Emma Samms: Why having a good friend is truly life-sustaining

Emma Samms with Rachel

Emma Samms with Rachel - Credit: Archant

Having a good friend, who knows your likes and dislikes, who’ll let you look after them when they needs it and who makes you laugh is truly life-sustaining

Harper Lee said that you can’t choose your family but you can choose your friends and, in the most part, I’ve been really very lucky when it comes to picking my friends.

My oldest friend is Rachel. Actually, she prefers it when I describe her as the friend that I’ve known the longest, which is understandable. She and I have been friends since we were babies. My London-dwelling family being regular visitors to her family in Warwickshire.

She taught me how to ride (or tried to, anyway) and I still laugh out loud when I remember one such lesson when the horse I was riding suddenly decided to eat some grass at the side of the road. About to be hit in the face by the low branches of a hawthorn tree, I leaned backwards, away from but the thorns, which missed my face but snagged my jumper. When Rachel realised that I was lagging behind she turned her horse around and came back to find me stuck under a tree, lying backwards on my horse, with my jumper over my head.

When I moved to America as a teenager, Rachel and I kept in touch by writing letters. She came out to visit me in LA a number of times and her down-to-earth, pragmatic perspective was always hugely valuable. To this day, she is a dear, dear friend who I’d trust with any secret.

Trust is hard to find in my business. Certainly, when I was appearing on Dynasty, every titbit of information about my personal life had an actual monetary value to the tabloids. This makes one a bit shy about opening up to new friends, as you can imagine. One totally false and unpleasant tabloid story about me turned out to have been fabricated and sold to the newspaper by someone who I thought of as a close friend. Nice.

But that was an anomaly. Almost every other friend I’ve had has been a huge source of joy and comfort to me. And despite my natural caution, I’ve made many new friends over the years. Every time I start a new project I meet a whole new group of people and occasionally I’m lucky enough to come across someone who my kids and I refer to as “A Keeper”. When I did ‘Tumble’ for the BBC a couple of years ago, it was meeting my coach, the gorgeous Phil Barrow that turned out to be the best thing about the whole show. He saw me at my worst: stressed, exhausted and in pain from various injuries, yet, bafflingly, he still liked me. We shall be friends for life.

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Our most recent ‘Keeper’ is Claire Carter who until quite recently presented the lunchtime show for BBC Radio Gloucestershire. She and I spent many hours working together on our radio drama ‘Visitors’ and were delighted to discover how much fun we had in each other’s company. Annoyingly, she has now moved to Somerset to host the breakfast show there, but I know we’ll remain friends, despite the geographical challenges.

I have three very close friends in the US. One is Ann, godmother to both of my children. We’ve never lived in the same city and more often than not we haven’t even lived in the same country. Yet, when my kids were younger she’d regularly save my bacon by visiting when I really needed some help. She and I share a level of loyalty that she best describes as “If you murdered someone, I’d know you had a damn good reason”.

Another US friend is Brad, who I stay with whenever I’m in LA and there’s also Lisa: SO much smarter than me and though she hates me saying this, also one of the kindest people I’ve ever met.

I have lots of local friends too. Lena, Julian, Neil and Eve to name a few. There’s the wonderful and gorgeous Katie, who’ll be really cross with me for mentioning her and other friends whose names I wouldn’t even dare mention. But having a good friend, who knows your likes and dislikes, who’ll let you look after them when they need it and who makes you laugh is truly life-sustaining.

Finally, I should say that despite not being able to choose one’s family, I’ve been really lucky on that front too. And I’m not just saying that because I’ve bullied them into buying subscriptions to this magazine and I know they’ll all be reading this. No, I’d choose my siblings as friends anytime. How lucky is that?