.

That’s a high I understand and a huge reason actors like Maurice Benard (Sonny, GH) stick around, pushing and pimping for his manic-depression story, but suffer no Lisa Vultaggio (ex-Hannah) or Angel Boris (ex-Angel) lightly. He’s there for the same unadulterated high, at once hurtling toward the heavens from ego and euphoria, not to be distracted or brought crashing down to earth by a has-been, wannabe or a drama poseur.

I went through several more scenarios such as the one from summer camp, a scene from “Our Town,” another from an American tale of witches and Salem. I forgot my place as the other person forgot his lines, rolled her eyes, treated the entire enactment as homework instead of a life or death situation that made or broke me.

... Before I gave up entirely, to take up writing – the only means available where I could hide from yet tap into the world – as a print journalist (hated interviewing), a trade magazine editor (really hated transcribing), and now, an entertainment commentator (really really would love to write for pay).

Writing fits my personal style the best.

I guess.

I don’t have to look my very best, or even contemplate plastic surgery to look THEIR very best, white, blonde and perfectly anorexic. I can do my job in pajamas or naked with coffee and snot dribbling down my face if I want. I’m judged by the words I choose, not by the words I speak, I emote, and the package that comes along with it.

Best of all, I CAN write.

More or less... when I’m not constantly being distracted by penis-enlargement SPAM, a husband wandering in and out of the computer room, cursing and looking for a pen or a battery or his car keys, a little two-year-old boy trying to drive a remote-control car over my feet or launched from the desk over my head.

Besides, what else is there, what else is left?

Nun and porn star?

Thought about those too.

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