Keeping Kayla Special

Looking Into The Future With “Days Of Our Lives” Mary Beth Evans

Part 2

Soap Opera Update, December 19, 1988

By Christopher Nickens

In the first part of our talk with Mary Beth Evans she reflected on the glut of publicity surrounding her recently as a result of her role as Kayla on DAYS OF OUR LIVES.  She revealed that by choosing to live with her husband, Dr. Michael Schwartz and their infant son Daniel, in Pasadena, a charming older suburb of Los Angeles, she manages to avoid a lot of the hoopla and is able – most of the time – to enjoy an anonymous “normal” lifestyle.

Mary Beth also talked about the difficulty of acting with sign language and what her feelings were when she filmed the long-awaited wedding scene between Kayla and Patch.  As our conversation continued in a restaurant no far from Evan’s home, the subject of the future came up.

Now that Patch and Kayla are man and wife, how does Mary Beth feel about their current story line, and what would she like to see happen to Kayla in the future?  “I feel right now,” she says, “We’re in a very peculiar story.  This whole thing with the child, has taken a very weird angle as a result of the writer’s strike, and it’s been very difficult.  I’ve had to have a lot of the line cuts because the way it was written was almost like I was some woman who wanted a child for twenty years and this one comes into my life so I’m completely obsessed with him or something.

“So I don’t know what I want Kayla to do,” Evans continues.  “Maybe she should get out of the whole community center deal and be more of a businesswoman, more a woman of the eighties.  And Patch, who knows?  Maybe he’ll own his own limousine company!  Kayla’s pretty feisty and self-assured, but I’d like to take her one step further, make her a businesswoman.  Maybe she could be an administrator in a hospital.”

While Mary Beth appreciates her character’s feistiness, she’s also aware of Kayla’s flaws.  “I think sometimes she gets tunnel vision,” Evans says.  “She sees what she wants at the end and none of the other things matter.  I don’t know if that’s just writing or what.  And I think she can be a bit righteous at times when she really thinks this is right and that’s wrong.  Things are really black and white for her.”

There is obviously a lot of Mary Beth in Kayla, or audiences wouldn’t identify with the character and respond as they do.  When asked to contrast herself and her DAYS character, Evans smiles and says, “The biggest difference between the personalities of Kayla and myself is that I am a very happy person.  I have a great life and I know it, and I know I’m lucky.  And she’s so serious all the time!”

One of the main reasons for Mary Beth’s contentment is her joy in being a mother.  When she was pregnant, the DAYS staff had their hands full trying to camouflage her condition.   “It wouldn’t have been much fun being home and unemployed,” Evans recalls, “but it would have been nice to let it be okay to be pregnant, instead of always hiding it, always having to hold bigger and bigger handbags in front of me.”

Laughing, Mary Beth says, “A fan sent me this very funny drawing of me holding this enormous pocketbook in front of my stomach and the caption said, ‘For God’s sake, can’t you just write it into the story?’  And I thought it was true.  I got very good at holding my pocketbook strategically.”

What if a similar situation should arise at a later date?  “I’m hoping that they write my pregnancy in.  I keep telling them:  ‘Wait, I’ll get pregnant again if you wait long enough!’  All kidding aside, Evans reveals, “We’ll try next year, probably next summer.  I think their trying to hide it made it not as much fun for me.  I would like it better if they wrote it in.  But I wouldn’t want it like Patsy (Pease – who plays Kim).  They wrote hers in, but I wouldn’t want the ending of that story line – you know – who wants that?  You’re about to have your own baby and then you lose one on the show; it’s so creepy.”

The demands placed on any daytime star for personal appearances, charity functions, etc. can be enormous.  How is Mary Beth balancing these requests for her time with the requirements of motherhood?  “I find I really have to limit the things I’m doing,” she admits.  “We did this special fundraiser for the deaf, and that was important to me.  But it’s gotten increasingly hard for me to go and just do other things.  On my days off I really like to stay home and be with my family.”

Aside from family life, how does Evans see her future shaping up?  “Well, like everybody else, I’d like to do films,” she says.  “But I also love this job,  I love having a regular job and being like a normal person – and average Joe getting up and going to work – I really like that.  It’s one thing I really missed being a freelance actress, going for months on unemployment.  Your whole self-esteem is riding on whether you get a job or not.  I like having a job where I feel confident and happy with myself and I can have some days off.  That’s the thing that’s so enticing about soaps for so many actors – that you have this great regular job.”

As for the type of roles she might like to attempt, Evans mentions that she loves comedy and would like a crack at “the kind of things that Goldie Hawn does.”

On a more abstract note, Mary Beth says, “Everybody has to find what’s special about them and utilize it.  That’s why certain people are famous because there’s something about them that’s very different and that’s what I think I’m still working on – trying to find that special thing.”

To the devotees of DAYS OF OUR LIVES, Mary Beth is special.  And despite her attempts to blend in as a typical suburban wife and mom, her fame catches up with her own backyard.  As we are saying our goodbyes on the restaurant steps, an elegant Pasadena matron gently taps Mary Beth on the shoulder and whispers, “You look lovely, but where’s Patch?”