Exclusive: General Hospital’s Michelle Stafford Has a “Secret” New Project

General Hospital - Michelle Stafford as Denice Duff
Denice Duff
General Hospital

She will not be wearing Mom jeans. Sexy soap powerhouse Michelle Stafford – a.k.a. Nina Clay on ABC’s General Hospital – scored a massive success with her 2013 web series spoof The Stafford Project. Now she’s back with Secret Mind of a Single Mom, a new web series for the Nickelodeon site NickMom.com, in which she costars with her five-year-old daughter, Natalia. Stafford is also writer, director and producer on the project. The two-time Emmy winner gave us the lowdown on this enticing venture—set to premiere this spring—along with scoop on her cool new movie role and her cuckoo-for-Cocoa Puffs romance on GH.

Michelle Stafford and Nickelodeon? Not a combo we ever imagined. How did this thing happen?
They came to me after seeing The Stafford Project and taking a look at my website, which is all about me doing life and motherhood as a single chick. They wanted some sort of single mom, cutting edge, comedic show on their NickMom site, something to watch when the kids are asleep or off to school. They wanted something relatable where moms can see themselves and empathize and laugh at the truth.

Isn’t it tricky being relatable when you’re a celebrity mom?
Hey, I want to say on the record that I do not have a nanny! I am a hands-on mom and spend a lot of time with my daughter. Now, sometimes I don’t enjoy it, like when she’s in the backseat and I say, “Natalia, how was school today?” and she says, “I don’t feel like talking”—which she has picked up from me. It’s so true that you get back everything you give. At the end, when I’m 98 in my wheelchair wearing a diaper and staring at my lawn, Natalia will be there on her cell phone, ignoring me, and going, “Here, watch my kid for me, will ya?”

General Hospital
Courtesy of Michelle Stafford

So what goes on in Secret Mind of a Single Mom?
It’s a look into the minutiae of motherhood. Every episode is two minutes long and you’ll be able to watch them all at once, like with Netflix. It’s pretty much my daughter humiliating me. She’s truly the smart one, which is what she is in life, and these are little vignettes of everyday stuff, like the mom and daughter getting into a fight about how a sandwich should or shouldn’t be cut. One episode has the mom trying to get something going with this hot guy and the daughter, with just two comments, completely ends it. Like with The Stafford Project, I’m pretty much making fun of myself. As you know, self-deprecation is my friend. [Laughs] And sometimes my enemy.

What’s up with this movie, Durant’s Never Closes, that you’ve been working on and Tweeting about?
It’s a terrific independent film starring Tom Sizemore (below) and people are saying this will do for Tom what The Wrestler did for Mickey Rourke. He is amazing in this thing. It’s a really cool, gritty, emotional story about a guy whose life has fallen apart and how he’s trying to make it right. I play the ex-wife, who’s a bit like the Amy Ryan character in Gone Baby Gone. She’s the heart of this guy. I was so nervous about it.

General Hospital
Courtesy of Michelle Stafford

What, you, the woman who has balls to spare?
I have balls to spare but only because I’m so fearful. I’m in fear all the time so I’m constantly pushing against it. I use it as a catalyst.

Which brings us to the fearsome Nina Clay. It’s a good thing she and Franco [Roger Howarth] found each other, because who else in Port Charles would put up with either one of them?
You’re right. Who would put up with Nina? But this is the type of character I wanted to play. In our society, there is so much bulls–t now, so many people are a mess, and I wanted to play a character that encompasses that. Nina is flawed, she has demons, she’s pretty f–ked up, but I didn’t want her to be a loudmouth screamer. I wanted to play someone who can hide all of that chaos behind a sweet smile, which is what Nina and a lot of other people do in this world.

The Nina-Franco relationship is playing so well—sweet, funny, romantic—but is it the real thing? They can both turn on a dime, and on each other. Should the viewers invest in this thing? Because it seems about as solid as cotton candy.
Could they turn on each other? Sure. But, if they do, can’t they remain in love with each other? Are they in love with each other? I’m not sure. In both their minds, they are the abused, the victims, and they want to get back at the people who did them wrong. They are two lost souls in a complex push and pull.

They’re also crazy.
Are they crazy?

That’s not even up for discussion. This could be a romance for the ages, or it could be over by Tuesday.
I completely understand what you’re saying and time will tell. I’m into it. Roger’s into it. We both really care, and I think the two of us are really good at finding the soul and the heart of this relationship. We’re still working it out. Roger and I are very similar people, volatile and passionate about what we do. I mean volatile in a good way—not angry but more in the sense that our emotions change quickly. This relationship really works on the writing side, and now it’s up to Roger and me. I’ll tell you this: There is some extremely creative storytelling coming up with Franco and Nina and I was very surprised when they told me where this is going. [Laughs] And I don’t get surprised!