N’Neka Garland, a producer on the long-running soap opera General Hospital, has passed away at the age of 49. She had been with the show for 22 years, starting as an executive assistant in 2001 before moving up the ranks to become a coordinating producer and eventually a producer in 2021. Garland won a Daytime Emmy two years ago and was nominated for the award three years in a row, from 2019 to 2021.
Garland suffered a heart attack at her home in Sherman Oaks and passed away on Monday at Providence Saint Joseph Medical Center in Burbank. Laura Wright, who stars on General Hospital, paid tribute to Garland on Instagram, saying that she was a “shining star” and had a “gift of making everyone feel like THEY were your favorite.”
Born in Jersey City, New Jersey, Garland attended Somerville High School before graduating from Hampton University in Virginia with a degree in mass media. She began her career in soaps as an assistant to veteran producer Jill Farren Phelps at ABC’s One Life to Life in New York before moving to Los Angeles in 2001 to work with Phelps on General Hospital. She eventually became an associate producer on the show in 2015.
Garland’s late half-brother was the rapper Tupac Shakur. In honor of Garland, the show’s writers named a bartender character N’Neka after her, and the role was played by Arlondriah Lenyéa.
General Hospital executive producer Frank Valentini said in a statement that Garland was “universally adored by everyone” on the show and brought out the best in everyone. He added that her absence would leave a hole in their lives, but that they would remember all the wonderful memories they shared with her.