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Ask any General Hospital fan about Ava, and they’ll tell you they love to hate her. She’s manipulative, cunning, dishonest, and although the character has been the target of attempted murder, she has no problem killing folks or pulling the trigger when she wants to (ahem, Connie, Olivia). It takes a special type of talent to get viewers in their emotions like that, and Maura West has been at it as Ava Jerome for seven seasons.

Whether you view West’s character as evil, a survivor, or a bad mom, you have to hand it to the Emmy winner for a job well done. Here’s a look at West’s background, career, and net worth.

Maura West
Maura West of ‘General Hospital’ | David Crotty/Patrick McMullan via Getty Images

West started out on a different soap opera

Before taking Port Charles by storm, West starred in two other soap operas, but got her big start on As the World Turns in the role of Carly Tenney/Snyder. She played Carly from 1995 to 2010 until the soap went off the air, and then had a short stint on The Young and the Restless from 2010 to 2011 as Diane Jenkins.

In 2014, West snagged a role in the horror film, Come Back to Me, but now she plays a villain. A native of the East Coast, West graduated with a degree in fine arts from Boston University.

In 2013, she landed the role of Ava Jerome on the long-running GH, quickly settling into the part that’s placed her character in crazy and sometimes perilous situations. On playing Ava, West told Soap Opera Digest:

“It can be hard playing Ava a little bit sometimes. I do think being a woman playing an antagonist can be a little harder. It’s tough for Ava to get a break, you know? She has so few allies. It sometimes feels like there’s just this barrage of people pointing and hating and spitting and bitching at me.

Meanwhile, Valentin’s onstage singing Billy Joel! It’s like, wait a minute — he killed Nikolas [laughs]! But I love playing Ava, I really do. There’s so much to her. I was more grown-up when she was created, and we have so much more to us [as we age]. She’s so layered and endlessly fascinating and I love her. I understand her.”

She’s been married twice and has children

West has been married to her current husband Scott DeFreitas since 2000, a fellow actor whom she met while they both worked on As the World Turns. He played Andy! The couple will celebrate their wedding anniversary on Jan. 22.

They have four children together, and according to People, West has a son from her previous marriage to former New Kids on the Block member, Jonathan Knight.

West’s acting career continues to grow her wealth and allows her to give back

When she’s not busy filming General Hospital or spending time with her family, West supports charities such as the Sandy Rollman Ovarian Cancer Foundation and the National Autism Foundation.

According to TVShowStars, the 47-year-old actress has a net worth of $5 million. Catch daily episodes of General Hospital on ABC at 2 p.m. EST.