General Hospital’s Maurice Benard welcomed Another World’s ex-Lorna Devon, Alicia Coppola, to his video podcast, State Of Mind, and the stories that came out of their conversation will leave you shocked, moved, saddened, and inspired. The straight-shooting actress peeled back the curtain on her private life and revealed the trauma that shaped her and taught her to have faith.
Alicia Coppola: When Life Spirals
Benard had some inside knowledge of Coppola’s backstory going into the interview, having worked with her husband, Anthony Michael Jones (Father Coates), on his Daytime Emmy-winning Sonny confessional scene in 2002, and was a fan of her work as the bad girl gone good, Lorna, on the now-defunct NBC soap, Another World. The biggest trigger was her father’s cancer diagnosis when she was 12, and it only compounded from there.
When Benard asked her about mental illness, the actress opened up about her struggles. “I have always been very anxious and prone to, what I call, my episodes, where I would have fits where I would spiral,” she admitted. “When I was actually in college, and I only know now when I look back on it, my whole life felt out of control because my father was dying but not dead yet. He was constantly in the active stage of dying.”
She described some of the many side effects of her anxiety. “I remember in NYU, I would count my steps to get to my class, and if I was a step off, I would go back to my apartment.” She continued relaying other triggers and reactions. “If I had a panic attack with you, I would never see you again. If I would have a panic attack after I ate or drank something, I would never eat that food or drink that drink again. If I went out to a restaurant, I had to sit watching the kitchen. I had a fear of hypothermic needles and disease.”
Her anxiety became very isolating. “I was an agoraphobic for about a year. My sophomore-going-into-my-junior year, I wouldn’t leave my apartment. I had a very hard time leaving my apartment.” Feeling safe was an overriding theme for the actress. “I lived on East 10th Street between Broadway and University, and I would only go to places that were ‘safe’ places. And only eat ‘safe’ foods. And only be with ‘safe’ people. I had severe anxiety.”
Coppola tried to make sense of her out-of-control emotions. “I think that because I wasn’t dealing with what was going on in my life. I knew that my father was dying,” she said. “This all knew [she motions to her heart], but this didn’t [points to her head], and then I started getting headaches.” Her emotions quickly turned into physical ailments. “I started getting stomach aches, and I just spiraled out of control. I still have moments of it, but it took me a while to work myself through that and to realize that my body was coping with a world that was not cooperating with me the way I wanted it to. I did not want my dad to die.
When Angels Step In
“I have been in therapy for pretty much my entire life,” the fan-favorite actress confided. “I get over certain things, and then something else happens in my life that will re-traumatize me.”
Coppola recalled a light-bulb moment. “I remember my audition for Another World as Lorna, and I was an absolute nasty piece of work,” she confessed. “They had me waiting in a room with all these people, and I was like, ‘What is happening? What is going on? I have to get a train going home. Are we doing this or not?’
“Someone asked me, ‘Are you difficult?’” she remembered. “And I said, ‘No, I am not difficult. I am a really sweet girl whose father just died, and I got so much going on in me.’” She went on to explain, “Because my dad died in January, and I got the gig in April. That’s one of the things that truly made me believe in God. I think my father knew that I needed an outlet because if I didn’t have that outlet, I wouldn’t have existed.”
So Much More With Alicia Coppola
The actress talked about her childhood, growing up on Long Island, being close to her brother, and stepping in to be a parent figure when her father grew ill. She shared how acting became her emotional release when she had nowhere else to go. She talked about working with Another World greats Linda Dano (ex-Felicia), Victoria Wyndham (ex-Rachel), and Charles Keating (ex-Carl) and shared behind-the-scenes anecdotes that fans will love.
The actress covered her move from New York to Los Angeles, making ends meet when acting roles became lean, meeting her future husband, starting a family, and tackling infertility and postpartum depression. She reveals the moment when she thought the best solution might be to step into traffic and what stopped her. Through it all, she maintained her faith and strived for a way to touch others and open hearts and minds. Learn about her latest project, And You Are? with Jane Seymour. Check out the full episode here. There is so much more!
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