Many suffer from the cycle of physical and emotional abuse that runs through families. On this week’s State Of Mind, General Hospital’s Maurice Benard sat down with Rena Sofer. Fans will remember her as the beloved character Lois Cerullo on GH or Quinn Fuller Forrester on The Bold and the Beautiful. The former castmates tackled breaking away from family dysfunction and getting it right. It is a conversation that needs to be heard.
Maurice Benard And Rena Sofer: Breaking The Maternal Chains
General Hospital fans know the former Bensonhurst native Lois Cerullo as the straight-talking, no-nonsense momma-bear of Brook Lynn Quartermaine (Amanda Setton), a part of what Benard liked to call the fearsome foursome of Sonny Corinthos, Brenda Barrett (Vanessa Marcil), Ned Ashton-now-Quartermaine (Wally Kurth), and Cerullo. The role garnered the actress a Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress in 1995.
Raised in Arcadia by a conservative Orthodox Jewish Rabbi, Martin Sofer, and his wife, Susan Franzblau, acting and motherhood did not come easy to Sofer. Her parents divorced just prior to her second birthday, and she credits her father for getting her as far away from an emotionally abusive mother as possible by moving her and her brother, David Sofer, to the east coast.
“She came from an abusive mother. I came from an abusive mother. Emotionally abusive, not physically. And I, thankfully, was raised by an incredible father.” The outspoken actress explained, “I was able to break the cycle of maternal abuse-the emotional abuse in my family. And the only way I was able to do that was because my father raised us and prioritized getting us as far away as possible.”
Yet she struggled with finding a balance between her conservative Jewish upbringing and the modern world. Sofer struggled to fit in. “I was this really messed up kid. Messed up because I had this mother who wanted to undo everything my father did, and, when I was with my dad, I was raised in this incredibly orthodox community.”
The Light Bulb Moment
Sofer was discovered hanging out on the streets of New York by an Elite Modeling Agent for the petite division. It wasn’t something she even considered prior to that moment. “I was never raised with people telling me I was pretty. Ever. Ever. Ever. It wasn’t one of those things I grew up with. It wasn’t something precious to me. It wasn’t something I played upon. When I was in school, boys weren’t like, ‘Oh my god, Rena!’ They did not like me, so it was odd.”
The rejection was hard. As a teenager, she almost gave up, but the agent suggested she try acting, and that clicked. The spunky brunette landed a role on Another World straight out of high school. “My first thing was Another World [Joyce Abernathy], and then I got Loving [Amelia ‘Rocky’ McKenzie]. Mark Teschner [current casting director of General Hospital] cast me on Loving, and that was it. I have just always worked.”
Sofer and Benard cover a lot of ground between her troubles growing up without her mother, her father’s grounding support and devastating loss, being close to her brother growing up, coming to terms with her Jewish roots, making friends, struggling in Los Angeles, her marriages to GH castmate Kurth and director Sandy Bookstaver, and mastering motherhood.
For budding actors, the two veteran thespians shared surviving and thriving in the entertainment industry, working with great directors like Sidney Lumet, provided insider analysis on her stints on daytime dramas General Hospital and The Bold and the Beautiful, and discussed the challenges and motivations behind their craft and how they make it work. It is a fascinating episode with something for everyone. Watch the full episode here.
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