Soap Opera Digest
One Body, Two People:
One Life to Live's Nicole Smith Shouts Out
About Her Split Personality, Her Crummy Sister and Life with Herron
By Andrea Payne
She misses her hair. Tugging at the short golden locks deftly hidden under an
unobtrusive hat, Nicole Smith, her eyes clouding at the memory of her long red
wig, sighs deeply and says, "I hate this hair being done all the time." This should be her only problem.
Freewheeling, fun loving, a woman whose only goal in life is to go dancing until
her feet drop off (she would have made a great dance marathoner), Nicole Smith,
or Niki as she is also known, has a lot more to worry about than her coiffure.
Much to her chagrin, Smith inhabits the body of Victoria Buchanan, a Llanview
society matron and victim of multiple personality disorder whom Nicole considers
duller than dishwater. "Viki is boring," Nicole chimes. "She wears boring
clothes. She has a boring life. Come on," Smith says disgustedly, "she comes
home every night. Boring. She never goes out and has a good time."
In her quest for the seemingly elusive "good time," Nicole has tried to run away
from Clint Buchanan, her alternate personality's husband, but has been foiled
repeatedly by Viki's sister, Tina Clayton. One senses that something is not
quite right between Nicole and Clayton, especially when Smith calls Tina, "an
opportunistic, evil, lying little vulture."
Born Victoria Lord in Llanview, Pennsylvania, Niki Smith made her first
appearance when Viki caught her father, the wealthy philanthropist (and unknown
to Viki, philanderer) Victor Lord, doing it with Viki's best girlfriend, Irene.
The realization that her father, who had always made himself out to be a
veritable paragon of virtue, was nothing more than a lusty old vulture, tore
Viki apart, causing the emergence of the somewhat wild and woolly Niki Smith,
who was fond of hanging out in bars and coming on to strange men. Yet, while
Viki gave up everything as Niki, one thing remained intact: her virginity.
"Honey, I've never had sex!" Nicole declares. "That's one of the reason I
don't want to go to bed with Clint. I don't know what I'm in for."
After extended therapy with the renowned Dr. Polk, Niki retreated and Victoria
lived happily in her own body until an unfortunate series of events caused Niki
to reappear. And, as of this writing, all attempts to banish Smith have failed.
At the time of this interview, Niki was pretending to be Viki so that Clint
would not have her committed to a sanitarium, where do-gooders would try to
force her to split, as in get lost.
When challenged about her right to exist, Smith squares her shoulders and
insists that she has a right to Viki's body. "It's me," she says, twisting her
mouth into a snarl, "I came from her. I'm entitled to as much a life as she
is," she says sharply. "She's had it all these years and not it's my turn. The
thing is, Nicole confides, leaning forward and reverting to her high-pitched
sing-songy voice, "is that if circumstances were different, if Clint wasn't
married, I'd probably fall for him. But the thing is, he wants Viki back and I
can't be Viki. I can't publish newspapers. I can't do good stuff like she
always does - all that community service and good works. It's not very
interesting," she sneers. "It's not fun. I've got to be free. I've got to be
able to go dancing."
While Smith has her fears about life in a sanitarium, she's more afraid of that
locked in feeling than of the doctors' ability to restore Victoria. Alluding to
the time she faked a coma and fooled her "cute" former brother-in-law, Dr. Larry
Wolek, Nicole's assessment of Dr. Larry is that, "he's not a very good doctor.
I would never go to him if I were sick ever, ever, ever," she stresses. "In
fact, I wouldn't go to anybody at Llanview Hospital, they're a bunch of dodos."
Having hung around long enough to get the goods on Llanview's apparently inept
medical community, Nicole, who's nobody's dummy, is also onto some of that
town's most prominent citizens. Mention Dorian, and without hesitating, Nicole
snaps, "Boy is that a two-faced bitch. She doesn't really care for Viki a lot,
says Dorian...Do you know she lost all her money?" She asks then offers, "It's
all right, she'll live. She can sell her apartment," she says, shrugging her
shoulders. Niki considers Viki's father-in-law a "big ox and a big loudmouth,"
and also admits she's not to crazy" about Herron, the family butler. "He's
always looking at me funny. He doesn't like my clothes, doesn't like the way I
do my hair or the way I talk. I tried to be friendly with him Smith claims, "I
shook his hand."
While Nicole confesses that Clint is the person she likes best, the man she'd
most like to nab, Smith says, is Viki's brother-in-law Bo Buchanan. "He's a
cutie. He like to have a good time. Cute smile." And though she regrets the
death of Harry O'Neill (the only man Niki truly loved), she believes that Clint
would be a good substitute for O'Neill if he would only - you guessed it - take
For now, Nicole, who has finally managed to divorce Clint, is just biding her
time until she can move into the ballroom at the Back Street Restaurant. A
lover of the simpler things in life, besides dancing, Nicole yearns for "a
couple of hamburgers. Nobody ever eats hamburgers at Llanfair. There's all
this fancy food with sauces all over it. Give me a hamburger," she cries, "a
hot dog, pizza! They never eat pizza and they never send out for Chinese -
There was much laughter the day Erika Slezak sat in her One Life to Live
dressing room and , as she was asked, conducted an interview pretending to be
Nicole Smith. Ten minutes into the interview, Erika offered, "Its' very hard to
do this because Niki is a very limited character and it's very hard to talk as
she does. She has very little frame of reference...The biggest difference
between Victoria and Niki is that Victoria is a very real person with very real,
deep-seated emotions and Niki, by virtue of the fact that she is the opposite of
Victoria is the opposite in every way. She has very surface emotions. Nothing
goes very deep with her because...she is a fragment of a personality."
While Erika has enjoyed her tenure as Nicole, she does miss Victoria, whom she
calls a "terrific dame." As to how the storyline will be solved, Erika suspects
that the writers will "have to merge the two characters...In medical science the
few documented cases they have of multiple personalities, the only way they can
cure them is to merge them all together. You cannot banish the other
personality because they are all part of us. We're obviously multifaceted and I
think what they'll have to do in this case is to..maybe let Viki become a little
sillier and allow the Niki part to live in her."