When Parry Shen returned to the screen as GENERAL HOSPITAL’s Brad on Dec. 14, the day was a bittersweet one for the actor. On the one hand, the actor was thrilled to be back in the trenches at GH now that his alter ego has been paroled after spending a year and a half in jail for his part in the baby swap involving Wylie. But on the other hand, that date was a particularly hard one personally for the actor because it marked a decade since his beloved acting coach had died.
Taking to social media, Shen shared a lovely tribute to Heidi Helen Davis, whom he explained passed away in 2011 from breast cancer. “She was my acting coach who laid down the foundation for everything I know,” he wrote, sharing a composite of photos of Davis. “A nurturing instructor who created a safe place for her students to freely create. She was the rudder that steered the groundswell of emotions that poured out and focused it into productive use.”
A native of Queens, NY, Shen moved to Los Angeles after graduating from the State University of New York at Buffalo in 1995 to embark on an acting career and was studying with Davis by the fall of 1997. Even after he began working steadily in the entertainment industry, Shen continued to occasionally have lessons with Davis. “Before she passed, I would always go to her for a ‘tune-up’ or refresher,” he wrote. “And when she died, I felt like I’d be bobbing in the ocean without a beacon to guide me. But that reaction was unfounded.”
How fitting that I was on television today,” he continued. “Heidi had prepared me with the proper training, tools, and guidance to be able to weather any storm and gave me a career. For that, I can never truly thank her. All I can do is share a bit of her legacy so that you may begin to understand what a special person she was. Patient, focused, nurturing, charming, insightful with a hint of tough love.”
To illustrate his point, Shen also included pages from the journal he kept during his acting lessons with Davis. “They apply not only to acting but in life,” he explained, noting that he’s always kept one specific passage in the back of his mind during his time on GH. “The Feb. 2003 entry, in particular, has basically been my basis for playing Brad — ‘If you ever feel judgmental about a character, know that this person’s story deserves to be told; warts and all. It’s up to you to give that person a voice and represent them — otherwise, the world will never know they existed.’ Miss you very much, Heidi.”
Thank you very much, Heidi, for the lessons you taught the talented actor who brings to life one of the soap opera characters we most love to hate.
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