Where she's been and why she's back --
Genie Francis tells all

This June 27, Genie Francis returns to daytime on All My Children. She arrives in Pine Valley in the guise of Ceara Connor, a femme fatale with a purpose.

"I am so excited about playing this part!" Francis exclaims, her famous eyes shining. "It is a complete departure from anything I have ever done. Ever since I started working, I've been famous as the girl next door, famous for being the victim, the nice girl. Now, I get to be a girl who's out for herself. She's not really evil, but she's driven. She's an opportunist. She's got some definite goals, admittedly rather twisted ones. And," Francis adds with obvious relish. "she's got a sense of humor. I love that!"

Francis, as well as the rest of the world, has heard the rumors about her imminent return to the tube.

"It's funny about those rumos," Francis remarks. "Some of them were true. Within a period of about three days, I was approached by four different shows. DAYS wanted me to come back. The Bold and the Beautiful was suddenly interested and so was One Life to Live. Oddly enough, I was not planning to do a soap at all.

"After I left DAYS (in June 1989), I took a long rest and enjoyed being a private person, one who wasn't working. My husband took me on a long, fabulous trip and then I enrolled in some night courses and I found that I really enjoyed studying. But when Agnes Dixon took me to lunch and told me about the beautiful character she had written especially for me, well, I couldn't resist."

Although Francis is very proud of Laura, the General Hospital character who brought her to fame, she hopes Ceara will be the character who will once and for all, get "that Laura monkey" off her back. "I am really proud of what we achieved with Laura," she is quick to explain, "but when I was doing 'North and South,' this became kind of a joke with my castmates. Kirstie Alley finally turned to me one day and said, 'Girlfriend, we've got to get that Laura monkey off your back!'

"I believe it takes an audience a certain amount of time to get go of an image of you as a particular character," Francis states, "particularly a character as popular and widely beloved as Laura was. But it's been 10 years. I think that's a nice number, a nice time to come back as someone else, do something different."

Because of her happy experience with GH, Francis considers ABC her home base. This is another reason she was glad to join the AMC cast. "I used to watch this show when I was a schoolgirl," she confesses. "When I walked onto the set for the first time, yesterday (June 19), it felt like home. It's a happy place where everyone likes what they're doing. It doesn't feel like a place with a lot of big egos.

"Ceara is going to have to rethink her priorities because those priorities are going to get her into a little bit of trouble," Francis says with her lovely, teasing smile. "But it will be nice to see her get into trouble and then get herself out. I can hardly wait!"

by Freeman GŁnter