Amanda Gari doesn't do supporting actress. Yes, she's been a fiercely loyal friend to Leon Acord ever since they first met at her audition for 'Carved In Stone' some 5 years ago (Gari, a triple threat who was literally raised on the stage as the daughter of actor and artist, Roberto Gari, and the granddaughter of radio personality and all around performer, Eddie Cantor, was trying out for the part of Judy Garland, which she of course landed, having successfully channeled the gay icon onstage two previous times). And yes, she has perfectly embodied Nathan's quick as a wink assistant/Girl Friday, Lydia Lasker, since Season 1... but if you're going to write a part for her - as Mr. Acord did - you better expect some first class scene stealing.
"I'd written about 5 episodes before I started sharing my scripts with a couple of people," Leon recalls, "and one of the first comments I got back actually from Laurence was, Yeah, it's a gay show, but you need a woman in the show... So I thought, Lydia Lasker... Amanda Abel! - which was her name at the time... it was just immediate and very close to who she is: Lydia's a cabaret singer, Amanda is a cabaret singer. Lydia is loyal and trustworthy and fabulous, and so is Amanda."
For her part, Gari's just happy to have inspired a character who resonates so deeply with the fans... "It's funny because obviously, I'm not one of the leads and yet my part was written for me and I'm very touched and honored by that," she admits. "I love (the fact) that a lot of our fans continue to request to see more of her and I tell Leon often that he needs to get writing!"
And writing is exactly what Acord has been doing, expanding Lydia's part in season three to include her first ever love scene (Gari calls the experience "fun and freeing") as well as an epic standoff with an assistant (played by legendary Mommie Dearest actress, Rutanya Alda) who happens to be working for the enemy himself, Mr. Nelson Van Eddy...
"Nelson was scripted to come in late in the second season," says Acord, revealing the origins of the character who would infamously become the Alexis to Nathan's Krystle. "But after we posted the pilot, Bruce L. Hart, whom I didn't know then, sent me an email saying Wow, I saw the pilot- hats off! I'd love to be part of the show. And we met for coffee and hit it off, and I just thought, hmmm, maybe we should bring Nelson in earlier." Thus, after consulting with his producing partner, Arvin Bautista, and mutually agreeing that the main character did, in fact, need a nemesis, a fan-favorite, inspired by Hart's singular comic timing, officially joined the mix.
"If Nelson Van Eddy were just simply a stereotype- kind of a bitchy character with nothing to back it up, I probably wouldn't have wanted to play him," the hardworking, busy actor tells me from the set of his current film (2015's Love or Laughs). "But he's a smart, successful agent, and I think it's important that when people watch Nelson, I believe that they're laughing with him - like what's he going to do next? - rather than laughing at him."
Acord finds it difficult to imagine the show without the inclusion of his now close friend: "My God, we are so lucky to have Bruce. In addition to just being great at Nelson, he is so supportive of the show. Onset he's awesome- I think we have a total of two bloopers with him because he just doesn't mess up. He's such a pro and the audience just loves to hate him." Plus, who else can rattle off a Naaa-than like he can?