At This 'Hospital,' Virginia Doctors Are In

By Becky Krystal
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, October 5, 2008

On one late-night soap opera, it's a story of local girl makes good -- times two.

Carrie Southworth and Azita Ghanizada grew up in Northern Virginia within a few miles of each other. But their lives led them to different colleges -- the University of Virginia for Southworth and Virginia Tech for Ghanizada -- and jobs before they both became series regulars on Soapnet's "General Hospital: Night Shift."

The series is a spinoff of ABC's daytime mainstay. Southworth plays a first-year intern and Ghanizada a holistic specialist.

Southworth said that when she and Ghanizada joined the show in its current second season, their common backgrounds made "being the new guy on set" easier.

"I think it just made us feel close to home," she said.

"We knew all of the same things and all the same places," Ghanizada said.

Each woman also has overseas ties. Southworth, 30, lived for a number of years in Tanzania because of her father's job with the World Bank before returning to the area to graduate from the Madeira School in McLean. Ghanizada, 29, who graduated from James Madison High School in Vienna, emigrated from Afghanistan as a baby when her family was granted asylum in the United States.

Ghanizada's quintessential D.C. memory is her time working at Tysons Corner Center.

"Every Christmas I was the 'ask me where the stores are' girl," she said. "I knew where every single store in that mall was."

Southworth said her favorite place as a child was the Capital Children's Museum.

"It was just my favorite place to go. My poor parents in the end just told us it shut down," she recalled with a laugh.

Both said they get back to the area about once a year.

"I just miss the deciduousness, the green. We have the green [in Los Angeles], but it's not that wonderful overwhelming foliage that you get in Virginia," Southworth said.

Ghanizada said she misses Virginia's "tremendous rolling hills and change of the colors," but has a place in her heart for the people around the nation's capital, too. "Current events are so important in Washington," she said. "Everyone has a real vested interest."

"General Hospital: Night Shift" airs Tuesday at 11 p.m. on Soapnet.

© 2008 The Washington Post Company