Playing with All My Children Producer Hope Smith

When a childhood dream becomes a career...

By , Columnist

Rick Rowell/AMC producer Hope Smith with actor David Canary

When Hope Smith was 11 years old she went over to her grandma’s house for lunch. All My Children was playing on the television as it was most days around lunchtime, but there was something about this time that was different. She was hooked.

It wasn’t long after this that Hope decided she wanted to make soaps her career. After a brief time working at Saatchi & Saatchi with client Proctor & Gamble, a major soap sponsor at the time, she started at one of their shows, The Guiding Light. She worked over the years on several soaps before landing at her childhood favorite.

Like most people you meet in the soap world, Hope is incredibly grateful for the longevity and consistency of her career thus far. She loves soaps as much as she did when she was a kid. Working on them, she says, is “like putting on a play in your garage every day like you did when you were eight. It’s the best of fun and fantasy.”

The rigors of the soap schedule are perhaps akin to producing an extraordinarily high tech and complex play in one day. All My Children shot up to 140 pages a day. To put that in perspective, a feature film script shot in a period of weeks, not hours, is about 100 pages. But even in the face of this arduous schedule, she and her colleagues remained thrilled to open their “garage” and make magic for millions every day. As Hope said of Susan Lucci, “She loves what she does every day.”

All in all, this producer’s experience is just what you would imagine for someone living their dream. Her advice to others wanting to manifest their own career fantasies is twofold: “1) Don’t ever let anyone discourage you from giving it all you’ve got. 2) Be kind.”

Hope actually turned down the first job she was ever offered on a soap. It wasn’t exactly what she wanted. She did and the executive producer who made the offer went into a tirade threatening that she would never work on a soap. That executive producer was subsequently fired, but the angry outburst confirmed both her pieces of advice.

Hope says of her second suggestion, “It think it gets forgotten or bypassed a lot in any business: Be kind, sincerely kind. It takes so little to express appreciation for a job well done, and it goes so far.”

All My Children wrapped production at the end of August and airs through September 23 on ABC. Its reincarnation on the Internet, and possibly cable as well, is being worked out now by Prospect Park, the wildly clever production company that believes this well-loved medium’s life is far from over, and plans to breathe new life into it.

While the future of All My Children is still being worked out, it doesn’t hurt that this dream-maker is named Hope because she has a knack for keeping it alive, even as they leave the network air. She is optimistic about the future of soaps, and is thrilled by the possibility of more “play” in her future.

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Bridget Fonger is the co-author of “The Lazy Woman’s Guide to Just About Everything,” a book that helps women become happier, more passionate and fulfilled by living the “Lazy Way,” aka with less stress and more joy! Ms. Fonger has been featured on HGTV several times with her home décor and…

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