Where are They Now? Darlena
Life as a Santos Sister
was Never Easy, Especially in Pine Valley
Darlena Tejeiro (ex-Anita)
For a 20 years old Darlena Tejeiro (she used the named
Darlene Dahl during her run as Anita
Santos) getting to the West Side Studio for work on time was a daily
struggle. "I would wake up at three in the morning," Tejeiro
said about making her 6:00am call time. "I lived in New Jersey
with my Dad… he woke up at 3:00am for thirty years… he was
"I would wait for the bus in the dark. I was always scarred getting
to Port Authority, and then I had to take the train to the studio,"
Tejeiro said. "By the time I got to the set, I was a wreck. I thought
people were following me in the dark."
The early morning wake-up call and the long commute did not sway the
young actress from giving up on her first major television credit, the
role of conservative Santos sister Anita Santos on All My Children.
"Anita did not have any malice," Tejeiro said about her onscreen
personae. "That is what made her so refreshing, so beautiful."
Tejeiro landed the role after she did a national mailing of her headshot.
"I did my read through with Judy (Wilson, Casting Director) and
Francesca (James, then Executive Producer and former cast member),"
Tejeiro said. "I auditioned, and they sent me straight to wardrobe…
I didn't know I was a recast."
Jordana Brewster originated the bit role in 1994, and it was recast
one more time with Priscilla Garita before Tejeiro was brought on as
a contract player. Tejeiro loved her role but knew she was very different
from Anita when she first went into wardrobe. "The outfits were
horrendous… stockings, it was all very funny. They hid my figure
as much as possible," Tejeiro said. "I am very fashionable.
I am very feminine. Whenever I went to ABC parties, the Producers would
be a little irritated."
Tejeiro's only headshot from her time at All My
"Basically, Anita was a girl with strong values and
high integrity. She came from a very strict household," Tejeiro
said. "Her conflicts were about being young and doing the right
Another wardrobe issue was Tejeiro's glasses. "I did not wear my
glasses because Anita did not wear glasses. I had to take them off,
but I could not see anything," Tejeiro said. This lead to two accidents
her first day, "the Producers had to be on the speaker phone and
be like, 'Darlena, they are cueing you!' Then, I lost my glasses, I
could not see where I put them." Tejeiro continued, "I could
not find my way out of the Studio."
Tejeiro's first day was reintroduction of the character Anita to the
audience. "I worked with Mateo
(Mark Consuelos) and Anton
(Rudolph Martin)… it was a living room scene and Mark was like,
'Hi, this is my sister," Tejeiro said. "I was really nervous.
I had to remember all these lines, and the blocking. They don't teach
you that in school." Ironically, Tejeiro recently ran into Martin
in Los Angeles where both alums now reside.
"I had to pick things up quickly, like meeting the cast, wardrobe,
makeup… then the fans would wait outside the studio, it was all
overwhelming," Tejeiro said. "I was trying to handle it diligently
and gracefully. It could be an overwhelming experience when you are
new to it."
Tejeiro quickly came to the front burner of storylines because of Anita's
connection to the premier Latin American daytime clan, the Santos family.
Tejeiro grew to relay on the strong actresses that made up her family
including Eva LaRue (ex-Maria
Grey) and Sydney Penny (ex-Julia
Keefer). "I felt like they were my big sisters. Off-screen,
I looked up to Eva and Sydney, they had been doing this for so long.
The chemistry and connection was there," Tejeiro said. "It
was real. It was defiantly a family sense there."
The closeness on set lead to some famous onset romances including the
marriages of laRue to John Callahan (ex-Edmund
Grey), and Consuelos to Kelly Ripa (ex-Hayley
Santos). "They [The Callahans] had an intense chemistry that
was obvious. I knew Kelly had a crush on Mark, and Mark had a crush
on Kelly. It was all very apparent. You know when things are happening,"
"I felt like they were my big sisters. Off-screen, I
looked up to Eva and Sydney, they had been doing this for so
long. The chemistry and connection was there."
-Tejeiro on Eva LaRue (ex-Maria) and Syndey Penny (ex-Julia)
Critics pointed out the fact that of all the Santos family
members on contract, Tejeiro was the only one of Latin American descent.
Her family emigrated from Cuba. "I tried not to make that an issue
with anyone. It was kind of hard, but they were all actors," Tejeiro
said. "They would make me say a couple of things in Spanish, but
not a lot."
The Santos family was also famous for their propensity to be involved
in "super-couple" pairings. Anita's most famous romance was
with bad boy Bobby
Warner (Brian Gaskill). "I never try to compare myself with
the other couple because we are all so different," Tejeiro said.
"I tried my best to connect with Gaskill."
"We were working everyday, and it became like a Romeo and Juliet
storyline. Everything was about Bobby and Anita," Tejeiro said
about her onscreen pairing. "They were trying to make this a popular
"Bobby was everything wrong. Hasn't that happened to all of us
women? We fall in love with the wrong man. It was a big lesson learned,"
Tejeiro said. "You try to make things work out, and try to change
someone; they are just wrong for you. It was the case for Bobby and
Anita." All the while, Scott
Chandler (Shane McDermott) harbored a secret crush on his best friend
Anita. "She was not in love with Scott. She really like him: he
was sensitive, sweet, and from a good place," Tejeiro said. "He
[McDermott] was lovely to work with."
Tejeiro's onscreen chemistry with Gaskill did not always
translate when the cameras weren't rolling. "We weren't close,
which was kind of funny. I just did not have a close connection him,"
Tejeiro said. "But when we were working, we did. Brian's very shy,
and I think a little withdrawn."
"He is a great actor," Tejeiro said about her co-star, "but
I think once the director said 'cut,' he was out."
"There was an element between us where we were from two different
worlds," Tejerio said.
Tejeiro's closest friend onset was her onscreen rival TC Warner (ex-Kelsey
Jefferson). "We were working together all the time, reading
lines… I was either in her dressing room or she was in mine,"
Tejeiro said about Warner. "She was always very helpful. If I had
a question about the scene, TC is very smart and very sharp. She had
a lot of experience," Tejeiro said. "She came in with a wealth
of knowledge from her other shows. I would pick her brain." The
actresses keep in contact to this day.
Tejeiro's fans responded positively to Anita. "I know when you
play a bad character, people would complain, like with TC," Tejeiro
said. "A lot of girls related to my character. They really understood
my character's conflict. The conflict where you try to battle the outside
world and deal with your own upbringing," Tejeiro said, "to
do the right thing and be a good person."
"That is where the conflict came. She [Anita] was trying to do
the right thing, and people were trying to move her in the wrong direction,"
Fans sometimes made the whole experience overwhelming for Tejeiro. "People
were screaming 'Anita!' I was frightened at first, because so many people
were screaming my name, and I was like, 'I am Darlena!'" said Tejeiro.
"It was overwhelming, but I loved it."
One of the biggest days on set for Tejeiro was the day they shot her
reel for the opening credits. "I was so nervous. They did a big
hairdo on me, it looked so funny," Tejeiro said. "You have
to do this pose where you turn way from the camera and then you look
into it. I remember my eye twitching," Tejeiro said. "I tried
to keep it open. I had a nervous twitch in my eye."
"When I saw it, I was like, 'I am really on the show," Tejeiro
said. "Soon they started writing the storyline, and it got very
heavy. I was interacting with my sisters more."
It was also typical to find the any one of the Santos sisters in tears
onscreen. "You're body doesn't know the difference," Tejeiro
said. "When you are crying or in agony, and you do it over and
over again, you know you have to come up with the goods… it was
draining," Tejeiro said. "I would come home tired and emotionally
drained. You don't fake it, you really do it."
The experience also made Tejeiro feel like she belonged with the rest
of the ensemble. "As soon as you have emotional scenes, you connect
with everyone because it is a truthful experience," Tejeiro said.
Julia and Noah's wedding was one of the most extravagent celebrations
in Pine Valley History. (Tejeiro is pictured second from the right)
The Santos family scenes sometimes called for most of
the ensemble to be gathered for a shooting day. This was the case when
Julia Santos married Noah Keefer in a wedding inspired by Walt Disney's
Cinderella. "It was such a long day because it was so spectacular,"
Tejeiro said. "To see Sydney in that dress, she looked like a real
"Just to have everyone there… it was like a family,"
Tejeiro said about the day. "We were basically laughing all day.
We had a lot of big events where we had everyone there: weddings, funerals,
the Prom night." But these long days on set called for some strong
will power. "You just try to enjoy yourself and have a good time,
that is the state of mind I try to put myself in."
The most rewarding day as an actress for Tejeiro was the court room
confrontation Anita had with her parents Isabella (Socorro Santiago)
and Hector Santos (the late Raul Davila) over her homosexual history
Delaney (Chris Bruno). "My father made some derogatory remarks.
He did not like my teacher, Michael, because he was gay," Tejeiro
said. "I had to stand up and tell the truth in court. Going to
court is a scary thing, and being in a witness stand and speaking the
truth against someone you really love, it was terrifying."
Tejeiro did not spend everyday on set in tears. She had a few lighthearted
moments offset. "I was up and going on the set before everyone
else. So many people would show up in their pajamas, but I was already
ready because I came from New Jersey," Tejiero said.
But there was one day when the punctual Tejeiro reported to work late.
"I was staying with my boyfriend in the East Village, and my alarm
clock did not go off. I had to be on set in 15 minutes and I was all
the way downtown," Tejeiro said. "I panicked because you cannot
be late. So I threw on my boyfriend's long pajamas, my glasses, and
got in a cab," Tejeiro said. "Two blocks before we get to
the studio, my cab driver crashed the taxi! The window to the left of
me shattered and I had glass all over me. I paid him and ran the two
blocks to the studio."
"I was sweating with the pajamas on, and everyone was upstairs
waiting for me already. TC remembers it too, everyone was cracking up,"
Tejeiro said. "I was like, 'I was in a car accident,' but that
excuse was like, 'my dog ate my homework.'"
"I was like, 'I was in a car accident,' but that excuse
was like, 'my dog ate my homework.'"
- Tejeiro on the concequences of showing up late on set.
"Everyone else lived in Manhattatan, so they jumped
in a cab to get to the set," Tejeiro said. "The rent was too
high in Manhattan. People think you're rich, but your not."
In 1997, Tejeiro was informed that her contract was not going to be
renewed. "I think the time for negotiations were coming up, and
they told my agent they were not going to renegotiate," Tejeiro
said. "I just read the script. That was it."
"They had a party for me and Brian, a goodbye party. The Producer
(Jean Daddario Burke) was there, she did not say anything," Tejeiro
said. "It was a rough transition for me, from working everyday
and making a paycheck. Then, it was all over."
Tejeiro also had a hard time saying goodbye to her cast members. "You
are letting go of something you have been so close and attached to,
and letting go of people who become like a family," Tejeiro said.
"You are letting go of a part of your life that is very dear to
"I think the problem with Anita was that she was so one dimensional,
she was not your typical bad girl like people love on soaps," Tejeiro
said. "I think sometimes, some people got annoyed by the character
because she was so good."
Tejeiro stayed in New York two more years before leaving
for Los Angeles. She did a short stint on NBC's Days of Our Lives,
and continues to do guest spots on some of Primetimes' biggest hits
including Bones and Ugly Betty. "When you are
not on a series, you try to keep yourself as busy as possible,"
Tejeiro said. "You sacrifice a lot. You have to be prepared to
struggle a little bit. You have to pay your dues."
"I love comedy. I am at a point where I just want to laugh and
do comedy." Tejeiro added, "I was very grateful every day
I was working." Tejeiro is also in the upcoming Star Trek
feature film, directed by JJ Abrahams.
In 2004, the show recast the role of Anita with Natalia Cigliuti. Tejeiro
was not called to reprise the role. "I would have come back in
a heartbeat," Tejeiro said. "Every once in a while, I'll watch
the show. It is like a museum of memories."
Tejeiro sums up her time with All My Children in a positive light, "It
was the best thing that could have ever happened to me. It was a learning
environment that allowed me to get to the next level as an actress.
I gained so much experience just working two years. It gave me the confidence
I needed to do other things."