Visiting General Hospital's Genie Francis

As Laura Baldwin, she’s had rotten luck. She accidentally killed her boy friend, she got married too young, then she fell in love with a guy who’s chronically in trouble. Hardly a success story. Although Genie Francis, like the character she plays, had grown up at “General Hospital,” unlike Laura Baldwin, Genie Francis has taken charge of her very successful life. At only nineteen, she’s an enormously popular star of the ABC hit soap opera. SEVENTEEN’s beauty editors and writer Susan Gordon met Genie in Los Angeles recently on one of her rare days off. Ordinarily, she spends any free time outdoors. “I love to go to the beach or the desert -- somewhere I can see the weather -- because the studio is underground,” she explained.

The “General Hospital” Schedule is demanding. In contrast with weekly series, “G. H.” airs for an hour every weekday. That means Genie learns a lengthy script every day and tapes four episodes a week. “The pace can be exhausting,” said Genie, who admits she’s workaholic. “It’s one of the most difficult shows on TV, but also one of the most challenging. I’d probably be bored on a regular series.” For energy, Genie relies on breakfast, her biggest meal. “I can’t get though the day without it,” she said. A typical breakfast: eggs, toast, juice, tea, and a vitamin pill. Genie watches her diet (she sometimes succumbs to a weakness for pizza), but she doesn’t have a weight problem. “I run around so much at work,” she pointed out. She also takes a weekly exercise class and always runs, rather than walks, up stairs.

Genie was exposed to acting early. Her father, Ivor Francis, a well-known character actor, would often hold his small daughter on his lap and explain his scripts to her as he studied them. Genie paid attention. When she was about thirteen, she announced to her family that she wanted to act. Hoping to discourage her, Genie’s dad told his agent, “Send her to a really tough audition. Scare her, and she’ll stop all this nonsense.” So the agent sent Genie to compete for two episodes of the TV show “Family.” And to her family’s surprise, Genie got the part. Not long after that, at fourteen, she became Laura on “General Hospital.” Her family (Mom, Dad, younger brother, and an older brother and sister) has supported her career, but “Dad still gets concerned that I work too hard,” Genie said, adding, “I have missed a lot of things by working professionally since I was so young. But I think I would’ve missed them anyway. I was never that interested in school social life. I always wanted to get out there and live.”

Genie keeps her home beauty routine simple. She washes her face with soap and water and dabs a mild astringent on oily spots. Away from work she wears minimal makeup: just a light foundation, blush, and mascara. To remove makeup, she uses a theatrical cleanser that does a thorough job. To keep her hair soft and shiny, Genie deep conditions it regularly and lets it dry naturally.

In funny ways, Genie’s social life has merged with Laura’s. When she was fifteen, one episode of “General Hospital” involved Laura’s first kiss ever (by Ken Shriner, playing Scotty Baldwin, the character Laura eventually married). It was Genie’s first kiss, too. “I was terrified to do it in front of everyone,” Genie said. “Afterward, everyone on the set said, “Isn’t that sweet? Laura had her first kiss.’ And Ken said, ‘Yeah, I could tell.’ I was so embarrassed!” Genie said, laughing at the memory. Then when she was sixteen, Genie celebrated her high school graduation on the set, after passing a proficiency exam. Until the age of sixteen, young actors are required by law to keep up with schoolwork, and to make sure they do, the TV studios has its own school. Now Genie occasionally takes college courses when she can fit them into her hectic schedule. Lately, she has concentrated on fixing up her new home with her roommate, Ellen (a close friend -- who’s not in show business). It’s Genie’s first move away from her family, who live nearby in Los Angeles. “It’s a tough adjustment to make when you’ve lived with your family all your life,” Genie admitted, but she finds it exciting. And she still sees her parents often.

She follows a Saturday routine: a morning manicure, a strenuous workout at the gym, and then breakfast with her folks. Genie’s mother handles her fan mail: queries from young people who want to act, some gifts -- and some proposals! And both her parents provide steady emotional support. “My dad said that what makes him happiest is seeing his children become successful,” Genie explained. “My parents are quite proud.”