Interview

ICYMI: Victoria Konefal Interview

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Victoria Konefal may just shatter your notions about 20-something millennials. In short order, she prefers books to Kindles, chatting on the phone to texting and, above all, real face-to-face conversations — with eye contact. “I’m not particularly a fan of New Age technology,” she announces. “My mom bought me a Kindle for one of my birthdays, and I was really disappointed. I didn’t use it once. She knew I loved reading. I would go to Barnes & Noble after school and spend hours there. There’s something wonderful about sitting, holding a book, and the smell of a freshly printed book is one of my favorites in the world.”

A cell phone doesn’t hold the same allure for Konefal, who once considered her generation’s obsession with their wireless devices a pet peeve. “At this point, I’ve grown accustomed to it. That’s just the way the world works, which is sad,” she says. ”There are times when I realize I’m holding my phone for no reason. Like when I’m in line for coffee, I whip my phone out to check it. I stop myself and think, ‘Is it really necessary to check Instagram right now? Probably not. Let me lift my head and notice my surroundings and the smiles on the employees’ faces … have face-to-face conversations and eye contact.’ ” And Konefal admits she’s the absolute “worst” when it comes to texting. “I have friends and family who say, ‘Hey, did your phone fall in the ocean?’ ” recounts the actress. “I’m like, ‘Well, it may as well have.’ I will pick up a phone call more often [than I will respond to] a text message.”

How did Konefal develop her affinity for all things last generation? “I think it’s just innately who I am; I definitely consider myself somewhat of an old soul,” she reflects. “Growing up, I never really identified with kids my age. I would always hang out with people who were five or even 10 years older than me, just because I felt like we had more to talk about. When I’m in a room with people my age and they’re typical millennials, I tend to get uncomfortable. I try to find the oldest person in the room and talk to them.”

This old soul has been making big waves since she took over the role of supercouple Bo and Hope’s daughter, Ciara, on DAYS; a show she was kind of-sort of familiar with. “It played all the time while I was growing up because my mother used it to learn the English language when she moved to America from Poland,” explains Konefal. “Bo and Hope were actually her favorite characters, so to say she was excited when she found out who I’d be playing is an understatement. The woman dropped the phone and screamed. She was hysterical.”

Konefal, on the other hand, was calmer and cooler regarding the gig, mainly because she identified with Ciara. “She was definitely easy for me to relate to because we have very similar personalities in that we’re both pretty rebellious,” she notes. “We both stand up for what we believe in; we both don’t take s**t from anyone; and we’re both pretty badass. I love being able to expand those parts in Ciara.” So having to play the damsel in distress on occasion can be a tad vexing. “Ciara’s always getting saved by somebody else. She never truly buckles down and saves herself,” sighs Konefal. “I’m thinking that with all the stress she’s been through and the amount of times she’s been kidnapped, she should have taken a martial arts class by now or some kind of self-defense class to help her deal with the situation when it inevitably happens, again.”

In between abductions and rebelling, Konefal’s Ciara has found time for romance — with the town’s reformed serial killer. “I thought it was awesome,” recalls Konefal of hearing the show’s plans for “Cin”. “It’s the classic story of good girl meets bad boy, they fall madly in love, and it’s conflict. It’s a good thing to play off of because it’s them against the world. Their love for each other is so undeniable that they push through it anyway.”

The fact that Konefal and Robert Scott Wilson (Ben) share a similar work style made them a perfect fit. “We are both the kind of actors who truly throw ourselves into the work and are super-passionate about it,” she points out. “We’ll fixate on it until it feels right, which is something that I really appreciate. So working with Rob was very refreshing.”
Best of all, the two actors clicked from the get-go. “Actually, our very first day of filming, our chemistry was so crazy that the director, Albert [Alaar, co-executive producer], came up to us and said, ‘Okay, guys. You’re playing this as if it were six months in the future. You need to tone it back. You’re afraid of each other. You’re not supposed to be in love yet.’ ”
Once those feelings began to materialize, viewers were drawn to the tantalizing twosome and organized a devout fan base of “Cin”-ners. The magnitude of their support has totally floored Konefal. “I knew soap fans were die-hard,” she says. “I knew they were some of the most loyal fans this industry has. However, I didn’t know that they would take that way to me, specifically, and to Rob. For these people who have been watching the show for years to support this new chick that comes in and takes over this incredibly important character, who belongs to one of the most powerful families in Salem, is overwhelming. I’m so happy to have them on my side.”
As a result, Konefal confesses she was aiming to please when she and Wilson taped Ciara and Ben’s first time making love, determined to make the big moment live up to the hype. “There was a lot riding on it because the fans had been talking about it for forever,” remembers Konefal, who acknowledges that she was “really nervous” when she and Wilson shot the scenes “because it was my first lovemaking scene where I had to be topless. I wore little pasties, but other than that I had to be completely topless. I asked for a closed set, but even with a closed set there are still 14 people walking around. Then there are the people watching live in the booth and the people that are going to have to edit it. So it’s a lot to think about.”

While Wilson made her feel “very comfortable, it didn’t take away from the fact that there were all these other pairs of eyes watching,” says Konefal. “It was really nerve-wracking and I remember not enjoying filming it at all. I was worried that it was going to come across as awkward or clunky or sweaty because I was sweating a lot that day. But I think it came out pretty good, and the fans seemed to love it, so it made me feel better about the situation.”

As for Konefal and Wilson’s off-screen relationship, the pair are friends, but don’t hang out after hours. “Rob is always up to something,” she notes. “He’s very much a bar person and going-out kind of guy. I’m not really that kind of girl. I do love dancing. That’s my thing. So if I go to a good salsa bar where I can dance my heart out, that’s great. That’s what I live for. But I prefer to stay home and hang out with the right people. Surrounding yourself with good people is just integral to being a happy human being.”

At the moment, those “right people” don’t include a significant other. “I’m single, single as a bird. Well, no. Birds fly in a flock, so I retract that. I’m single as a V,” amends Konefal, referring to her nickname.
When it comes to the kind of guy who could change all that, Konefal is looking for the basics. “Honesty is my biggest thing,” she declares. “I’ve had experiences with men who weren’t honest to me or honest with themselves, and it’s just the most frustrating thing I’ve ever had to deal with. So my standards are pretty low at this point. As long as you’re honest and not a cheater, then you’re good in my eyes.”

 

JUST THE FACTS

Birthday: October 29

Native New Yorker: Konefal was born in Manhattan, “but we moved to Brooklyn shortly thereafter.”

Speaking Out: “Polish was my first language. I learned English in my later years, through preschool, Barney and Elmo.”

Magnetic Pull: “I have a collection of magnets from all the places I’ve ever been to. It’s kind of like my signature thing. When I drove across the country [from NY to L.A.], I got one from each state. I’ve made them into the shape of America on my fridge. It’s really cute.”

TV Land: “My go-tos are a tie between FRIENDS and THE OFFICE. I’ve seen every episode of those
at least 10 times. They’re my comfort shows and what I put on in the background when it gets too quiet in the house or I’m filling out paperwork.”

Book It: “I’m currently reading Mind Platter. It’s a psychological poetic book. I’m really into poetry, especially involving self-positivity and awareness. Another book I’d recommend is technically an actor’s book, but it’s applicable to anybody with a brain and a heart because it teaches you how to become a better, more aware person, which in turn makes you a better actor. It’s called At Left Brain Turn Right.”

Food For Thought: “My favorite type of cuisine is a tie between sushi and Italian. My favorite junk food is pizza. I could eat pizza for breakfast, lunch and dinner.”

 

Second Family

A fringe benefit of Konefal’s DAYS job has been finding a new bestie in co-star Olivia Rose Keegan (Claire), not to mention an L.A.-based “family” in the whole Keegan clan: Olivia’s dad, Kevin, mom Julie and sister Jessica. “From the get-go, we had a great connection, just because we’re like-minded souls,” says Konefal about her and Keegan. “We’re both very silly. We don’t take things so seriously. From the very beginning, I would tell people, ‘That’s my little ray of sunshine and I’m going to protect her like a little sister.’ Olivia is one of the most amazing people I’ve ever met, and I’m truly blessed to know her.”

Then there’s the immediate family that comes with her. “I call Olivia’s parents Mom and Dad,” notes Konefal. “They treat me like their daughter and even call me their third daughter. They even have my location on the iPhone app to track me, just in case anything ever goes awry. If I’m stuck in the middle of the woods, I can just text them and they’ll come pick me up. I’m really grateful for them.” And Konefal’s mother, Margaret, is, too. “My mom was my date for the Emmys, so she finally got to meet [the Keegans]. We all went out to dinner and they completely hit it off,” recounts Konefal. “They had a great time. My mom is grateful to them for being so sweet and so there for me because I am her little baby. And I am out here all alone and it does worry her sometimes. It comforts her to know that I have an incredibly strong support system out here.”

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