Interview: Erika Slezak & Kassie DePaiva on ‘One Life to Live’s’ Legacy

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Pictured: Kassie DePaiva and Erika Slezak; Photo Credit: Donna Svennevik

In honor of One Life to Live’s 45th anniversary on Monday, July 15, TVSource Magazine had the opportunity to interview longtime stars Erika Slezak (Viki) and Kassie DePaiva (Blair) last week during a conference call hosted by The OnLine Network. What did the stars have to say about their most challenging storyline over the years?

TVSource Magazine: Hi. Good afternoon ladies. How are you?

Kassie DePaiva: Good how are you?

Erika Slezak: Very good thank you, Omar.

TVSource Magazine: I’m so happy I get to talk to you both. I grew up watching you with my grandmother and 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?
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.

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.

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 [Laughs].

TVSource Magazine: Kassie, why do you think Todd and Blair have held such a special place in the hearts of their fans for so many years?
Slezak:
I want to throw one thing in here and just say because they are magical. They are absolutely magical. Go ahead.

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.

TVSource Magazine: I definitely agree. You and Roger definitely have something that I think is rare nowadays, especially when it comes to the chemistry. I liked you and Trevor St. John as well, but I think that there is something very unique about your chemistry with Roger and I just love your work together.
DePaiva:
Well thank you, but I also think when Trevor was Todd, they wrote him as 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.

TVSource Magazine: 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 past 45 years what would it be?
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.

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.

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?

DePaiva: And we have a group of young actors right now that I think are just smoking. I think just really, really wonderful.

Slezak: Smoking?

DePaiva: Smoking.

Slezak: I like that.

TVSource Magazine: Thank you both for answering my questions and thank you both for everything that you do. And I can’t wait for you guys to start production again and see what’s coming in the fall.
Slezak:
Great. We’re excited too.

DePaiva: Thank you.

Beginning Monday, July 15, episodes of The OnLine Network’s All My Children and One Life to Live will make their much anticipated debut on OWN: Oprah Winfrey Network for a 10 week limited engagement. The 10-week “Summer Fling” will allow the network to host an exclusive run of the shows, which made their internet debut online April 29. Half-hour episodes of each show will air Monday-Thursday with AMC at 1 p.m. EST and OLTL at 3 p.m. EST.

Mondays are now soap days, with more choices, and more flexibility. On Monday, July 1, 2013, The OnLine Network began releasing ALL of the week’s new, highly-rated All My Children and One Life to Live 30-minute episodes on Mondays via Hulu, Hulu Plus and iTunes. Now, viewers can be choose to watch one episode each day or binge view some or all of that week’s shows at once starting each Monday. Together with More One Life To Live and More All My Children which give fans unprecedented access to the talent, behind the scenes scoops and much more, viewers can play or save up to six TOLN programs per week—all available on Mondays – providing even more flexibility to watch anytime, and anywhere.

For news and information about “One Life to Live,” connect via Facebook or follow the series on Twitter at www.facebook.com/onelifetolive or @onelifetolive

About The Author

Omar White-Nobles is Editor-in-Chief of TVSource Magazine. He's a natural #Heel who loves a spirited debate and probably watches too much TV. Follow him on Twitter at @SourceRyan to discuss all things TV, soaps, sports, wrestling and pop culture.