Anyssa Jo Forson (nee Rayburn, raised and adopted as a Lucas; adopted as a Harper) is a central character and one of the main protagonists on ONtv's Harpers Falls and Smythewood. She was originated by actress Rachel Melvin, who played Chelsea Brady on Days of Our Lives; but she was later recast with actress Rebecca Budig, known for her role of Greenlee Smythe Du Pres on All My Children, who has played the role ever since.
"Playing a central character like Anyssa has been a lot of fun," Rebecca says, "I add a touch of vulnerability underneath the Chicago bluster. Also, because she is such a central role, she has a finger in all the pies of storyline. She is a lot of fun to play, and I enjoy all her various aspects and foibles."
From Chicago to Oklahoma to New EnglandEdit
A self-described "rough and tumble customer from the North Side of Chicago", Anyssa Rayburn may look like a pampered princess, but when we first met her in the series second episode, she clearly did not suffer fools gladly. Just ask her hated former roommate, Aileen Harper Mercier. The two had a very heated rivalry which spanned two different boarding schools!
Time and tide has tamed her and made her a bit more tolerant, and a bit more compassionate, despite her role as a high powered attorney; but when she first arrived in Brockton, and at Harper Academy, she was very much adrift and lonely.
Anyssa was born in Chicago, and lived in the city most of her life. To her, she was the embodiment of the Windy City. She was rough and tumble like the winds from the lakefront; and she also embodied the can-do attitude that Chicago has, a trait she maintains to this day. For a time though, she lived in Somerset, Illinois.
When Anyssa was five years old, her parents, Allan and Diane Rayburn, both of whom were attorneys, were killed in a fiery car accident. Since her only surviving blood relative, her aunt Velda Smithfield, lived too far away from her to help raise her, and respecting the last wishes of her dead parents, she was taken in by her parents best friends, Sam and Lahoma Lucas (from Somerset), who lived in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. Her parents had known Sam and Lahoma from when they lived in Somerset themselves.
During that time, Anyssa bonded well with their daughter, Susie, with whom she became close friends. While she lived in Oklahoma City, Susie would take her around the neighborhood and show off her new friend and sister. Anyssa quickly felt at home with the Lucases. She sees them as her family, since they helped raise her until she was 13. She still maintains that familial bond with them, even though she was later adopted as a Harper. So, in essence, the Lucases are considered to be family to the Harpers. In commemoration of her years of living with Sam and Lahoma, Anyssa took on their name of Lucas. She is officially called Anyssa Jo Rayburn Lucas Harper Forson.
During her years of living in Oklahoma, Anyssa had gotten a taste of the rodeo at age six and she had learned how to rope and ride with the best of them, mainly in little britches rodeo. Anyssa has a picture of her and Susie one year later wearing rodeo dresses with stick horses. She jokes that no judge or jury would ever consider a picture of her dressed like that as adorable (although most of the judges and lawyers she has worked with, do think that picture of her is very cute).
Her rodeo skills had atrophied as she grew up, but she still enjoys a rodeo from time to time. Anyssa has plans to take some of her family to a real rodeo, and had done so when she made a visit to her parents and she took her four children to a rodeo. While Sam and Courtney Sue were entranced, and taking a cue from their mother and aunt, dressed in real western get-up for the rodeo complete with stick horses; Ellie was scared of the bulls. Jolie, on the other hand, liked it because it was real rough and tumble, perfect for a tomboy like her. In a lot of ways, Jolie reminds Anyssa of herself when she was her age, kind of rough and tumble especially during her years in Oklahoma.
When they reached junior high school age, Anyssa was sent to boarding school in Chicago, though it broke the Lucases hearts to do so. For her boarding school, although she did not know it or realize it, her aunt Velda paid the school tuition. For seventh and eighth grade, Anyssa first attended Plaisance Academy a very good school on Chicago's North Side (it was there that she had first met Aileen who had caused the death of her beloved cousin, Chas, at a gay pride rally in Chicago) then, for her high school years, she was later transferred to Harper Academy in Brockton, Massachusetts, where she again had to contend with Aileen.
Anyssa was taken under the wing of her new roommate, Courtney Harrison, and she became her second best friend. While she and Courtney bonded, she still missed her sister, Susie. Courtney learned about Susie, and considers her to be a friend as well. She also bonded with two people who would later become her sister, and her cousin (later revealed to be Sheila's twin brother) , Sheila Harper Watkins and Dylan Harper. She also continued to do war with Aileen, on whom she had some pretty serious dirt (the murder of her cousin, Chas). She and Courtney later moved in with Sheila and her other friend, Julie Wandsworth. During Christmas of 2012, Courtney finally got to meet Susie and the two bonded.
After graduating from Harper Academy (she took special classes there to complete course work that couldn't be done at Plaisance, although she was still a Plaisance student, and she graduated from there too), she went back to the Midwest and attended Northwestern University, where she studied pre-law, it was there that she was reunited with her sister, Susie, and she also became close to Patrick Kurtz and his best friend, Bryan Forson. During their college years, they were considered to be the four musketeers.
After they separated, Anyssa became more of a part of the Harper family, and was later adopted by Michelle Harper, sometime after her divorce from her philandering husband, Joseph Wainwright. Sheila was thrilled to have her friend, Anyssa, as her sister. Later on, she reconnected with her blood aunt Velda, who worked as the Harper family's social secretary, and their bond is stronger than ever. Michelle opened her heart to Susie and her family as well.
Her dream came true, after she reconnected with Susie. She had begun dating Bryan, her former college boyfriend after he had moved to Boston, and they fell in love. She wanted to marry him, and they planned a wedding. However, Anyssa had wanted Susie to be her maid of honor, but she was unable to travel to Boston, due to a heart attack she had suffered.
The very undaunted Anyssa, known for her impetuousness and spur of the moment ideas, moved her entire wedding, lock, stock, and barrel, to Somerset, so Susie could be in the wedding! Susie was so stunned and pleased that Anyssa would do that. Susannah's new ward, Ellen, was also a bridesmaid to Anyssa. Proudly walking her down the aisle was the man who raised her as a little girl, Sam Lucas. To this day, he considers Anyssa, her adopted sister, Sheila, and Susie as all his daughters. Michelle, Anyssa's adopted mother, agrees with that idea, and she is very close friends with both Sam and Lahoma.
After her marriage, Anyssa took the bar and became a lawyer. She chose to become a prosecutor, and was very adept at it. Her conviction rate, combined with her husband, was 99%.
When Susannah was charged with murder in the death of Mary Watson, Anyssa was right beside her all the way. She knew Susie was innocent, and she also knew about her trials with her ex-boyfriend from Kansas City. When it was revealed that Susie hadn't killed Mary (her pacemaker had failed and she was unconscious; she was nearly framed by a wicked drug dealer who met his end by falling off an ice coated fire escape), and that she had accidentally died at the hands of her boyfriend, Bernard Kendrick, Anyssa was also involved in the moment when she and Donna Morgan, Susie's friend, co-worker, and her defense attorney, signed the adoption papers allowing Susie to adopt Ellen and to become her mother. This moment, a moment she clearly cherishes, helped Anyssa realize that it was time for her to consider her options for children.
Anyssa gave birth to QUADRUPLETS! This was the first time that four babies were born at the same time, in the Harper family, where twin births are not uncommon. Anyssa's children are named Samuel Allan (called Sammy, named after the two men whom she considered her Father, Sam Lucas, her adopted dad (and godfather) and her birth father, Allan Rayburn); Courtney Susannah (called Courtney Sue, named after her two best friends, Courtney Harrison and her adopted sister, Susannah Lucas); Ellen Joanne (called Ellie, named after Susannah's adopted daughter, Ellen and Susie's friend and co-worker in Somerset, Joanne Kendrick); and Serena Joliette (who is called by her middle name Jolie, named after her other two friends, Serena Gerber and Joliette Manning).
Besides her friendships with Courtney and Susie, Anyssa is also good friends with Serena and Joliette, and the four women constantly are together, although now, with Anyssa being a mother to four babies, they are always coming over to help, as well as doting grandmother, Michelle, their loving Aunt Sheila and Uncle Allen, as well as the rest of the Harper family, being there to help Anyssa. Because of the multiple births, Anyssa has retired from being a federal prosecutor, but is still working as a practicing lawyer.
She has the services of her friend, Taylor Addison, who, by raising Anyssa's nephew, Nicky, is quite adept at helping with babysitting the quads. After retiring from the Boston Federal prosecutor's office, she opened up a private practice, while Bryan still works at the Federal Courthouse.
As a possible consequence, the Forsons are looking for a townhouse in the Beacon Hill area, as their apartment is too small for six people, and they would be closer to the rest of the family.
With godparents, Anyssa has a FULL list! Her uncle Michael and Aunt Wendy are the godparents of Sam, as are Sam and Lahoma; Courtney Sue's godparents are her uncle Jason and aunt Sandra as well as her namesakes Susie and Courtney; Ellie and Jolie's godparents are Sheila and Allen as well as Jolie's two namesakes, Serena and Joliette.
However, Anyssa is out for blood when she discovers that Ellie is kidnapped by her evil aunt, Erica Harper. After being ignominiously drummed out of Beacon Hill, Erica breaks into Anyssa's townhouse and kidnaps little Ellie. She then realizes that nobody else in Beacon Hill will have a good word to say to her, and faces eviction from her hotel suite. Having to look for an apartment, Erica is appalled to find the only places open are in Detroit, Michigan, a place she despises. However, she has no alternative. Passing Ellie off as her young daughter, Alicia (the name taken from her deceased cousin, Alicia), Erica moves to the hated Detroit.
Anyssa is bringing all her legal training to bear to hopefully catch Erica and to get back her baby girl. Conflict of interests or no, she aims to prosecute Erica for kidnapping her daughter, and hopefully, she will get the chance to do so. However, the scheming Erica, in a show of mercy and mainly because she was sick of the emotional Ellie's crying, released her from captivity, and was safely returned home. Dylan had seen a crying Ellie on Louisburg Square, holding a ratty old doll that the callous Erica had given her, and he escorted her back to his cousin's house. So, while Anyssa is relieved that Ellie is back home and safe, she is still intent on making sure Erica pays for what she did. Erica's conniving had awakened a volcano in Anyssa, and she is out for her evil aunt's blood!
Like most of the Harpers, Anyssa is stunned to find out that her grandfather, Richard is alive, but her prosecutor's gut is telling her that he is not what he seems. She seemed to recall that Richard had a specific mole somewhere, and the imposter doesn't. She, along with her aunt Wendy and Uncle Michael are sure now something is amiss and Dylan is targeted by the man claiming to be Richard Harper.
The villain was arrested and so was Erica. Anyssa was instrumental in enacting new safety measures for Dylan. She also unveiled her new catch phrase: "You mess with one Harper, you mess with ALL of us!"
Recently, Anyssa suffered a huge loss when her uncle Michael passed away as the result of a massive heart attack in his Louisburg Square back yard. She was very close to her uncle and she was devastated at his death. Anyssa was mourning along with her family, and in spite of it all, she still works hard.
Not long after her uncle's death, her cousin, Hannah Harper Atchley also passed away, only in her case, it was a deliberate hit and run committed by Erica. Erica, who had finally repented, was herself killed in prison. Later, it was revealed that Hannah's body double had been killed by Erica and the real Hannah was hidden in Watertown. She returned to the joy of her family.
Recently, after a long talk with Velda, Michelle, Sydney, Sam and Lahoma Lucas, Anyssa had begun to consider having her maiden name changed to Lucas, since she felt more at home with Sam and Lahoma and considered them her mother and father. Velda, Michelle and Sydney were in approval of it, as was Sam and Lahoma. They are now planning to officially adopt Anyssa. Although she will become a part of Sam and Lahoma's family, she would still remain a Harper, as she is very much loved by them.
More revelations come into the forefront when it is revealed that Sheila and Dylan aren't cousins, but are twin siblings. It was revealed that Michelle had given birth to Dylan and Sheila long before she ever married Joe Wainwright, but Shelby Whitehead had tried to kidnap baby Dylan. The stunt nearly cost Shelby her relationship with Michael, and brought a confrontation between Shelby and Michael and Michelle.
However, Michelle, to keep peace in the family, allowed Dylan to be adopted by Michael so he could take care of him. Michelle kept an eye out for her son, however. Anyssa sees these revelations as nothing to worry about, and she considers Dylan her brother.