I followed her down a hall, several turns, a couple of “hi’s” to people with clipboards, and into her dressing room. “Quite a few gifts” was putting it mildly! There were perfume bottles, stuffed toys, baby blankets, embroideries and more–all birthday gifts from her loyal following.
Mary Beth Evans, who plays Kayla Brady on “Days of our Lives,” oozes vivacity. Casually dressed, she has an air of informal, relaxed self-assurance. Smiling sky-blue eyes illuminate her flawless skin and express her outgoing sense of humor.
It has been nearly two years now since Evans joined DOOL. “I feel Kayla has matured quite a bit since the start. I don’t know if I’m just getting comfortable in the part. Although she was always strong-willed, she was still afraid of Patch in the beginning. I think she was a little narrow-minded. Now it feels more like an ‘adult’ situation.”
It’s safe to say that the Patch/Kayla romance is a hot one. A classic case of “bad guy” meets a nice girl and becomes “good guy.” But the story never ends with “and they lived happily ever after.”
“As much as I think being a married person is a great thing, because I’m very happily married, on soaps they don’t think it’s such an interesting thing. They think it’s almost like the death of the characters when they get married. I’m not sure how they’ll go about doing it because we certainly don’t want it to be the end of our romance. There’s always got to be a conflict, which is a shame. Although they want Patch and Kayla to stay together, people really like the conflict.”
The real relationship of Mary Beth with screen-love Stephen Nichols, is what makes the combination a winning one. “We really love each other personally. I think we’re very lucky that we get along so well as a couple. We really care about each other and give so much. When we’re doing a scene, we zero in on each other. It really is between us. We’re always in it together. We really pay attention and tune into one another.”
Mary Beth laughs as she thinks about some of the fun they’ve had on the set. “We had a great time when we did the old people (during Patch’s out-of-body experience). I could barely look at him because the wig was so horrible. And I sounded like I was from Kentucky or something. It was a real hoot. We really enjoyed it.”
Looking back, Evans recalls a time when, for some reason, they liked keeping Kayla wet. “I was always wet. If it wasn’t raining, I was in the shower. Or, remember the tunnel?” She reminds me of a scene in which she was banging on Patch’s door in the rain. “The rain was coming down hard. My hair was limp and hanging and hairspray was dripping down my face. I had black circles around my eyes from the non-waterproof mascara. Stephen opened the door and I just stood there and looked at him and we started to laugh.”
Though Kayla has made it through poisoning and bombings, being chased by good guys and shot at by bad guys, Evans has found that the rape story line was the most difficult she had to do. “Now, in retrospect, I think it was a good experience for me. I stretched a bit and did things I had never done before. When I first went into it I dragged my feet. I didn’t want to do it. But it turned out to be a good story. Emotionally, it was hard for me because I’m a very happy person and I had to be so unhappy for so long there. It was a good solid month of being just miserable. I’d go home drained.”
I sat back in my chair and looked around her dressing room. “What? No baby pictures?” I asked. She grinned and reached in her purse.
“The big one on the right is my husband,” she joked. Needless to say, their baby, Daniel Luke, is adorable. (Her husband, Michael, isn’t bad either!)
“I had my baby here today and we went to lunch with Stephen. Stephen held him the whole time. He’s madly in love with my baby. I think, in a way he feels like it’s his, too. I was pregnant the whole time with him.”
“Are you a good mother?”
“I’m a very calm mother. Nothing really fazes me. Certain things I don’t think are important. You have to be happy and supportive of him. I’m relaxed and very loving with him. And kiss him all the time! So we want a million kids now! The next one probably won’t be so mellow and then we’ll say, ‘Okay this is it.’ We’re all kind of adjusting. At first Michael and I, after being alone for so long, we’re saying, ‘Who’s that little guy over there on the couch?’ ”
“Tell me a little about Michael”
She smiles. “He’s the greatest. We’ve been together for a really long time. I met him when I was 19. We’ve changed so much since then, but we grew together. We have a fabulous relationship. We hardly ever argue because we’ve done all that. We went through all the horrible things before we got married. Now it’s basically smooth sailing. It was love at first sight for both of us. We had a couple of dates and I moved back to Chicago where he was. It was a spur of the moment thing. We knew. And it certainly worked.”
Since earliest childhood, Evans has always known that she wanted to be an actress. “I’ve never wanted to do anything else. Even as a child, I wrote, produced and starred in my own variety shows.”
After high school, a trip through Europe and studies at the South Coast Repertory, Evans became a sought-after commercial actress and also guest-starred in such popular shows as “Father Murphy,” “Knight Rider,” and “Remington Steele.”
After a year as Dakota Lane on the syndicated soap “Rituals” Evans starred in the film “Lovelines” as the lead singer in an all-girl rock band. What’s left for her to do?
“I don’t know what’s next. I can’t plan tomorrow. I sort of live for the minute. I’m open to anything. But I’m not in a rush to leave here. For me, it’s great right now. I live close to the studio. I can work three days a week. I can be a mom and have a nice job. This is a great time in my life. I feel very lucky. It’s scary sometimes. I think, ‘I’m too happy, I’m going to wake up from all of this.’ ” So far, though, Mary Beth’s dream is her very real life.
From that tenuous story line, the most romantic couple of today’s soaps emerged. They were a pair that, on paper, must have looked far out at best. Kayla, at first, seemed to have been brought back to Salem to reunite with Chris Kositchek, her old boyfriend. However, whenever Kayla went into Chris’ restaurant, or went to work at the waterfront clinic, a shady, slightly dangerous, but compelling young man with an eyepatch seemed to pop up. Steve was no good, everyone told her. Chris told her to stay away from him. Her brother, Bo, warned her in no uncertain terms–”He’s trouble, Kay. Listen to me, I know. Don’t get involved with him.” But Kayla did. Something about him kept drawing her to him. He wasn’t bad at all. Didn’t he help out Max and Frankie–two street kids who had been abandoned by their parents. Thanks to Steve, they became foster kids in the Brady home, and eventually they were adopted. And what about Bo! Steve saved Bo’s life when a huge crate nearly toppled onto him. And when Hope was pregnant, who was it who was there for her when Bo wasn’t around? Steve! Despite Steve’s rough exterior and his protestations that he was just a bum, Kayla sensed that inside he was a vulnerable, sensitive man desperately in need of love. And she was falling for him–hard.
Steve tried to fight the feeling, too, but he knew he was in love with Kayla. Maybe from the first time he saw her. She was so good, so kind, so sweet. He would teasingly call her “sweetness”—grinning and pretending he was just being fresh with her, but what he was feeling wasn’t fake at all. To Steve, she was sweetness, and love, and all the finer things in life that he had long since decided he’d never have. But Kayla was persistent. She refused to give up on Steve and eventually she wore him down. Finally, in Stockholm, when they were in constant danger and Steve was haunted by the darkest chapter in his life, Steve and Kayla let down their protective guards. They made the first steps towards acknowledging their love, and they haven’t looked back since.
Their relationship has blossomed in the time that’s passed, and the love has deepened to the point were there’s nothing that’s going to keep them apart any longer. The future for Kayla and Steve, is looking better and brighter than either had ever imagined it could be. These two may have begun tenuously, but they have created a bond of love that grows stronger and becomes more resolute with each day that dawns. —–AJW
Soap Opera Update, June 13, 1988, p. 13-14, photo page 13 by Rosemary Rossi, photo of Stephen and Mary Beth on page 14 by Sue Factor.