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Alicia Minshew Interview: Actress Returns to 'All My Children'

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Alicia Minshew

Born May 28, 1974, Alicia Minshew is best known for her portrayal of Kendall Hart Slater on the ABC daytime drama All My Children. The Plantation, Florida native stepped into the role of Kendall in January 2002 following the exit of Sarah Michelle Gellar (who previously portrayed the character) seven years earlier.

In 2008, Minshew married Richie Herschenfeld, a New York City restaurant owner. She went on maternity leave last year and took an extended break from All My Children to spend time with her newborn daughter (Willow Lenora Herschenfeld) born on November 4, 2009.

“We have moved. We decided that if I’m going to go back to work, I’m not going to fly back and forth with my baby. It’s just too much.”

The Emmy-nominated actress has appeared in a handful of episodes since then, but has now returned to work fulltime and can be seen on the soap beginning August 9, 2010.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Alicia, I know many All My Children fans are looking forward to your return.

Alicia Minshew: Gosh, I hope so. I’ve been out of the loop for so long that I have no idea what they want these days. But that makes me feel good to hear that.

Alicia Minshew

Alicia Minshew (ABC)

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): When we last saw Kendall and Zach together they left town to work on their marriage and now you’re returning to Pine Valley alone.

Alicia Minshew: Yes. Zach joins me a little bit later on. He comes a few shows after me so you will see Zach and Kendall together.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Trouble in paradise for the two of them?

Alicia Minshew: Right now you’d think that would be the case but she actually came back because something happened to Ryan. Her and Zach, you know … they’re still working things out but ultimately when you do see them there’s always a little bit of conflict but they’re still doing okay. Their relationship is actually getting better. It may be the calm before the storm, who knows?

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Have you signed a new contract?

Alicia Minshew: My contract was not up yet. I still had more time on my previous contract so I’m here finishing what was originally signed several years ago. We’re going to take it one step at a time and see what happens. I’m not in the middle of negotiations or anything, I’m just riding it out and enjoying it.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): What do you think of Christina Bennett Lind, the new Bianca?

Alicia Minshew: I think she’s great! I am still very close friends with Eden Riegel and actually just saw her last weekend. She will always be like a sister to me and always be very special to me. So I was a little hesitant at first about a new Bianca, but as soon as I met Christina … she’s so sweet and the perfect blend to play Bianca.

I know it was a hard role to cast, but the minute we met we hugged just like we knew each other. As soon as we started doing our scenes we were instantly comfortable around each other. I’m having fun with her. It’s different but it’s good.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): So it wasn’t difficult adjusting to a new actress?

Alicia Minshew: Sure, it’s always an adjustment especially after Eden played my sister for about 8 years. That’s a long time and we had a lot of intense moments.

It’s definitely different, but as an actor, you just have to adjust and say, “Okay this is something new.” But, Christina, I’m telling you … I don’t know what the fans are thinking of her, but I know when I was doing scenes with her she was very believable as Bianca to me.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): I think Christina favors Eden in physical appearance and mannerisms.

Alicia Minshew: She definitely does. In fact, it’s funny, Eden (who is now on The Young and the Restless) told me that she and Christina had been emailing each other and have gotten sort of friendly. Christina’s a fan of Eden’s work and Eden’s a fan of Christina’s work so it’s kind of nice that they have been acknowledging each other. I think she does kind of look like Eden … yeah, with the big eyes!

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Congratulations on the birth of your daughter last year!

Alicia Minshew: Thank you!

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Was it difficult to leave Willow and return to work?

Alicia Minshew: Yes. As much as I love my job and love everybody I work with, yeah it was. It’s still hard. She’s almost 9 months old now. She’s with her daddy during the day so I know she’s in good hands, but I spent 8 months with just her and me and really enjoyed being the mommy.

I go through withdrawal symptoms. I am still breastfeeding her, too, so physically my body goes, “Ow, okay, gotta pump!” But, it’s good. I’m finding that balance.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Was motherhood an easy transition for you?

Alicia Minshew: Thank God, knock on wood, I didn’t have any problems. It was easy in some ways and hard in others. Easy in that my husband and I fell so in love with this child and we became a very good team together. Easy because we worked together to take care of her, we had our family around, and she was healthy. That transition went great. But it was tricky in many ways because I went from working all the time to being mommy all the time.

I had never had a baby before so breastfeeding was new to me; being up every 2 hours for feedings was exhausting as everyone warned me about. There are scary moments where you don’t know if she’s still breathing, what’s wrong with her, confused about some of her weird sounds. So the first month was scary just because I’d never done it before. Then eventually we found our groove and we got to know the baby more. Now I think we’ve got the hang of it (laughs).

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Do you still have family in Florida?

Alicia Minshew: I have two sets of parents down there. My mother and her husband and my dad and his wife live there, then I also have two sisters, aunts, uncles, and cousins in Florida. The majority of my family still lives there and my husband’s family is in New York.

The families flew in after the birth, which I wasn’t sure how I was going to feel about that, but it actually helped me. My mom would hold the baby so I could nap and my dad would cook dinner. Everybody pitched in.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Were you watching All My Children during your hiatus from the show?

Alicia Minshew: I hate to admit this because it’s a terrible thing, but I didn’t. Part of the reason was because I was on the baby’s schedule so whenever she slept I had to sleep. I was sleeping at really weird times. I’d be up nights, sleep during the day with her, so it was really me trying to adjust. Once I did I decided I kind of just wanted to distance myself from the show and just focus on my child and not have the TV on.

I think, too, it was because if I watched the show I would start to miss it. You know, you’ll see your friends that you work with every day and it was almost like you were left out of the party (laughs). I thought it might be easier for me to just not watch and just focus on her. It was actually the best thing I could have done because after a while I had no clue what was going on with the show. So it was sort of fun when I came back to find out all these things that had happened – so many things happened while I was gone!

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): I thought perhaps Rebecca Budig might have been keeping you informed.

Alicia Minshew: Yes, well Rebecca and Cameron came to visit at the hospital right after I had the baby. The two of them would keep me posted. She would visit me every now and then and say, “Oh, today this happened to so and so.” I would be like, “What, really?” So she would sometimes keep me up to date.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Do you have a close relationship with Susan Lucci?

Alicia Minshew: I do. I wish I could get to see her more. It’s so funny that you said that because I actually just texted her the other day telling her that I was here in Los Angeles and that I missed working with her, that the show was not the same without her. She immediately sent me a text back saying how sweet that was and that she was looking forward to seeing me when she comes back.

We don’t see each other that often outside of work, but when we do I don’t want to say it’s like mother/daughter because it’s more like we’re friends. We talk about food, clothes, our lives, and we have a really close relationship. We’re very comfortable around each other, which makes it very easy for me to play her daughter. She’s such a sweet lady. If you ever meet her, she’s such a gracious lady. She has always been like that.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Has your family moved to LA now or are you commuting?

Alicia Minshew: We have moved. We decided that if I’m going to go back to work, I’m not going to fly back and forth with my baby. It’s just too much. For now we decided to rent a little place and we’re going to relocate here while she’s small and not yet in school. My husband owns a few restaurants in New York so he’ll be flying back probably every 6 weeks just to check on things. In the meantime we’re here.

We moved about a month ago and we like it more than we thought we would which is nice. You can’t beat the weather out here, that’s for sure (laughs).

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): We’ve got triple digits in Alabama.

Alicia Minshew: Oh, you’re in Alabama! Your accent is so charming and sweet. My dad was born and raised in Alabama and you sound like my dad and my aunt! I want to say they’re from Montgomery.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): That’s where I am.

Alicia Minshew: Is that where you are? Isn’t that funny? My aunt moved from Montgomery to somewhere else and I don’t know where. I haven’t spoken to her in a while.

I’m telling you, I heard you talking and I said, “Well she sounds just like my Aunt Kitty from Alabama!” That’s who you sound like! I was going to ask you where you were from but I didn’t want to impose on you.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): No worries, I’m asked that question quite often.

Alicia Minshew: Well, if you could talk to my aunt Kitty … it’s the most charming accent. I love visiting Alabama. It’s hot like Florida. Wow, it’s a small world, right? I love that.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Yes it is a small world. I’ve been watching All My Children since the very beginning of the show.

Alicia Minshew: Oh wow. I feel like anyone I talk to who has watched it that long would see it with their mother or grandmother, then it would became a family tradition which is what is so nice about it.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Do you think there is a long-term future for daytime dramas?

Alicia Minshew: You know, it’s so hard to say. I would like to say yes but I don’t know. It seems that reality television is just taking over. Here we have these great soaps, Guiding Light and As the World Turns canceled, and some of these actors have been on those shows for such a long time. It’s crazy to me. But, you never know. There could be one or two that just hang on and last forever.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Alicia, were you close to James Mitchell?

Alicia Minshew: I was. James, in the very beginning, when I first came on the show … Kendall and Palmer had a really sweet relationship. It was when Kendall was still sort of a bad girl and Palmer was kind of, you know, Palmer. They became friendly.

Jimmy Mitchell and I worked together a lot. I remember I had a birthday party that Rebecca threw for me. He came and every year he’d bring me some sort of sweet little gift. The other day I was wearing a scarf that he gave me and I thought of him. I thought how lucky I was to get to be with him, to act with him, and to spend time with him because he was a riot! He was a funny guy and a really special person.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): I read that you had been working on a workout routine for iPods.

Alicia Minshew: Yeah, I haven’t done that workout in a while (laughs). I actually have been working out but not that specific workout. That was my pre-baby workout. I did that about 3 years ago with my trainer. We had been doing all these different kinds of workouts. I’ve always been into health and fitness.

We realized that in this day and age everybody had iPods. They’re downloading things online, so we thought, “Wouldn’t it be cool to have sort of a workout routine that you don’t have to watch on television?” You could take it with you on your iPod, your phone, or your computer to classrooms, hotel rooms, anywhere.

We hooked up with this really cool company called PumpOne, collaborated with them, and came up with some really cool workout routines. It was fun to do. I actually talked to him the other day. He said we should do a post-baby workout thing now for people who have just had babies. So you never know, we may come up with something else.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): That’s a great idea.

Alicia Minshew: Right. I can’t take the credit for it. PumpOne actually came up to my trainer and asked what he thought about doing this workout with Alicia. I was like, “Yes, let’s do it!” Maybe I’ll revisit it.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Are workouts your secret to staying thin?

Alicia Minshew: Well, I have to admit; genetically my family is quite thin. My dad was always thin, my sisters were thin, and I’ve always been a beanpole (laughs). I remember there was a period of time when I was 11 or 12 when my mother used to make me milkshakes so that I could keep weight on.

I’ve always had one of those metabolisms that just sort of burns almost too fast so I have to be careful because if I get sick or don’t eat enough one day I’ll get too thin. That’s not good so I always have to keep that in check because I don’t ever want to get unhealthy thin.

I was raised eating very healthy. I have an Italian mother who is a fitness instructor and she would feed us veggies and vitamins. We never had any sugar in the house so I grew up with the mentality of eating very healthy. I think the way I eat may have a lot to do with me being petite because I lean toward eating healthy stuff.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Wow, when you said Italian mother I envisioned spaghetti and lasagna.

Alicia Minshew: Right, I have an Italian mother from Brooklyn who does cook tons of spaghetti and meatballs, but at the same time, she would say, “You have to eat your spinach and kale, you need to take your vitamins.” So, everything in moderation. I still have my spaghetti and meatballs, that’s for sure!

Then there’s my dad who’s from Alabama who was all about delicious southern food; fried chicken, mashed potatoes, black-eyed peas, fried okra, and deliciousness. I had a good medley of food, but it was always in moderation. She had the Brooklyn accent and he had the southern accent. It was funny.

Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Alicia, thanks for the time today. The Alabama connection was great.

Alicia Minshew: Yes. I feel so terrible that I’m out of the loop with my aunt. We used to visit her in Alabama every year. I have nice memories of being there. She just emailed me not too long ago and said, “Now that you have the baby, I need to meet her, so bring her down!” One of these days when we have the time and a nice break, my husband and I were talking about taking a little trip down south. I hope so.

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