CENTER STAGE: Erika Slezak Confident the New ‘OLTL’ Will Wow! (Part 1 of 2)

People Magazine
People Magazine

With six Outstanding Lead Actress Daytime Emmy Awards under her belt — or rather, on her shelf — “’s” (Victoria Lord) is one woman to be respected. So when she says TOLN’s version of the iconic show she’s been a part of for more than 40 years is going to be stellar, you’d damn well better believe her!

“I think we’re in great shape. I really do,” the actress reveals. “I have ultimate faith in [co-headwriter] Susan Horgan. She emailed me a few weeks ago, and she said, ‘You’re going to love this. This is so exciting.” I had lunch with her right after she took the job, and we talked for like three hours just about where the show was when it ended, and she already had so many crazy, wonderful ideas, and I thought, ‘This is going to be great.’”

“And Jenn Pepperman… is, I think, a brilliant choice for an executive producer,” the actress continues. “She knows the show, and she knows the medium so well. She understands what storytelling is all about. And she’s a smart cookie. She’s really smart and with it, and I know she’s been working her tail off for the last two months.”

Slezak is confident the results of all of that hard work will pay off, and she couldn’t be happier. “When the whole thing fell apart last year, everybody kind of sank down and said, ‘Okay, now we move on with our lives and go in another direction,’” she recalls. “And I kept waiting. I waited for a year for the incredible sadness and misery to crash in on me about not having a job, about missing ‘One Life to Live’ and missing Viki and my characters. And it never really happened. I’m still waiting! My husband kept saying to me, ‘Are you ok? You seem fine.’ And I said ‘I am fine. I had a fabulous job for 41 years… and I can’t complain. And now I get to be home with my family, and I’m fine. Ok.’ So when it all came up again, I thought, ‘Oh, am I ready for this?’ And yes, I am! The answer is yes. Because I never wanted to stop working.”

Muse NYC
Muse NYC

Especially because, as the actress notes, getting together with the cast and crew again is kind of like a family reunion. “[It’s] brilliant, because none of us have seen each other for a year,” she enthuses. “We’re… like kids. It’s terrific.”

But there’s one new cast member who’s so beautiful, Slezak jokes she’s not exactly sure she’d like to share the screen with her! “The girl that is going to play Destiny… is so gorgeous,” she says of . “I saw a photo and I said, ‘Oohh, I don’t want to work with her!’”

All joking aside, Slezak is thrilled that “OLTL” is bringing in fresh faces, as well as pushing the boundaries content wise. “It’s going to be very exciting; we have a lot more freedom with the scripts,” she previews. “I don’t think Viki is going to launch into saying four letter words, and no nude scenes! But other than that, it’s a very exciting, groundbreaking thing.”

Chris McPherson/Newsweek
Chris McPherson/Newsweek

Slezak is also thrilled that show creator will be a part of things again. “Agnes has pushed for this more than anybody; this has been a dream of hers,” says Slezak of “OLTL” and “” returning. “She was devastated when ABC cancelled both shows — and she is a classy lady, so she never came out and said [it] — but I know that she was heartbroken… So the fact that this is actually happening is brilliant.”

“There is no one who can guide you better than Agnes can,” she continues. “I don’t think she has the time or necessarily the will to write script after script, but she can certainly oversee it and say, ‘No, this is not right.’ She’s so smart. She’s done this for so long, and it was crucial that she be involved in this. And I am so glad that she is.”

Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times
Hiroko Masuike/The New York Times

And she thanks Prospect Park executives, and Rich Frank, for making everything — from the return of the shows, to the return of Nixon — happen. “They have made so many people so happy,” she enthuses. “Not just the actors and the people who are working again, but the fans, who are thrilled — thrilled. And it is only because of them really not taking no for an answer that this is happening. So it’s brilliant.”

For more on Slezak’s thoughts about the new “OLTL,” including how she feels about (Dorian Lord), what it’s like working with (Todd Manning) versus working with (Victor Lord), and who she’d like to see return to Llanview, be sure to check back Monday, March 18, for Part Two of Soap Opera Network’s CENTER STAGE with Erika Slezak.

  • tazzy

    I’ve watched One Life to Live since the show started. Can’t wait to watch it online!

  • CTwildheart

    I am SO excited!!!!!! LOVE Erika as Viki (et al. hahaha)

  • You heard it from the lady herself-can we PLEASE all calm down now…

  • I am more than thrilled that OLTL is comong back. I have been one of the fans fighting for our soaps. So many fans never gave up. I can hardly wait to see Erika Slezak on the screen again. One year has seemed like ten. Thank you so much for this article. Great to hear from Erika. I will be watching.

  • Kim

    Dang, I was really looking forward to Viki cussing Dorian out 😉

  • Nancy

    I am so excited I love her so much. OLTL was my favorite of all the shows.

  • alja6603

    I have missed OLTL so much that I still have the last month’s episodes on my DVR. I just couldn’t bring myself to erase them. Welcome Back!!!

  • Kim

    Amazing article! Thanks!

  • Terri

    I have also watched from the beginning. Can not wait to see them back on stage again. We fought, prayed, and prevailed to get our cancelled shows back. Thank you Prospect Park!

  • Happy Dancing here! I can’t wait to have one of the love of my lifes back and that is ONE LIFE TO LIVE! I was devastated when we lost that show! DEVASTATED! THANK YOU FOR BRINGING IT BACK! I CANNOT WAIT!!!

  • Jackie Keith

    I cannot wait for the roboot of these two shows!! So happy that we are getting them back!

  • Jackie

    What else would she say they are writing her a paycheck. I think the shows will fail and fade away quite quickly.

  • michael clave

    Erika Slezak is the best actress on daytime TV and she should have won for her last year on “One Life to Live” playing the multiple personalities. She was robbed! I have been a loyal fan of the show since day one and have greatly enjoyed watching Erika portray Viki for over 40 years now.. Erika is at the very heart of “One Life to Live.”; can not imagine another actress playing Viki now. I met her at a fan club event in 2001 and was overjoyed to be talking to her for a few moments. Can hardly wait until my “Life” is returned back to me! Long live “One Life to Live.”! It has always been my favorite soap. a fan forever

  • I too have watched OLTL all my life and these wonderful people have become my fictional family. I went into a true depression when it was cancelled. Miracles really do happen and cannot wait for the revival. Thank you to all of the fans who let their voices be heard and made all of this possible! Peace~

  • I can’t begin to express how overjoyed I am at the return of OLTL. It’s been part of my life since 1968 when I was a young child. I became ill with a severe kidney infection secondary to having the measles. I was on bed rest for nearly 6 months. I remember watching the first episode of OLTL because I thought it was neat to see the first episode of a new story. I was hooked. Again, I am over the moon about this!