This interview was originally published in the May 16, 2006 issue of Soap Opera Digest
Lunch hour has been called at the DAYS set and Alison Sweeney and I head to the commissary. Rather than go through the sandwich/salad/hot food bar, we opt for the Peacock Café, a quieter, more upscale area with wait service, to discuss how Sweeney’s life has changed since having son Ben last year.
“My life is so different,” she begins. “He’s such a blessing, and I don’t normally talk like that. I’m not a very mushy person, but I feel like every time I think about him or I’m with him, it’s just incredible. My priorities have totally changed. I’ve been working professionally since I was 4 years old, I’ve been on this show for 13 years and I’ve always loved to work. When I first went back to work after Ben, it was like, ‘I don’t want to be here. I don’t want to leave him.’ It was really hard for me to adjust to that.”
A year later, the actress reports that she’s got things more under control, and has even been able to squeeze in some side projects. “I’m definitely doing better, but it’s so hard to leave him and it’s still hard to prioritize and get all my work done,” she explains. “And now I have a new motivation: I’ve been producing and coming up with some other projects that I’m working on. All of it comes from a desire to take care of Ben and work hard for him.”
Sweeney is the first to admit she wasn’t sure how she’d take to motherhood. “I didn’t have a lot of experience with kids; I was really nervous about how I was going to acclimate as a parent and how I was going to bond with my child,” she reveals. “I feel like it’s just something that happens, rather than really trying or reading a book to see how. No matter what you do to try and prepare for it, it just comes naturally and there really are instincts. I guess people tell you that but you don’t really believe it.”
Now, Sweeney can’t wait to get home and hear stories about her son’s day. “Often times, Dave has different stories that he’ll tell me about his day with Ben, and then I Have different ones about my day with Ben,” she says. “I guess that’s the best for Ben. Back to prioritizing — I have to go to the gym and it’s time that I could be spending with my son. That’s a really tough decision to make and I don’t make the same one every day.” Or she just misses him so much, he goes to work with her. “Ben comes to the set on some days, which makes things a lot better because then I get to hang out with him ore. It’s so fun to see all my friends and co-stars with him and how well-received he is and how cute everyone is about him. Nothing is cuter than these big, burly guys on the crew who just melt when Ben is around. It’s really special. But it’s hard because he definitely enjoys playing with my wardrobe or playing with my hair, so I get in a little trouble with the hair department over that [laughs].”
Nearly six years after they said, “I do,” the Sanovs know it’s important that they find time for themselves, so that’s really difficult, but we both make it a priority to do things together,” she says. “I like to cook dinner, so we always have our TV night. We both get really excited about our favorite shows. We’re also season ticket holders to the Clippers. We go to the Hollywood Bowl and we have tickets to the theater. My mom still works with the [Pasadena] symphony, so we go see my mom play [violin] or my brother play with the symphony.”
Precious time with her husband and son was difficult to find when it took Sweeney an hour in rush hour traffic to get home from the studio. The solution? “We ended up moving right down the street from the studio because I was sitting in traffic every single night on my way home think, ‘I could be with my son right now.’ That’s an example of my priorities totally shifting; I just want to be at home with Ben and Dave,” she says. They are currently in the midst of renovations. “We’re going to make the house a little bit bigger and change around the kitchen, which I’m really excited about because I love to cook. Our house overlooks the city — and we have a great view — so we’re going to try to design our house more to take advantage of that view.”
So, no cast parties for the time being. “And I love having parties!” groans Sweeney, known for her at-homes. “Dave and I both came from families with very social parents. It’s really fun for us to have that in common because any time I say, ‘I want to have a party,’ he’ll say, ‘Okay, let’s do it!’ It’s really cool to hang out with my friends outside of work and have time together to see each other in a social setting. I really enjoy it and I get along really well with the cast.”
Speaking of the cast, the returns of Christie Clark (Carrie) and Austin Peck (Austin) have energized Sweeney’s storyline. “It’s such a sense of déjà vu when they walk into the makeup room in some ways,” she notes. But in other ways, “It feels totally new. I feel like I come at this storyline from a very different place because my character has changed so much since the first time around. It was really funny for Carrie to say, ‘Oh, that evil Sami,’ and for me to think, ‘Sami’s really not that way anymore.’ I think, in some ways, it would be very easy to make a comparison to the storyline we used to do, but the challenge for me and my co-stars is to make it different because it is different.”
Though she welcomes the shift, she does miss working so one-on-one with Bryan R. Dattilo (Lucas), the other half of the popular “Lumi” pairing. “It’s so hard,” she sighs. “In some ways, there wasn’t that emotional pay-off right away after the wedding, and that was hard for the fans, and certainly for Bryan and I. We felt we were sort of thrust immediately into the next story. But at the same time it’s sort of fun because it leaves so many things unanswered. We really enjoy the scenes that we have where we’re bickering with each other and fighting. I’ve always said that they’re their own worst enemies. It’s not like you really even need other people to cause problems for them because they seem to do just find on their own.”
And it looks like they’ll be doing it for the foreseeable future: Sweeney just inked a new deal to stay in Salem. “I want to be on DAYS OF OUR LIVES for the rest of my life,” she laughs. “I love my job, I love the people I work with. I have a wonderful boss in Ken [Corday, executive producer]. I couldn’t ask for a better place to work.”
JUST THE FACTS
Birthday: September 19
My Hometown: Los Angeles, CA
Marry The Man: Sweeney wed Dave Sanov on July 8, 2000.
And Baby Makes Three: Son Benjamin Edward was born on February 25, 2005. “He’s a genius. I’ve been tying ot be subtle about it, but the truth is out.”
Best Parenting Advice: “Right from the beginning when we found out we were pregnant Dave and I were both looking forward to when Ben would be like 3 years old, because everyone always has the cutest stories about their 3-year-old. I never realized that every stage along the way would be just as special. So, the best advice I got was, ‘Don’t live your life with your son waiting for that time to come. Enjoy what you have now because you’ll regret it and you’ll miss it when it’s gone.’ And it’s so true.”
Last Thing You Put On Your iPod? “The latest LOST episode.”
Best Recipe In Your Repertoire? “I made this on CELEBRITY COOKING SHOWDOWN: an pan-seared filet mignon stuffed with blue cheese, wrapped in pancetta with baby leeks and a red wine reduction sauce.”
Must-shop-at-L.A. Supermarket: Gelson’s
Favorite non-DAYS show she’s appeared on? LAS VEGAS
Coolest celeb she’s ever met? “Martha Stewart. I love her!”
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