Soap Opera Update
August 31, 1999, Vol. XII No. 35
One might think
that after five Daytime Emmy Awards and 28 years playing the same character that
One Life To Live's Erika Slezak (Viki) would have seen and done it all. In this
feature, the versatile actress reveals that she may be facing her greatest
challenges yet! The Llanview vet speaks candidly about facing the Empty Nest
Syndrome in real life, now that both of her children will be attending college
this fall. That's not the only part of Slezak's life that is changing. As far as
her reel life, she finds herself in the middle of one of the most popular
romances on daytime....with a sexy man!.
OLTL's Erika Slezak is on the move personally and professionally Erika Slezak
looks absolutely beautiful, very slim and well-rested after her annual summer
vacation, as she invites UPDATE into he OLTL dressing room for a chat. Seeing
her, one must comment on how slender she looks. "Yes, I've lost a lot of
weight," she confesses. "We were just away on vacation and I'm happy to say I
didn't gain any of it back. In fact, in London, I did what I always wanted to
do: sleep. We only had two meals a day. Getting over the jet lag is always hard
for me. What I would do was sleep until 10 a.m., get up, have breakfast at 11
a.m., have dinner at 6 p.m., and then go to the theater. So eating two meals a
day is a good trick. I lost three pounds in one week," she adds proudly.
After 28 years and five Emmys for her portrayal of Victoria Lord Riley
Buchanan Carpenter, Slezak is looking forward to what's ahead for her much-loved
character, and is also ready for what the future holds in her personal life. Off
camera, Slezak's life consists of wonderful husband Brian Davies and their two
children Michael and Amanda. Throughout her years on OLTL, Slezak has always
maintained that it was the absolute best job an actress could have, because it
enabled her to not only follow her dream, but to enjoy a family life as well.
Well, now her children are all grown up and her life is about to undergo a
dramatic change. Last year, son Michael went off to college; now, daughter
Amanda will be going in the fall.
"Don't remind me," she says smiling. Michael and Amanda are home for the
summer and both are working in the city at summer jobs, but fall is fast
approaching and soon they'll be gone.
"Michael will be going back to Georgetown and Amanda is going to New York
University, but she'll be living in the dorms. That was her choice and she's
thrilled." But is Slezak? "Oh it will be absolutely fine," she offers. "I'll see
her. I can even have lunch with her. I look at their schedules and you know
these college kids never go to school." she laughs, "They sleep late, they go to
class, they come back and hang out. They watch soaps all afternoon, because they
arrange their schedules so that they can."
Slezak says that she and husband Brian are prepared for what it will be like
when both kids are gone. "Brian and I were sitting on the terrace last night,"
the actress relays. "Michael wasn't home and neither was Amanda. We were just
sitting there, having a glass of wine, and I said, "This is what it's going to
be like,' and I thought, 'You know what, it'll be okay,' It's just the two of
us, like it was in the beginning. In a way, we also won't have to be responsible
and arrange our schedules around someone else's schedule, which I've happily,
delightedly done for all these years. Right now, we're not taking care of them
like we used to in the sense of doing everything for them - they both drive,
they both go off on their own. When they were young, anywhere they wanted to go
we went because you are always very much on call for your children. Always.
That's part of the joy and experience that you share with your children. So, in
a way, it's going to be terrific. I'll miss them terribly. When Amanda goes off,
it's going to be very strange, because the house will be very quiet. It'll just
be me and Brian and the dogs."
Through the years, Slezak has stayed away from outside projects that would
have taken her away from home. Will that change now?
"It would depend on the project, because in my heart, I don't want to be away
from Brian either," the star reveals. "I'm gone all day - do I need to be gone
all night, too?" Not really. I think it would have to be something very special
for me to do it, and it's hard to do something else when you're on a show as
much as I am."
Just as Slezak is going through changes in her personal life, her onscreen
alter ego Viki is as well! Viki's got a new man in her life...and viewers are
simply loving the paring of Viki and bartender Ben (Mark Derwin). So does
Slezak. "It's a good storyline," she admits. "It's a lovely story and we're
having a lot of fun, we really are. It's enjoyable. It's humorous.
Unfortunately, the story about Jessica and the baby was very sad, but hopefully
we'll get over that and move on and have a good time. They did a great job when
they cast Mark as Ben. "We're having fun."
And how does Derwin feel about working with OLTL's brightest star and one of
the two-longest running characters in all of Llanview?
"I'm the luckiest guy on daytime," he says with a big grin.
"The whirlwind romance of Viki and Ben has captured the hearts of viewers."
Sidebar: The Men in Viki's Life:
They've been with her in good
times and bad! (Sloan, Joe and Clint) She's been married six times...and each
husband has played an important part in Viki's life. Sloan was Viki's last
husband. Joe Riley wed Viki twice, as did Clint Buchanan. Will Ben be husband