Days of our Lives Mary Beth Evans on Soap Star, Soap Acting, and Apple Pie

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Moonlighting on "I Wanna be a Soap Star," Evans spills the beans about judging, voting people off, and gets us ready for the live season finale, airing October 16th on SOAPnet.


Mary Beth Evans (Kayla, Days of our Lives)Mary Beth Evans (Kayla, Days of our Lives, season 4 Judge, I Wanna Be a Soap Star) is very upbeat. She speaks a mile a minute and is a whirlwind of good cheer, fun facts, and yes, lots of home made apple pie! 

Soapdom had a chance to catch up with Evans, just prior to the live Season Finale of this season’s I Wanna Be a Soap Star (airing Tuesday, October 16, 2007 on SOAPnet) where the winner gets a contract role on Days of our Lives.  For someone who shies away from hurting people’s feelings, being a Judge on Soap Star turned out to be quite an exciting experience for Evans.

Both Soapdom and Evans think it’s wonderful that thanks to reality television and SOAPnet, an aspiring soap actor will win a role on Days of our Lives.

“Yes!  The winner is getting thirteen weeks on Days of our Lives. Isn’t that wild?” Evans enthused.  “I think actually that from previous years, there are winners that are still on (the respective shows).”

Absolutely. Alec Musser, season 2 winner, who plays Del Henry on All My Children is still on AMC, however skimpy his appearances are of late. 

“I know for me, when I started out, when I was auditioning, there were no other avenues,” said Evans. “There were no reality shows. There were no other ways to get in other than to simply audition. So this is really exciting.  What’s very cool, too, is that they have this opportunity to show what they can do more and more. It’s not just one audition – it’s ten!  And that’s really great. Plus, they get to take notes from the people making decisions about it, which can only help (their growth as actors.)  It’s been an interesting experience.”

Interesting, yes. But at first, Evan’s hesitated. For her, being a judge meant voting people off and she was not fond of that process.

“I have to tell you that at first, being a judge was horrible for me. I don’t like voting people off. I kind of got wrangled into doing this as a favor for (co-judge and talent Manager) Michael Bruno the first day. And then, they wanted me to stay on and do the whole show and I was like ---ohhh!  And my husband said: ‘What’s the big deal?’  I said but I don’t like hurting people’s feelings.” said in a very apologetic tone.  “So, I just try to approach it sincerely and from a mother’s point of view. Or a sister. Or a friend. I think all three judges tried to be as serious as we could, and as constructive as we could. There was no undertone, no other mission, nothing other than to try to do our best.”

Soapdom wanted to know, was it difficult to judge their ability? Was the talent able to come through in these various tasks?

“Absolutely,” replied Evans. “The thing for us was that we had no contact with them whatsoever prior to seeing them the first time on the show. We didn’t know if they had kids, where they were from, we didn’t know anything about any of them.  Now that my daughter and I have been watching the show, it’s really interesting to see the backstory and to see who people really are.  All we saw (while judging) was what was put in front of us (by the actors as they were acting).  I think that one difficulty in the show – I think the show has been edited beautifully.”

Interestingly, what we see on air, is much shorter than the original scenes the actors perform for the judges. Evans filled us in, noting the downside.  “I think it’s really cool how they did it. The one problem is that you don’t see the whole seven-minute scene – or however long it took – like we did. You just see little pieces and may say, oh this person is so great, why did they get rid of this person?  But it was the whole scene that maybe did not have all the things in it.  So that part is a little bit tough, but there is no way around that.  Otherwise, the producers did a beautiful job of moving it along. I love the gorgeous shots of LA. They did a great job.”

In fact, in Evans opinion, the best people got into the finals.

“It’s funny, when Travis was let go, I was at work and a woman who is a devout  fan of the show said how she thought he was so great. She was going on and on about Travis, and of course, I knew that Travis was just cut.  She was going on and on about how great he is and I never thought of it in a political way. I never thought of it in the context of oh, he is this hunky guy and we should keep the hunky guy for the viewers. I never thought that way. It was more just judging what was put in front of us and being as honest about it as possible.”

Evans then shared that Hogan Sheffer, co-Judge and head writer, Days of our Lives said that maybe some of them didn’t bring it up as high as they could consistently and then they were out. But what are you going to do?  If that’s who they are, then they are not going to make it to the finish line. 

They have to be consistently good, consistently at the episode level.

“Take Monica,” Evans continued.  “Everyone said she had a great soap look.  She’s an ingénue.  But in this particular competition is she a soap star in one second?  No.  We could say yes, she has all this potential and she’s fabulous -- and she was adorable -- but it’s not – when there are all these other people who were so on top of their game … what do you do?  I found it really hard.  I had a few blowouts.  That’s why I had a breakdown crying over that one episode.  I was extremely moved. But it was also a very pressurized week. Right after the first people we let go, Patricia and Cory, I went to see James Riddle’s play, which is all about prejudice. I was sobbing, sobbing in this little theatre.  It was such a pressure cooker of stress over the whole thing.”

Even with all the pressure, Evans revealed to Soapdom that she would judge again.

“In the end, it actually became such a great experience.  I took it so seriously and I think that these people (benefited).  I think it was a good experience for everybody. For me, Hogan, Michael, the contestants.  I think that many – if not all – will end up being Michael Bruno’s clients, ya know?” 

Evans could be right on the money with that.  Some of the top three or four from previous seasons did end up on other soaps and do get work, based on the exposure they received from participating in I Wanna Be a Soapstar. 

“It’s a beautiful showcase for them,” Evans agreed. “The four or five that are left in the end are so great.  I am shocked to say this to you, because I haven’t said it to anybody before, but I think I would do it again. I learned a lot. And they learned a lot. It ended up being a very good experience.  Not to mention that the production company, LMNO (Leave My Nane Off), was so professional, warm and caring. They were amazing. That really made it great.  Plus, Mary Ellen (DiPrisco) from SOAPnet is just fabulous, so it was great.  I was on a break from working Days, so it was a fun thing to do for ten days to show up there.

The production schedule for I Wanna be a Soap Star 4 was just ten days.  “It was one when we did the first day,” said Evans. “We came back and did eight more right in a row, and then we go back for the finale on October 16.”  Unfortunately, Evans did not know if her storyline will interact with the winner’s, but Soapdom thinks that would be quite fun for judge and winner to work together in the same scenes on Days. Time will tell.

MaryBeth Evans and Stephen Nichols (Kayla & Patch, Days of our Lives)Evans does know that the newbie will have quite the challenge ahead.  She was quick to point out that being on a soap is no picnic, or is it?  “It’s such a stressful job.  All that memorizing. All the time you’re running and trying to get it down. We will have times, Steve (Nichols, Patch, Days) and I especially, when we are running a line and we will step away and realize how silly it sounds or something and we end up so hysterically laughing. That happens a lot with us. That’s really not uncommon.”

Evans went on to share one funny and scandalous experience that happened to her while she was starring on General Hospital several years ago.  “There was a scene with John York (Mac). It was a bath tub scene. They had put those little French teeny boob covers on me. He was supposed to come in and I was supposed to stand up and hug him, and the viewers would see a whole back shot. It was going to be shot from the back.  We start the scene, and it’s going, and the Mr. Bubble is so strong, it takes the glue off the pasties.  They are floating in the tub. And I am like, ‘ahhh! Cut, I can’t finish the scene!’ 

From Days of our Lives to General Hospital to As the World turns and back to Days, when Evans is not starring in a soap, or judging an upcoming soap star, she is in her kitchen at home baking apple pie -- a pastime that’s snowballed into a legitimate business. 

“I’ve been trudging along on this pie thing, and now I am taking it to QVC, of all things, which is so wild. Here is this pie that I’d been making in my kitchen, and now I have to take 3600 pies to QVC!”

3600 pies?  How is she going to make all of those? Has she hired a commercial bakery?  No way. Not Evans.

“I got ten ladies and we are making them by hand.  I know. It is total insanity.  But it is so exciting. I am the perfect story of the housewife who had a little something that she did. I knew nothing about business at all,” shared Evans. “I started making pie, then these little tags, then I had 50 pies in my freezer. Then people came to the house and started buying them, and I mailed them out. And it snowballed.  Now I am going on QVC.  I have a website, too -- . You can order them from the site.”

From what we hear, the pies are amazing. “They are really great,” she touted. “They are 4.5 pounds, double-crusted.  It’s like a basketball,” beamed Evans. “It comes to you frozen and you put it in the oven and cook it fresh.”

Evans and her apple pie is scheduled to appear on QVC October 21st, but check your local listings for exact day and time.