Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Interview: Why Allyson Rice Quit Her Day(time) Job

Many soap fans will remember Allyson Rice as the beautiful and ballsy Connor Jamison Walsh — the gutsy go-getter who took her rightful place at Walsh Enterprises from 1990-’97, much to the chagrin of Lucinda Walsh. After leaving As the World Turns and starring in a couple of shows here and there, Allyson dropped off the Hollywood map — and she couldn’t be happier about it.

After Allyson left the public eye, she took an interesting path. “The year I left was such a devastating year,” Allyson explains. “(My dismissal from ATWT) was so sudden, and it happened really badly. They let me know late Friday night after I was finished taping my scenes that my replacement was coming on Monday.

“I no longer had an agent; I hadn’t had one for quite a while, because I didn’t feel I needed one anymore. So I wrote to the two casting directors I knew, and one called me in for the Timecop job. I had to move out to L.A. again, but I really didn’t want to leave New York. But I got the job, and it was really exciting. Then, literally 48 hours after getting to L.A., after moving my family out there, they told me they redid the whole thing, and rewrote and eliminated some characters, one being mine.”

After allowing herself some time to wallow and not knowing what to do, Allyson came to a realization. “I made the decision I was going to like it out here this time,” Allyson says. “I decided I have to look for the light and make a conscious choice to be happy. I got a few jobs, but I was finding that I was enjoying myself more when I was not working, when I was not acting. During makeup for a Love Boat reunion audition, I realized there has got to be more to life than this.”

So Allyson took some time off to find out who she really was and what she wanted out of this life. She had attended a wilderness-survival retreat back on the East Coast, and she wanted to explore that further. “It dealt with Native American teachings and philosophy — it’s back to earth, and very healing and grounding. I did a few programs and a vision quest. I was into yoga and meditation, and I got certified to teach in that.”

While Allyson was gaining much insight into her spiritual life, she was losing someone in her personal life. “By that time, my marriage had broken up. My husband was not into the path my life was taking.”

Allyson went to the Earth-Heart Institute of Vision and Healing in Topanga, Calif., for her vision quest. “I was surrendering into a difficult time — knowing that something is bigger here and trusting my heart to find it. Going from soap operas to wilderness survival was certainly a big leap.”

Allyson took another leap of sorts at Earth-Heart, for that is where she met her current husband, Malcolm, with whom she’s been married for eight years.

Making the leap from soap-opera actress to life and spiritual coach might not seem like the most natural transition to some, but that choice has made all the difference in Allyson's life.

Aside from co-owning the Earth-Heart Institute of Vision and Healing with her husband, Allyson has branched off to create her own company, The Total Human. Allyson explains: “When I started at Earth-Heart, I developed the ‘Lighten Up’ program as well as the two-week retreat. I’m the type of person that I get an idea, and I jump on it. Malcolm is different in that he moves much more slowly — that sometimes creates conflict. So I broke away from Earth-Heart so I’d have the freedom to develop my programs the way I want.”

Some of the programs The Total Human offers include women’s retreats, the occasional vision quest, energy and healing, and a creativity program. Spiritual awakenings aren’t the exception in these classes, either — they tend to be the norm.

“Major breakthroughs during classes happen all the time. What is special about these classes is we give people experiences — it’s not just a lecture where you are taking notes. Transformation happens when you’re in the energy of it and doing it. Even if someone isn’t comfortable with actively participating, she still will take something away from the class.”

Allyson offers a women’s retreat every spring in Sedona, Ariz. “People from all walks of life come. The land is very powerful; it’s an amazing place. We teach them about women and connecting with the Earth. We have always had at least five generations of women attending. No one is required to believe anything or change her beliefs.

“Even the most skeptical people have the greatest time,” Allyson continues. “When they leave, the women are amazed by how much they’ve transformed, how close they feel with the rest of the women. They are surprised by how it feels to be in a group of joyful, supportive women who listen to you. People leave with a wide-open heart and a brand-new perspective.”

About a year and a half ago, Allyson started channeling her creative energy into making jewelry. “I combined energy healing with jewelry. It’s amazing, joyful work to let creativity move through you. I am also collaborating with artist Amy Moran Scott to create coloring books for women with inspirational and beautiful pictures as another creative outlet for women.”

Allyson’s soap-opera life seems almost foreign to her now. “It’s like a different life. When you move onto this path, for a while what you were doing has to fall away. It comes full circle — some things come back into your life, some relationships come back. When those things come back, it’s like seeing everything for the first time. But I am much happier now than I was 10 or 15 years ago.”

Don’t expect to see Allyson back on your TV screen anytime soon, either. “What I don’t miss about acting is it’s a business where you are not valued — especially women — the older and wiser you get. In your 30s, you are over the hill. In the area I am in now, the more experience you have behind you, that is really valued. To go from one to the other certainly was a drastic, and pleasant, change.”

To learn more about Allyson Rice and her personal-growth workshops, go to thetotalhuman.com.


Anonymous said...

Good for her!:)

Anonymous said...

TPTB at ATWT were never worthy of a great talent and great person like ART. I'm glad to know she's doing well and is happy. She's always remembered fondly by soap fans. Those who fired her and ruined the show? Not so much.

Anonymous said...

Connor Walsh remains one of my favorite soap characters and I am glad that Allyson has a happy life. Much love to her from ATWT fans and from me!