Jamika Pessoa, celebrity chef and co-host of THE GOOD DISH, chatted with Digest about her cameo appearance, which airs on Monday, August 8.

Soap Opera Digest: How did this appearance come about?

Jamika Pessoa: I got the call and I was like, “Wait, GENERAL HOSPITAL, like the GENERAL HOSPITAL?” They [asked if I was interested] and I was like, “Of course!” And when I got the note that I got to play myself, I was like, “Spectacular!” It was a no-brainer. I was like, “Let me know what time, I will be there with my chef coat, ready and waiting to do this!” I mean, GENERAL HOSPITAL goes back. I remember sitting with my grandmother when she was watching her stories; that was our way to connect when I was a kid. My grandmother is deceased, but I thought, “I wonder what Granny would think!”

Digest: Did you have any nerves when the day came and you were on your way to the studio?

Pessoa: Well, I didn’t really know what to expect. Keep in mind, I’m accustomed to being on sets where it’s something food-related — it’s a competition show. It’s a reality show, it’s a daytime talk show. I’ve never done something scripted before. This is my acting debut, if you will. Normally I go out there and we’re just talking about food and having fun, so to have someone tell me what to say, I was kind of nervous. You should have seen me in the mirror practicing, like, “Do I say it like this? Do I say it like this?” So I was kind of getting in my own head but at the end of the day, I’m playing myself. It’s like, “How am I tripping over acting like Jamika?” But I did have to decompress and take a breath. The second I pulled up on set, I was like, “Wait a minute.” Like it just became surreal and the nerves left because I just got a moment to fan out on the whole thing. I was taking pictures like next to the [GH] sign, all of that, just experiencing the moment. And then as soon as it was go time, it was like, “Oh, that was fun and now it’s over!” It’s like that when with live TV when I do cooking segments. I get nervous, I do it, you have a blast and then you think, “Wait, that was so fast! I want to do it again!” It was the same kind of experience.

Digest: I feel like live cooking demo is probably the only television programming that goes as fast as soap operas do!

Pessoa: Yeah, they don’t waste time! As soon as I got there, it was like, “Okay, talk to Wardrobe.” I got to wear my chef coat with my name on it, so wardrobe was a breeze and oddly enough, I was like, “Let me get a coffee and just chill,” and the first thing, I saw an old friend of mine, Cameron Mathison [Drew]. When I lived in Los Angeles, we didn’t live far from each other. Of course, I did several episodes of [his talk show] HOME AND FAMILY. So we knew each other from that, and Cameron hosted a show for Food Network that I was a judge on. We had such a blast laughing and talking and eating. It was so great to see him but everybody there was very, very friendly. You think on a soap opera people would be divas but everyone was so warm and welcoming, I was like, “Wow, this is a cool place to be.” That was the vibe that I immediately got. I enjoyed just being part of the camaraderie, and of course, Cynthia [Watros, Nina] was amazing and so gracious to me. [At first] she didn’t realize that I’m a chef; she thought I was an actress playing a chef! She was like, “Wait a minute, she’s a real chef, guys!” So we started talking about cooking for a kids and recipes. Kathleen [Gati, Obrecht], she was great. The guys were like the most gentlemanly guys, holding doors for me. I was like, “Wait, everyone is so nice!” And [when it came to my scenes] what really gave me the freedom and put me at ease was that a couple of producers came in and introduced themselves and they were like, “We’ve seen you on your social media. We’ve seen you on TV. We love your personality, want you to bring your personality to this, just have fun with it.” Once I got that green light, it just took the pressure off. Now, I will say one thing — I did leave hungry, because they don’t have as much food on set as I’m accustomed to with my cooking shows! I promised the entire crew, “Next time I come back, guys, I’m going to cook for you.” That’s how you get a second date [laughs]! It’s just really cool that I get to do this and get to be me and do what I’m comfortable with, so it was out of my [comfort zone] somewhat, but at least I still got to be in my chef coat and hopefully I’ll get to come back and be surrounded by food. That is my secret in terms of when I’m on TV: “When in doubt, just put something in your mouth!”

Digest: How did your family react when you told them about this?

Pessoa: Oh, I called my sister and said, “Guess who’s going to be on GENERAL HOSPITAL?” She said, “Who?” I said, “You’re talking to her!” She said, “No, for real. Who? Not you!” I said, “I can act!” She said, “Act like a you-know-what!” My family is like, “I’ve got to see this!” My husband, when I told him, he was like, “You’d better not be in a love scene!” I said, “Who’s doing a love scene in a kitchen? I’m a chef! Honey, please.” But wouldn’t that be cool, though [laughs]? I’m just saying! So, that’s the reaction I got. My sister didn’t believe me and my husband said no love scenes, and I just laughed at them both. But your family never really takes you seriously, because they know you as the goofy little sister. I know she’s going to make fun of my delivery, but hey! This is what you get from family. But I am so excited, and I’m excited that I did it, something so new for me and I impressed the people there that do this every day. That was a score beyond. Cynthia said, “I really thought you were a real actress!” So, that was great. It was just a great experience and I’d do it again in a heartbeat.

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