Eileen Davidson Interview: 'The Young and the Restless' Star Responds to Victoria Rowell's Racism Claims
Born June 15, 1959, Eileen Davidson is known to millions of television viewers as Ashley Abbott on the number one rated dayime drama The Young and the Restless where she originated the role in 1982. She left the show in 1988 to pursue other interests including appearing on the short-lived series Broken Badges.
The Artesia, California native then returned to daytime when she assumed the role of Kelly Capwell on Santa Barbara from May 1991 until the soap’s cancellation in January of 1993. She next portrayed Kristen Blake on the NBC soap Days of Our Lives and eventually took on four other roles on the series, making daytime history by being the first actress to play five roles at one time on the same show. This also earned her a Daytime Emmy nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress in 1998.
"I believe she said Nancy, the hairstylist on the show, only was allowed to do African American hair. She was my hairstylist so every time I heard that it kind of irked me because I’m like, 'Nancy was my hairstylist.' She was incredibly gifted and not just with African American hair. I loved her work and I was upset when she left. I was sad, you know?"
Feature film credits include Eternity opposite Jon Voight and Armande Assante, Easy Wheels with Paul Le Mat, and the horror film cult classic House on Sorority Row.
The actress returned to her role on The Young and the Restless in March 1999, received her second Daytime Emmy nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress, but was fired from the show in 2007. A few months later she signed a three-year contract with The Young and the Restless’s sister soap The Bold and the Beautiful to play Ashley Abbott. In July of 2008 Davidson was downgraded to recurring status and returned to The Young and the Restless full-time as Ashley on September 26, 2008.
Also an author, Davidson penned her first Penguin paperback Death in Daytime that debuted in November of 2008. Her second novel Dial Emmy for Murder was released on June 2, 2009, and the third novel entitled Diva Las Vegas hit the shelves in July 2010.
Davidson is married to actor Vincent Van Patten, and is a mother to seven-year-old Jesse and step mom to teenagers Duke and “Flea” (Vinny).
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Eileen, are you filming today?
Eileen Davidson: No, it’s only 9:00 in the morning here and I’m not working today.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Ashley needs a front burner storyline.
Eileen Davidson: Well, yeah, although it’s been kind of nice to have a break since I was front burner for the last year or so.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Those were some great emotional scenes with the “Faith” storyline.
Eileen Davidson: Thank you.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): So you have not been put on recurring status?
Eileen Davidson: Oh no, no, northing like that. You know it’s always cyclical on soap operas and because I was so front and center for so long they are just kind of giving me a break and moving on to the other storylines for a while.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Then we can expect to see more of Ashley in the upcoming weeks?
Eileen Davidson: I do believe so, probably after the first of the year.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): How do you feel about aging children for storyline purposes even when the mom never ages?
Eileen Davidson: I think if it’s done well then it’s a good thing because if you really take the time to have a child raised the real age they would be, there’s a lot of just years in there where there’s just so much you can do. The best years are really teen and above in terms of story.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): I know you have a script, but did it take time to adjust from a 16-year-old Abby to a 21-year-old Abby?
Eileen Davidson: Exactly. There’s always an adjustment period especially since I really liked the old Abby so much. She was such a sweet sweet girl. Marcy is terrific and I realized right away where they wanted to take the character. They wanted to obviously age her so they could do more with her and integrate her more into the adult storylines and things. It made sense.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Ashley’s fling with Neil was so short lived. Did the writers think it was not working?
Eileen Davidson: You know what, honestly, I don’t think it was about it not working so much because they really didn’t give it a chance. They really didn’t and I don’t think they could have told either way if it was working or not working by the work that we did together.
I think they had a plan for Tucker and Ashley and I think waiting for those kinds of things to settle down with his storyline and they stalled a bit so they could introduce those two was what happened. That’s my feeling and also they don’t have these things written in stone for months in advance so I think they get an idea and they decide to run with that and other things fall by the wayside.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): There’s always a possibility for Ashley to run back to Victor.
Eileen Davidson: Hey, you never know.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Let me switch soaps for a moment. Was it tiring for you to portray five characters at one time on Days of Our Lives?
Eileen Davidson: You know, it really was. It was long days and I was working on Saturdays as well so I was having 12-15 and beyond hour days sometimes. I knew that it was just for short term so that I could do it.
I actually wanted to leave earlier, but they asked me to stay for an additional year just to finish out the storyline. I also knew it kind of had a short shelf life. I couldn’t see it going on that long, but, the fatigue factor was definitely very real.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Do you think within the next five years all soaps will be on the Internet?
Eileen Davidson: I don’t. I think there will be a couple still around, hopefully Y&R will be one of them. My gosh, I think daytime TV is going to be pretty boring if we lose soaps. I really really do. There was a glut in the market for a long time, but I think if you kind of weed them out, they are still a viable form of entertainment.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Would you appear on The Bay or Venice, as both are web series?
Eileen Davidson: I haven’t really looked into that. I really don’t know that much about it. I certainly have nothing against it, but I’m already gainfully employed so …
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): You also have your novels that keep you busy. As an author, do you ever feel the urge to offer storyline suggestions?
Eileen Davidson: Not really. I kind of leave that to them. I have had input in the past in my career for sure in terms of saying what I feel would work and wouldn’t work. But, I think they pretty much have their hands full right now just with everything that’s going on in the medium that I don’t want to step in and tell them what I think. I could definitely give them my opinion of things, but other than that, not really.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Are you working on the next book in the series?
Eileen Davidson: Yes, I am working on the fourth one.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Anything you can share about this one?
Eileen Davidson: Well, we’re kind of looking at a different lifestyle. I guess you’d call it swinging. That’s part of the premise of the book. I’m having a lot of fun writing it.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): There will, of course, be a murder?
Eileen Davidson: Oh of course.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): I read that you did have a fascination for forensics.
Eileen Davidson: Exactly. I love a good mystery.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Have you ever thought of writing a screenplay?
Eileen Davidson: I’ve written a couple of screenplays before, not along the murder mystery genre though. But, I don’t think so, not at this point in my life. I’m pretty busy as it is. You never know, though. Everything comes in the right time and place so we’ll see.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Victoria Rowell is another daytime actress who is a successful author. She uses Twitter, however, to claim racism at The Young and the Restless. What are your feelings about that?
Eileen Davidson: I have a couple of valid opinions that I feel are … first of all, I don’t walk in her shoes. I can’t say that her experience is completely wrong and that she’s 100% completely incorrect because honestly I don’t know. From my perspective of what I see on the show, some of the things that Vicki has said are not exactly true.
I believe she said Nancy, the hairstylist on the show, only was allowed to do African American hair. She was my hairstylist so every time I heard that it kind of irked me because I’m like, “Nancy was my hairstylist.” She was incredibly gifted and not just with African American hair. I loved her work and I was upset when she left. I was sad, you know?
As far as hand-me-down clothes, we all have to wear different clothes depending on what fit us and what the actresses like. Wardrobe would maybe buy something for Melody and it would either not fit her or she wouldn’t like it and they would try it on me. It only makes sense. Instead of returning something that might work on 17 different actresses you would first try it out on them before you would return the clothes. Also I’ve worn other character’s clothes sometimes. I’ve certainly worn their shoes. We don’t do it all the time, otherwise people would notice. But, of course, I’ve worn somebody else’s jacket or vest or coat or whatever.
I think you can take a situation and read into it what you want if you have that kind of perspective. So again, I can’t say she’s 100% wrong, but from my experience, no I didn’t see it, but I’m sure to some degree it would have to exist on some level.
Vicki’s whole thing about the Soap Opera Digest cover and the publicists not doing that … well, publicists don’t have that much to do with it. They can push for somebody to be on the cover, but as long as their show is on the cover that’s really all they care about. They don’t care what character is on the cover as long as the show is being publicized.
The cover is for the audience because the audience buys the magazine. The publicist doesn’t say, “You can’t be on the cover because of your skin color.” It just doesn’t work that way. What would be in it for them? They would be thrilled to get somebody from the show on the cover. But, again, that’s my perspective and my opinion.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): On a lighter note, how do you cope with a household full of males?
Eileen Davidson: Hide out (laughs).
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Has your seven-year-old shown any interest in show business?
Eileen Davidson: Off and on, but that changes with the wind. There’s nothing concrete at this point which is fine by us.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Do teenagers keep you young or make you feel old?
Eileen Davidson: It’s an interesting combination of both (laughs).
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): How do you stay so young looking?
Eileen Davidson: I work out in our garage. I have an elliptical machine, a life cycle, and a weight machine, so I can just do a little bit of everything. I do some form of exercise every day. I kind of eat what I want. I just don’t eat too much of it. I can’t stand dieting per see or anything like that.
I do use Isogenics which is a meal replacement but it’s really much more than that. I eat an Isogenic shake in the morning, but if I need to lose a couple of pounds I’ll use one in the morning and one in the afternoon, then have a regular meal. I’ve been using that for about a year and a half and I really love it. People can learn more about it at eileendavidsonbooks.com.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): I also read you like to surf.
Eileen Davidson: I’ve been surfing for about 15 years and I do enjoy it.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): I remember when your then future husband, Vince Van Patten, appeared on The Young and the Restless (as your boyfriend) several years ago. Is he acting now?
Eileen Davidson: He’s the host of Celebrity Tennis and the co-host of the World Poker Tour. He’s a spokesperson for Potawatomi Casino in the Midwest, and working on many different projects.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Maybe another appearance on The Young and the Restless?
Eileen Davidson: You never know, but I think Ashley already has her hands full.
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Let’s just hope she finds out soon about Tucker.
Eileen Davidson: I know, right? How heartbreaking is that?
Melissa Parker (Smashing Interviews Magazine): Yeah, Ashley needs to discover that Tucker is quite a player!
Eileen Davidson: Yes, but they don’t call it daytime drama for nothing!
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