Catching Up With Valerie Wildman (Fay, DAYS)By Stephanie Sloane Posted: Dec 8, 2009
"Lately, I have just been walking in a state of gratitude," says Valerie Wildman, who just returned to DAYS as Nicole's mother after a six-year absence. "I can't say that there's anything specific that's been causing it, but I've just been sort of feeling that way. Maybe I'm crazy, but it seems that when I'm in that place, a lot of miracles happen. And one of those miracles is Fay showing up again."The call to play Fay came as a surprise. "It's strange, because for years, I had hoped and prayed that Fay would have a second chance, to apologize to Nicole and to be strong and to be the mother and friend that she always want to be," says Wildman. "So it just came out of the blue. All of that happening at once was surprising and wonderful. Immediately, I called Jim Reynolds [Abe] and I said, 'You're not going to believe this,' because he always felt Fay was going to come back and I told him he was beyond wishful thinking. Of course, we were surprised that we weren't even going to get to work together. I missed him. Every time they said, 'James' — because I did work with James Scott [EJ] — I looked up."
Though her last appearance was in 2003, Wildman felt at ease the moment she got to the studio. "It was so wonderful to walk in those doors and I felt so welcomed," she smiles. "Gary Tomlin [co-executive producer] and Noel [Maxam, producer/director] are the most loving, welcoming people and they were so full of praise. When I saw Ari [Zucker, Nicole] again, it was just this beautiful moment. We really do love each other in real life. It really was wonderful and difficult to say good-bye again, because we really miss each other when we're not seeing each other. I also worked with Josh Taylor [Roman] and that was blowing both of our minds because we've worked together off and on since BEVERLY HILLS, 90210 [where he played Jack and she played his love interest, Christine]. It was like, 'What is with this? We keep stalking each other.' "
Wildman was especially thankful to make a return for more personal reasons. "I am still working on getting my doctorate in clinical psychology, specializing in child trauma and worked a lot in domestic violence support group for the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence on children's issues, so it was because of Fay that I got to help in that way and be a spokesperson," she explains. "I was always hoping for the sake of all these women and children that Fay would come to this place where she would realize that she needed to step up to the plate and be there for her daughter. I hope people will be empowered and strengthened by seeing those changes take place."
Prior to her DAYS return, Wildman made a brief stop in Port Charles. "I have a couple of other lives and over the summer, I was in Mexico working on my doctoral project," she recalls. "Where I am is in the middle of nowhere; it's not even on the map. My husband has built a beautiful place. It started as a tent and now it's more of a villa that we share with friends. So I was literally in the middle of nowhere, working with everyday heroes, people who do things far more heroic than I, and I thought, 'I would love to just expose people to them. How could I do that? The only thing is that I would have to be on a show again.' So I sat down to meditate on it, literally with a candle, and I the answer was that I would have to be on a soap again, maybe recurring. And then I didn't give it another thought. Two days later, I got back after being in the jungle and I had access to my e-mail, there was an e-mail asking if I was available to play this role Deidre Evans on GENERAL HOSPITAL. I thought, 'Well, that's a strange coincidence.' "
She says she did have to pause when she saw that her character's name was so similar to her former DAYS co-star Deidre Hall (ex-Marlena Evans). "When I saw the other name of the person I was working with was Drake Black, I thought, 'Am I supposed to be playing Marlena?' The character didn't seem like her. I never got to actually speak to the writers about it. The day I went there, I went to see [Casting Director] Mark Teschner, bless his heart; it was his idea for me to play the role. I asked him about the name of the characters and he looked at me and said, 'You know, I never asked.' My interpretation is that it was a total nod of respect to Deidre and to Drake [Hogestyn, John] and their characters, like, 'We love you. You are not forgotten.' I don't think it was that I was supposed to be playing that character. It was so incredible playing with John Ingle [Edward], who was such a love and quite a flirt. Very in the moment. Everyone was so unbelievably welcoming and loving. And Deidre Evans ended up being totally extroverted and into the finer things in life materially and I thought, 'This is someone who will go for what she wants and have no self-esteem issues whatsoever.' The total opposite of Fay!"
A character she wouldn't mind exploring more. "I think DAYS is riveting right now," she raves. "I hope there's more. It would be lovely to work with James Reynolds again, though I don't want to create any problems for Lexie and Abe. But it always is such a joy."
For more about the organizations and programs that Wildman works with, check out the following links: