Over the course of his lifetime, William de Vry (Michael, ALL MY CHILDREN) has learned a thing or two about priorities. “I once read a book about a priest who had spoken to thousands of people as they lay on their deathbeds,” he recalls. “He said, ‘Not one person said to me, “I wish I had just gone to the office one more day.”’ It’s always about wanting more time with family and loved ones. How many times do you need to get hit over the head before you say, ‘Okay, I get it now?’ Some people are blessed,” he concludes, “because they figure it out when they’re still young. And some people are cursed because they never figure it out.”
Happily, de Vry falls into the former category. So, while’s he more than willing to put in long hours at the office (i.e., the AMC set) and is relishing his time on Pine Valley’s front-burner, he’s equally focused on cultivating a sense of joy and fulfillment in the life he leads away from the studio — a task that became a lot easier about two months ago, when his girlfriend, Skye Dawn Christian (an actress who’s done frequent extra work on AMC), moved from Florida to New York to live with him.
“I said in an interview once that I don’t have time for a relationship,” he admits with a sheepish grin. “But I do have time for a live-in relationship. I’ll always make time when I come home to spend a couple of hours with Skye.” Not that he’s one of those guys who views co-habitation as a substitute for marriage. In fact, he views himself as “programmed for marriage and kids — not by my family, just in my own [constitution].”
And when he does have children, the actor intends to rear them the old-fashioned way: under the watchful eye of himself and his wife. “I’m a traditional guy that way,” he nods. “If a woman wants a career, that’s fine, but if we start a family, I need someone who’ll be satisfied with that. I don’t think a kid should be raised by nannies, nor do I think they should be at home by themselves all afternoon until the dad gets home or the mom gets home,” he opines. “There’s just so much value in parenting, and it’s almost a lost art now. It’s all about the dual income now — how much money you can bring in. But I think to take a little less household income is worth the sacrifice. You have to remind yourself of that because I think we all get caught up in that [consumerism]; you start to forget what the important things are.”
And in de Vry’s view, the important things in life are almost always the simple ones. “What makes me the happiest are the small things, like getting together with friends or just sitting in the sun holding my girlfriend’s hand,” he notes. “Those are the things that build me up and allow me to enjoy my life. I’ve learned that people need to take responsibility for being happy without the title, without the money, without the car, without the position — whatever it is. Somebody will say to me, ‘If you won a million dollars, that wouldn’t make you happy?’ My answer to that is, ‘I’m already happy, so why wouldn’t I be happy with a million dollars?’”
The actor speaks with the calm authority of a guy who has it all figured out. But he’s the first to admit that this wasn’t always the case. “I used to walk around with a lot of fears, a lot of insecurities — all the stuff from your childhood just completely gets in your way as an adult,” he sighs. “But when you say, ‘I don’t want to take responsibility for any of that crap,’ you walk around with fears that come across as arrogance and you get yourself into trouble. Now that I’ve figured that out, I’ve tried to reverse the trend.”
And his efforts appear to have paid off — even if his it’s-the-little-things-in-life philosophy tends to produce some head-scratching among his peers. “Some people are just flabbergasted that on my birthday, really, if I have some shepherd’s pie and go to a movie, I’m more than happy,” he smiles. “But that’s the whole point: I don’t need anything more than that to make me happy because I’m already more than happy.”
William de Vry’s Three Simple Steps To Successful Co-habitation
He may not be Dr. Phil, but William de Vry does have some solid advice to offer on the subject of live-in love. “Skye is the second woman I’ve lived with, and I’ve learned a lot,” he laughs.
1. Learn to Compromise: “With my first girlfriend, sometimes I would think, ‘I should probably do it this way, but I’m doing to be stubborn and do it my way.’ We had two different phone lines because I didn’t want to be inconvenienced if she was talking to her family. But she thought it was because I had this other life I was keeping from her. So, you kind of have to go, ‘Okay, if it takes having only one phone line to prove to her that I don’t have another life, just do it!’”
2. Make It Clear That You’re Taken: “The first time you talk to a female friend from the past, you should say, ‘Yeah, things are good, I’m living with somebody.’ That way, no matter what, it’s out in the open. If you wait until the second time you talk, it’s, ‘Why didn’t you tell me?’ Or your girlfriend will be like, ‘Why didn’t you tell her?’”
3. Remember To Think For Two: “I sent my mother a birthday gift the other day. Afterward, Skye said, ‘Did you put my name on the birthday gift?’ I didn’t leave it out on purpose, I just wasn’t thinking. I was like, ‘Oh, God! I’m so sorry, I’ll never do it again!’ I learned my lesson.”
Just The Facts
Birthday: April 20
Birthplace: Montreal, Canada
Listen Up: Ella Fitzgerald, The Rolling Stones and Elvis Presley rank high on his play list. “I listen more to older stuff than newer stuff, but I do try to keep up. I don’t want to fall too far behind.
How He Spends His At-Work Downtime: “I like to sit by the windows, read the paper and gossip with the actors. Or I’ll go listen to Walt Willey’s [Jackson] music; he always has the Beach Boys or something like that playing. He seems to be a 60’s child. Forgive me for saying that, Walt!”
What He Really Thinks About The Infamous Poster Of Cameron Mathison (ex-Ryan) In Alicia Minshew’s (Kendall) Dressing Room: “He’s a great-looking guy with a great sense of humor, and it’s a great picture. I have no problem with it; it should be there. But Cameron, if you’re reading this, it’s still lying on the ground! She should hang it up. Personally, I would put it behind glass.”
Yes, That de Vry: The actor’s great-grandfather, Herman, founded DeVry University (formerly known as the DeVry Institute of Technology), which has 25 campuses nationwide.
This interview appeared in our June 3, 2003 issue.