As the daughter of actors Colette Jackson and Solomon Sturges IV, and the grandchild of director Preston Sturges, Shannon Sturges quickly found her way in Hollywood.
“When I booked my first two auditions, I recognized how unusual that was,” the actress, 51, tells PEOPLE in this week’s issue. “It’s like, ‘Okay, I’m going to be famous!’ “
“I remember meeting somebody, and they started crying when they met me,” Sturges recalls of her early days of fame. “And I was like, ‘Wow!’ They were so excited that this person from their shows, from their stories, had shown up in their life.”
Sturges then married graphic designer Michael Kelley in 1993 and continued her soap opera run with NBC’s Passions and The WB’s short-lived drama Savannah, also starring Blake Lively‘s older sister Robyn, with whom she’s remained close.
“Once I ran into Robyn and I was with one of my sons, and she was with some of her children,” the mother of two remembers. “We just started screaming and squealing and my son was like, ‘Who was that woman?’ I was like, ‘That’s like my sister.’ “
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But the uncertainty of an actor’s schedule, along with some encouragement from her lifelong acting coach, eventually led Sturges to teach.
“I discovered that’s really what I was meant to do,” says Sturges, who now owns the Speiser/Sturges Acting Studio in Los Angeles.
Though Sturges doesn’t see herself back on television anytime soon, one of her students — Vanderpump Rules star Lala Kent — managed to get her back on the small screen when Bravo filmed a lesson with Kent, 29, and Scheana Shay for a January episode of the reality series.
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“I wasn’t familiar, really, with Vanderpump Rules, although I have students who work the door at TomTom,” Sturges says. “So when they came I thought, ‘I know what these girls need to learn. I know what they need to work on. I know what makes good television.’ So that’s why I took them through some sense memory exercises.”
The scene somehow ended up with the Vanderpump Rules ladies faking orgasms. But no matter, Sturges says, “I really believe I have the best job ever.”