Interview

ICYMI: Catching Up With Clementine Ford (ex-Mackenzie, Y&R)

Soap Opera Digest: How would you sum up your time on Y&R?

Clementine Ford: Intense. I had come of THE L WORD, which was very creatively open, and to go from something that is so loose and free to a soap opera felt like I walked into a job on Wall Street or some- thing. I think my first scenes that I shot were with Billy [Miller, ex-Billy]. In the rehears- als, they wanted me to kiss him, which was not something that I [was used to]. And then at one point, they had me in this V-neck, and [former Executive Producer Paul Rauch] called over the loudspeaker that you could see right up my shirt and that it was inappropriate so they sent me back to wardrobe. This was all on my very first day! And then I think it was that day also that I had to wear the chipmunk head and be in Kevin’s [nightmare]! Greg [Rikaart, Kevin] and I joke about that because that really was my welcome to daytime. It was really intense and I was not prepared.

Digest: Weren’t you friends with Greg before you came to Y&R?

Ford: We were! I have known Greg for a long time. He’s my mom’s [actress Cybill Shepherd] biggest fan. I used to call him and say, “I went to your girlfriend’s house this weekend.” That was long before Y&R.

Digest: In 2013, you got married in his backyard. Tell us about your husband, Cyrus Wilcox.

Ford: I still feel like, “What? How did this happen?” But he’s so great. At first we spent time together and I was like, “I just met my new best friend,” and I wanted to spend every second with him. And then my sister, Ariel, said, “You’re so into him,” and I was like, “I am not!” Once I gave in to it, I was like, “Oh, this is it! I don’t want to be without this person.”

Digest: You have two kids now. How is motherhood?

Ford: I like it, but it’s really hard. My son, Eli, is 6, and now in kindergarten, and my daughter, Welles, is 3 and goes to preschool three days a week, so I’m getting a little taste of freedom, and that’s nice.

Digest: In 2018, you shared on social media that you have multiple sclerosis. When were you diagnosed?

Ford: While I was on Y&R. Personally, my whole world was exploding during the time I was on that show. I was so afraid of anyone finding out. I told hair and makeup what was going on. It started in my eyes and I thought, “Well, it must be the fake eyelashes.” That’s what you do; you try to rationalize and find things that make sense. I went to the doctor that time and they didn’t find anything. A few months after that, I lost feeling in my feet. That was the first night that it just didn’t ever get better. It was very weird to be walking around in soap opera heels. It’s almost as if I didn’t know where my feet were. But like I said, I didn’t want to share it because I was con- stantly afraid of getting fired. I was going through a lot. And bless Linda [Perry, her ex-girlfriend]. She stepped right up and was super-helpful. But it was a lot. We’d only been together for a year or maybe less. My relationship was kind of not in a great place, either. So that was all going on. The eye pain was in April, and the following November was when I lost feeling in my feet. The next doctor said, “It sounds like classic MS.” I got my MRI and he was like, “Yep. You have MS.” I had a second and even third opinion and it was the same diagnosis.

Digest: Why did you decide to go public with your condition?

Ford: I got a new neurologist and she wanted to put me on a medication called Rituxan, which is used for certain types of cancer and rheuma- toid arthritis. There’s a lot of information on the Internet about it, but not a lot about it with MS and I couldn’t find what I needed. I was freaking out and feeling totally alone. I put it out there so that I could reach out to the online community and say, “Here’s what’s going on with me. Has anybody had this experience?” And it made a huge difference.

Digest: How are you feeling now? Are there good days and bad days?

Ford: Mostly good days. Mine is not bad at all. I’m very, very lucky. This medication that I’m on seems to be doing really well for me. Fatigue used to be a really big issue and it’s not so much when I’m up to date on my medication. I spend a lot of time saying, “I’m fine,” because I am! I do a bunch of stuff; there’s no reason I can’t. My feet are numb, it’s uncomfortable, but I can run as long as I’m not on a treadmill.

Digest: What’s going on with your acting career?

Ford: After Y&R, I quit acting. That whole period of my life was a mess. Total chaos. I mean, I was on the show, I was diagnosed with MS and then my relationship fell apart. Right after that, I was fired! It was like the worst year and a half of my life at that point. Now, I’m in a different place and thinking about acting again, but I’m taking it slowly this time. Digest: What if Y&R called?

Ford: Oh, who are we kidding? If Y&R said, “Hey, you want to come back,” I’d be like, “Hell, yeah!”

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