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The Erika Slezak Interview – One Life to Live

Courtesy/ABC

Six-time Daytime Emmy winner, Erika Slezak (Viki) should probably get ready to pick up a seventh after this coming Wednesday’s episode, in which she will play three sides to Viki’s personality in a very special performance created by the powers-that-be, to honor her 40th anniversary milestone with the series.  It was back in 1971 that Erika first graced our television screens as the central heroine in Llanview and the wealthy daughter of the ruthless Victor Lord.  From that point on, the soap world has been mesmerized time and time again by her flawless, fearless, and heart tugging performances.

Trying to fathom the daytime world without Erika and her Viki is going to be a tall order, but sadly after the decision handed down by ABC less than two weeks ago, that day will have to come. On-Air On-Soaps had the distinct privilege to speak to Erika yesterday, and while we had to broach the subject of the cancellation, the focus of this interview was to celebrate with Erika her forty years of a monumental television achievement, that if you think about it, most likely not many other actors will experience that kind of longevity.  From the storylines, her leading men, her various alters (and we have loved watching her play them all) her cast mates, to her current front burner storyline, and the upcoming major episode, Erika shared her thoughts with such grace, delight, sentiment, and passion for what she does best…act!

When you think of the consummate professional, who for forty years has left an audience in tears and standing with cheers, there is only one who has accomplished this feat, and that is Erika Slezak.
I hope you will be moved by and enjoy this fantastic conversation with the one, thee only… Erika!

MICHAEL:

It is your 40th Anniversary with One Life to Live, and we are celebrating it on air with tomorrow’s special episode.  It has to be bittersweet with the heartbreaking news of the show’s cancellation a week and half ago.  How are you doing with the news?  I know it is still so fresh, and I know you released a statement to the fans.  But since you may have had a tiny bit more time to process it, is there anything else you may want to add?

ERIKA:

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We have seven more months left. I have talked to Frank Valentini (executive producer, OLTL) and he had told me there are brilliant stories to be told.  And, that we will go out with a bang.  Right now, I can only look forward to the next seven months.  After that, I think I will sleep for a while, because getting up at 5AM is tiring.  I have done it for 40 years and I can’t complain, because it has been a brilliant job.  I am very sorry to see it go, and not so much for me, but for the incredible loss of jobs for everyone connected with the show.  And, I don’t mean just the people that work there every day.  I mean the hundreds and hundreds of actors who are employed as under-fives, and as extras and day players every year.  There is work for actors there, and now there is not.  I don’t know about nighttime shows hiring those people on that type of scale.  And I find that horrendously sad, and the jobs that are lost are so awful.  However, we have seven months to make some really good stories, and that is what we are going to focus on.

MICHAEL:

Speaking of your 40th, on my website we posted a fantastic photo gallery of your surprise party last month at OLTL.   I hear you were totally surprised!  What went through your mind when you saw all of the cast and crew there to mark this incredible accomplishment with you?

ERIKA:

When the notice went up that we were having a St. Patrick’s Day party, I was talking to David Coleman, who is our security guard.  He is like the Mayor of Llanview and the show would not exist without him.  He does everything.  If you have a problem with your life, or your computer, he can fix it!  David looked at me and said, “Hmm, interesting!  St. Patrick’s Day party on your 40th Anniversary?” And I looked at him and said, “How do you know it’s my 40th anniversary?” And he said, “Because I have always known it was March 17th, St. Patrick’s Day.”  I said, “Look, they have given me parties in the past and have said to me, ‘Look, we are going to give you a nice party and we are going to invite Agnes Nixon, and it will be lovely.’  And it has always been lovely.  No one had said anything this time.  And I said, “And it would be kind of dumb to surprise me, wouldn’t it? “   And I thought (regarding the St. Patrick’s Day party) that this is really nice of Frank.  It has been a really long rotten winter.  We moved down to that other studio, which is terrific.  But I thought, ‘It’s an excuse to have lunch on the floor and welcome in spring.’  Then the day of the party I was finished taping at noon, and lunch was going to be at 12:30.  I was really hungry, as I eat a little breakfast usually around seven in the morning.  And I said to Robin Strasser (Dorian) as we were leaving the set, “Thank God.  I am so hungry.”  And I went to my dressing room to change and Frank showed up at my dressing room door at 12:25.  And I said, “Oh good. Let’s go to lunch.” And he said, “No, I have to talk to you first.”  And he started talking about nothing. “Oh, I wanted to say this, and I saw the show that we aired, and it’s going to be interesting with the editing.”  And he is still taking about nothing!  I am looking at my watch and I go, “Frank, can we go to lunch?  I am really hungry.”   Well, he keeps talking, and he is walking ahead of me very, very slowly down the corridor – and I am thinking, “Geez! I am starving. Will you move it?”  And we go up in the elevator together and he is still talking away, and he pushed open the door and he is still talking…and…. everyone is standing there looking at the door.  They yelled, “surprise!”  I looked at Frank as I thought it was something for Frank.  I was so stupid!  And then, everyone started applauding and that is when I realized what it was.  I felt stupid, incredibly honored, and surprised, and of course cried, because that is what you do when you are that stunned.  It was quite amazing.

Courtesy/ABC

MICHAEL:

But then, there was even more in store for you once you entered your own party!

ERIKA:

Yes, there was.  I kind of walked into the room slowly and there are about 20 people wearing t-shirts that said “Erika” on them.  I thought “Oh, my God”, and my daughter. Amanda was there, too.  She had flowers for me. It was so sweet.  And my husband, Brian, who gets his hair cut at the studio, said to me that he was going to come in on that Thursday.  So Brian had been there in the morning and he vanished, and he was going to have the dogs groomed that day.  So I thought, I will catch up with him when the dogs finished their grooming. And of course, he walked in, too.  Apparently, everybody knew but me.  It was amazing!  And what kind of blew me away was the beautiful reel they put together, which had Nathan Fillion (Ex-Joey, now Castle) on it, my sweet boy!  He was on the reel, and that boy is not a boy, he is a man, but he is so wonderful.  I love him to death, I really do. And David Pressman was on the reel, Brian Frons, and Agnes Nixon, too.  I did have to laugh because Regis and Kelly were on it and the ladies of The View. Then, they had this enormous spread of food.  I finally said, “Gosh, I am really hungry. Can I get something to eat?” (Laughs) Then somebody else said, “No, you have to cut the cake now.”  And I thought, ‘OK, I will cut the cake.’  I never did get lunch, but it was OK. (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

There was one picture I saw of Robin Strasser applauding you with you in tears. And I thought, it looked like such a great moment.

ERIKA:

Courtesy/ABC

She is my great bud and she is wonderful!  Jerry verDorn (Clint) made a speech.  I said, “Jerry, you are not even working today, you drove all the way from New Jersey?”  And he said, “Of course I did.”  I was so touched by that and what Robin said.  I love Robin dearly.  I think she feels the same about me.  We respect each other, and she is so great to work with.  I have always said, “Robin, when you have to bring something to the table, you bring a thanksgiving feast every single day when you go to work.”  It was quite an amazing day and you look around and go: “All these people are here for me.”  I said to Frank, “You know, I could kill you for this, but at the same time, thank you, thank you.  It was awesome!”  I was kind of hoping it would go under the radar, because I don’t feel like I have been there for 40 years.  I am surprised that 40 years have gone by.  I am thinking of all the stories we have told and all the amazing actors I have worked with.

MICHAEL:

Continuing in the celebration, how did this upcoming 40th anniversary episode that airs Wednesday come about?  Was this the brainchild of Frank and Ron to honor you in this way?

ERIKA:

Yes it was.  Frank came to me about four months ago.  He said, “Listen, we do want to do something for your 40th anniversary, and we are writing a special show for you.”  And I burst into tears and said, “Whoa! That is like amazing!”  He said, “Yeah, it’s going to be great.”  And I said, “What is it about?”  And he said, “We don’t know yet, but it is going to be your show.”  Then, I did not hear any more about it till about three weeks before we were going to do it. Larry Carpenter, our director called me and said, “So, I am directing this show and it is all you and we need to talk about it.”  I said, “Great. Do you know what it’s about?”  And he said, “Yes, don’t you?”  It was then he told me, and then Frank came to me and we had a long sit down.  So I knew then it was going to be about Viki’s alters.  Frank and Larry came up with this incredible idea for a set that is so amazing.  Roger Mooney did such a terrific job designing this set.

MICHAEL:

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So give me the set-up of the special episode, which I hear is truly a tour de force by you!

ERIKA:

The episode takes place in the courtroom where Viki is fighting for custody of Ryder. And of course, I become Niki, so it’s Niki pretending to be Viki.  She gets outed in the middle of it and she is very funny.  Then Jean takes over, and it cuts back and forth to Viki’s subconscious mind.  So I played all three ladies in my mind, but Larry’s and Frank’s concept for my mind was this incredible warehouse that had all kinds of stuff from One Life to Live from Viki’s life.  I am talking about furniture, and mirrors, and in the middle is a cage, and there is a circular staircase, and guess where that came from? The secret room!  It has a cage and there are two locked doors to the cage, and Viki has to get out of her mind and get up the stairs to get back to where she belongs; and get back to life.  We shot it in two days.  The courtroom was one day, and the second day was this unbelievable set that took up half the size of the studio. I walked around the set and thought, ‘My God! These are chairs from the Lord Library.  This was Asa’s.’   I recognized most of the furniture, and I said to Roger, “This must have cost a fortune!” And he said, “No, we own all of this.”  And we did it in three separate segments.  I had two wonderful ladies who worked with me who were the doubles.  First we taped Viki, then Jean, and then Niki, which was kind of good because then it was a nice high note to end on.  Everything is a little larger than life in there, and Niki in particular.  I have said as you may have read, “I have officially joined Over-Actors Anonymous,” but I had to.  I had to seize that opportunity. (Laughs)  Larry said they had finished editing it, and it’s going to be really good.  I have not seen it, but I will see it on Wednesday when it airs.  I have made a date with myself.  I think I am almost in every scene.  It has a lot of me! (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

Last week, we saw Viki pushed to the edge by Tess; thus the emergence of Niki.  You make the shift to the alters so real and incredibly sad and painful for the viewers to watch.  You have done this time and time again, but of course, in different scenarios where Dorian triggers the alters, or other life-altering events in Viki’s life.  Are those scenes particularly difficult to pull off?

ERIKA:

It’s very difficult to do, because in my mind I know what triggers this.  We did a lot of research when Michael Malone wrote the multiple story; when we decided to give Viki’s DID a reason.  The sadness of that is what caused the mind to split.  I saw videotape with the permission of the psychiatrist and the patient of a woman who was a multiple, and it was during her session.  Again, we had her permission, and it was just the directors and I, and it was just incredibly sad, because the woman is a perfectly normal, very nice looking lady, who was horrendously abused as a child by various family members.  She has a whole bunch of personalities and they show up in the oddest way.  There is absolute silence, and then she comes back as somebody completely different. And it looks like ‘bad acting’ but its not.  It’s a whole different personality and very strange and sad to see.  So when we do it on our show, we have to make the personalities distinct characters.  This last time, I did not want to give it away because Viki was supposedly having a heart attack while Clint is having a heart attack.  So when I came back I did not want the audience to know instantly it was Niki.  There were like a couple of deep breaths, and I let them think Viki has composed herself. Then she turns around, and I actually wrote the line that Niki says to Tess, “God. You’re annoying!” (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

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How has it been having Kim Zimmer as Viki’s nemesis, Echo, on the canvas with you?  And then getting the opportunity as Viki to let Echo have it for destroying her marriage to Charlie.  Those were great scenes!

ERIKA:

I love Kim Zimmer, just let me say that.  When Frank told me he was asking her to come back I was so excited, because it was brilliant, and it was part of the history of the show. Kim is a wonderful actress and a great person.  From the first day she showed up we have laughed a lot and had such a good time.  And those scenes where Viki confronts Echo, I thought were particularly good.  It is hard to be really angry with Kim because she has such a sweet face on her.  But I loved playing those scenes and I think she did, too. And after that, I had scenes in the carriage house where I told her to get out, which I loved!

MICHAEL:

Niki now has the confession tape showing Echo knew all along that Clint was Rex’s father, not Charlie!

ERIKA:

Dorian gave her the tape, and Niki could care less. And then she realizes Echo could cause a problem for her with Charlie, and then she just figures I will go over there and threaten her. Niki is going through Echo’s closet when Echo comes in the room, and Niki just thinks everything she owns is just so ugly. (Laughs). And the rest you have to watch!

MICHAEL:

How do you feel about Viki losing another husband, as we know, Brian Kerwin will be leaving the series soon?  Many felt that Charlie was just not a good match for Viki, but yet they had such a sweet and pure love story originally at the Bon Jour Café.

ERIKA:

Courtesy/ABC

I think real life intruded on it.  There were some very sweet things that Charlie says that Viki realizes are kind of right.  He never could live up to what he thought Viki expected of him.  She didn’t.  She was quite happy to have Charlie, who was an incredibly good person… flawed, but good.  He says, “Echo understands because she is a drunk, and understands the failings and the flaws of another human being.”  And it probably was not a good match for Viki, because there is a lot to live up to… living in that house, everybody loving her, and being so rich.  Even though that is not her as a person, it is the trappings that come with her that Charlie realizes.  I think at the end she should realize it too, but she is heartbroken because she loves Charlie.  He is a really a good guy and Brian Kerwin (Charlie) is such a doll.  The whole Paris, Texas story I loved so much because it took Viki out of Viki.  It made her just the person who she is, but without the trappings.  She was so content being there, serving coffee, being a waitress, and meeting real people.  Viki and the audience met wonderful characters there: Mo, Noelle, Gigi, Shane, and Charlie, and all the people in and out of the café.  It was such a release and a relief for her to be away from the litany of problems in Viki’s life.

MICHAEL:

Have you and Brian said your goodbyes?

ERIKA:

Yes, unfortunately he is finished already, and I miss him.  He is a really good actor and a delightful person, but I wish him all the best, of course.

MICHAEL:

How have you enjoyed the pairing of Tess and Niki working together, as they are attempting to do in the custody case for Ryder?  Do you and Bree get a kick out of those scenes?  Yet, there is such great back-story there for what Niki did that left Jess vulnerable when she was a child and split in to Tess.

ERIKA:

Courtesy/ABC

Yes, because we never played that.  The one thing we talked about was that Tess was initially supposed to be like another Niki.  Bree Williamson (Jess/Tess) does not play it that way, which is brilliant.  Tess has a lot more feeling and heart.  Niki doesn’t care about anything except her own freedom.  She is the most selfish, self-centered person on earth, because that is what she was created to be.  It did not matter what happened, she would deal with it.  Tess is meaner than Niki, because Tess has more dimension.  When multiples are created, they are individually created to deal with certain problems and secrets.  Niki was created to deal with the sex, and so that is all she cares about.  It does not bother her to go sleep around, drink, and be totally irresponsible.  She is the antithesis of Viki.  We were very careful to be very separate as alters.  Bree is such a good actress and she has played this character of Tess so well, and we have lot more coming up with Viki and Tess that is really good!

MICHAEL:

Did you ever take issue with the back-story that was created for Jessica’s abuse, because of the behavior of Niki?

ERIKA:

I did not have trouble with it, but I thought it was the only way to deal with it.  They decided to have Jessica become Tess, and I was chatting with Frank one day and I said, “Where did Tess come from?”  And he said, “We hadn’t quite figured that out yet.  It probably should have been because of one of your alters.”  I said, “The only one that it could be is Niki.  The other ones would not have done that.”  And he said, “That is where we are going, we think.”  And that is where they did go.  Of course, it was so hard for Viki to have to deal with that because it’s her fault.  It is not her fault, but it is her fault.  But truly, it’s Victor’s fault for abusing her in the first place and creating her alters.  But Viki is not responsible for the actions of the alter.  She feels she is, but not really.

MICHAEL:

One of the comments I loved from OLTL head writer, Ron Carlivati, in this current story is; he loved when he flips Erika into Niki, and then you are Niki trying to pretend to be Viki.  Are those some of the most fun for you?

ERIKA:

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They are so much fun for me, and that is what the first half of the courtroom scene is about.  Niki is pretending to be Viki, and she thinks she is doing a really good job.  And so everything is slightly exaggerated because that is what she thinks Viki is.  It is terrific fun.  I am like the kid in the biggest sandbox in the world!

MICHAEL:

No matter what goes on in their lives, Viki and Clint are there for each other, even after the horrendous things Clint has done that have now hurt Viki.   Do you think there is hope now for a Viki/Clint reconciliation?  How has it been acting alongside Jerry verDorn?

ERIKA:

There is love there.  She understands Clint and the difficulties he is having now, and the difficulty he had with his father’s passing.  She has known Clint for a very long time and she always loved him.  And yes, they couldn’t be married anymore because then executive producer Linda Gottlieb decided we shouldn’t be married anymore.  I hope there is a reconciliation for Viki and Clint.  We have seven months to do it, so let’s do it. And Jerry verDorn is one of the most awesome human beings on this earth, and you can’t be mean to him.  I don’t care what he does.  He is just fantastic.  Jerry is amazing as a bad Clint!

MICHAEL:

Viki is going to have an internal struggle in the courtroom during the Ryder custody case this week.  This is not the first time she has had her alters come out on the witness stand.  At one point, didn’t they drag Niki out on the witness stand years ago?

ERIKA:

Yes, after Mitch Laurence killed Harry O’Neill, another awesome guy.  Have I been a lucky girl!  I remember working with Frank Converse (Ex-Harry). And I remember a scene where I was Niki and we were dancing some place, and I looked up at him, and it was in rehearsal, and I could not help myself, and I said, “God, you are handsome.”  And he was so embarrassed he did not know where to look. This is one of the most handsome men on earth.

Courtesy/ABC

MICHAEL:

And speaking of handsome, there was also Mark Derwin, as your Ben?

ERIKA:

I love him. He sent me the cutest email after my 40th stating that he was sorry he could not be on the tribute reel, but his mother had been ill and he could not make time for that.  But I thought it was just as well, because God knows what he would have said.  He is so disrespectful, but I love that man. (Laughs)  He sent me a cute email afterwards stating, “You know, people ask about our time together and we never had a day we did not have fun.”  And it’s true. Mark is like a big wonderful child.  I used to call him “My favorite 14-year old.”

MICHAEL:

When you look back at playing truly one of the all-time most memorable characters in soaps for forty years, what moments, either as Viki or personally to you as Erika, stand out in your mind?  Certain Emmy wins?  A little nugget, or a moment that may have happened on set, or a favorite storyline?

ERIKA:

I think the sixth Emmy win was the most stunning.  To win against seven other awesome actresses was incredible.  And, that is when we had the lunch the day before and Susan Flannery (Stephanie, B&B) had organized it.  It was fantastic!  We closed the restaurant. I think they were ready to throw us out.  There we were drinking champagne and laughing and screaming.  And Susan kind of vanished near the end and came back and she settled the bill.  I can’t imagine what the bill must of have been. We easily drank 8 to 10 bottles of champagne among the eight of us.  So to have a fabulous lunch and to have laughed and laughed and tell stories, it was just unbelievable!  And I had never met Michelle Stafford (Phyllis, Y&R) and Juliet Mills (Tabitha Ex-Passions) before.  I knew Martha Byrne (Ex-Lily, ATWT) but not very well.  I knew Kim Zimmer and Kassie DePaiva (Blair, OLTL).  Nancy Lee Grahn (Alexis, GH), I knew well because we worked together.  I yelled at Susan, “You shouldn’t pay the entire bill.”  And she goes, “Let it go. Whoever wins tomorrow can pay next year.”  And we all said, “ha-ha-ha.”  And when I made my acceptance speech I should have said, “Lunch is on me next year.”  But all I could think of was all of these amazing actresses and how did they pick me?  I don’t know.  The best part of that win was the lunch with those women.

MICHAEL:

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Where are your record six Daytime Emmys that you have won over the forty years as Viki?  When you look at them now, is it still surreal?  Do you realize what an amazing accomplishment and honor that is?

ERIKA:

I do.  I am honored and floored. We have a little library and they are in a bookcase there.  I will walk by and go, “Wow.”  The first one I got was given to me by Stuart Damon (Ex-Alan, GH) and it was not televised.  I have kept all the little envelopes.  Stuart and my husband were dear old friends, and when I won Stuart said, “Take the envelope.” And that is the only proof I had that I won, because my name is in the middle, but it also has the names of the other nominees, so it’s kind of lovely to see.

MICHAEL:

You have seen so many regimes come and go over your forty years at OLTL.  Right now, this show is must-see TV, as it has always been, but particularly now it seems that all stories are firing on all cylinders, which makes this cancellation all the more disturbing and disheartening.  How has it been for you handling the changes behind the scenes throughout the years?

ERIKA:

Every time a producer leaves I think that’s the end of me, because they come in and recast, but I stayed.  I started in 1971 and thought I had a two-year contract.  I was stupid. I did not know they could fire me anytime they wanted to.  And I say, I do not know how forty years have gone by, but one year turned to another.  I got married and I had children, and I still had this brilliant, wonderful job.  People come and go, and you get closer to some than others.  I cannot think of a better job for an actress over a long period.  I am sure it’s great to be a movie star and make a ton of money and stuff, but I have consistently worked for forty years, and taken vacations when I wanted; knowing I have a job to come back to. That is incredible for an actress, and it just doesn’t happen.

MICHAEL:

Whenever I speak to your castmates, no matter whom, they always tell me you know your lines as well as everyone else’s. (Laughs)  Do you make that a point?

ERIKA:

Courtesy/ABC

Yes.  I don’t necessarily learn everybody else’s line, I learn my lines.  I come from the theatre and it’s important to me. You can’t give a performance if you don’t know what you are going to say.  I am not up there making it up, and people still write letters and go, “God, you have to make that up everyday?”  No, you don’t make it up, it’s written. You frame the performance around the words, and all of that has to be prepared in advance. You can’t just fake it.  I have had people who don’t know their lines in scenes with me that are very emotional.  Because you are on a track, and I know how to build the performance, they will say, “Oh, I don’t’ know my line, or what to say.”  Then you are screwed and you have to build that performance all over again, and go back to the beginning. There is no time to do all the preparation all over again.  But that does not happen often.  And when people go up on a line, it is generally an honest mistake. There are a few people over the years that just couldn’t be bothered to learn their lines, but they are not there anymore.

MICHAEL:

Now, as the series is ramping up for its final months, what is it going to be like for you having Roger Howarth (First-Todd) back?

ERIKA:

I am delighted!  I wanted to call him, but I don’t have his phone number.  But I wanted to say, “Thank God. He is coming back.”  I loved working with Roger.  He is a very talented, really clever, really nice guy.  He is kind of shy and keeps to himself, but he is such an interesting actor, and we had a wonderful time working together before.  So I am looking forward to that a lot.

MICHAEL:

I know this may be too soon to ask this question, but knowing that Viki’s life will not be able to be seen by viewers after January 2012 on ABC Daytime, is there something you would still love to get the opportunity to do, or play that you haven’t, before it ends?  And, how would you like to see Viki’s final moments play out on-air as the show comes to unfortunate fade to black?

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ERIKA:

No, I don’t think there is anything left I would still love to play.  I make jokes that I have no organs left except my appendix.  I have had every illness under the sun except, I have not been a drunk or a drug addict, and I don’t think I want to do that.  I don’t think that is a direction for Viki to go in.  At the end, I would love to see her happy.  Who knows what they are going to write?  But it should honor the show. And the final scene shouldn’t just be Viki.  It should be Viki and Clint, and Bo and Nora, and all the people who have been there and have been the heart and soul of that show for all those years.

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imasoapfan
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imasoapfan

What a beautiful and moving interview with the talented Erika Slezak! I loved it. I can’t wait to see her special anniversary episode tomorrow.

Chris
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Chris

Awesome interview!!!! I adore Erika, and you asked all of the questions that we all would have asked.

Leigh A
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Leigh A

How wonderful! Erika Slezak has always been one of my favorites. I hope the final shows ends the way she wants it too. That’s how I want it to end too. I can’t imagine all the main longtime characters not all being in the final show or scene. I loved this interview; very emotional!

Brandon
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Brandon

God, I love this woman. Erika Slezak is AMAZING. I’m going to cry my eyes out when we have to say goodbye to Viki on the last day of One Life To Live.

Thanks so much for this great interview!

steve
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steve

Michael great interview Erika was so poised She is such a talented Actress the viewers have been blessed to have Erika play Vikki for 40 years !

Erica
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Erica

I love Erika Slezak! I loved the questions you asked, because a lot of others would have asked the same ones. I can’t wait for her 40th anniversary episode tomorrow!

Kristin
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Kristin

Thank you, thank you, thank you SO much for this interview. I love OLTL & I just love Erika. She’s such a classy lady. I really enjoyed hearing everything she had to say. I even cried some when she was talking about her 40th Anniversary episode.

bbridges
Guest
bbridges

Awesome interview with the best of the best. Looking forward to the show honoring her tomorrow!!

Christina
Guest
Christina

Thank you! Great interview. Erika Slezak was the reason I started watching One Life To Live over thirty-eight years ago and she continues to be the main reason I watch today. It will be so sad on that last day of OLTL, like a friend leaving.

Neal
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Neal

Erika is such a class act!

Emily
Guest
Emily

Great interview. How can you not just love Erika? Always such a class act.

Doe
Guest
Doe

A loving interview, Michael. Erika has been the glue that has kept the show operating at such a high level. She is a phenomal actress.She makes everyone better because of her expertise and finesse in her performances And yes, she is a class act. She is someone you have to keep watching because she brings you in to her life so artfully. Then you don’t know what hit you and brought you in to her world. Fabulous woman! I will miss her very much. But, I believe we may see her doing something great on Nightime TV or perhaps she… Read more »

Jen
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Jen

I adored this interview. I can’t imagine my life without Viki, I just can’t! Erika is a true class act!

Writestuffla
Guest
Writestuffla

Erika will always be Dame Erika to me, because she is acting royalty. She is gracious and I remember either Brett Claywell or Scott Evans tweeting and saying they just marveled at her work. The only thing I take issue with Dame Erika (it’s affectionate, not snarky) is the writer’s handling of Charlie Banks. Once they brought him to Llanview from Paris, they really didn’t know what to do with him, and they need to take responsibility for their poor writing of that character. Unfortunately they’ve done the same thing to Susan Haskell. They didn’t know how to write for… Read more »

Brian
Guest
Brian

Erika Slezak is one very classy lady! It will be so hard to watch final show. Congratulations on your 40th. You will be missed by all who love “One Life To Live”

gigik
Guest
gigik

Have loved Erika and the incredibly wonderful stories that have emanated thru the years…So much fun to escape the reality of everyday life ………Thank you for all the unforgettable scenes —watching the characters age (not as quickly as me though!!!)
Wishing continued happiness and good fortune to the cast…

Sue
Guest
Sue

Thanks for the heads up on the special Vicky episode. I’ll be sure to watch it. I remember when Erica took over the role. I would make a cup of tea for my mother and me and we would watch OLTL. Good memories….

Ann
Guest
Ann

I Love ‘One Life to Live’! it has been my fav since i was a young girl, watching w/my Grandma’s in the summers, and as an adult off and on…

Shame on ABC cancelling it!
For just another talk/info show! i hope the ratings sink!

Thank you Ms. Slezak! You are a ‘Class Act’!

Christine
Guest
Christine

I think that Erika is right the final moments should include Viki, Clint, Bo and Nora. Hopefully Dorian can squeeze her way in as well.They are OLTL and they are going to be the people that are missed most. I don’t know what I am going to do without my daily dose of Bo and Nora.

NY Soap Examiner
Guest
NY Soap Examiner

Michael you are truly amazing in the way you deal with your subjects. They are made to feel comfortable and allowed to answer the most pertinent and heart felt questions. Erika Slezak is a true Jewel and the thought of never seeing her perform again as our beloved Viki is too dreadful to contemplate. Thanks for the best interview I have read in a long time. You are the King!

Cindy
Guest
Cindy

I was watching OLTL since the very very beginning- and then ERIKA SLEZAK appears- how wonderful-
and, my sister in law and I used to discuss the happenings for when you were on- she was in costume dept- THE GINNY scenes, with the tight corset-
I am going to so miss you and all the actors- I hope down the road- you somewhere get into daytime shows- we will so miss you- THANK YOU for these years- CINDY P

red and vanessa forever
Guest
red and vanessa forever

can’t for viki and clint reunion as it should be them together and bo and nora together also

Dee
Guest
Dee

Thank you for all the wonderful years. I started watching OLTL in 1977 when i was 16. i will be 50 at the end of this summer. It was such a big part of my life and i will miss it and you very much

hmm
Guest
hmm

I so admire Ms. Slezak’s humility.

She truly is one of the best in the industry and deserved all of her emmy’s.

Cheffran
Guest
Cheffran

Oh my, but I am truly devastated about our soaps going of the air. Erika is one of my favorites and of course I am a big fan of OLTL and AMC , as well as DOOL and GH. These soaps have been a part of my life since 1965 and for sure I will miss them as will all of the other fans. For sure TPTB are caring about any of the staff, no matter what their job is, or the fans. Shame on them and thanks Erika for your wonderful acting and dedication which you have shown over… Read more »

sophie
Guest
sophie

I hope we see more from Erika after the show ends (and she’s had her big sleep and rested up). She’s not only a great actress, but a thoughtful, well-spoken woman. I hope there will be something wonderful in store for her.

MEG
Guest
MEG

Thank you MICHAEL ,ERIKA IS WONDERFUL

OLTL Fan
Guest
OLTL Fan

Oh my gosh…. Ever since hearing the news, I still feel like someone punched me in the gut. This is my family!!!!! Erika is my family!!!!!!!

Brian Greene
Guest
Brian Greene

Erika, You Are Soooo Terrific. We Love Watching You In Evanston, Illinois. 🙂 Thanks For Conducting This Super-Terrific Interview, Michael! 🙂

Doe
Guest
Doe

Oh, my God! If you didn’t see todays episode of OLTL , you missed the performanc of a lifetime. Erika Slezac was so effective in playing all her alters, going back and forth into each one that I knew I was witnessing the greatest soap actress of all time. And at the end, all I could do was sob. It was overwhelming to say the least. If all you fans haven’t seen it, go look for it and you will see for yourselves what I am talking about. Bravo….Bravo…Bravo Erica

trish17
Guest
trish17

I saw the episode with the alters today and was blown away. I wasn’t aware that this was going to be the show and I was mesmerized and all I could think of when it was over was that in a few short months Vicki will be gone from my life and this amazing actress. I grew up with most of the Soaps and when GL and ATWT went off I did not turn on CBS to see the new shows and still haven’t and to tell the truth I don’t even know what replaced those shows and the same… Read more »

Patrick Trubia
Guest
Patrick Trubia

Great interview Erika. And the show today was fantastic!! I have to say that when I heard the news about the cancellation I felt like I was told that I was terminally ill by my doctor. The news was shocking! How can I not have Erika and her great characters on OLTL. Erika is my family, she has kept me entertained and delighted since I began watching back in 1978. Erika really has been the only reason that I watched. I don’t want this year to end, Erika as Victoria Lord still has many years to be told. Thank God… Read more »

Linda
Guest
Linda

First, I must say that my daughter and I am truly devastated by the news of the cancellation of AMC and One Life to Live. We are doing everything we can to join forces to have the decision changed. To me, the best two actors on television are Erika Slezak and Bree Williamson!! They make changing into their alters look so easy and it is amazing when they are their alters and try to pretend to be the real character (Niki pretending to be Viki). You are the best!!! We are praying really hard that our shows don’t get cancelled… Read more »

Scott Paquin
Guest
Scott Paquin

She is Amazing! I really hope that after hearing about the shows # 2 ratings that ABC will change for minds and not cancel this wonderful show.

luane raudabaugh
Guest
luane raudabaugh

I totally agree with you! OLTL FOREVER!

luane raudabaugh
Guest
luane raudabaugh

Wonderful interview! What a lovely, gracious lady. I wish only the best for Erika and all the amazing actors on my very,very favorite soap since it came on tv when I was a mere 13 years old. I will miss Erika tremendously!

sadie soaper
Guest
sadie soaper

Thank you for this interview. Erika’s performances have always been superb, but her performance on her 40th anniversary show was absolutely outstanding and Emmy-deserving. I have been a OLTL viewer since its inception and followed all stories with great enjoyment. I sincerely hope OLTL (and AMC) will find another home on NBC or CBS or a cable network. Exceptional acting, writing, direction and crew work will be sorely missed. ABC has made a huge mistake in cancelling these shows – my “stories”.

ethel
Guest
ethel

wow – what an awesome interview!!! erica is some lady……………

jeffrey moree
Guest
jeffrey moree

WOW! What a brilliant actress Erika is and Micheal is a masterful interviewer. I will miss OLTL deeply what a waste to cancel it in favor of a reality show.

Diane Ross
Guest
Diane Ross

I’ve watched OLTL from the beginning. It’s been my favorite of the ABC soaps. We moved a lot over the years and the soaps where my constant no matter where I lived. Kudos to Erika and the entire staff of OLTL for giving us a lot of joy and entertainment over the years. The cancellation of OLTL and AMC is a travesty. Shame on ABC!

Skater Boy
Guest
Skater Boy

She is such a classy and talented lady. She and Susan Lucci have truly been the jewels of daytime. I hope we will see these amazing actors again; though I fear ageism will get in the way. Sleazak is an amazing actress and would be a marvel for any show; Lucci may be typecast. Both are very beautiful ladies for any age.

sadie soaper
Guest
sadie soaper

***** ATTENTION: SOAP FANS *****
We need to take action to save All My Children and One Life to Live!!! We need our voices to be heard !
Go to this website http://soapfansunite.webs.com and join in the protest of these ridiculous cancellations! Go to the rallies, call the sponsors, write letters and boycott ABC (except for our soaps). We need to make it quite clear to the network that we WILL NOT watch any replacements if they go through with these soap cancellations.
We will not let our stories go without a fight!

james brann
Guest
james brann

soaps were yesterdays tv the talk shows are now shows more women working not home watching tv soaps so abc got to stay alive in today tv markets

Inez
Guest
Inez

The talk shows they have now are barely thriving, Rachel Ray, The Talk’s ratings are lower than ATWT’s last episode, even Oprah’s ratings are sagging in her last year. Reality and talk is just cheaper to produce and Disney wants out of the soap business. They have for a long time. And women DO still watch soaps. I don’t know where the theory comes from that we don’t watch anymore, we just don’t watch at the designated hour anymore BECAUSE of work and other things outside the home. That’s why SoapNet was such a lifesaver for many of us, just… Read more »

Maria Smith
Guest
Maria Smith

As I have said many times….Erika Slezak is indeed a rare jewel.

Robin Fletcher
Guest
Robin Fletcher

Michael, I think this has to be my favorite of all your soap star interviews. And your subject is THE class act of TV, daytime or night. Thanks! Robin Fletcher, Dallas, TX

Elizabeth Owens
Guest
Elizabeth Owens

Erika Slazak is such a gracious lady,I will miss her and everyone associated with “One Life To Live” Thank you again for giving us all these many years of heart-felt performances,may God bless you.

Elizabeth Owens
Guest
Elizabeth Owens

This is one of the most gracious and talented ladies of daytime T.V.

ANNIE THIEL
Guest
ANNIE THIEL

I LOVED ALL MY CHILDREN AND ONE LIFE TO LVIE EVER SINCE I WAS A KID. ON ALL MY CHILDREN, JOHN CALLAHAN EDMUND, MICHALE E. KNIGHT TAD, JACOB YOUNG JR, JUSTIN BRUEING JAMIE, WALT WILLEY JACKSON, SUSAN LUCCI ERICA AND AMEILA HINEL MIA AND TERI IVANS SIMONE AND AIDEN TRUNER AIDEN. ON ONE LIFE TO LIVE BREE WILLIMSON, HILLARY B. SMITH, SAMUEL BALL, BRAIN KERWIN, ROBERT S. WOODS, JERRY VER DORN, JOSH CASAUBIN, JUSTIS BOLDING, JOHN BOLGER, CHARISSA CHAMAROO, JAMES DEPIVA AND HIS WIFE KASSIE, LUARA KOFFMAN, TIMOTHY GIBBS, DON JEFFCOAT, JASON SHANE SCOTT, ERIN TORPEY, MARK DREWIN, KALE BROWEN,… Read more »

General Hospital

GH’s Laura Wright Talks on Mob Boss Carly and Her 30-Year Evolution in Daytime

She’s a fierce, force to be reckoned with, one who delivers raw and emotional performances time and time again, while never forgetting from where she came, and always willing to pass on to her newer co-stars’ the wisdom she gained from the grind of performing in front of the camera in the toughest acting genre there is … daytime drama.

General Hospital’s Laura Wright’s (Carly) real-life soap journey actually has a very humble beginning when in 1991 – fresh off a job at a gas station – she landed in Corinth and the role of Ally Rescott on ABC’s Loving.  Up next, a jaunt to its re-imagined version, The City, until the series ultimate demise in 1997. But that was just an appetizer for soap fans of Wright’s burgeoning talent, when next she ventured to Springfield and CBS’ Guiding Light to take on the role of a stripper with a heart-of-gold who ultimately would be crowned a princess, Cassie Layne. Then, after a popular 8-year-run, she would head to General Hospital, and one of the most coveted roles in soaps, that of Port Charles’ Carly Corinthos following in the footsteps of powerhouse actresses, Sarah Brown and Tamara Braun. In her 20th year in daytime, Laura took home the gold for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series back in 2011, and that brings us to now.  Next week on June 7th, marks Laura’s 30th year in daytime filled with memorable on and off-screen moments that she has cherished.

Meanwhile, currently on GH, Laura is getting to play Carly in a whole new set of circumstances as she enters her three-decade soap anniversary. In story, we find Carly stepping up to run the mob, now that she and everyone else believes her husband, Sonny Corinthos (Maurice Benard) is dead, and while her best friend and mob enforcer, Jason (Steve Burton) had to go on the run. And from the looks of it, Carly is adjusting to the mob boss role quite well … but is she really?

 

Michael Fairman TV spoke with Laura to get the lowdown on Carly’s life without Sonny, which has pushed her front and center into managing crimes and misdemeanors, mafia-style, all to protect the ones she loves, and to reflect on her amazing ride in daytime; which has made her one of the all-time leading ladies of the soaps.  Here’s what Laura shared about it all.

Photo: ABC

When you first found out what the structure of this storyline was going to be, where Sonny was going to “die” along with Julian (William deVry), and then he turns up alive and has amnesia, what was your initial thought?  Did you know how far they were going to take this for Carly, as far as her now running  the mob in Sonny’s place?

LAURA:  I had no idea about the mob part of it until about two months ago. As far as Sonny having amnesia and having another life now, I love those kinds of stories.  It also gives you as an actor something to play, and what else are you going to do with Sonny and Carly?  You can’t really break them up.  You’re talking to the person who is game for almost anything, so I loved it.  What does Carly’s life look like now as everybody believes that Sonny has died? How does she even take care of herself?  For me, it gave me great material to play because of how it all started to crumble.  Ava (Maura West) takes Avery, Cyrus (Jeff Kober) starts taking over the territory and the town, and Carly starts losing all of this security in her life as she knew it in trying to protect her family, and it was scary for her.

Photo: ABC

Of course, viewers could see where this storyline was heading once Carly lit in to Nina (Cynthia Watros), when Nina was in Nixon Falls and saw that Sonny was very much alive! You could see that Nina was going to seek revenge on Carly and not tell her about Sonny, aka “Mike”, all the while getting closer to him.  What do you think Carly would do if she found out that Nina was with Sonny and kept it from her?

LAURA:  You know, Carly before taking over the mob would have been awful, but now… and I was thinking about this the other day …  I’m like, “Carly would go after her with a gun!”

For years, I’ve always loved this idea of, “What if Carly became a mob boss?”

LAURA:  If they did have Carly go after Nina, then Jason and Sonny would be like, “You cannot do this.”  I think there is this blind rage, at least for a moment.  It can’t just be standing there and yelling at her, do you know what I mean?  Carly would probably take action and then Nina would disappear, or it’s like ‘get me away from her because I am going to kill her’ for what this woman did.  So, you have to have at least an episode of that before you come to your senses and realize that you have children and responsibilities, and you’re going to have to do this the right way, but you have to have the moment of losing it.  It’s stealing their life.  It’s great stuff.  My other thoughts are, “Poor Cynthia,” (laughs) because she’s got to be the nicest human being on the planet, and she is so fun to work with, and so great and committed, so we are going to have some interesting times getting through whatever they write.  I have no idea what they’re writing by the way, and I have no idea when it’s going to happen, but I am sure it will be great.

Photo: ABC

With the way GH shoots their taping schedule, I am assuming now you barely see Maurice, because you are basically in two different parts of this interconnecting story?

LAURA:  We shoot by set.  So, if Maurice is working in the morning, and I am scheduled at let’s say at noon, by the time I get there, he’ll be gone.  So, it’s fascinating. It’s kind of running parallel of what is happening on and off screen because I don’t see him at work, either.

Photo: ABC

Carly seems that she is becoming pretty comfortable in this mob role.  There was a scene that recently aired between Diane (Carolyn Hennesy) and Carly, where Carly was discussing her options of what to do with Gladys (Bonnie Burroughs).  Does Carly like the power this brings her?

LAURA:  I think so, but it’s not like she’s sitting around going, “Oh, this is amazing.”  It’s seriously what she has to do.  What she is seeing is that there are so many moving parts that she didn’t realize how difficult it was.  Sonny made it look easy.  There’s not a time to even take a breath.  You’ve got to always be on your toes.  You know, she is doing it in ‘Carly fashion,’ so it’s always entertaining, and trying as a woman to put out all the fires, but there’s 20 fires behind it, because there is just someone constantly trying to take your seat, trying to hurt your family.  There’s just always something to look out for whether it be from the other families or law enforcement.  I think that Carly is surprised that she is good at it and surprised at how making these decisions is becoming easier and easier for her, but I don’t know if she sits back and enjoys it.  At this point, from air to what we are taping, the decisions don’t stop, and the danger doesn’t stop, and more decisions have to be made, and there is no one else to do it.  This is a world that is life or death.  This isn’t like, “Well, if they don’t like me, I’ll just find someone else to do the job.”  There’s nobody else to do that job.  It’s not that world.  You don’t get to walk away, and she is learning that more and more, as she plays in the big world.

Photo: ABC

So, Jason went on the run with Britt (Kelly Thiebaud).  How does Carly feel about that?

LAURA:  Britt saved his life.  She said that on camera.  “She saved your life; she can take you wherever.  I trust her.”  Carly saw how Britt stepped up and helped him.  I don’t think there is anything else that Carly is thinking right now.  Carly doesn’t have the luxury of being old Carly and being snippy, catty, wanting to vet every person in Jason’s life.  It’s just not her reality right now.  That would be a luxury if she could go back and be that person, but that’s not it.  Right now, it’s assessing the situation.  “Is he safe?  Is she taking care of him?  Great.  I don’t care about anything else right now.”  This is the difference between old Carly and mob-boss Carly.  Those days are gone.  She would give anything to go back to those days because she didn’t have to have the world on her shoulders because Jason was safe, and Sonny was alive.  It’s not where she is now.  It’s a different dynamic that she was forced into.

Photo: ABC

When you and Steve Burton are in scenes together, whether it’s just in your eyes, or expressions or emotions, there is so much going on, or at least that’s how it plays to the audience.  Is the relationship between Carly and Jason one of your favorites to play, because it’s so unique and deep rooted into their history? 

LAURA:  Oh, I love the Carly/Jason relationship. It’s the loyalty and that their dedication to each other is unbendable, unbreakable.  It’s so unwavering.  It’s great to play because it’s like being in a really good relationship, even though he’s not her ‘person’, but he kind of is.  It’s being in a great relationship that means that you get to be 100% you and everything that means, and that person loves and accepts you. There’s such incredible love and freedom, and that’s what it’s like to work with Steve because Steve approaches our scenes – and almost every scene when I watch him with other people – that there is no undercutting judgment, only help.  If I’m struggling with a line or I don’t want to do something, he’s either like, “Yeah, I agree. That’s unnecessary; cut it,” or he gives me a really great way of looking at it, where I’m like, “Oh, that is a really interesting thing, thanks!”  So, then you have full freedom to feel and play and do anything, and that’s kind of what you see.  There’s just a confidence, and I think it is also the relationship.  I think it has to be there when I work with Steve because the relationship between Carly and Jason is that way.

Photo: JPI

Carly and Jason accept each other for who they are, all their flaws, and the dangers that come with their lives.  Wouldn’t you say?

LAURA:  She accepts him 100% for who he is.  She wants to manipulate the world around him, so he is safe, and perfect, and always there, but she still accepts him when nobody else does and vice versa.  He knows that Carly is going to destroy things, and mess up, and spiral.  Like, she had that scene where she said, “Even when Jason knows I’m wrong, he supports me.” It’s really that right there that is everything between the two of them, and it’s the hardest thing to find in any relationship, real life, TV, etc.  We always want to change people to make them be who we want them to be so that we feel okay. It’s a great soap opera relationship because it causes conflict in every other relationship that they have, which is great for storytelling in a show because then there is always a challenge, always a hurdle, always a problem built-in if you need drama. It’s because there is so much acceptance and unconditional love and support that they are free to be who they need to be, and I feel that as an actor working Steve as well.  I think that’s what you see when you say there’s ‘a lot going on’.

Carly’s plan for Gladys took quite a turn!

LAURA:  Well, Carly thought the second that Cyrus finds out that Brando (Johnny Wactor) is the father of Sasha’s (Sofia Matteson) baby that Cyrus is going to want to take him out, so she basically said to Gladys, “Look, I’ll set you up.  I’ll give you all the money you want.  Hell, I’ll even buy you a house.  Leave town, but you have to tell everybody that you lied about Jason,” and she doesn’t bite the bait.  So, you then have Carly saying, “Well, we can do this the easy way where I just pay for your life and you go, or we can do it the hard way,” and the hard way is me letting her know that, “You have a grandchild on the way, and your son is going to be murdered if you don’t do this for me,” because it puts Cyrus back in prison because he is on probation, and he has now obstructed justice.  It’s all on Gladys’s testimony.  That was Carly’s plan.  Right now, her biggest threat is Cyrus and obviously as viewers have seen things did not go as planned!

Photo: ABC

June 7th you will be celebrating 30 years on daytime! Do you remember your first day on Loving? What happened?

LAURA:  I do.  Oh, God!  I remember what dress I had on.  I remember how my hair was.

Were you like in “Oz”?

LAURA:  I looked like Oz. (Laughs) I looked like Dorothy… the dress they had me in, the hair, are you kidding?  I didn’t know what a boom was!  I was really loud.  I had one line: “Grandma!” and that was it, and then they had to note that because I kept saying, “Grandmaw,” and they were like, “It’s not ‘Grandmaw.’  It’s ‘Grandma.’”  Then, I did whatever they said at first, but then the longer I was on the show, I was like, “I say ‘Grandmaw.’ I’m not saying ‘Grandmuh.’ I don’t care. (Laughs) Everyone gets their own personalization of how they say what they say.”  That was my big argument, and now I’ve had a thousand arguments over 30 years, but that was my first big pushback because I would be doing, what in my mind was great work.  I got all of the lines out, my God, and that was before we could do pickups, and when we shot the show in order. Those cameras had wheels. So if you were on set, and they shot the scene before us, you had to be ready to go, and they would fly down the studio on those cameras to set up to start shooting the next scene.  If I got through a scene and they had to do it over again because I said, “Grandmaw,” I would be so angry. (Laughs)

Photo: ABC

Who helped you the most on Loving?

LAURA:  Nada Rowand, who played my grandmother, Lisa Peluso, who played my aunt on the show, and Eric Woodall was my best friend and he played Matt Ford.  He and I would get together every Sunday night, and here’s a little bit of trivia for you … Eric lived with Billy Porter! They graduated from Carnegie Mellon together.  So, I would go over to his apartment, and on Sunday night, we would go over all of the scripts together for the whole week because Eric graduated from Carnegie Mellon; I worked at a gas station. (Laughs) We had very different talents that we were bringing to the table for this soap opera job.  Eric helped me a great deal, my gosh, and so did Bernie Barrow (Ex-Louis).

Bernie was an amazing actor and the only Daytime Emmy winner, ever from Loving!

LAURA:  I had scenes with Bernie because he played my grandfather on the show. I had no idea about half the notes that they were giving me. Bernie would pull me aside and explain what they meant and teach it to me in a way where I knew how to incorporate it into my scenes and adjust and take the notes.  He was extremely helpful.  Then, there is the famous Noelle Beck (Ex-Trisha) story, where two weeks after starting the show, Eric and I were invited to go to the Daytime Emmy Awards.  I was dying because I grew up watching daytime television, and I grew up watching the Daytime Emmys.  So, when I was allowed to go, I told my mom to ship me my prom dress from my senior year of high school, which was this poufy, emerald green thing, and it looked like something from Dynasty with jewels all over it.  I got it, and I was so excited, and everyone on the show was like, “Oh, my God, someone has got to tell her … she cannot wear that dress.”  I didn’t know you could go to wardrobe and ask to borrow a dress, because I’d only been on the show for two weeks maybe.  The same day, they came to me and said, “So, if Susan Lucci (Ex-Erica, AMC) doesn’t win, you’re going to be interviewed on Good Morning America the next morning about how the gas station girl got a job.”  So, it was a big deal. I’m getting ready for the Emmys, and to put this emerald-green dress on, and there is this knock on my door, and it’s Noelle Beck.  She has this beautiful, black, strapless dress. She’s like, “Your dress is beautiful, but I don’t know, I think this is really simple, and I think you might really look beautiful in it if you want to try it on.”

Photo: JPI

Her dress?

LAURA: Her dress! It was a dress that was in Noelle’s closet on the show because she went to wardrobe and was like, “Laura cannot wear that emerald green prom dress.  She will be laughed at.”  I would have been mortified because I did not know what people wore.  I had never been to a red carpet! Noelle went to wardrobe, and they all came up with this dress, and so she came to me and said, “Your dress is so pretty, but I think this might go better with Eric’s suit,” or however she sold it! I tried it on, and I just felt so sophisticated, and I was like, “It’s okay if I wear this!?” and she’s just like, “Oh, my God, yeah!”  When I think back to that story, I’m like, ‘thank God for Noelle Beck’.  It was one of the funniest stories ever, and her dressing room was right across the hall from me, and she was from Maryland; I was from Maryland.  She was like a sister.  Noelle was always looking out for me, personally.

Photo: ABC

Over the years, you have become one of the great leading ladies of daytime.  Was there a moment, when you were like, “I’ve got this down now … I really know what I’m doing.”

LAURA:   There have been different moments.  I remember the first time where I felt like ‘an actor.’  It was when they shot and killed Casey (Paul Anthony Stewart) on Loving, and he had to die in my arms.  I embodied something and felt it in a way that was different.  I didn’t know what it was at the time because I was playing my emotions of Paul leaving the show. I was really confused because I was like, “Do I really like this guy?” like in real life, because I didn’t know.  I didn’t have any tools of acting to know how to separate.  I was so in love with the characters’ love story, which was also my feelings at the time because I didn’t know the difference.  I didn’t know where Ally stopped, and Laura started.  I was just kind of playing myself.  I remember they called Paul to the set for a goodbye, and they were giving him a big cake and everything, and I could barely hold it together.  I couldn’t believe he was leaving.  I was like, “You’re going to say, ‘I changed my mind,’ right?” and I really believed that.  I really was like, “There’s just no way he’s going.”  Then, we had to shoot his scene, and I was very emotional and upset.  But, it was the next day where I had to go and play the scenes where he is dead and talk about it to the family, and that was when I just lost it.  I just changed as an actor in those scenes.  I remember having an opinion.  When the writers were telling me the story that they were going to tell, I remember saying, “Well, I think the interesting moment is she is not going to believe it,” and they were like, “What do you mean?”  I say, “When she comes home from the hospital, I think she needs to be like, ‘We have to go back.  Casey is at the hospital, and he needs us,’ and they were like, “That’s such a great thing to play.”  That’s what shifted for me.  I just remember there was a moment where Ally couldn’t lie anymore. She couldn’t convince herself, and then she had to tell her son that Casey wasn’t coming back.  I really understood what it was to get lost to a scene; what it was to not be Laura going, “I’m going to act now and play this scene.”  I learned how to become the character and transform in the moment.

It’s was on-the-job training.

LAURA:  Oh, for sure on-the-job training, because I went to one acting class thinking that in New York City I need to know what I’m doing, and I was so terrified to get up and speak in a scene that I literally could not talk.  I couldn’t even function outside of the safety of what I knew on a soap opera set.  I had that happen with my meditation teacher training a few years ago.  I almost left the training because it was terrifying for me to get up and not know what I’m going to do and have the script, no cameras in front of me!  It was very bizarre.

Photo: CBS

And later, Guiding Light came your way!

LAURA: When The City got canceled, I shot a pilot that did not get picked up, and my agents were like, “What do you want to do?” and I was like, “I’m really good at daytime… can we just stick with that?  I don’t really want to do this auditioning thing.” So, then all of the sudden within a week of me saying, “I think I’ll do daytime again,” I had a screen-test for All My Children and Guiding Light at the exact same time.  I was like, “What are the parts?” and I wasn’t going to pit them against each other because my agent was like, “It’s bad taste. We don’t represent that kind of negotiation.” You have to pick because before you go into any screen-test, you already have a pre-negotiated contract, and the deal has been placed.  So, you know going in what your situation will be.  So, it was All My Children, playing a doctor, or a stripper with a heart-of-gold on Guiding Light.  It was the role and that Guiding Light just had a better money offer that pushed me towards that screen-test. Then, I had to go in and meet Paul Rauch (Former EP, GL) before I screen-tested, and then Jim Brown and Barbara Esensten who were now the head writers at GL. They wrote for me on The City.  They were the ones who said, “Let’s get Laura Wright in here and see if she wants to do this.”  It’s interesting, because when they were shooting Annie’s (Cynthia Watros) big trial on Guiding Light, and Kim Zimmer (Reva) had these incredible, long days and tons of dialogue in the courtroom scenes. Then, they throw this screen-test at her with me in the middle of the afternoon! I remember when we were doing the scene. Kim had jumped to another part in it, and of course, I knew the script backwards and forwards because I’ve had it for a week and a half.  Kim had probably looked at it that day because she’s got a thousand other lines that she’s learning for that week of shows.  We were in the middle of the scene, and they’re rolling cameras, it’s very emotional, we’re going at each other, and Kim had jumped to the next page of a line, but I knew exactly where she went, so I went right there. We got back on track and ended the scene, and Kim goes, “She just saved my ass in that screen-test!” and we just started laughing.  It was a great moment.

Photo: LWInstagram

The cast of Guiding Light was so amazing!

LAURA:  So amazing, and that’s where I met my man.

Wes Ramsey (Ex-Sam, GL, now Peter, GH) at the time had a crush on you if I recall the story.

LAURA:  Yes, he had a crush.  I don’t know if he wanted to go out with me because when I first came on, I was pregnant, so that would have been weird! (Laughs) We have a funny story that he told me four years ago when we got together. Wes was going through old photos that he had logged into his computer and was trying to put things in different files, and he’s like, “Oh, my God.”  He had come back a few times on Guiding Light after he’d left, and one of the times was after I’d had my son, and this was when Richard had died, and Cassie had chopped all of her hair off.  So, he was going through these photos and he showed me that he had snuck a picture of me.  (Laughs) Then, he’s like, “See, I told you I had a crush!”  I’m like, “Oh my God, that’s so funny!”

Do you and Wes run lines together at home, even though you are in different storylines on GH?

LAURA:  If he needed me too, I would, but Wes has a totally different way of learning his lines than I do.  His prep work is very different than mine.  His is very professional and probably how you should do it. He is a Juilliard graduate.  So, he was taught well, and I’ve just figured it out.  Mine is just pure survival …’the gas station girl’.

Photo: ABC

What was the impact Guiding Light had on the trajectory of your career?

LAURA:  Guiding Light was 100% an actors show. They told a different kind of story, and the actors across the board were serious and wanted you to take it just as seriously. You were either going to sink or swim on that show, and I had to figure out how to swim. I think I spent the first six months in my dressing room crying when I wasn’t on set, trying to figure it out.  I was really taken care of on Loving.  I was 20-years-old when I got that part, 27 when I left. When I went to Guiding Light, it wasn’t like I wasn’t taken care of and protected, but it was a new energy. No one knew me.  No one knew what I was capable of.  I didn’t even know what I was capable of at the time, and you weren’t going to phone it in there.  I started working with Kim Zimmer and Jordan Clarke (Ex-Billy Lewis).  My God, you’re thrown in with people who make you feel things and play things that are uncomfortable, because that’s what we do as actors.  We make it uncomfortable, and we stretch the boundaries, and we play these emotions that are so raw and real.  One day I was freaking out over a scene with the characters of Edmund and Dinah, and I just said I would never do this.  I was just adamant. The director, said, “We have to do this.  So, you have to give me one reason where you could stay in this room.”  I said, “I guess my daughter could walk in the door, and I don’t want to leave her,” and he goes, “Great!  That’s great,” and I go, “Or…” and it just opened this door of there’s a thousand ways I could play a scene.

Photo: CBS

When you came onto General Hospital and embodied Carly, did you feel like this was it now… and that you were in command of your craft?

LAURA:  No, because it took me a long time to get comfortable.  I’m the fourth Carly, so you want to honor what they’re writing, you want to honor the fans and what they love about the character, and there were three women who played her before me and somebody loved something about all of them. So, you want to bring that, as well as make your own mark.  You’re taking over a leading female role of the show with that much passion and dialogue that comes with the character, so it was a lot of pressure at first, but I was excited for it.  I showed up every day ready to kick ass, but as far as feeling like, “Ha ha, it’s mine; I’ve made it!”, I’ve never felt that.

Photo: ABC

I have spoken to many of your co-stars through the years, and they often share how you helped them within a scene, or with something they were struggling with.  That is where experience can be a great asset for a performer in this medium.

LAURA:  As a female lead on the show, I do think it’s important to lift other women up to become their own female leads, and I do mean that.  If I’m working with someone, and I see them get a note that they don’t understand, or it’s a technical note, but gosh, it’s an important scene for them emotionally, anything I can do to help them in that moment, whether it has anything to do with me or not, I am there for.  There was a bathroom scene that I think aired a week or so ago with Carly and Sasha.  In the scene, Sasha (Sofia Mattsson) has all of her makeup in front of her, and the shot they need to get is through the mirror.  Sasha has a full conversation with Carly, who is standing upstage. It’s very difficult to do that when you don’t have rehearsal time to figure it out. They gave her the note that they needed her to say her line into the mirror, or they can’t get her face, right? I’m like, “Hey, do you have any idea how you’re going to do that?” because it’s so hard! I wanted to help. Having 30 years’ experience in something feels great, and it’s shocking because where did those 30 years go? What incredible memories I have, but what it’s gifted me the most is being able to help people through my experience, and through what I have learned along the way.  The whole show shines when we all shine, not just when one person does.

Photo: LWrightInstagram

What do you think your late parents would say about your 30 years in daytime?

LAURA:  Oh, they would be so proud… so happy.  It’s just so crazy that it’s been 30 years, and 2020 being the longest year with what we all experienced with Covid-19.  Looking back on my daytime career, I don’t know why, the shows didn’t let me go. I think it really was work ethic.  I can really say my work ethic is a huge part of me sticking around because I never got lazy.  I was never not going to figure it out.  I was never one to show up not knowing her lines, or being a problem, or not caring. I think that’s what kept me going, and then listening, watching, feeling, and I’m just so grateful.  I’m like, “Wow, what a ride!”

Photo: ABC

… And what can you say about what your time as Carly has meant to you within your now illustrious daytime career?

LAURA:  I love every second of it.  It’s my choice how I show up on that soundstage.  After 30 years, I am not bored.  I have had my moments of trying to find the fun in it and caring about Carly’s storyline at the time. That’s my own choice though, right?  It’s a choice – how I choose to show up every day there – and what I choose to find interesting and challenging, and I do.  No matter what storyline they’ve given me, I can choose for it to be, “Okay, I’m here.  I’ve been doing this for so long, I could do it in my sleep,” or I could choose to show up and go, “Where am I going to kickass today?  Where is the moment?”  Now, I don’t love the amount of time it takes for my hair to get blown out; I’ll be honest (Laughs). I’m an antsy person.  But when I get on set, it’s my choice to find the love and the fun of it, whatever that is for me.  I choose to open up every script I get, the second I get it, and am always excited to see what I’m doing.

Photo: ABC

Finally, what would you say, as a tease of what we should look forward to in the coming weeks involving Carly?

LAURA:  All I can say is there is amazing stuff coming, amazing performances, amazing excitement, amazing heartbreak, amazing surprises.  It’s all coming.

So, are you into Carly running the mob? What do you think will happen when and if Carly finds out Nina has been with Sonny aka Mike for months?  What has been your favorite moment of Laura’s on the soaps throughout her 3 decades in daytime? Share your thoughts and congrats to Laura in the comment section below.

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Interviews

Y&R’s Telma Hopkins and Bryton James Talk on their ‘Family Matters’ Connection, Amanda Sinclair’s Past, and the songs of Tony Orlando and Dawn

This week, kicks-off a very special guest appearance by Telma Hopkins on CBS’ The Young and the Restless.  Hopkins plays Denise Tolliver, a private eye with some very important intel for Amanda Sinclair (Mishael Morgan), about her past, her father, and her biological family drama.

Photo:CBD

Telma’s guest stint on Y&R reunites her with her dear friend and former on-screen son, Bryton James (Devon Hamilton) after they appeared together on the late 80’s and 90’s sitcom Family Matters.  Fans of the comedy series remember a very young Bryton as Richie Crawford and Telma as his mother, Rachel.  Year laters, they now have the opportunity to work together in Genoa City.

Photo: CBS

In a new interview out today on the Michael Fairman Channel, Telma and Bryton chat virtually with Michael, and we learn that Telma is a longtime fan of Y&R, a huge fan of Mishael Morgan’s, and just how Denise Tolliver’s arrival in Genoa City will set the stage for fireworks to come.

And while Telma and Bryton reminisce about first their first impressions of each other on the Family Matters set, we also delve into another key part of Hopkins career as part of the iconic singing trio Tony Orlando and Dawn, whose hit singles included: “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole’ Oak Tree”, “Candida”, “She Don’t Love You” and more.

Photo: CBS

So, excited to see Telma and Bryton together again? What were your first impressions of Telma as Denise Tolliver on today’s Y&R? What is your favorite Tony Orlando and Dawn tune? Did you watch “Family Matters” with Telma and Bryton years ago? Share your thoughts in the comment section.  But first check out their full interview below.

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Days Of Our Lives

WATCH: Daytime Emmy Nominations Special 2021 Replay

Last night, during the Daytime Emmy Nominations Special Livestream on the Michael Fairman Channel, 15 nominated performers who will be going for gold on the upcoming 48th annual Daytime Emmy Awards, shared their reactions and their excitement at learning they were in the running in the major Daytime Drama performer categories as chosen by their peers.

Throughout the livestream, the actors also shared what scenes they chose for their reels in the competition that landed them in the top spots in their respective categories.

Photos: ABC, CBS, JPI, NBC

During the broadcast, Michael welcomed: The Bold and the Beautiful’s Darin Brooks and Courtney Hope, General Hospital’s, Maurice Benard, Finola Hughes, Max Gail, Briana Lane and Dominic Zamprogna, The Young and the Restless’ Bryton James, Melissa Claire Egan and Alyvia Alyn Lind, and Days of our Lives nominees: Victoria Konefal, Cady McClain, Wally Kurth, George DelHoyo, and Tamara Braun.

In addition, NATAS President and CEO Adam Sharp shared insight into this year’s nomination process, the year in daytime, and teased what to look for on the upcoming Daytime Emmy Telecast on June 25th on CBS, where the award show recently got a two-year pick-up.

In case you missed it, enjoy this kick-off to Emmy season and watch the Daytime Emmy Nominations Replay below.  Then let us know what moments you enjoyed the most during our show, and who you are rooting for to take home Emmy gold in the comment section.

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GH’s Kelly Thiebaud (Britt) chats with Michael Fairman about Britt being on the run with Jason, their burgeoning romance, working with Steve Burton and her other co-star and Britt’s diagnosis of Huntington’s Disease. .Leave A Comment

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