Cari Shayne was just barely out of her teens when she took on the very serious role of troubled teen, Karen Wexler, who stripped at Sonny Corinthos’s nightclub, The Paradise Lounge, to put herself through medical school on General Hospital. Now, 28 years later, she and Maurice Benard sat down to catch up on old times and so much more on his video podcast, State Of Mind.
Cari Shayne Talks Turning A Negative Into A Positive
Benard wasted no time getting personal with Cari Shayne and asked her about her childhood as a military brat, traveling around the U.S., before settling in New York City to pursue acting at the early age of 16. It wasn’t long before she revealed that she was going through her second divorce and wanted to share how she and her husband, actor Zeus Mendoza, wanted to make it a positive experience for their two kids.
“Things don’t work out in a marriage sometimes,” the actress explained before sharing how they decided to handle the breakup. “I think sometimes people are so quick to throw away the relationship and disregard everything that happened in the relationship. It was really important to me to honor what we had built over the years, over 20 years of being together.
“We have kids together,” she continued. “We are working on things and we had an understanding that even if we were divorcing, we still wanted to remain a family. We have had to work really hard at that. It hasn’t been easy but it is so worth it because our kids haven’t suffered from it. They haven’t been put in the middle and we haven’t been bashing on each other and just make them go through all this awful stuff.”
The couple had heard about a new alternative that they wanted to try. “The way we decided to do it was we decided to do this thing called bird nesting,” Shayne explained. “It’s this concept that instead of announcing that you are getting a divorce and the kids have to be schlepped back and forth between dad’s house and mom’s house, you have a family home. You have an apartment for each of you or, in our case, we shared an apartment as well. The kids would stay in the family home and then he and I would go in and out. One week on, and he would be at the apartment and then we would switch.”
It was the children who set the tone and let them know when they were ready for the next stage. “It got to a certain point, I guess it was about a year into it, my daughter says to me, she’s 12, she says, ‘Mom, I think you guys need to get your own place. I think we are good. This is weird.'”
The crafty mom felt their master plan had worked. “She’s the one that called it off, but that is what we wanted. We wanted the kids to go, ‘Okay, we are ready.’”
Finding Inspiration Out Of Chaos
There were hiccups along the way, one of them being role reversals. “During the very beginning stages of it, when we were transitioning to being apart, I was pretty much the mom. I did all of the cooking and that kind of thing. The home management.”
For her soon-to-be ex, the transition wasn’t as easy. “I remember the first week that the kids were with Zeus alone and he was losing his mind. He was like, ‘I don’t know what to make them for dinner. I don’t know what to cook. I don’t know what to do.’ So, I said, ‘I got ya.’ So I wrote him a cookbook. The next day I came back, or maybe it was a couple of days later, and I handed him this book. It had 64 recipes, and I titled it, Dad’s WTF Do I Feed The Kids.”
Mendoza was impressed. “He was like, ‘Wow! You have to do something with this.’ And I did. Now that I have written the book, I am releasing it soon or I am about to.” She went on to explain how the idea just kept growing. “I have decided to design an online platform for dads. Basically, a support community for single dads. I like to say that I help single dads kick a** at mom things. It has become something that will soon be available. It is not out yet. I am launching probably in January or February .”
Shayne spoke openly and honestly about her past — growing up, how moving around helped her become an actress, living in New York on her own at a young age, taking acting classes, and the decision to move to L.A. Shayne spoke of an earlier marriage that she broke off just after two years in a not-so-healthy way.
Benard often refers to his bumpy start on General Hospital on State Of Mind. His introduction as mobster Sonny Corinthos took the daytime drama to new heights but came on the heels of his third nervous breakdown. It was during this time that he began working with Shayne. The two old friends talk about that trying time and how they got through it. Wendy Riche, the executive producer for GH at that time was a big help and now the actress is working with her again on the digital series, The Bay. Catch the full SOM episode here.
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