Katelyn MacMullen & William Lipton on Their Standout 'General Hospital' Performances
Two of General Hospital’s youngest and brightest stars are in the running to take home golden girls on Friday, June 26, at the 47th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards. And the fact that the event is virtual and one of the categories will be announced on social media after the show hasn’t dampened either nominee’s enthusiasm for the big night.
TV Insider chatted with Outstanding Young Performer in a Drama Series nominee Katelyn MacMullen, who plays cult survivor Willow Tait, and Best Original Song nominee William Lipton (Cameron Webber), who composed the tune "North Star," which he performed on-screen last year.
MacMullen turned in numerous tour-de-forces as Willow’s boyfriend Chase (Josh Swickard) and others learned that she’d been sucked into the cult known as Dawn of Day, which was run by evil Shiloh (Coby Ryan McLaughlin). He impregnated her after a bizarre ritual and she gave his baby up for adoption.
MacMullen’s reel includes scenes in which Willow makes an emotional appeal to Shiloh’s latest victim – Kristina (Lexi Ainsworth). She was able to reach Kristina in a way that no one else could, having herself been manipulated by Shiloh in the past.
“I remember being very nervous the day we shot those scenes,” MacMullen shares. “I was working with Maurice [Benard, Sonny], Nancy [Grahn, Alexis], Joe [Flanigan, Neil] and others whom I really respect and admire. Maurice took me aside ahead of time and said, ‘Hey, I know you’re nervous. This is a big day.’ We sat together for close to an hour and he was so helpful.
“Maurice pushed me to push myself as an actor,” MacMullen continues. “Every actor there was so supportive and great. Our director, Phideaux [Xavier] was so awesome. He gave me great advice, too.”
Perhaps even more daunting than reliving the Dawn of Day ordeal are some other scenes on MacMullen’s reel. Her school teacher character told Charlotte’s (Scarlett Fernandez) father Valentin (James Patrick Stuart) and stepmother Nina (then, Michelle Stafford) that there was a bullying problem at school – and that Charlotte was the instigator! (This did NOT sit well with Nina.)
“I have teachers who are close friends and they gave me a ton of advice,” the actress says. “I’d read a script and see that Willow was handling something a certain way and they’d say [after seeing the show], ‘Oh, yeah, that’s totally it.’” Bullying at school, MacMullen says, “is a serious issue and needs to be addressed.”
Lipton was a nominee in the category of Outstanding Younger Leading Actor in a Drama Series last year for his role as Cameron, but this year he’s up for his song, "North Star." He debuted the tune at the annual Nurses Ball, in which Port Charles citizens display musical talents at an AIDS/HIV awareness talent show (within the show).
— General Hospital (@GeneralHospital) May 22, 2019
What makes his nod all the more impressive is that he was not only competing with other original songs on soap operas but also with songs from programming throughout the daypart. (His competition includes two tunes performed on the 93rd Annual Macy’s Thanksgiving Day Parade.)
“The inspiration for the song," Lipton says, “came from a scene in which Cameron and Joss (Eden McCoy) were talking about the North Star. It was an ode to [the late] Oscar (Garren Stitt). He and Cameron had become friends.”
Lipton’s nomination is for composing (not singing) the song. “But I also had the good fortune to play it and perform it on the show,” he says.
How is composing music different from acting? “There are so many ways to express yourself,” says Lipton, who counts Bono, Chris Martin, and John Mayer among his influences. “Song-writing is about analyzing your emotions and putting them in ways that people can relate. I find inspiration for my music by reading and having personal experiences. There are no rules.”
Win or lose, performers receive a certificate from the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (NATAS) acknowledging their nomination. “I have mine from last year,” Lipton says. “It’s framed and is on my desk and I’m very proud of it.”
Lipton’s entering his senior year of high school later this year and he hopes to continue to split his time between working on GH and furthering his education. “I’d love to go to [a college or university] in Los Angeles that has a good music or acting program,” he says. “The GH family has always been supportive of my music.”
Fans are looking forward to the soaps coming back and finding out, among other things, who Cameron will give his heart to — Trina (Sydney Mikayla Shepherd) or Joss (McCoy). “Cameron’s in an interesting place,” Lipton muses. “He’s been dealing with conflict his whole teenage life. His current conflict is a bit new. He’s always loved Joss and he’s had this deep connection with her. Now, he’s got this spark with Trina, which is new and exciting. He’s figuring it all out.”
Also, what connection, if any, does Willow have to Nina’s (Cynthia Watros) long-lost daughter? “I am just as anxious to find out the truth about that,” MacMullen admits. “The story’s been going on since before I came onto the show. I’ve always wondered who is Nina’s daughter? I love that character and watching her wonder about her daughter and where she might be. That makes me wonder, too!”
General Hospital, Weekdays, ABC
The 47th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards, Friday, June 26, 8/7c, CBS