In Parts One, Two, and Three of our interview, the tireless Mary Beth Evans discussed her character (Sara Garrett) on the new indie soap THE BAY, as well as her historic roles on DAYS OF OUR LIVES, GENERAL HOSPITAL and AS THE WORLD TURNS. In the fourth and final part below, Evans reveals life lessons learned and how she copes with change. Does anything scare this fearless actress? Find out below!
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: In addition to everything we’ve discussed, you are also regularly contributing your writing to Hybridmom.com. How did that come about?
Mary Beth Evans: It came about because they did an article about my pie business. They interviewed me about being an entrepreneurial woman. Then the woman who did the interview and I kicked it off and she wanted me to do something for them. I think it started as an “Ask Mary Beth” column. Now I just write about whatever I want to write about. Sometimes that comes very easily and sometimes it’s like, “What am I going to write about?” Usually something will pop up and inspire me.
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: I loved your recent post titled, "Change Is Good."
Mary Beth Evans: I write a lot about change. I think reinvention and change are such a big part of continuing growth. Even for my grandmother when she moved into an old folks home. She was all worked up about it and I said, “Hey this is time for you to reinvent and make new friends.” She was 91, change always continues. It’s just how we embrace it and what we do with it. I have friends who have been in professions for 30 years who are completely changing, taking chances, and doing something else. I think that is great.
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: That is especially relevant these days in the soap world. With the loss of GUIDING LIGHT and AS THE WORLD TURNS, and potentially more on the horizon, it’s important to keep in mind that endings open potential for new beginnings.
Mary Beth Evans: Absolutely. When I went back to DAYS after appearing on AS THE WORLD TURNS recently I could tell these people that life is going to be better. They are worried and they are nervous. I know firsthand that it will be okay, and I can be the person to come in and say that.
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: When you went back to WORLD TURNS, how were people doing?
Mary Beth Evans: Everybody had a different groove on it. Some people didn’t want to talk about it. Some people I think were in denial. Some people had already made their next move. There was a lot of electricity in the air, a lot going on. Many had worked there a really long time. It shakes your life up. But you have got to be proactive. I’m not into playing victim or blame in life. If my kids get bummed I say to them, “make yourself a list and write down five things that you are going to get done today. You do that for a couple of days and you are back in life.” You can’t just sit in a chair and wallow, you have to be proactive.
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: Last weekend we went to a GUIDING LIGHT event. Almost every actor from the show who I have talked to in this past year has expressed something positive about being forced to do new things. Whether it’s theater or comedy or a new web series or writing a book, everyone is being propelled into a new creative medium.
Mary Beth Evans: That’s exactly my point. Especially on a daytime show, you have a false sense of security that you will be there forever. You become complacent and you don’t do all those things. But when you are forced to do those things, you actually find incredible creativity and satisfaction. It may be completely different from what you thought it was going to be. In the old days I would have never gone to DAYS or anywhere without a contract.
Now I honestly don’t care. I just want to work. I like the variety now. In the old days my self-esteem and self worth were wrapped up in working. If someone asked me, “What are you working on,” and I said, “I’m not,” I would want to crawl under a rock. I don’t feel like that anymore. A friend of mine who is a Marriage Family Therapist said to me, “The day that you can say you’re not working and be happy about it is a good day.” I think that is so true. I’m happy, I have my projects, I have my friends. I think because I’ve branched out doing so many things, I get fulfilled in so many ways. And I have an incredible vegetable garden! That alone is having a job. I think I will always be this person who is a little hyper, a little wacky, and never can sit still. Things happen for people who can’t sit still.
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: Earlier this year at We Love Soaps, we polled 14 different critics, writers, and journalists who had been covering soaps during various eras over the past 35 years. We asked them to list whom they thought were the 50 Greatest Soap Actresses Of All Time. You came out at #48.
Mary Beth Evans: Wow. That’s nice. I just try to do my best, I try.
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: Do you ever feel uncomfortable with praise?
Mary Beth Evans: I just tuck it into a little spot. I put it in my pocket. It doesn’t affect how I do things. I appreciate it, I hold onto it, but it doesn’t sway me.
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: If you could go back 26 years, to the beginning of RITUALS, and give yourself a piece of advice, what would that be?
Mary Beth Evans: I don’t know. I gave Stephen [Nichols] a piece of advice. I told him he shouldn’t have left DAYS when he did and maybe things would have been different [laughs]. But who knows, we wouldn’t have had these opportunities. He’s on Y&R now, he’s had GH, and for his own personal growth that is what he needed to do. But the people who stayed there a long time had a different experience. They rode the long wave of so many crazy things that happened at DAYS and I missed that wave, darn it. All the above-the-bed devil stuff, all the James Reilly stuff.
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: Would you really have wanted to do supernatural stories on DAYS?
Mary Beth Evans: No, that stuff doesn’t interest me. The reason I have always loved DAYS is because of the heartfelt stories they did. That is why I always wanted to go back. They played stories about love, and I loved doing that.
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: I certainly enjoy the stories about psychological complexities versus the Reilly material.
Mary Beth Evans: And it’s experiencing people’s highs and lows, pain and suffering, happiness and joys, that is what soap operas are supposed to be about, I think. Not crashing cars and all those crazy things that aren’t necessary. Viewers just want to see heartfelt stories about people.
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: Is there anything I haven’t asked you that you would like our readers to know about THE BAY, about you, or your career?
Mary Beth Evans: Yes. The fans of daytime, particularly of DAYS, are amazing. A lot of them over the years have been to enough events that I have been to, and we become friends. There’s a whole group of Steve & Kayla fans that call themselves the “Skorks”[ie, "Steve and Kayla Dorks"]. These people have been so supportive. If you say you need help, they hop on board in half a second. Some of them came on board with THE BAY and have done so many things. When I was just at a fundraiser there were cool posters that one of the fans had made. It’s amazing. Stephen made a movie awhile back, and those people raised the money for him to make that movie. They are amazing, devoted, and go the extra mile. I really appreciate that, and as I get older I appreciate it more. That is the amazing thing about daytime. These people witness your growth for over twenty years. It’s pretty cool.
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: You seem fearless to me. Is there anything that scares you?
Mary Beth Evans: When my high school son doesn’t make curfew, that freaks me out. It’s in motherhood where you have to be fearless, that’s the really hard job. To keep everybody alive on your watch, and keep them honest and good people.
EDITOR'S NOTE: I hope you enjoyed this interview with the star of the new web series THE BAY. Please come back to We Love Soaps to read more interviews with the amazing cast of the groundbreaking new series. Until then, check out the latest previews and "confessionals" at thebaytheseries.com.
Damon L. Jacobs is a Licensed Marriage Family Therapist seeing individuals and couples in New York City. He is also the author of "Absolutely Should-less: The Secret to Living the Stress-Free Life You Deserve."