Baptist Health Foundation’s annual Bolo Bash Luncheon is the state’s premier luncheon event. And it continues to be one of the most sought-after affairs of the year.
Each year, the luncheon raises funds for worthy causes throughout the community, while presenting guests with world-class, nationally recognized entertainers and guest speakers.
This year’s Bolo Bash Luncheon will feature the most famous woman in daytime television history: Susan Lucci. For decades, Lucci wowed audiences as Erica Kane on ABC-TV’s All My Children, having taken home the Emmy Award in 1999 for Best Actress.
Lucci brings with her a wealth of knowledge when it comes to the world of television. Having played such an influential role from 1970 to 2011, the TV icon and her co-stars tackled a number of societal issues that helped transform the public conversation. Lucci says some of their storylines had a lasting impact.
“I do believe the storyline where Erica’s 16-year-old daughter, Bianca, came out to her as being gay had the most impact, based on everything we heard from the gay community,” she says. “We were very honored to be a part of that storyline. It was very gratifying to know the reach was far.”
Lucci attributes the success of such powerful storylines to the show’s creator, writer and producer – the late Agnes Nixon.
“Really, holding up a mirror to our culture and society was the hallmark of Agnes Nixon’s writing,” says Lucci. “So, I was very honored to be a part of that storyline and very thrilled with the outcome… I was a very lucky actress. I got to be a part of so many of Agnes’s great storylines. Of all the ones that had such a far reach, such an impact on society, I think that was my favorite.”
Though her character has long been viewed as one of All My Children’s antagonists – often described as a selfish, status-conscious suburbanite – Lucci believes Erica Kane resonated with a number of women throughout the years. And she says there is no defining era for the long-running, because it was always exceptional.
“Erica was a woman in pursuit of having career, the one she’d dreamed about since she was a little girl,” Lucci says of her character. “That was a storyline that would certainly resonate among our viewers, too – the attempt to have it all, and balance it all… I think it was all fantastic, until about the last two to four years. Other than that, the show was spectacular 99.9 percent of the time.
“I wish the show would have continued,” she adds with a laugh.
There are far fewer soap operas on television now than there were when Lucci began her career, and she recognizes the challenges facing the daytime television genre. But just because a television show airs after dark doesn’t mean it’s not a soap opera, Lucci says.
“I think it is a struggling genre in the daytime hours,” she says. “In the nighttime hours, there seems to be no problem. They might not be labeled soap operas at night, but I recognize the genre, in a good way… The genre allowed for drama and conflict that resonates in our families, our cultures and society. There’s also room for comedy.
“But soap opera seems to have taken on a pejorative meaning,” she adds. “In reality, it resonates much, much more than that negative connotation given to the genre.”
If given the opportunity to appear on any soap opera, past or present, Lucci says she would most enjoy being on the set of NBC’s hit drama This Is Us. “It’s on film and it’s at night, but it certainly goes along with the drama that goes on in families and in life,” she says. “It’s such a beautifully acted, beautifully directed and beautifully produced show… Wherever there’s great writing and everyone’s on the same page, that’s where I want to be.”
Decades worth of success has given Lucci the unique opportunity to give back to society at every turn. She has partnered with a number of worthy causes over the years, lending her name, time and dollars to helping those in need. On March 28, she locked arms with Sandy Landers, her son Scott, and the Baptist Health Foundation to raise funds for the Healthy & Active Youth Program.
“How could you not give back?” Lucci asks. “I feel so blessed, so lucky. I know these words get thrown around a lot. But I mean them so sincerely, and I feel so blessed. Especially the children’s charities, they touch me. When I see that there’s something I’m able to say yes to and can contribute, I do my best to… There are many ways people can participate in helping a charity. If I can do it, I will do it.”
Far too many Arkansans struggle with obesity, and many bad health habits are developed at a young age. Lucci understands the importance of embracing a healthy lifestyle at an early in life. She takes pride in her healthy lifestyle, and promotes use of her Pilates Pro Chair when given the opportunity.
Developing healthy habits at a young age is critical, she explains. “It contributes to a child’s health and their wellbeing. The sooner the better… The sooner someone can get on the right track, with healthy minds, bodies and spirits as they grow up, it can only have a positive effect on them and society.”