This interview originally appeared in the March 24, 2003 issue of Soap Opera Digest.
What you see is not necessarily what you get with Kelly Monaco (Livvie/Tess, PORT CHARLES). “I’m not a girly girl,” reveals the actress. “I was a tomboy my whole life.” Case in point: “Living in Philadelphia, [some of the neighborhood kids] used to call us the Sewer Rat Gang — me and my sisters and the kids from the block,” Monaco recalls. “We used to open the lids to the sewers, dangle our feet and see who could climb down the sewer the furthest without falling in. We were hanging out in a disease-infested sewer thinking we were the coolest kids in town.”
Although she hasn’t scoured a sewer in years, Monaco continues to take risks. Although these days, they revolve around her career and, specifically, playing dual roles (evil Livvie and the wide-eyed, childlike Tess) on PC, where she’s been front-and-center for the past three arcs. “For the producers to have faith that I could pull two characters off is really flattering,” she gushes. “I thought, ‘This is going to be a good challenge.’ “So, I took it and ran with it.”
More like sprinted. During the past six months, when she was playing Livvie and Tess, Monaco worked 12-hour days, memorizing 50 to 60 pages of dialogue a day. “I’d do one character in the morning and the other at night,” she explains. “Sometimes I’d only have a five-minute break to switch characters. I normally played Livvie first because the makeup is on, and then I’d have a baby wipe on-set, which takes the makeup off, and I’d change clothes like Wonder Woman to get back on to the set.
For most young actresses, that frenzied schedule could have been too much to handle, but not for Monaco, who thrives on work. “I love my job. I love being here every day, I love the schedule,” she asserts. “It sounds crazy, I know. You don’t have a life when you’re doing this show, but that keeps me going. Some people work to live and some people live to work — I live to work.” In fact, she adds, “If I’m in a full day’s worth of scenes, I don’t come out of my dressing room. I’ll be running lines until I’m called. We bust our buts here because if one person slacks, then the whole boat goes down.”
As seriously as the actress takes her professional responsibilities, she does relish her free time on the weekends — albeit quietly. “I’m not out in the Hollywood scene,” she stresses. “I don’t drink, so I’m not into clubs. [My friends and I] usually just sit home and play dominoes or card games. Or else we go to Big Bear, Las Vegas or Palm Springs.
“I’m very shy,” she continues. “When I’m in surroundings that I’m not familiar with, around people I don’t know, I have a tendency to sit back and take it all in; I’m an observer.” Her subdued nature, she acknowledges, has often been confused with snobbery. “Some people mistake silence for being arrogant or snotty, and it’s not. I’m just protecting myself,” Monaco shrugs. “Erin [Hershey Presley, Alison], she’s the first one to come up and shake your hand with a big smile. I’m more reserved and hesitant.”
Naturally, the actress is also hesitant to comment on her chances of receiving a Daytime Emmy nomination this year. “I’m not thinking individually. An Emmy nod for one of us is an Emmy nod for all of us,” she notes. “Anyone, anyhow, from the directors to the actors.”
One of those actors may be her frequent co-star, Michael Easton (Stephen/Caleb). “Michael’s great,” she raves. “He gives you a lot. I like to work with actors who are not afraid to give you constructive criticism.” And, of course, he’s not too hard to look at… “Some people have eyes that suck you in, and he has them — those ocean eyes!”
Possible accolades aside, Monaco maintains that she is proud of the little show that could. “As tough as it is to see PC so low in the ratings, I think we’re doing extremely well,” she praises. “We’re not ever shown in half the media markets in the U.S.! [Some of] the ones we are shown in, we’re on at, like, 2 a.m. And we’re still pulling in two million. I think it’s incredible.
JUST THE FACTS
Birthday: May 23
Privacy Please: “I don’t talk about whether or not I have a boyfriend. That’s a part of my life I keep private.”
Where’s The Beef? “I’ve been a vegetarian for about 16 years. I had food poisoning when I was little, so psychologically, I just never got over that.”
On Thin Ice: “My mom is a figure skater, and I think out of all of my sisters, if any of us could have been a figure skater, it could have been me because I was blessed with the small size.”
Speaking Of Size…. “Everyone calls me ‘Little One’ now, and sometimes they still call me ‘Half-Pint.’”
Boob Tube: “I’m a junkie for television. I’m addicted to FANTASY OPEN HOUSE and HOUSE HUNTERS on HGTV.