“THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS is my happy place,” says Tracey E. Bregman (Lauren), reflecting on the job and character she’s portrayed since 1983. “Anytime I get to be there and do what I love with the people that I love is always amazing.”
Bregman’s love for the gig has only intensified since the soap underwent changes at the top in 2016. “We have such an extraordinary group right now,” gushes the actress, praising Executive Producer Mal Young and returning scribes Sally Sussman and Kay Alden, who were hired as co-executive producer/head writer and story consultant, respectively. The moves quickly sent Bregman’s character to the storyline forefront.
“Lauren is back to being her business self,” notes Bregman. “I think it’s important to show a powerful woman, someone who is balanced in a relationship and can be just as powerful in business. And she doesn’t have to be a bitch. She’s just strong. She runs this chain of department stores, which is a very hard, all-encompassing job. Yet she can say, ‘I’m sorry,’ in her relationship, cry on her husband’s shoulder and be feminine, as well.”
Bregman, who’s also an entrepreneur off camera, pulls from her own experiences “as much as possible. I don’t know what it’s like to run a multimillion-dollar company,” she concedes. “But I do know what it’s like to get a business off the ground and try to keep it afloat.”
Over the years, she’s launched a yoga-inspired clothing line called Bountiful Buddha and a jewelry line on The Shopping Channel in Canada, and she was the spokesperson for a cosmetics line on HSN. “I’m supposed to go back to HSN in 2017 for another brand,” shares the actress. “I happen to love branding. I love going to HSN and selling live because I love talking to the people who call in when I’m passionate about something. They call me ‘411’ for a reason. I love new products and I love to share with my friends.”
The numeric nickname was bestowed upon her by her friends at Y&R. “A lot of people at work call me ‘411’, especially up in the hair and makeup department,” explains Bregman, who’s always in the know about “doctors, the new things they’re doing … I’m usually the one that people call and say, ‘Hey, have you heard of blah blah? Do you know where I can do blah blah?’ ”
When Bregman’s not doling out beauty information, she’s busy navigating her life away from Genoa City. The divorced actress, who describes herself as “a relationship person,” admits dating hasn’t gotten easier with age. “I was married for a long period of time,” she notes, referring to Ron Recht, to whom she was wed from 1987 to 2010. “The first relationship after my marriage was for three years. Now, I’ve got to tell you, this dating thing is interesting. I don’t know what’s wrong with people. Oh, my God! I have actually asked my friends, ‘At our age, are we just all too damaged? What happened?’ It used to be so much easier. Then, I realized I was 22 the last time I was dating. So it’s a little different.
“Every man now … well, a lot of the ones I’ve dated are dealing with child custody and have been through divorces. Either horrible things happened in their marriage or things died,” continues Bregman. “I have had the most hilarious conversations and experiences dating. On my last date, I lost consciousness after he said, ‘Well, after my jail stint and my four divorces….’ And, by the way, this is a cast member’s best friend that I was set up with that said that to me. Let me just say that.”
Is Bregman still speaking to said cast member? “I’m going to be working with him this week,” she declares. “I’m going to smack him in the head hard.”
Fortunately, Bregman already has two perfect men in her life: sons Austin, 25, and Landon, 20. “Austin is in real estate in Beverly Hills,” says the proud mom. “And Landon just finished working with James Franco’s film crew. He’s an actor and a musician. His EP is coming out very soon.”
The role of mom has always been first and foremost in Bregman’s life. In fact, when they were very young, she regularly brought both of them to work with her, an arrangement that kept her maternal side from tugging at her professional one. “You know, [Y&R Co-Creator] Bill Bell asked me to do that,” reveals Bregman. “This was way before extended maternity leaves. He said, ‘I want you to bring your children because then I know that you’ll feel secure and your mind will be on your work.’ I’ll never forget that he did that for me. My dressing room was turned into a nursery. It was amazing. I brought both boys with me for two years.”
The flexibility of her Y&R gig also afforded Bregman the opportunity to be a hands-on mom throughout their childhood. “Because of my daytime schedule, I was able to be room mother for 12 years. And on most days, I could either drive my kids to school or pick them up.” As a result, “I’m extremely close to my boys,” emphasizes Bregman. “I’m either with them or I’m talking to them every single day.” Mother and sons even have some hobbies that they share. “Austin rides horses with me, and Landon comes to yoga with me. I like flow yoga, and I like it to really good music. I said to Landon, ‘Why don’t you try my class? I think you’ll really like it because of the music.’ Now he goes without me. It’s fantastic.”
Meanwhile, things are pretty fantastic for Lauren and her on-screen guy, Michael. The couple has been married for 11 years — a milestone in daytime. Bregman attributes their success and longevity to several things. “To start, they have an extraordinary love,” she observes. “Then, you look at the fact that they’re so flawed. They show their flaws and they make mistakes and they fix it together. What Christian [J. LeBlanc, Michael] and I have always said is, we’re not afraid to be crazy with each other. We’ve played crazy, and we still carry that. There’s a morsel of our characters that are still ‘the bitch’ and we’re not afraid to be that and would go there to protect our family at any cost.”
As for the lessons she’s learned from Michael and Lauren, Bregman pauses before letting out a laugh. “Well, I always say that Christian is my second longest relationship,” she cracks. “I’ve learned a lot from their communication and their strength, and that it’s okay to not be strong all the time and let someone else be there for you when you need them. I should only be so lucky to have such a strong, amazing relationship like that.”
Out of the Mouths of Babes
When it comes to pals, Bregman considers former co-star Michelle Stafford (ex-Phyllis, Y&R; Nina, GH) one of her closest. Meanwhile, Stafford’s daughter, Natalia, 7, has been calling Bregman her best friend since she was in preschool.
Stafford revealed the story on her YouTube show, SINGLE MOM A GO-GO, recounting how she’d gone to an afterschool event and was looking at papers by the kids that were posted on a wall. Natalia’s listed her favorite color, green; her favorite animal, a dog; and her best friend as Tracey. “I’m telling you, Natalia and I have always had this thing. There was something there from the very beginning. We’ve had it since she was in utero,” says Bregman, explaining that she had been by Stafford’s side through her struggles to have a child and was honored to be “holding her surrogate’s hand” during the amnio that revealed she was carrying a girl — Natalia.
Bregman, however, had already predicted the child’s sex before the test. “I hike at the Chumash [Native American] burial grounds, and I always say magic happens at the top,” notes Bregman. “I heard Natalia or whoever say to me, ‘I’m a girl and I’m coming through and I’m healthy.’ As soon as I got to the bottom of the mountain, I called Michelle and told her.”
Just the Facts:
Birthday: May 29
Hails From: Munich, Germany
Otherwise Known As: Donna Craig, DAYS, 1978-80
Mom’s The Word: Bregman has two sons, Austin, 25, and Landon, 20.
Bringing Home The Gold: She won the 1985 Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Ingenue in a Drama Series.
Three Months To Life: “My nighttime series [THE FUNNY FARM] had just been canceled when [former Executive Producer] Wes Kenney asked me to come to Y&R. I wasn’t sure. I said, ‘How about a summer?’ He said that sounded great. I really was hired for three months and I sort of never left.”
Food For Thought: A vegetarian since age 8, she now calls herself a “a gluten-free, vegan-ish foodie. The ‘ish’ is because I’ll eat eggs from backyard chickens.”
High-Maintenance: “I definitely like my girl products. In fact, when I travel is when I realize how high-maintenance I really am. It’s just ridiculous what it takes me to go away for one night. I look at the bags of supplements, vitamins and whatnot, and I’m like, ‘What the heck has happened here?’ ”
Get Social: Follow her on Twitter @Traceybregman and on Instagram @traceybregman1.