Daytime TV 1976
"I've been on this show for five years...somtimes it feels like seventeen!"
BY: RONNI ASHCROFT
I knew that I was going to have a terrific time with an actress I've come to like a great deal. Erika Slezak, the powerhouse who has been playing the role of Viki Riley on One Life to Live
for five years, is not only immensely likeable, but she is as smart as a whip. And when she has feelings about something, she'll share them.
On the day we met, I was getting two very special sets of feelings-one concerned some goings-on at One Life to Live and the other concerned the man
in her life.
"I've been on the show for five years," Erika began. "Sometimes it feels like five going on seventeen years, and sometimes it feels like five years that flew by. Today was the day
when I felt like it was going on seventeen! "
About the man in her life. Erika says,"We have a plan for the rest of our lives – being together 100% of the time."
Something had happened to Erika at work to make the day seem so hard. She opened up and shared what the difficulty was: "They're killing off the character of Victor Lord-I've just seen the script --and everyone on the show is fighting to save him. Everyone! But ABC is the one who is insisting on it.
"Yes, there are days when I feel as though I just started doing the show yesterday-those days are in the majority. But, right now, I"m really upset. They've killed off some really good people recently.
"I've got to tell you that Shephard Strudwick (Victor Lord) was so pleased that the whole cast fought for him. They all took a stand on a personal and professional basis. He was one of
the pivotal characters in the show! He gave the show such dignity and class. Aside from that, he's a lovely actor, and I've enjoyed working with him so much.
"It just takes the fun out of it for me. It really becomes a job. I know that, in time, all of us will forget, and it'll become fun again. But so many people have left the show-and it hurts."
Was there a reason for the departure of so many major characters of late? "They want young people," Erika fired. "And some young people on a show are fine. But you don't want to
populate a whole show with young people! Believe me, I'm not knocking the show it's splendid and I love it. But I'm afraid of what might be done because of the trends towards youth that so many shows are going to."
"I just love New York.” says pert and pretty Erika Slezak, “because there's just so much going on all the time.”
But there was something else on Erika's mind today. She was also very much surrounded by the feelings she has for the man she loves, although, at this particular moment in Erika's life, she has chosen to keep the identity of her guy a secret, " I've been separated from the one I love. He's been in California since January. I had plans to visit him. After about three months, I went berserk and crazy-this is not the way to love! But because of work, that's where he has to be, and this is where. I have to be."
But immediately the grimace on her face turned into a radiant, full-blast smile. "We are determined to be together-for the absolute rest of our lives, He gives me so much moral support-he has such a way of calming me and telling me not to worry about what's unimportant. If he is able to find work here, he'll stay here.
"It's so incredible to know someone who will stand behind me. We argue, of course, but we have so much common life' interest. And we want to be together! But if it turns out that we have to be on different coasts, then the airlines will benefit. For the moment, Bell Telephone is really benefiting from our relationship! "
As far as dreams go. Erika wants to be with the man she loves have a family a little house and a small boat.
What about a life in California? "California is so boring unless you're working all the time. It addles your brain. Nancy Pinkerton said it so well when she said, 'California doesn't have
weather-it has climate!' If you're not busy there, you could scream!
"I just love New York because there's just so much going on all the time. Even if there's
nothing to do, there's something to do. I hardly have time to do anything-if I read
a book, I have to read it at one sitting! "
Yet, being together seems very much the important thing to Erika-no matter where. "We have a plan for the rest of our lives. We would like to be together absolutely one hundred percent of the time -- well, at least as much as is humanly possible. Although, with us being apart like this,
we're not starting out too terribly well!
"The only thing I think about in the future is that I want to be with him. We just have so much fun when we're together! We support each other-we need each other. Of course, we exist and do fairly well when we're apart. I was perfectly fine before I met him. But now.…
"You know, people say you don't get married because you can live with someone. You get married because you can't live without someone!
Often, windowshopping is all Erika has time for. “Even if there's nothing to do,” she says. “there's something to do!”
"For a long time I knew I had to get my priorities sorted out, and now I think I have. Sometimes I look at the people who got the stardom but wound up badly. To be with him would be to achieve the most I could.
"We want a family. We definitely want a family, and a little house, and perhaps a little boat. Just as long as we'd have enough to eat. I know we'd like to see the world. Oh, so many things have become unimportant and so many other things have become terribly important! "
To be around the happiness of someone you like a lot is one of the most pleasurable things in life. That's just the way I felt being around Erika Slezak. She has so much going for her that you feel terrific. As she stated at the end of our visit, "Things can only get better-I've never been happier"