Mary Beth Evans has been featured consistently on our TV screens for the past 26 years, and is now starring on the new webseries THE BAY. She has made us cry and laugh with her indelible roles on DAYS OF OUR LIVES, GENERAL HOSPITAL, and AS THE WORLD TURNS. But how does this ageless beauty see her career, and what drives her non-stop energy and ambition? Find out by reading this new and revealing interview.
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: We are so excited about THE BAY starting, and what it means to the continuing story format. How did THE BAY come to you and what does it mean to you?
Mary Beth Evans: I have this fabulous manager named Michael Bruno, who everyone knows. He came to me and said, “There’s this great guy named Gregori Martin. I think you should meet with him, he has some great ideas, and he wants you for a part on this show.” We met for lunch, and it was my usual scrambling around. We met and I was really impressed with him. He’s a guy who is making things happen. He has a way with him, he has so many cool people on board with this project. Everyone trusts him. He gives the shpeal, and everyone believes him. He’s like the Pied Piper.
I didn’t really realize that Sara was the main character and everything kind of revolves around her. So that has been interesting, to embrace that, and be the mother to all. I am constantly amazed by the people he has assembled. For us, it turned into this grassroots ensemble, repertory theater kind of thing. We were shooting confessional things that were really groovy. Then Matt Ashford came on board, we have known each other forever and a day. It has been fun to see it evolve and see the people attached to it. Charles Shaughnessy, one of my favorite people in the whole world, is now doing it. Everyone is approaching it in a very fun exciting manner. When I left DAYS over a year ago, I thought it would be a great idea to do a web series with a bunch of people the fans love who are not working. But I had no idea how to go about it. Gregori had it all lined up. He’s on to something, he really knows the genre. Each character he writes for is full and has a background. It may be a big cast, but everyone has a defined part.
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: You have a producer credit as well.
Mary Beth Evans: I do. I think I helped him most with ideas for casting and talking to people I know that I think would be right for it. I like to be in the mix and be able to voice my opinion, that part is fun. It’s nice because it’s a different kind of medium. You can shoot outside, or shoot in houses, or at Martha’s restaurant. I like to have input on that. And like I said, I like being part of the casting. I have been around for so long, it’s been 26 years on soaps.
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: Speaking of going back away, I still recall RITUALS.
Mary Beth Evans: I was just back at AS THE WORLD TURNS where Jon Linstrom (ex-RITUALS) is now playing Craig. You’re standing there thinking, “This is so crazy.” I realized this last year, going back to AS THE WORLD TURNS, and going back to DAYS for the Frances Reid memorial, how big my circle is in daytime. What a gift it is to have all these friends. It’s like when you haven’t seen a cousin for twenty years and you pick right up where you left off. That’s how it is with these people. My circle now is so big after being on all these shows. I left there with my heart so full and happy. I really embrace that, I think that’s a gift.
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: What do you recall about getting your start on RITUALS?
Mary Beth Evans: It was cool I had just been doing guest star roles on episodic, and little movie roles. It was the first time I had a regular gig as an actor. If I had my way I would be acting nine to five everyday all year round for fifty years. I am a worker bee and I like that. That was the first step in that for me, and it got me addicted. I was new, I was starting out, and it was all very new and exciting. I replaced someone who went on to DYNASTY.
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: That was quite a cast. Jon Linstrom and Kin Shriner were on that show.
Mary Beth Evans: I was just telling someone about this yesterday. A woman was showing me something she sowed. I explained that I used to sow a lot too. I told her how Kin Shriner took me on MERV GRIFFIN with him. I looked so naive and so young. I had made the dress that I’m wearing. I wore it because I thought if we run out of things to talk about, I’ll talk about my homemade dress. He took me on the show I think because he didn’t want to talk, and he knew I was a talker. I just saw him about a year ago. He’s just a doll, I just love him. He’s like a brother. I was on GH with him, he was on WORLD TURNS for awhile, he turns up a lot.
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: To the best of your knowledge, are there any episodes of RITUALS in existence?
Mary Beth Evans: I don’t know but there are a few fans who seem to be able to find everything. I’m sure they can find it if we sent them out to do it.
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: So much surfaces on You Tube but this one hasn't, not in English anyway.
Mary Beth Evans: I will ask my connections.
WE LOVE SOAPS TV: So RITUALS ended and then some nameless forgettable show got hold of you in 1986...
Mary Beth Evans: It’s funny because my husband and I got married right after RITUALS ended. We bought a house, and he was [doctor] resident who wasn’t making very much money. I had six months of not getting episodic work that I had been usually getting. My husband said to me, “I hate to say this but I think you’re going to have to get some waiter job or something because we have to pay a mortgage.” So I went, I applied for a waiter job, and got it. I was supposed to pick up my uniform and I went and read for DAYS OF OUR LIVES. I told my husband I was going to wait until I hear from them to pick up the uniform. And I got it, and it changed my life. We got to stay in the house we were living it and got to live a very normal life through his seven years of residency. It was a great thing. Not only did I make the best friends in the world, but I had two of my kids while I was there. I kept working, and created a family that I will value for ever.
I just saw Stephen [Nichols] two days ago. We were standing in my driveway. I was telling him how it was funny, how way back we would get the Daytime TV Magazine award every year. At the time they always asked, “How does that feel?” We were all just so crazy busy. We all had little kids, and it was such a different job then. It was 6am-6pm, or whatever. I remember saying, “I can’t fathom it, I can’t absorb it.” Stephen and I were talking about how those were the glory days and we didn’t know it. Daytime was in its peak in the 70s and 80s and we were right in there. It was cool we had that experience. And it’s cool we’re still chuckin’ along. Steve is on Y&R and I’m doing what I’m doing. It’s cool we’re not under the rug yet.
EDITOR'S NOTE: Press here for Part Two in which Mary Beth discusses the reign of Steve & Kayla on DAYS OF OUR LIVES, and why they still remain fan favorites today. Plus what exactly was she thinking during those moving wedding scenes in 1988? Find out in Part Two!
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."