Q&A: ONE LIFE TO LIVE Stars Erika Slezak & Kassie DePaiva

ONE LIFE TO LIVE Stars Erika Slezak and Kassie DePaiva met with the media on Thursday to discuss the beloved soap which is about to celebrate its 45th anniversary. Check out a transcript of the interview below:

WE LOVE SOAPS: So can you two discuss what was your first day was like on the show this year coming back?
ERIKA SLEZAK: It was crazy. You know, you have to find out where the bathroom is and how to get to the studio and where's the hair and makeup room and I still after weeks and weeks and weeks I still turn the wrong direction. It just takes awhile to get to know everything but it was really almost as if we had never been away.

We had the opportunity to all get together at a photo shoot that happened what three or four weeks before we started shooting. And it was great because you got to see everybody and catch up and oh my god how are you and how great you look. And so you came back to work and it was like business as usual for me anyway. I was so happy to be back. Kassie awhile ago said something about being a workhorse and I'm the same.

I love to work. I love it and I'm never happier than when I'm on camera and - or on stage acting. And so it was such a joy for me to come back despite not knowing where the bathroom was.
KASSIE DEPAIVA: Yes, it was really interesting for me because many of our crew members not only were some ONE LIFE TO LIVE crew members that we worked with but many of them went back into my past from Guiding Light. A lot of the PNG camera men are back working with us in Stamford. So it was truly old home week, not only saying hello to all of the people that we loved and worked with on ONE LIFE TO LIVE but I went back, way back 25 years ago, to work with many of the people that I worked with on the Guiding Light which was so neat...
ERIKA SLEZAK: That's so cool.
KASSIE DEPAIVA: And I never thought, you know, some of them it's like I hadn't seen in 25 years.
ERIKA SLEZAK: Yes, it was very nice to have familiar faces because in a brand new situation where everything is new and you don't know where anything is to see those wonderful faces of a lot of our cameramen and our stage managers was an enormous help. It made me feel very comfortable.

WE LOVE SOAPS: Speaking of familiar faces, if you two could bring back one character from the original ONE LIFE who would it be for you?
ERIKA SLEZAK: Wow. I would bring back both my sons, Kevin and Joey.
KASSIE DEPAIVA: Well, it would definitely be Max, because I just think Max Holden was a fan favorite and I think that there's still a lot of untold stories. And he could stir a little trouble up between Todd and Blair.

Can each of you talk about - you've been on the show for quite a few years before it went off and then it came back. Can you talk about how coming back makes it fresh and why it is you were interested in coming back, besides a paycheck of course.
KASSIE DEPAIVA: I love ONE LIFE TO LIVE. I am a fan of the show. It is certainly part of my life. It's not exactly who I am in real life but I love the work and I love my ONE LIFE TO LIVE family. And I was very sad to see it end and I was thrilled beyond words to be a part of the reboot and I'm so excited that it has once again been embraced by our terrific fans. And it's all a package deal for me and I, you know, love Erika and I love Vicky. So it's a win-win for me.
ERIKA SLEZAK: I will answer that by saying that when the show was cancelled I think we were all terribly sad because our ratings were high, the stories were wonderful and it seemed to be a pointless move to cancel it just because it wasn't making the same money it was making 40 years ago. Nobody's making the same kind of money.

And then to replace us with shows that were so weak, one of which was cancelled immediately, it just seemed very sad. When Prospect Park picked us up it was like a shot in the arm and we thought yes we can go on. And the amount of work and energy that they have put into this show has just been remarkable and I think has been rewarded by our fans in turning out in droves to watch us now.

It's wonderful to be back and I echo everything Kassie said. This was my family for 41 years and I'm so glad not to have lost them.

Can each of you talk about your favorite storyline over all the years?
ERIKA SLEZAK: Oh I have a number of them. I think one of my all time favorites was the Paris Texas story and also when I went to heaven. That was lovely, comfortable. And bringing back all the old characters, there are innumerable favorite stories but those are the two that stick out right now. Kassie?
KASSIE DEPAIVA: I think for me it was the Max gambling storyline. It involved Luna and Chord and Max and Blair and it was all about addiction. I was addicted to Max and Max was addicted to gambling and Luna was caught in the middle and it had a lot of darkness to it but it really gave an opportunity to tell really heartfelt soap opera and it was Michael Malone's ten year and it was just I think beautifully written and powerfully executed and I really enjoyed being a part of that.
ERIKA SLEZAK: Yes.

I actually have two questions. The first is if you know if the show will be planning or having an anniversary celebration, like either on screen or, you know, behind the scenes like a cake cutting ceremony or whatnot.
ERIKA SLEZAK: I expect they will have something behind the scenes. I don't think we can do anything on air because everything that's on air now and next Monday when the anniversary is was shot a couple of months ago.
KASSIE DEPAIVA: Right.
ERIKA SLEZAK: So on air probably not unless they do a, you know, little blurb. But probably back stage we'll have something when we go back to work, yes.
KASSIE DEPAIVA: Absolutely and I think the launch of OWN is kind of a great celebration of our coming back to life. So it's all going to be - maybe the fans will tune in to OWN and have a celebration at home while they watch because we're actually coming back to television which is really exciting.
ERIKA SLEZAK: Yes.

You've been asked about your favorite storylines but when you look back at your body of work on the show what moment do you feel the most proud of?
ERIKA SLEZAK: Oh wow.
KASSIE DEPAIVA: Well I can tell you mine. Mine was just living through the live week and getting through it. And I had such a great story and it was, you know, the climax of a great story when Blair has to confront Todd about him - his lying about Jack's birth and death situation. So that was to me one of the most thrilling moments on the show.
ERIKA SLEZAK: I have so many things that I'm proud of on the show but I think just the longevity that the show has achieved is I guess what I'm proudest of. That together we all created something that lasted on television 43, 44 years and then we moved to the internet and now we're going back on television. And I think I'm enormously proud of that.
KASSIE DEPAIVA: Well can I add to that and say that we had such a foundation of fabulous actors, Bob Woods, Erika Slezak, Robin Strasser, Clint Ritchie, that - Phil Carey, that were, you know, I was so proud to - and it's been 20 years and I can't believe it's been that long that I've been a part of this but I was so honored to be getting to play in the same sandbox with these talented, talented actors. And I think that has been the key to the success of our show and as a fan to watch I want to go to Llanview to visit these people that I really love.
ERIKA SLEZAK: That's incredibly sweet. Thank you.
KASSIE DEPAIVA: Well I mean it.
ERIKA SLEZAK: I know you do.

I'd like to ask each of you if you can recall the very first day on the original ONE LIFE TO LIVE. What did that feel like for you?
ERIKA SLEZAK: I'll answer that quickly because I had never been on television before. I had been in repertory theater for four or five years and had done a lot of classics, had never actually ever seen a daytime serial because I was always in rehearsal. And my very first day was the day after I auditioned and was hired. So they gave me no time whatsoever. I ran over and got the script, memorized it, showed up the next morning far too early. There was nobody even there.

And I don’t really remember much of the day because I was in such a daze but I do remember that there were three people who totally carried me through the day. And the first one was (Sydney Andrews) who was our stage manager who couldn't have been more helpful and then Lynn Benesch who played my sister Meredith and Ernie Graves who played my father Victor Lord. Without them I would never have made it through the day. I was a nervous wreck. They said I did all right. They kept me on the show. They didn't fire me so I guess I did all right. But it was a magical day and thank god it didn't end. Kassie?
KASSIE DEPAIVA: Well for me I was a recast so I was trying to keep my southern accent under wraps and I was working opposite the great Erika Slezak and Roy Thinnes and I had to wear a bathing suit. So I don't know which was more nerve wracking, having to wear a bathing suit or having to keep my accent - not sound like a country girl and work with Erika Slezak.

So it was all - I remember it like it happened yesterday and that - they had a difficult time finding Blair. And it was one of those okay we're going to cast you on a weekend and you have to - and it was actually over the Thanksgiving holiday. And they had already written it and it was three episodes to do in one day which was rare. Back 20 years ago we used to just do one episode a day. And of course I was so nervous because both of these actors were so wonderful and I just wanted to come with my A game.
ERIKA SLEZAK: And you did. And may I tell you that you showed up in that bathing suit and the whole company went oh my god how gorgeous is she. Yes.
KASSIE DEPAIVA: Thank you...
ERIKA SLEZAK: I remember the bathing suit too.

Also in the two years during the hiatus what does each of you do? What projects did you do? Did you take time out?
ERIKA SLEZAK: We went off the air on January 13th, 2012 and came back on April 29th of 2013. And I slept. I slept for about a year and took care of a lot of stuff at home that needed doing and kept hoping and praying that the show would come back and it did. I kind of enjoyed my time at home which I hadn't had a real chance to do for years. And as I said I slept a lot.
KASSIE DEPAIVA: I had to really reconfigure my mindset because I am such a workhorse and I had a hard time adjusting to going okay now what am I going to do today. But I was very fortunate to be able to do a low budget feature film that went to the Cannes Film Festival and Sundance this year and we'll have a release in October.

It's a small part called "We Are What We Are." And I also was thrilled to be able to do a musical, my first musical since high school, down at Theater Works in Naples with my husband. It was 110 in the Shade where I played a spinster named Lizzie. And it was quite challenging, very scary but I truly loved the experience. It was nice to work with Jen again.

I was wondering in talking about the length of your career on the show what was it like working that first year and then compare it to what you do now in terms of maybe routines or things that are easier, things that are harder.
ERIKA SLEZAK: Oh my god it was a breeze. We were half our show. We started rehearsal at 8:15 in the morning and we finished shooting every single day at 5 o'clock on the dot. So it was easy and we had masses of rehearsal. I have to pause for a second. Kassie you go ahead and answer. I have to pause.
KASSIE DEPAIVA: Okay. So it's like Erika said. I worked an hour and, you know, I was on an hour show. So it wasn't a half hour but we only did one episode a day. So if you had 13 pages at the most you felt like that was going to be challenging.

And we definitely were there not that, you know, we did it until it was done and that would be finished around 7:30 to 9 o'clock at night. But I think the challenging part now is the fact that we shoot so many things out of sequence to save time and the amount of - I think it's also gotten more live action. It's not so sit around and talk.

And that can be tedious and harder to shoot, is more time-consuming. But I think - I don’t know if the storytelling has gotten better or worse but if you look at back at the story it seems like the storytelling was a little bit more intimate back in the day than it is now. Now it moves much faster.

And do you feel like that the older style would play today still?
KASSIE DEPAIVA: I think it...
ERIKA SLEZAK: The older style? What do you mean?

Just well in terms of what she's talking about with it being more intimate...
KASSIE DEPAIVA: A slower pace - the story moved a little slower back I think.
ERIKA SLEZAK: It moved a lot slower and I don't think it would play today. You know, this is a very different world we live in. Everything is faster. You know, my god the technological age has changed everything and people are not content to sit and just watch slowly. Things have to happen. Things have to move.

But I think that ONE LIFE TO LIVE has always kept up with the times. Even in the beginning stories moved a little more slowly but they were interesting. They were topical. Agnes Nixon who was in charge of the show for the first five years until she handed it over to other head writers was always very aware of what should be on the air. And, you know, the show was fascinating in the early days and is still.
KASSIE DEPAIVA: Yes.

I want to get your follow up on how you feel the work is different today for you or if there's any different way you prepare or anything like that.
KASSIE DEPAIVA: I prepare the same. I am not one of those actors. There's many actors that I've worked with that will pick up the script in the morning and without even looking at it. I - if I don't know my material when I walk in the door then I don't feel comfortable and I feel like everyone works - this is just my approach to work.

Everyone works very hard to make this wheel go around that I never want to be the weakest link or the weakest spoke in the wheel. I always want to come in with my A game and I think working with like the greats like Erika I mean she is - she really has laid a beautiful foundation for me and as well as even the younger kids coming up.

If you have the work ethic that she has the show is going to be successful and that's just what I try to emulate the people that I respect and I respect her a great deal.
ERIKA SLEZAK: Well thank you Kassie. I would have to say that what Kassie said regarding your preparation is essential. People who don't do their homework really can't deliver and the one wonderful thing about ONE LIFE TO LIVE is our actors and they are almost 100% - I mean and I would say 100% committed to giving the best performance possible and that includes and is predicated on incredible preparation.

I show up knowing my lines because if you don't know your lines you can't give a performance. When you're playing a scene with Kassie or with Robin or with anybody on the show if you don't know what your response is then you're not able to sit back and listen and respond accurately.
KASSIE DEPAIVA: Right.
ERIKA SLEZAK: I know that's a kind of a complicated sentence but the most important part about acting is listening. And when you play a scene with someone it's not going to be the way you imagined it in your head. The other actor is going to be doing what the other actor is doing and you have to be prepared to respond to that. If you don't know your lines you're up the creek without a paddle.

So I think preparation is absolutely vital. We have a great deal of material to get through every day and not a lot of time to do it. And you really can't sit around and waste somebody's time by saying oh I don't know what I'm supposed to say.
KASSIE DEPAIVA: Yes there's no time for that and it - you - it's too frustrating for the whole team of people that are trying to make this happen.
ERIKA SLEZAK: Exactly. Exactly.
KASSIE DEPAIVA: You'll get a talking to.

I was hoping that maybe you could tell me something fun or wonderful about Melissa [Archer], what you think of her as an actor and as a person.
ERIKA SLEZAK: I will be absolutely truthful with you. I adore that girl. She is not only an extremely fine actress, she is a delightful human being. And she is able to create a reality about her character that very few people have. It's so completely truthful.

You never see her acting which is wonderful. I love her. She is - I also say she lives on another planet but thank god she deigns to come and visit us on ours. She has an energy and a sweetness about her that is extraordinary which is more to her credit that she can play this character who in the beginning was certainly not very nice.

And it took me a couple of weeks to absolutely adore her because in the beginning I thought whoa where is all this energy coming from. What? But I love her. I absolutely love her and I'm so proud of her and everything that she has done.
KASSIE DEPAIVA: I think she has grown so much. She joined the cast as a girl and she has evolved into a stunning woman and who really - she really knows who she is now and it's really nice to see that evolve personally as well as professionally.
ERIKA SLEZAK: Absolutely.

I just want to congratulate you guys on the anniversary. Being that this is an anniversary that you probably didn't think you were going to see can you just talk about how it feels? I imagine it's a little bit more - there's a lot more feeling going on with this anniversary.
KASSIE DEPAIVA: Well it's interesting. This week two years ago we found out through the Daily News break that Prospect Park was going to pick up these shows for the internet. Now granted it didn't come through the first time or it didn't happen but it's - this anniversary it almost feels like it never ended even though that it did because we're back and we're doing this.

Because in my heart I always - I never gave up hope. So for me it's like, you know, because every day on the street people kept it alive and through tweets and Facebook and comments. I mean people have been fighting since the minute ABC made their announcement that they were going to cancel ONE LIFE TO LIVE because it was just kind of so - everyone was so caught off guard by the bad choice made.

So it just feels right that it is certainly - we certainly should have a bigger celebration when we all get together back in production because we do have a lot to celebrate.

I wanted to ask you, you know, both of you told me how much you've loved working with Roger Howarth and, you know, he's been - it was great to have him back I'm sure. Can you speak to me about getting to work with him? Was it sad to see him leave and, you know, it's amazing watching the palpable chemistry between Todd and Blair in the scenes and Vicky and Todd. So can you speak to me about working with him again and then he had to - he left. What are your feelings?
ERIKA SLEZAK:  I have always been a huge admirer of Roger Howarth. I think he's a fascinating actor and a very, very nice human being and I have always liked working with him because he's so interesting. And in the very beginning when we started working together after the whole rape trial and everything when we found out he was Todd we had more fun because we kind of got each other. And he would do things that were a little impromptu and I would respond immediately. And he...
KASSIE DEPAIVA: Like clean his toenails with a knife or...
ERIKA SLEZAK: Yes.
KASSIE DEPAIVA: Viki was always correcting him.
ERIKA SLEZAK: He was, you know, he'd come in and put his feet on the coffee table and it wasn't in the dialogue but I'd just go get your feet off the table. This is a house. It's, you know, it's not a barn. And he appreciated that I think and we had a lot of fun working together. And when he came back this time it was double, triple, a thousand times. He's a lovely actor and a lovely man and I am really glad that he came back. And when he left it was a kind of a hard day. I was not happy to see him go.
KASSIE DEPAIVA: Well I - there's, you know, what can I say that I haven't said a thousand times. You know, I am a fan of Todd and Blair. I am a fan of Roger. He's a brilliant, delightful actor to work with.

He - I feel that whatever Kassie and Roger bring to it it just comes alive and it's just kind of a magical thing that has worked over the years and I - sometimes I shake my head and go wow I had, you know, doing it's one thing and then watching it back even on YouTube I kind of go wow now I kind of get why people really love these characters because they're so complicated and they have - they've been written so beautifully.

But sometimes you can just put Todd and Blair in a room and the less they say the more they convey. And I've loved the pairing. It makes me - it will make me very, very sad if this is the last time Blair that you see with - I mean I hope who knows what's going to happen. I hope that this will continue but, you know...

Have either of you had the opportunity to see him on GENERAL HOSPITAL as Franco in any role? Have you checked it out or seen it?
KASSIE DEPAIVA: I have checked it out just very, very briefly. I know that he's blonde for sure...
ERIKA SLEZAK: I just saw him one day very briefly. I was flipping through channels I kind of - I went wait a minute who is that? And I went...
KASSIE DEPAIVA: Yes. That's exactly what I did.
ERIKA SLEZAK: I said my god Roger's blonde. How about that? And playing Franco. But I don't really watch a lot of other television and I haven't watched GENERAL HOSPITAL in a lot of years. I used to be a devoted fan when I had the time but I don’t seem to have the time anymore.

Michael Fairman: The other thing I wanted to ask you both is why, you know, we've talked over the years about how amazing Vicky and Blair are and why you as actresses have resonated so much with the audience. Do you have any clue in your hearts, your minds why you guys have touched so many people? What is it about these characters or your performances that you think has just touched so many people that, you know, want to see these characters back?
ERIKA SLEZAK: Well I think...
KASSIE DEPAIVA: I can comment as a fan of Viki's. I think Viki and Blair are great powerful women in their own right but very different. Blair is by far more dysfunctional. But Vicky is too if you just take in her alters. But both of these women speak from the heart and they have a voice that maybe some of the women at home don't get to express.

And I love - they're very different but I love both of their powerful presence and voice. They both love their children. They both believe in what they stand for and they both do things with reason and determination and passion. And I think they're interesting to watch.
ERIKA SLEZAK: And I think they both have a lot of - a great humanity about them. They are kind and loving and giving women and other people really like them and that helps.

When Kristen Alderson won the Emmy did you guys fall on the floor? Were you not excited? 
ERIKA SLEZAK: I was backstage because I was presenting the final award and I didn't hear it and somebody came into the little green room in the back and said Kristen just won. And I said whoa and afterwards when it was over I ran to give her a hug. She is such a doll and I have known that child. What we've known her Kassie since she was what six or five?
KASSIE DEPAIVA: Yes, a long time...
ERIKA SLEZAK: And she has grown into a marvelous actress.
KASSIE DEPAIVA: I was biting my nails. I mean it was like oh my gosh I don't know this is just killing me. And it's like oh my gosh and then when they called her name it was like I mean I couldn't have been a more proud mama, you know, if I'd been there myself...
ERIKA SLEZAK: Yes truly.
KASSIE DEPAIVA: I was and I'm very, very proud of her and she's stunning...
ERIKA SLEZAK: She looked wonderful.
KASSIE DEPAIVA: She looked beautiful. I loved her speech. She thanked the ONE LIFE TO LIVE family which I was like oh. She remembered her roots and I love that.
ERIKA SLEZAK: That's where she learned it all.
KASSIE DEPAIVA: Yes.
ERIKA SLEZAK: And she was a very talented child.
KASSIE DEPAIVA: Oh my god so delightful.
ERIKA SLEZAK: Yes and because of her mother - her wonderful mother Kathy this was a girl who never became obnoxious or nasty or awful or a little brat. She was always a wonderful child as is her brother Eddie. Kathy her mother was very careful with them and that made a huge difference in their growing up and in who they became.

You've both seen writers come and go over the years. Do you have a favorite head writer from day's past, like someone you thought was strong overall and wrote great material for you? And...
ERIKA SLEZAK:  I think that we had a pretty good run of fabulous head writers. It started with obviously Agnes Nixon. There's nobody better than she is. And then we had a wonderful writer named Gordon Russell who wrote for us for many years. And he left the show and unfortunately had lung cancer and passed away far too early.

But he created some of the best, most interesting stories, that whole Karen Wolek trial and so much stuff. And then, you know, we've had wonderful head writers all along -- Peggy O'Shea, a great writer -- and culminating really in Ron Carlivati who was brilliant for us for many, many years. And now we have new writers who are equally as good. They're coming up with fabulous stuff. It's hard to pick one that's the best because they're all a little different and everybody has their strengths.
KASSIE DEPAIVA: I agree with that and because I think the most difficult part of the soap opera world for me would have to be the writing, for them to have to come up with, you know, 25 characters and each character has a through line and arcs and umbrella stories. And I just find it to be - I don't know how they do it.
ERIKA SLEZAK: Yes it's not a job I would ever take on.
KASSIE DEPAIVA: No. I could never take - I could never do it so I'm in kind of in awe of how it's - how they make it happen.
ERIKA SLEZAK: It's phenomenal yes. It's a lot of work.

Have you guys seen enough material from the new team now that Jessica Klein has been added to kind of discuss what their strengths might be?
ERIKA SLEZAK: No not really. We had a few scripts - when we went on hiatus there were a few scripts out and I don't know if they've been changed or not.
KASSIE DEPAIVA: But I also think that even - from the beginning of the reboot scripts are changed daily because this is a whole new team of production that are seeing things as they go and daily they'll go in and go okay that didn't work. We're going to switch this over. We're changing this. So and they also gave us a lot more freedom this time around to find our voices again I think.
ERIKA SLEZAK: Yes absolutely. And yes I was just going to say that whatever is out there now we have not seen yet.
KASSIE DEPAIVA: No.

I'm going to say actually is this for Erika because I don't think this was happening when you were there. But there used to be at the end of the show that little I think you call it the beauty spots. That went it away. Who were the actors that were on the last beauty spot? Do you remember?
ERIKA SLEZAK:  We called it the beauty shot.  And it was kind of a pain in the neck because you had to continue - whoever was in it you had to continue your emotional life from the last scene you were in. And if it was a happy one that was easy with, you know, because obviously without dialogue. If it was a sad one it was very difficult to do and a lot of the actors spent a lot of time trying to break each other up. So I'm very glad it's gone.
KASSIE DEPAIVA: Thank god we didn't have to do that. That would have been way too hard.

And also I remember that there was some lip readers in the audience.
ERIKA SLEZAK: Oh yes.

That kind of ended it.
ERIKA SLEZAK: Yes, because there were people who were naughty and but mostly it just, you know, it was a way to keep the enthusiasm of the audience going during the credits, through the credits. And then they decided they didn't really need that. Thank goodness.
KASSIE DEPAIVA: And they didn't need the credits. They don't even show credits anymore barely.
ERIKA SLEZAK: No.

I grew up watching you with my grandmother and like this is so amazing for me to get to talk to you. So thank you. Happy anniversary and my first question is for both of you, Kassie first and then Erika. What has been your most challenging storyline to date?
KASSIE DEPAIVA: For me I think the most challenging storyline that I just didn't want to hang my hat up on was - or throw my hat in actually was when Todd - I'm not even - I don’t know who wrote it but it's when she turned her back on Todd and Todd was being played by Trevor at the time and it's when she was with Spencer.

And she - and it was when Todd went through his execution. She chose to believe Spencer over Todd which she would never do and I had to play that and it just really like oh it just really bothered me because it didn't feel true to me. And, you know, that's - it was a blip but it still bothered me.
ERIKA SLEZAK: Yes. I think the most challenging stories I had were the illnesses because what you want to do is give credit to the people who are really suffering those illnesses, never to make it easy, never to make light of it and to pay respect for, you know, to the people who are truly suffering. And, you know, with the breast cancer story and the stroke and also my multiples you want to portray that as realistically and as difficultly - difficulty - and with as great difficulty as possible because they are not easy things to get through.

And I know that years and years ago Joe Riley played by Lee Patterson, the character they gave him an aneurism and he was in the hospital and then he got better and then he was cured. And I was walking home one day and I used to see this very nice older gentleman in a wheelchair being pushed by a nurse a block away from where I lived.

And he stopped me one day and he said you know I watch your show. And I said oh thank you. And he said, you know, I have the same thing that Joe Riley had, a brain aneurism. And I said my god really? And he said yes. He said the thing is that mine has taken ten years to even get me into a wheelchair. He said they cured him in four months.

And I thought that's, you know, the hard part. You know, you obviously can't play it for the ten years but you have to give respect to the illness and to the toll it takes on people who really have it. So I think those are the most challenging things.
KASSIE DEPAIVA: You think about pregnancies. If we really played a pregnancy for nine months do you know how long that would be.  People get pregnant in March and they deliver their child in August. So it's like it's crazy.

Kassie, why do you think Todd and Blair have held such a special place in the hearts of their fans for so many years?
ERIKA SLEZAK: I want to throw one thing in here and just say because they are magical. They are absolutely magical.
KASSIE DEPAIVA: Thank you Erika. I think they are relatable. Everybody can relate to these two lost souls that you really want to - you root for them to find happiness because they both came from such sad places that they - when they found each other they kind of became one person and one entity.

And then they were - they're constantly being chipped away by the life choices that they make and you just hope that tomorrow that these two people are going to finally come together and be happy. And of course that never happens but they - you always - you never give up hope and I think that's what's so exciting about those two characters and I also thing they're fun to watch. You can laugh with them and at them.

No I definitely agree. I think you and Roger definitely have something that I think is rare nowadays especially when it comes to the chemistry that you guys have. And I like Trevor. I like you and Trevor as well but I think that there was something very unique about you and Roger's chemistry and I just love that about your work.
KASSIE DEPAIVA: Well thank you but I also think when Trevor was Todd they wrote him he and Blair never had great love. It was always kind of different. And it's interesting when they write for whatever reason Roger Todd and Kassie Blair it was always a story of great love and a hope. And I think it was also in the writing as well as the betrayal but it's - but you're correct so thank you.

And Erika I have one final question for you. Over the course of ONE LIFE TO LIVE's history and there have been so many wonderful moments and emotional stories that have really touched fans throughout the years. If you could summarize ONE LIFE TO LIVE's legacy over the 45 years what would it be?
ERIKA SLEZAK: I think the show has always been honest and has provided obviously entertainment. And people say what is the legacy? I don't know. It's entertainment. It's we gave them 43, 44 years of entertainment and now it's continuing.

But I think that all the head writers put together have been very, very careful to present real people in real situations dealing with them in a real way. We've never been a cartoon. We've never been a joke. Yes we've had flights of fancy. You know, you go to heaven in your dreams and you go to Eterna for whatever and, you know, crazy things happen. But crazy things happen in life and I think that's the thing. We've always tried to be real. And I think people appreciate that.
KASSIE DEPAIVA: I think it's also rooted in some really fine actors that keep it real. We're not the prettiest group of actors as some of the shows are about pretty people. These are about real people, real characters that are living in this community and it's just - I mean we have the Dorians that are bigger than life but we have the Vicky that grounds it.

And then we have the Bos that are the moral compasses and then you have the Todds that are out there raping and being bad. And you see all sides and it really works and it pulls together and you see the common thread of humanity. And I really just think it's always been one of the best shows on daytime.
ERIKA SLEZAK: Yes that's kind of what I meant by they have always tried to keep it very real and people who react in a real way to situations. That's been our company. I think we have an extraordinary company of actors down to the last man, just absolutely super actors and they've always been that. You know?
KASSIE DEPAIVA: And we have a group of young actors right now that I think are just smoking. I think just really, really wonderful.
ERIKA SLEZAK: Smoking?
KASSIE DEPAIVA: Smoking.
ERIKA SLEZAK: I like that.

I wanted to know now you both you came on as recasts. When did you start saying like wow I'm going to really have a long career on this show? Like when did that thought start entering your head?
ERIKA SLEZAK: I don't think it ever enters your head. Every time that the contract negotiations come around you think oh my god this is it. I'll never work again. And then they say no here's five more dollars. Do you want to stay? And then, you know, suddenly the years go by and you think this has just been amazing. How many actors can say they've had a job for 41 years straight, you know, in one show? It's unusual for me. Kassie?
KASSIE DEPAIVA: Yes every day I keep thinking wow I didn't get fired today.
ERIKA SLEZAK: Wow.
KASSIE DEPAIVA: Wow they - I guess they liked that. You know, it's and there's certain days that I walk out of the studio thinking oh my gosh I love this and there's certain days that I walk out going whew I can't believe I got through that day.
ERIKA SLEZAK: Yes. Yes.
KASSIE DEPAIVA: And that's what keeps it fresh for me because every day is different and a different experience not only with the words but it's just a different energy in the building. But I had never, you know, now I’m 52 years old and I can look back and go oh my gosh I've really actually had a career. And that feels really nice to me but I don't even, you know, I never set out thinking well I'm going to do this for the rest of my life.

Well we are very glad that you two have remained on the show for so long. You've been a delight to watch. I was curious. We've talked - you've been talking a lot about different storylines that have come and gone and different topics. Is there a topic or a storyline that you haven't seen done that you would really love for the show to delve into at some point?
ERIKA SLEZAK: I can't think of any. We've done pretty much everything well. I'm sure there's something but I don't know. You know, we've embraced all races and religions and everything else and that's very important.
KASSIE DEPAIVA: I really like what's going on right now with Roma and her husband...
ERIKA SLEZAK: Yes.
KASSIE DEPAIVA: They're talking about open marriage, which in the, you know, you can see them personally struggle - the characters struggling with like what that really means but I don't think I can remember anybody really openly talking about having an open marriage. And I thought that was kind of fresh even though it's, you know, something that's, you know, been happening I guess since the 60s or so. But I thought it was kind of interesting.
ERIKA SLEZAK: Nick Choksi who plays Vimal is one of my absolutely favorite characters. I love him...
KASSIE DEPAIVA: He is so fun. So fun. He and Roma are so...
ERIKA SLEZAK: I know.
KASSIE DEPAIVA: Yes, fantastic.
ERIKA SLEZAK: They're just great.

Kassie, I wanted to echo on what (Chris) had to say earlier from Soaps in Depth on the reference that, you know, ONE LIFE TO LIVE it never felt like it died. And seeing your character as well as Kristen and Michael and Roger on General Hospital for that year, for a year bringing the ONE LIFE TO LIVE characters over to GH. Like what was that like doing that? What was your feeling?
KASSIE DEPAIVA: Well it was great because I got to keep Blair in the mix not knowing that this was ever going to happen again. But it was hard also because I'm so used to feeling like I'm making a contribution. And when you come in - I've never had - really had that experience in my life as a daytime actress just coming in part time.

I've always come in with a through story and knowing that I've got, you know, it's just - it was hard for me to do and it was difficult for me to do on a personal note because I knew it was going to be short lived and I knew Blair was not going to come out, you know, with the winning hand because she was visiting.

So but that being said it was great because it helped with my health insurance. It was great because I got some income and it was wonderful because I got to have - I thought the short arc that I had - (Bond) wrote a beautiful arc where she tells Todd, you know, that she loves him and will always love him but she can't be with him. You know, and of course I got to work with Roger and it was just what, you know, it was just wonderful.

So when you guys first reported back to work on the new ONE LIFE TO LIVE how long was it before you actually reported to set? Was it just that instant once the news came out? Was it like a huge rush of euphoria when it happened or was it a little bit of time before you?
KASSIE DEPAIVA: Well we had some business issues to work out through all the unions because this is a whole different platform. This is a new media platform. So those issues had to be ironed out and I think that they were speaking to individual unions and then each actor had to be spoken to individually because that's how we negotiate. And they were trying to write the story. Everything happened so quickly. I'm just shocked that it got on its feet as quickly as it did and as beautifully as it did. I think the sets, the writing, to me it's a miracle.
ERIKA SLEZAK: I will agree with that 100%. You know, we were told in early January that this was a go and it was a miracle that we were on the air by April 29th.

Right.
ERIKA SLEZAK: It was just a miracle. It was rush, rush, rush, rush, rush get it all done which is why we're taking this hiatus now. Everybody needs - especially the writers need to have some breathing time to do long story to get it all going. And it's a gift to them. And it's, you know, nice for us to have a little break too because the work in the beginning when we came back was very, very kind of busy and difficult.

You were shooting scenes from many, many different episodes in one day which requires changing clothes, you know, and knowing a lot of material. So everybody has a chance to sit back, have a breather because we're on the air and go back to work very refreshed in September.
KASSIE DEPAIVA: Yes.

I am just so excited that it's back and I'm excited for its premiere on OWN this coming Monday back on television...
ERIKA SLEZAK: Oh yes. Isn't that nice?
KASSIE DEPAIVA: That's just fantastic. That's wonderful for Prospect Park because they have really made a, you know, they've put in a lot to make this happen anyway and it's just going to be nice for them hopefully to recover some revenue so we can continue to do this and for all the people that cannot or don't have access to computers hopefully they'll have access to cable and they'll be able to watch on OWN.

And I'm so happy that Oprah changed her mind and I just read an article actually in Variety this past week about how soaps are still really holding strong and in their ratings and up even more than they were this time last year and two years ago. Of course it's not the numbers that they had back in the 80s when they were at their heyday but that was when there were only three networks.

But soaps are still going strong and I'm glad that, you know, people are continuing to watch.

Sort of following on from that a little bit I was wondering just in a journalist sense since coming back what was maybe the most challenging thing that you had to deal with and what was the most surprising good thing that came up?
ERIKA SLEZAK: The most challenging thing to deal with was just getting used to a whole new situation I think because the acting and the people everything was so familiar again but it was just, you know, finding your way into a new place, getting around. But it wasn't horrendously challenging. It was just kind of cool to come back to work.
KASSIE DEPAIVA: Yes maybe the commute is challenging just because it's not, you know, it's not three blocks down the street from me. It's, you know, about a 45 minute to an hour commute. Erika's been doing that all of her life when she was living about an hour out of the city, you know, every day.

But, you know, that's probably the most challenging. The rest of it is just plain old fun. And when everybody else is back - when everybody's backstage my dressing room is right by Tuc Watkins and all the young kids. I call - I'm the house mom. So we play games and whatever and laugh and have a - it's just really wonderful. There's no downside to being back at work at all.
ERIKA SLEZAK: No not at all.

And then what was the most surprising thing that you didn’t expect coming back?
ERIKA SLEZAK: How easy it would be. You know, I went back to work and my husband said gee I hope you remember how to do this. And I thought I hope I do remember how to do this. And at the end of the first day I thought it's like we were never away. Really like it was a long weekend which was fabulous...
KASSIE DEPAIVA: Right. Just the set shelter was probably the most time consuming because it was big and two story and they're trying to make it look as hip and as progressive as possible. And I believe the first day that I worked was on that set and it was about 1 o'clock at night and I'm sitting off in the wings watching and saying gosh I'm so tired. And then I just giggled and go but I wouldn’t want to be anyplace else. And I'm just - I was just giddy to be back doing what I love and I didn't care how tired I was.

Walker Ragsdale is a freelance blogger with a passion for everything pop culture. For feedback or questions, you can email Walker Ragsdale at Reklawmedia@gmail.com.

1 comment:

  1. Happy 45th One Life To Live. Love You Guys


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