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Liz La Mura Charts An Exciting New Path As GH’s Intimacy Coordinator

She acted on Santa Barbara and was married to Mark La Mura — giving her a great foundation for this exciting new role.

Liz La Mura as General Hospital Intimacy coordinator

Films aren’t the only entertainment medium that has heeded the alarms heard during the #MeToo movement. Soaps have too, having created an entirely new position on the set called Intimacy Coordinator. General Hospital has one in Liz La Mura, who — for many reasons — is the perfect person for this important job. She spoke with Soap Hub about it.

Liz La Mura — The Actor’s Advocate

If her Iast name sounds familiar, that’s because she is the widow of former Daytime Emmy-nominated actor Mark La Mura, who played Mark Dalton — Erica Kane’s (Susan Lucci) half brother — on All My Children from 1976-1989 and then, he made sporadic appearances in 1995, 2004, and 2005. He passed away in 2017. But that’s not her only connection with soaps.

“I am an actor, a professional dancer/actress,” she began. In fact, she played Greta MacAdams on NBC’s Santa Barbara from 1989-1990 — enjoying a brief romance with former priest Michael, played by Meg Ryan’s other super-couple half from As the World Turns, Frank Runyeon.

“I got my MFA while I was pregnant,” she said, explaining how both she and Mark got their MFAs because they wanted to be able to teach as returning professionals, having graduated from Kent State University. “I was an adjunct professor at Marymount Manhatten College, teaching movement for actors and doing a lot of coaching — contemporary work, Shakespeare, and I loved it.” It was a great foundation for what would eventually happen years later.

Flash forward, and now their daughter was going to the University of Southern California. “The plan was that we were going to move back out here [in Los Angeles]; we’ve lived here before. I started looking for work in the academic world, and it was really tough to get into. A friend of mine — a colleague — said there’s this new profession called Intimacy Director, and that’s for theater. So I started Googling and found that this other position — Intimacy Coordinator — is for film and TV. So I trained with someone, it’s a six-month training, and got certified. I am on the SAG/AFTRA registry as only one of 40 in the world. That’s how new the position is.

Now, there are other people saying they’re intimacy coordinators, but they’re just not associated with SAG/AFTRA yet because one has to have amassed a certain amount of days working on set to get onto this registry.

Asked about the reaction of actors on set, she enthused, “Oh my gosh, actors are ecstatic.” She then walked through the process of how it all works. “So what happens is, I will get a script, and then I’ll do a breakdown of the scenes that I think are intimate — that can include simulated sex, nudity, or any kind of intimacy. Sometimes it’s an emotional intimacy. It doesn’t necessarily mean touching or sexuality happening. Sometimes it’s something else. Really, I’m an advocate for the actor.

“So I will do a breakdown, and then I will talk with the director, sometimes the showrunner, the writer, and find out what the vision is,” she continued. “Oftentimes in a script, it will say ‘and they have sex.’ So you say, okay, ‘What does that look like for you?’ Sometimes the director is very clear about the action, and sometimes they’re not, and so by my asking certain questions, [it] really helps them to design maybe a shot, which they can talk to their DP [Director of Photography], whoever, and then once I do get a kind of clear vision of what’s happening, I will speak with the actors. ‘Are there any boundaries, any body parts you don’t want touched or shown?’ It’s individual.

“I really want to have the actors be comfortable with what’s happening on set, so if there’s any kind of red flag, I will go back to the director and say, ‘Hey, Actor A is great with everything except x, y, and z.’ So that gives the director time to think about, ‘oh okay, can we do a different camera angle? Can we use some more sheets?’ So what happens when we have these conversations before we get on set, then, the shoot day will go a lot smoother because there are no surprises. Basically, we want everyone to leave feeling great about their work. So the actors love that because not only are they sometimes physically vulnerable, but they’re emotionally and mentally vulnerable — there’s crew watching all of this, so it’s very [difficult].”

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Liz La Mura knows this intimately, having been an actress herself and marveled at the decades actors had to worry about speaking up, afraid they would be replaced if they voiced any concerns. That is why this position is so important. “There is a power dynamic, obviously, and you feel it when you’re on set,” she says. “You don’t want to be known as the ‘difficult one’ when it could just be such a simple solution. In my experience, the actors absolutely love what I do and always thank me and say, ‘If you weren’t there, I don’t know if I would have been able to have done this scene.’ So it’s been great for me.”

Her appearance on set did take some of the older General Hospital actors by surprise — a pleasant one at that. “Most of them have said, ‘Boy, I could have used you 10 years ago, 20 years ago. I wish this position had been around at that time.’ That was the reaction I get, that they’re glad I’m there, especially for the up-and-coming talent. I love working with up-and-coming talent on both sides of the camera because it shows how important this position is and how it’s integrated and how in the long run, it makes the whole day much smoother.”

When asked if soaps have gotten more or less racy over the years, La Mura says, “I think they’re pushing the envelope as far as they can because that’s what we’re seeing now. Again, sometimes intimate scenes don’t have to be so blatant, they can be really subtle and beautiful, tender, and I think that’s what’s really important as well for character development and for storyline.” During her time on the GH set, she’s worked with many actors, but there’s one she worked with elsewhere as well.

“Kelly [Thiebaud], who plays Britt [Westbourne], I didn’t work with her on General Hospital, but I work with her on Station 19 [where she recurs as Eva Vasquez], which is always fun when you work with the same actor on a different show. She is lovely. We had so much fun. I will tell you that during one of the scenes in Station 19, where there’s rumbling around on the bed, well what happened was, [she and her scene partner] turned — and she went flying off the bed! At the monitor, we were all like, ‘Oh my God,’ but she was like, ‘I’m fine, I’m fine, I’m fine,’ and it was so funny, we all said we hope they keep this take because it was perfect for the character, nobody got hurt, and we were all laughing. It’s always fun to see those magical moments.”

Remembering Mark La Mura’s AMC Legacy

La Mura also recalled losing her husband to lung cancer. “It was really devastating. There was no sign of sickness.” That was why it was hard to accept the diagnoses when Mark looked great. “He was sprinting still, running and sprinting. It happened fairly quickly. It was hard. It’s still hard,” she shared before also adding what being on AMC meant to him. “He just loved the work. Before I knew him, when he had the challenging job of being an addict — that kind of work, he loved that.” She spoke of his devotion to truly researching what that life was like (even going to talk to folks in what was known as Needle Park, near the AMC studios), and at one point, it put him in opposition when he was presented with a prop on the set.

“When he was doing the crack cocaine storyline…and one day, props gave him this vial of crack cocaine that was maybe four inches, a glass or plastic vial…and he was like, ‘This is wrong’ because he went to Needle Park and researched and talked to these guys…researching how one feels when they are high when they’re not high, he really did a lot of that. I think they just refused to get a smaller vial, so he went out and purchased some and walked into the producer’s office and put it on their desk, and said, ‘THAT’S what crack cocaine is!’ And that producer was like, ‘Get that off my desk now!’ He got rid of it, of course, but he wanted to make a point. That was a true story.”

Also true is how huge a following AMC stars had, and Liz shares that sometimes it was hard for Mark to go out because of the show’s passionate fanbase — he even got tackled by a fan once. But his time there was special, and she shares that his co-star/onscreen wife, Kathleen Noone (ex-Ellen Dalton), shared with her that “I always felt safe with Mark. He always had my back, I always had his back, and whenever we had to do these intimate kinds of scenes, she felt so safe with him.”

Fashion Star On The Rise

Liz La Mura said that Mark La Mura was an incredible father and would be so proud of their daughter Gabrielle — who is now a designer positioned to become a huge star. “She taught herself how to sew during the pandemic,” explained Liz. “She started making things for her boyfriend and herself and started posting things. All of a sudden, all of these A-List stylists kept contacting her. Kourtney Kardashian is wearing her bags…it’s just been amazing. She’s been collaborating with other designers. She made a jacket that a stylist asked if she could use, and it ended up at The World Cup on a performer. We got a video where this performer is wearing this jacket, and there’s millions of people behind. Instagram can be good and bad, but for her, it’s opened up a whole new world. The universe sometimes just gives you what you want. I think Mark’s watching over us.” Click here to check out Gabrielle La Mura’s website, and follow her on Instagram here.

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