In the new CBS drama Joan of Arcadia, Amber Tamblyn might have her hands full playing a suburban teen who starts receiving orders directly from God. Then again, this 20-year-old soap vet knows a thing or two about burdensome childhoods. During her tenure as Emily Quartermain on General Hospital from 1995-2001, the actress admits she sometimes longed for a carefree adolescence.

"I wanted to be a normal kid that went to school and got to go to birthday parties," Tamblyn says. "It's really hard when you're 12 years old, working five days a week, doing 22 scenes a day... I didn't think I fully understood what [acting] took away from your life until I started doing it on a soap opera."

Amber and Joan share another characteristic: parents who want to protect their daughters from having to grow up too fast. Actor Russ Tamblyn (West Side Story, Twin Peaks) now acts as his daughter's manager, but he wasn't always so gung-ho about her career choice. "He was a child actor, and it was hard for him," explains Tamblyn, "so he didn't want me to go through the same things he did."

The forces preventing Joan from "normal" teenage life are a little more complex. As if her divine visits weren't enough, "she's got an Italian father," points out her dad's portrayer, Joe Mantegna. "That's worse than having God hanging around."