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Lowell native up for role on soap opera

September 28, 2007
By Michelle L. Quinn Post-Tribune correspondent

A former Northwest Indiana resident will find out in October if he has what it takes to be a soap star.

Darren Zancan is one of six contestants vying for a walk-on role or possibly a small speaking part on the long-running and wildly popular soap opera "Days of Our Lives" on Soapnet's reality show, "I Want to be a Soap Star." And he has a real good chance of making it to the top, predicts one of the show's judges.

"He'll definitely be one of the top two or three," said Michael Bruno, a Los Angeles talent agent who also represents a cadre of soap actors. "He did a really, really great job."

Whether the Lowell native, who's 26 and now lives in Lexington, Ky., was drawing from rough times he was living during the audition, even he can't be sure. But save for finding love, life in Lexington wasn't going as planned.

Zancan moved from Hammond to live with his best friend, Brad Calvert, after Calvert moved there for a job. Before the move, Zancan was freelancing for the Post-

Tribune. But after the move, things got bad real quickly.

"I had just started a job as the marketing director for a rehabilitation company when I got a severe kidney ailment," Zancan said. "Shortly after that, my mom found out she had a growth in her head. It's not cancerous, but still, I hated being so far away from her."

Homesickness was taking its toll when, after recovering from his illness, he was fired from his job, though he told his boss he could work from home. That, on top of everything else, threw him into a deep depression.

"I basically couldn't even move," Zancan said. "I started therapy after that."

As he wiled away the days lying on the couch, Zancan saw advertisements for "I Want to be a Soap Star's" promotional drive, wherein the show conducted auditions in various cities for a shot at a walk-on role. The actual show had been shot in February, though the finale hadn't.

The night before the audition, his girlfriend, Kristina Cohen, convinced him to give it a shot.

"I'm not a soap fan, but I have acted in movies and commercials and, when you do professional acting, you want to keep doing it," he said. "She said I should go."

At the audition, the sight of 300 people waiting in line almost made Zancan ran for the hills. But he didn't, and went on to wow Bruno, who made an exception of the six-constant rule so Zancan could be among the cream of the crop.

"Lexington was the best city in terms of talent, so he was up against a lot of very good people," Bruno said. "Where you really saw his talent was during the monologue; he brought a lot of life to his piece and made a lot of really good acting choices."

For his first-place performance, Zancan and Cohen will be flown out to Los Angeles for "I Want to be a Soap Star's" Oct. 15 season finale, said Penni Ellington, a Soapnet spokeswoman.
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