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N’Neka Garland, an Emmy-winning producer on General Hospital who spent the past 22 years with the venerable ABC soap opera, has died. She was 49.
Garland suffered a heart attack at her home in Sherman Oaks and died Monday at Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center in Burbank, her friend Cori Murray told The Hollywood Reporter.
Garland, whose late half-brother was rap legend Tupac Shakur, served as coordinating producer on General Hospital since 2018 and then producer since 2021. She shared Daytime Emmy nominations for outstanding drama series in 2019, ’20 and ’21, winning two years ago.
“Nneka Garland you were a shining star — your smile lit up the room and your laughter brought so much joy — you had the gift of making everyone feel like THEY were your favorite,” Laura Wright, who portrays Carly Corinthos on General Hospital, wrote on Instagram. “I feel so so lucky to have known you. I will miss sitting on your couch, telling stories — calling you weekly trying to get my schedule early and seeing your name pop up on my phone because I always knew we were gonna have a fun conversation and giggle.
“You truly cared about everyone. You asked about everyone — I’ve never met a person with a bigger heart and a smile to match. My heart is really really sad tonight. And those who knew Nneka — they understand.”
The show’s writers named the Savoy bartender N’Neka, played by Arlondriah Lenyéa, after her.
Born on April 11, 1973, in Jersey City, New Jersey, Garland attended Somerville High School before graduating from Hampton University in Virginia in 1995 with a degree in mass media.
She began her career in soaps in New York as an assistant to veteran producer Jill Farren Phelps at ABC’s One Life to Life, then followed her boss to Los Angeles in 2001 when Phelps segued to General Hospital.
She graduated to production coordinator on the show and in 2015 was named an associate producer.
Meanwhile, the National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences noted that Garland was the show shepherd for the Daytime Emmys. She collaborated with the administration team to create and submit entries, promote judging and work with on-site talent.
“Nobody was more knowledgeable about the process, and nobody performed it with as wide a smile as N’Neka. Every duty she performed — and there were so many — was done with a joy that radiated from within,” the organization said in a statement.
Survivors include her father, William; her brothers, Landon and Malik; and her sisters, Tekerra and Leslie.
In a statement, General Hospital executive producer Frank Valentini said Garland was “universally adored by everyone” on the soap “and brought out the best in all of us.”
“N’Neka’s tireless efforts during Emmy season, the pandemic’s pressures and the day-to-day challenges of our shooting schedule never rattled or upset her,” he continued. “She’d just shrug and say, ‘We’ll make it work, babe.’ And she did, always.
“Her absence will leave a hole in our lives — one that can only be filled by reflecting on all the wonderful memories that we’ve shared with her. My aunt used to say, ‘You can tell when someone you love is great by the happiness they create when you’re together.’ N’Neka created that happiness every minute of every day.”
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