‘Blue Bloods’ on CBS
On her upcoming appearance in Blue Bloods on CBS, Slezak said, “It’s not a major storyline. It’s a side story. It involves the character Henry Reagan played by Len Cariou, who was an absolute pleasure to work with. It was a nice little side story for Henry.”
“I hope the fans will watch Blue Bloods on May 3rd at 10 p.m. on CBS on the East Coast. It is a very interesting episode. I’ve seen a number of the Blue Bloods episodes, but this one is particularly interesting, not just because I am in it,” she said, with a sweet laugh.
Slezak will be a part of Jeff Daniels’ new independent film, Guest Artist, where she will be playing his agent, Helen. Guest Artist premiered at the Santa Barbara Film Festival this past February. “That was a delightful surprise, she said about Guest Artist.
“Jeff Daniels already filmed most of the movie based on a script that he had written and produced,” she said. “After they finished it, Jeff and Timothy Busfield, who directed it, decided that they needed a bit more of an opening, so my manager Paul Martino called me and said that ‘Jeff Daniels is in town and he needs somebody to play his agent’ and I said ‘yes’. I had never met Jeff Daniels before but he was delightful,” she said.
“Timothy Busfield was also one of the nicest human beings on earth. We played the scenes, which were shot in a little bar on the West Side of Manhattan. Despite the cold weather, it was great fun and a wonderful experience,” she added.
Victoria Lord in ‘One Life to Live’
The veteran actress is known for her long-time role as Victoria Lord in the defunct ABC daytime drama series, One Life to Live, which she played for over four decades.
When asked how she handled being dialogue-heavy on One Life to Live, Slezak acknowledged that “it’s a process to learn.”
“I was trained at the Royal Academy of Dramatic Arts, and what they teach you to do there is to be completely prepared for everything that you are going to do. Learning your lines was absolutely basic because you can’t give a performance if you don’t know what you are saying. As a result, learning all the lines every day was not a problem for me. It was so ingrained in me to do it and to know how to do it,” she explained.
“Over the years, you learn little tricks for yourself like how to get through a scene and how to remember what comes next. Most of that includes learning the other people’s lines as well, which I always did, and that helps enormously,” she said. “It wasn’t a problem for me. If it’s a problem for you, then it’s very hard to be in daytime because the work is so fast.”
“As you get older with your character, you learn a lot about her, and she becomes very familiar to you,” she said. “I loved my character. I loved every bit of her even the crazy bits.”
Slezak continued, “I loved who my character Victoria, was: nonjudgmental, honest and very trustworthy. She was also trusting, which wasn’t always to her benefit. She was a really good person, who had suffered enormously at the hands of her father, as we discovered much later, but that was never the intention when Agnes Nixon wrote it. They added that later on. Victoria was very human.”
A native of Hollywood, California, Slezak earned six Daytime Emmy Awards in her career, all of which were for “Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series” for her powerful portrayal of matriarch Victoria Lord. She holds the record for the most Emmy wins by a female actor in the daytime acting world.
Advice for young and aspiring actors
For young and aspiring actors, Slezak encouraged them to “be trained.” “Don’t think you can just go and do it. You need training in speech, diction and how to think through a character. You need training. There are people who have been lucky, who have become film and TV stars without any training and that’s just luck. Lucky is very hard to come by. The best thing to be is as well prepared and trained as you can be,” she elaborated.
Regarding the key to longevity in acting and entertainment, she said, “It’s called talent, and likability to a certain extent. If you are very talented, you need to pick the right roles and diverse roles. Even villains can be enormously likable. For example, Meryl Streep is immensely talented and she has always picked very smart roles to play and they are all different: she plays good people, bad people, old people, and young people. Meryl is just brilliant.”
Balancing family and acting
Slezak was able to successfully balance family life with her acting career. “That was what I wanted more than anything. My first job, always and foremost, was being a mom as soon as I had children, and being a wife. I found a wonderful way to have it all: I worked on a daytime show where I went to work in the morning and I came home in the evening and I didn’t have to travel much. It was a perfect marriage for me,” she said.
“ABC was always very good to me. They gave me a certain number of days off each year when I asked for them in advance, such as the school play, the school field day, and the Christmas concert, and all the days that were important for me to be there for the children,” she said.
Digital transformation of the entertainment business
On the impact of technology and streaming services on the entertainment industry, Slezak said, “I think it’s fabulous. The more work there is for the actors, the better. It’s absolutely wonderful. We watch certain shows on those streaming services and they are terrific. As far as I am concerned, the more work for actors, the better. There are so many actors and how so many parts, and the more parts, the better.”
She praised her One Life to Live fans for being “absolutely amazing.” “I was very grateful to the fans that wrote letters, who came to the studio and the people who watched because without an audience there is no show. I was enormously grateful to them all,” she said.
Slezak defined the word success as being “happy in yourself.” “We all have regrets about things but if you feel you are successful you have accomplished what you’ve hoped you could within yourself. Success is being happy with your life,” she said.
To learn more about Emmy award-winning actress Erika Slezak, check out her official website.