“Guiding Light’s” Reva Shayne Lewis has done it all. She’s stripped in a fountain, eloped with her ex-father-in-law, imitated Tina Turner, suffered amnesia, battled cancer and split from soulmate Joshua multiple times.
For those efforts over the past 23 years, Kim Zimmer has won four lead actress Daytime Emmys and amassed a legion of fans. Whether the actress is handed a traditional soap storyline or one that’s more surreal (Reva’s been a ghost, a clone and a time traveler), Zimmer’s approach is to find the reality in each situation and then act the hell out of it.
“If you don’t believe in your storyline 100%, then the audience won’t either,” Zimmer explains. “You have to justify what the writers give you or else you’re dead in the water.”
Zimmer took a break from the soap in 1990 after a postpartum depressed Reva sped her car off a Florida bridge and was presumed killed. The actress went on to work regularly in Hollywood before she returned to New York-based “Guiding Light” in 1995 where writers have continued to come up with fresh dilemmas for Reva.
“The minute I think there’s nothing left for me to do, our head writer or executive producer manages to come up with something,” she says.
Case in point: Zimmer will chart new territory on the 70th anniversary episode of “Guiding Light,” which airs today. She’ll re-create Charita Bauer (the soap’s beloved matriarch, who died in 1985) and also Charita’s character Bert Bauer (the surnames are coincidental) in a special program that will show viewers what the soap was like in its radio days in the late 1930s and how it successfully transferred to television in the 1950s.
“I researched Bert’s early days and learned that she was a pain in her husband’s neck,” chuckles Zimmer, who got to meet Charita during the brief period that they were on the soap simultaneously.