Everybody loves the honest, loyal, warm, compassionate and very wise Victoria “Viki” Lord Buchanan Davidson on One Life To Live.
And I see many of the wonderful qualities that we love about Viki in her portrayer Erika Slezak.
In the few minutes that we chatted Saturday at 2008 Super Soap Weekend, I felt like I’ve known her forever.
And in a sense I have.
I began watching One Life To Live from nearly the beginning of the show 40 years ago as an escape from high school angst.
And I still watch the show as an escape from the realities and pressures of the world today.
Erika is incredibly warm and welcoming – and funny!
She just seems to be really down-to-earth.
And how nice is that in someone who is an icon in the business!
It was Erika’s fourth year appearing at Super Soap at Disney World’s Hollywood Studios and here’s what she had to say about it.
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“I think it’s a remarkable experience for us as actors to get to meet our audience who are incredibly warm and friendly and giving to travel from all over the country to come here and meet us. For us, we’re just people. We just happen to have a more high-profile job. To meet them face to face – it’s extraordinary. I just met a boy out there whose mother said he gets up at 3:00 in the morning to watch the reruns and I said, ‘you should be asleep.’ He loves the show and it’s just wonderful. It’s very humbling too because we live in a little cocoon. We are in our television studio and I get in my car and drive home. To see all the wonderful people out there who are our audience and who like what we do and who are grateful that we are there makes you feel really good.”
Erika told me that one of the highlights of playing Viki was the recent Paris, TX storyline, which, by the way, was one of my favorites.
“I loved the characters. I loved the idea of being there living a fantasy life. She knew she was only going to be there for awhile and she could get away from her problems and wouldn’t we all want to do that – just kind of vanish for a few months and not deal with life.”
Erika also really enjoys the new characters brought onto the One Life To Live canvas by the Paris, TX storyline – Gigi (Farah Fath), Moe (John Rue) and Noelle (January LaVoy). Gigi is now living in Llanview and Moe and Noelle are coming to Llanview soon.
Erika had Kara and me laughing as she described the people of Llanview.
“They [Gigi, Moe and Noelle] are such real characters,” she said. “They don’t have a ton of money. It’s not like the Llanview people where everybody is rich and nobody has a job and nobody pays a bill. Have you ever seen anybody pay a bill in Llanview? It’s fine we all have charge accounts everywhere.
“But [Gigi, Moe and Noelle] are real people and to bring them in and to assimilate them into the show is so wonderful and I think that was one of my favorite stories ever.”
Erika also said she loves the challenges of playing Viki’s alter personalities and she also very much enjoyed the recent 40th anniversary storyline where Viki died (briefly) and went to heaven and saw some of her dead loved ones, including her beloved, Ben (Mark Derwin).
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“I loved heaven because it was so comfortable. I had ballet flats on for two weeks. It was great.”
She also enjoyed working with the show’s creator Agnes Nixon in some of heaven’s scenes.
“Agnes is an extraordinary woman. She was so nervous when we did the heaven stuff. She was wonderful. She was so determined to learn her lines and know every single word. She’s a very, very smart, funny lady. You will never know how funny she is. She’s delightful. It was a treat.
And I kind of went, ‘Yay! I’m the only one who gets to work with her. Yay!”
I asked Erika what are the characteristics that she likes best about Viki.
“She’s so good. She has such a big heart and is so fiercely loyal to her friends and her family in particular. She’s kind. She’s very smart. She’s able to differentiate in her mind what’s just and what’s not just and she always tries to do the right thing, which is a hard thing to do in life isn’t it?”
Kara asked about how Viki’s relationship with Todd will be affected when she finds out that Todd knew that Jess had turned into Tess for all those months that she wreaked havoc.
“Viki gets Todd. She understands his problems. But when she finds out what Todd did it’s not going to be pretty because that’s unforgiveable to leave your family hanging out to dry. Natalie could have been killed. Jared could have been killed. Tess was in a lot of trouble. It was his own selfishness. I don’t care what motivated him, it was unbelievably selfish. It’s interesting to see where it goes. She always wants to believe that there is good in everyone and I think she’s finally going to realize that the good in Todd is buried so deep, that there’s no point in looking for it anymore.”
On playing alter Niki Smith, she said, “It’s nothing but fun, but she is so tiring. She expends so much energy and she’s all over the place all the time. But after playing Viki for so many years who is so controlled and always does the right thing – and then to be Niki….it’s terrific.”

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