Oprah Winfrey Revives Career for Erika Slezak

Celebrity Q&A, Featured Article
on September 2, 2013
One Life To Live

I am so happy that Oprah Winfrey put “One Life To Live” back on TV. I have been a fan of Erika Slezak’s for years. I am curious if she has a favorite Victoria Lord story?
—Brielle Shapiro, St. Petersburg, Florida

Six-time, Daytime Emmy-winning actress Erika Slezak, 67, whose character has suffered through multiple personalities, breast cancer, rape, a brain aneurysm, being stranded on a deserted island with her arch enemy, and several marriages and divorces, has a number of favorite storylines that she has played since joining the cast of “One Life To Live” in 1971.

Among them was the 2007 story in which Viki ran away from her home in Llanview to Paris, Texas, where she worked as a waitress at the Bonjour Cafe. Another was the 1987 story in which Viki went to heaven, where she is reunited with loved ones who had previously met their demise, when she had an out-of-body experience during brain surgery.

But the most challenging stories she says are the ones in which she has to play an illness because it is important to her to get it right.

“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 to the people who are truly suffering,” she says. “With the breast cancer story, the stroke and also my multiples, you want to portray that as realistically and with as great difficulty as possible because they are not easy things to get through.”

Born and raised in Hollywood, Calif.—dad was actor Walter Slezak—Erika Slezak says she is proud of the work she has done on the daytime drama and its legacy.

“I think that all the head writers put together have been very careful to present real people in real situations dealing with them in a real way,” she says. “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 crazy things happen. But crazy things happen in life, and, I think, that’s the thing. We’ve always tried to be real. I think people appreciate that.”