By Stephanie Sloan
Soap Opera Digest, August 29, 2006
Just The Facts
Birthday: March 7
Hails from : Pasadena, CA
All in the Family: Evans married husband Michael Schwartz, a plastic surgeon on November 3, 1985. They have three children: Danny, 18, Katie, 16, and Matthew, 13.
Soap Past: Dakota, RITUALS (1984-85), Kayla, DAYS (1986-92; she returned on June 12, 2006), Katherine, GENERAL HOSPITAL (1993-99), Sierra, AS THE WORLD TURNS (2000, 2001-02, 2003, 2004-06).
New Source: “My husband and I read the paper every single morning. I read The New York Times, The LA Times and The Wall Street Journal.
Choice Cocktail: “Cosmopolitan, extra cold.”
Preferred Pampering: “I try to get a pedicure and manicure. I’ll take my daughter.”
Family Fun: “We go to the beach a lot. And I love to travel with them. I love to have everyone locked down in the car and taking long rides with the kids. You have such great conversations.”
Best Quality? “I usually see the good, I’m forever hopeful and I’m pretty darn happy and optimistic.”
Worst Quality? “Probably the disorganized scrambling. My kids will say, ‘Don’t forget I have that orthodontist appointment today,’ and then will call me three times during the day to remind me.”
“I can talk to anybody. I’m a total talker,” says Mary Beth Evans. And she means it. She calls in to our New York offices on a scorching hot day in Southern California and is so lively and cheerful and giving with her time (an hour on the phone) that you can’t help but think she’s just the coolest, un-diva-like actress around. She’s not hung up on her soap stardom, despite the fact that she is one-half of one of DAYS’s biggest supercouples ever. In fact, she says her three kids think she works, “In a bank. They don’t talk about it. We never have,” she shrugs. “They’re happy for me. I’m a creative person. If I wasn’t acting, I’d be gardening or painting all the rooms in the house. You can only go to so many yoga classes and then come home and wait for them to come home. I like to have my own groove, my own thing.”
Evans found that groove at an early age. “I remember when I was like 5 or 6 years old, my mother had her horoscope done and all the kids gathered around asking, ‘What did they say about me?’” she recalls. “My mother said whatever she said about the other kids, but said that I would become an actress. When I was in school, whatever I could do to skip writing a paper and put on a play instead, I did.”
Evans got serious about her career as a teenager. “When I was 14, I got a job at Taco Bell — before they looked at IDs or anything — so that I could make enough money to pay my sister to drive me to acting classes and pay for the acting classes,” she says. “My mom, being a single mom, didn’t have money and my sister was never ever going to drive me somewhere for free.” When she was 18, Evans joined South Coast Repertory in Orange County, CA. After her first play — in which she met her future husband who was in attendance — Evans worked steadily, often cast as the “wholesome, all-American girl from an uptown, conservative family, which is so not the truth,” she laughs. “I come from a divorced family. My mom raised four kids as a single mom. We lived in an apartment. It was so not that.”
Evans eventually secured a gig on the prime-time soap RITUALS, then headed to daytime. “I went in a DAYS audition and I remember sitting on my girlfriend’s kitchen counter going, ‘Oh my God. They want a three-year contract. I can’t even imagine. That’s a death sentence.’” she marvels. “And then of course I stayed for six years, [GH] for that many years, and [ATWT] for that many years. It’s been a long journey. At some point along the 20 years I said, ‘This is what I want to do’. I like doing soaps. It’s fun. You can be home with your kids for dinner.”
Being on DAYS in the ‘80s, appearing on countless Digest covers, and having children named after her alter ego, didn’t affect Evans a bit. “It’s funny, because during those years I was juggling working ful- time and having little kids,” she explains. “You were at the studio for 12, 14 hours a day, so it was like being in this giant garage hanging out with your friends and doing this stuff and then going home. I never watched it. My husband and I never talked about it, ever, and it never had any impact on me. It was really more when I had left, and Stephen [Nichols, Steve] and I went on our journey to different shows and then when we were on [GH] together and it was never the same that I realized what we had.”
So much so that Evans and Nichols yearned for their old Salem days. “The Patch and Kayla characters were so great, and Stephen and I worked so well together and loved working together, that then we really missed it and said, ‘Gosh, we’d really like to do it again,’” she recalls. “Both of us felt there was more story to tell. Even when I was doing different shows, people always said to me, ‘I love you as Kayla. When are you going back?’”
But the return trip didn’t happen so quickly; Evans stopped in ATWT’s Oakdale along the way to play Sierra, commuting cross-country to do the role. “It was such a great experience for me,” she enthuses. “My mother-in-law lives in New York. I had gone to New York every year for Thanksgiving, but I never got the chance to get to know the city. I just love it, so to be able to do [ATWT] and get an apartment in the Village? It was such a juggle, but so much fun. Chris Goutman [executive producer] is the nicest guy. He always made me feel great and valued me and I really always appreciated that about him. And the cast is great. I hope to be able to go back and visit them this Thanksgiving.”
Evans admits she thought a ticket back to Salem was never going to be issued. “There were a few times we had conversations with the executives over there and it didn’t work out for one reason or another. The stars weren’t aligned or whatever,” she explains. “This time it was really a one phone call to three weeks later it happening kind of deal.” But getting back into the groove took some time. “When I was first back, I had a phone call to Caroline saying, ‘Hi, it’s Kayla,’ or whatever it was. I started laughing because it was so surreal. Now I feel happy and comfortable back there.”
Those same words could easily describe her home life. Evans and husband Michael Schwartz met when she was 19, dated for five years, and then got married. Nearly 26 years later, their union is still going strong. “We’re very different in many ways,” she observes. “But our values and thoughts about raising kids are very similar. We go out with each other on the weekends, on the weeknights we stay home with each other. It’s not like we’re running off to do something with somebody else, but we give each other the freedom to do what we want. Who knows what the secret to longevity is? Marriages have such a winding road and if you can just hang in there and communicate and keep everything open, that’s really the key.”
Also key is the communication with her children. “My husband and I are extremely demonstrative,” she says. “It’s very touchy-feely/kissy-huggy at our house. I have always talked to my kids about everything and I’ve been doing that since they were little. They’re not afraid to talk to me about anything. There’s no judgment. I try to be guidance. It’s turned out well.”
Also important is making the most of her job. “Stephen and I both talked about this before we came back,” she notes. “We just want to be honest, we want to have real moments. And if we leave each day thinking we got a few in, then we feel good.”
As if her life doesn’t keep her busy enough, Evans is also a professional baker. At her web site www.marybethsapplepie.com , you can order one of her now famous confections.
“It’s an ‘I make it, you bake it’ kind of concept,” she explains. “It’s foolproof because you put it right in the oven frozen and it comes out perfectly home made.”
“It was a total lark, almost a dare,” she recalls of how the business got started. “My husband was reading the Wall Street Journal one day and there was this thing about mail order apple pies. He said, ‘You should do this. I bet your pie is better than these pies.’ I said, ‘If someone ordered one, what would I do? How would I send it?’ I don’t even know how to use a computer! I made a little postcard and wrote my story about how for 20 years I have been making this pie and sent it to like 500 people. I said, ‘For $5, I’ll run it over to your house.’ Before Thanksgiving, I did 100 pies. I was making every single one, driving them to everybody’s house. The night before Thanksgiving, I closed the hatch on the car and I thought, ‘Oh my God, I’m exhausted. That was incredible’. But it was such an accomplishment. I made something from nothing, and the best thing is that my kids could see it.” Evans ultimately moved into a commercial kitchen, but still does everything herself. “When you’re just one person, like me, trying to ship a frozen pie across the country, it’s expensive,” she notes. “I don’t really make much money and it’s insanity, but it’s been really fun.”