Republisher’s Note: This is the full text of the article as it appeared on the website including photos. I have not yet double checked the text. I did bold the names for Joie Lenz (now credited as Bethany Joy Lenz) and Rebecca Budig where they appear and I corrected a couple of obvious typos. I believe the editorial remarks are from the editor of the website, not the author. The website credits it to the April 6, 1999 issue of CBS Soaps in Depth.
“Joie to the World” — 4/6/99
Nobody’s Clone … Joie Lenz brings her zest for life to Springfield’s mismatched married, Michelle. Sitting in a trendy Park Avenue eatery, Joie Lenz is eloquent, well-spoken and seems wise beyond her years. Yet behind this mature young woman (who this week turns 18) is a cheerfully animated high school senior whose beverage selection seals the deal on her youthful spirit: a Shirley Temple, easy on the ice, please.
It was that same sense of maturity and youthfulness, all rolled into one powerhouse, that grabbed the attention of Guiding Light‘s casting department last March when they were searching for an actress to play the teenage Reva clone. Lenz nabbed the part, and made such a lasting impression on both the industry and the show during her nine-day stint, that the writers toyed with the idea of bringing her back as Reva’s niece. Although the timing wasn’t right for Lenz then, hers was the first door GL knocked on when they needed to replace Rebecca Budig in the role of Michelle a few months later.
“I spent a lot of time praying about it and seeing if that’s where I was supposed to be,” Lenz admits. “I got confirmation after confirmation, and I really felt I wanted to be there. And I’ll just get through any troubles that come along with replacing somebody.”
The Princess BrideIf Lenz has encountered any troubles as a recast, she has had barely a moment to deal with them. Immediately upon her November debut, she was thrust into a front-burner storyline. First, her goody-two-shoes college-student character was caught in a murder cover-up; now, Michelle has been forced to marry into her victim’s Mafia-connected family as the only means of keeping herself and her true love (hah!), Jesse, alive. “She didn’t have any time to think about cause and effect,” Lenz says. “All Michelle can think about is how she married Danny to save Jesse.”
Recently, however, the mafia princess has begun to discover feelings for new hubby, Danny. “Whether she admits it or not, she’s afraid of Danny,” Lenz declares. “There’s also a part of her that knows, but isn’t sure that Danny’s not going to hurt her. He’s tender with Michelle in tender moments, but she’s seen that overbearing, harsh side to him and doesn’t want to bring it out.”
And while Danny may be a mobster-in-training, his new bride has come to realize that there may be more to him than meets the eye. “Danny has a side to him that’s different from the rest of his family, and she recognizes that.”
This, says Lenz, present some major confusion for poor Michelle. “Jesse is the love of her life.” (again my comment: Hah!) And her feelings for Danny? “It’s more heat,” says Lenz. “Where Jesse was warmth and comfort and safety and love, Danny is more heat and intensity and passion, which is something that she hasn’t experienced before.”
Michelle has noticed Danny’s gentle side.
As an acting technique, Lenz often uses situations in her real life to tip her off as to how she should play her character’s predicaments. That considered, portraying a teenage bride has been quite a stretch. “Are you kidding me? I can see myself being 40 and not married. Seriously!” Lenz laughs. “I don’t even think you know yourself until you’re 30. Michelle’s 20. To really be able to take on the responsibility of marriage at such a young age … I can’t even see that happening with me at 25!”
City of Angels Truth be told, there isn’t much that Lenz can imagine happening with her life, and that’s by design. “I don’t usually make a lot of goals and set myself up for what I want to do in the future,” says the New Jersey resident, adding that she does, however, plan to attend college within the next few years. “I don’t want to have something planned out for myself, then be disappointed if I realize that it’s not in God’s plan.”
Religion plays a major part in Lenz‘s life — the teen attends a Christian high school — and to it she attributes her ability to remain so grounded as an adolescent in the entertainment industry. “My faith in the fact that God can organize and has this overall plan is what’s really helped me hold on,” she explains. “It’s a world of sharks out there, and it’s hard to survive in this business and keep your integrity at the same time.
“I would love to do films and all that for the rest of my life,” she continues. “But if that’s not in the design, then I don’t want to disappoint myself.”
In the meantime, Lenz has her hands full between her hectic work schedule, her final year of school, and just being a teenager. Since she had only one class left before graduation, she doesn’t find herself missing much schoolwork. (Her best friend is kind enough to take notes for her.) And at the end of the day, when her homework is done and her scripts are read, much like any other teenager, Lenz grabs her phone and dials away. “I really feel like I’m balancing everything,” she declares.
As Lenz orders her second Shirley Temple, a smile creeps across her face. “If I could be something else, I’d want to be a CIA agent and do something with the Mafia,” she giggles. “I’d go into all those downtown fish markets and go, ‘What’s behind there?!?'”
Maybe that’s in her plan. Or maybe not. “Maybe I’ll do a Mob movie someday,” Lenz sighs. “That would be cool.”
— Michelle Ann Moro