Thinking Bobans (Bobbie fans) on Ms. Eakes: Says renee, “I’ve become a Boban because of her insightfulness” … and DSO816, “She’s an unheralded and spirited actress” … and Dana Webb, “She is so down to earth and balanced” … and more. See Comments below.
By Damon L. Jacobs
Before meeting Bobbie Eakes on SoapNet’s “Rock the Soap Cruise,” I knew she had talent, I knew she had beauty, I knew she had an amazing singing voice. What I didn’t know was how much humor, intelligence, and self-awareness had contributed to her portrayal of Krystal on All My Children. In our talk at sea, she she shared life lessons, reflections on a 20-year career in soaps, and why Krystal’s recent behavior makes perfect sense.
D: So Krystal has had a very hard past year losing her daughter Babe. How have you approached this as an actress?
B: Well, at the point she lost Babe I really had not lost anyone that close to me. But since then I have. My mother-in-law and father-in-law died within ten days of each other, that was after Babe died. We were really close to them … I was really close to them. Loss of a close family member can be so devastating. I don’t have any children. So, as an actor you just have to imagine what that would be like to lose a daughter. People say having a child is the most amazing experience and if you lose a child it’s the worst thing in the world. So I go on what people tell me. You put yourself in a state where you imagine what it’s like to go through that.
D: It seemed like Krystal was trying to numb herself out with pills so she wouldn’t have to go through that.
B: Well, that wasn’t her intention, but David Hayward came along and made that happen for her.
D: You’re saying she unintentionally was numbing out her pain?
B: Yes. David was there. He was the father of Babe, and they had this one thing in common they were sharing — this tremendous grief that only parents know when they lose a child. And even though Krystal was in a happy relationship with Tad, he couldn’t feel the same kind of emotion that David felt.
D: And I think that’s unfortunately common for those who have lost a child. Certainly the conscious or unconscious drive not to feel that pain is common, and I could see that in Krystal’s choices.
B: It’s been such an interesting story, and it’s also a very complex story. People are saying, “Wait a minute, this is a character who was so strong and all of a sudden she’s so dependent on this person.” But I think those kind of experiences can really make somebody take a left turn. I personally identify with Krystal. People say, “How can you be doing these things?” and I say, “This is humanity. We’re not all perfect.” This is what I like to see. I’m having so much fun playing this character and I’m loving this new writer because we’re not just good characters and bad characters, there’s a lot of gray area.
D: Why would some people say they hate it?
B: Well, it’s mostly women that I’ve met here on this cruise. She was very strong and they think, “How can she not see what this guy [David] is doing?” But I say, look, there were the pills—that was the initial thing. Then, and you said this best, she was numbing that pain from the death of her child. But it wasn’t just the pills she was using. I’m going to be blunt. It was the great sex with this man! Sex is like a drug for many and there are people that are addicted to a sexual relationship just like they’re addicted to drugs. To be honest, that is what Krystal is in. She’s not even taking the pills now, it’s David that makes her feel good, he makes her feel sexy, makes her feel wanted, and so for a few minutes during the day she forgets about that pain. That’s one of the things about this whole story that I think is so interesting: it’s the sexual addiction. I don’t think she had that with Tad. That’s something you don’t talk about it in the soap magazines very much. I think she is an older woman who is feeling good about herself sexually for the first time in a long time and is escaping the pain through that sexual relationship. We try to portray it, but we don’t talk about it much.
D: I understand that. And yes, many people don’t want to see Krystal unhappy, but that’s the meat of soaps — to see people you care about go through something awful and come out the other side. I think people see themselves in Krystal, and say, “If Krystal feels sad, then I feel sad.” So when people say they “hate” it…
B: They’re really identfying with the character and that’s why they’re hating it.
D: And I think that speaks to your accessability as an actress that people feel that as they’re watching you. It speaks to a remarkable connection. I don’t think most shows really promote that kind of relationship anymore.
B: I think our show is starting to do a lot more of that. One of the hardest things for me to do 10-15 years ago as an actress was to show the ugly side of the character. I didn’t want the fans to dislike me. And then I finally realized it’s not a popularity contest, this is not homecoming queen. This is about showing the dark and the light. It is more fulfilling as an actress, and I think more compelling in drama, to show these sides. And not worry about the fans saying, “Oh I hate you, I can’t believe you’re doing this.” That’s not what it’s about. In the past six years, I’ve finally learned to let that go and say, “You know what, this is life.” It’s very freeing.
D: And I absolutely see that in your performance. I think that’s why fans connect to you more as Krystal than they did as Macy.
B: When I was Macy, it was like high school. I wanted everybody to like me, I wanted to be everybody’s friend. And I mean everybody. I was very affected when someone was critical or didn’t like me. Now, as I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that I just have to do the best I can do. There’s going to be a lot of people that hate me, a lot of people who love me, some people who just kinda like me. All you can do is be your authentic self and let the chips fall where they may. And that’s how I’m playing Krystal.
D: I like that too. Whereas Krystal was once being used for comic relief, she has such a gravity and depth to her now.
B: When I first came on that was fun, that was great. It was great to just play comic relief because it was such a departure from the character I had played on Bold & the Beautiful, who was such a victim all of the time. It’s funny though that now I’m coming back to playing the victim again! I do think that in some way we dictate the way the writers write our characters whether it’s subconscious or not. I think they do draw on things that are happening in our lives. Sometimes I think they are bugging our dressing rooms because things happen in our lives and then suddenly you read a script and say, “Oh my God, this is something that is happening in my life.” But it is interesting that I’m coming around to playing a victim again.
D: So what are they drawing upon in you to write Macy or Krystal that way?
B: I don’t know, that’s what I need to ask you!
D: Perhaps they see someone who has dealt with some hard knocks but is also very much a strong woman and can withstand the obstacles. I think what they’re doing now with Krystal is telling a very sad story, but it’s inspiring as well for people watching who have lost a child.
B: I’ll tell you, I’ve gotten so many e-mails and messages from people saying that they love what’s going on. I think they sense that I’m going to snap out of it, they’re rooting for that.
D: Is that what you want to see happen to Krystal?
B: Oh yes! I would love to have the writers turn me around and wake up and smell the coffee and figure out what’s going on. But you know what, on the other hand, I like to disconnect from hoping where the story is going to go because I’ve been doing this for so long — it can be very disappointing to get your hopes up. You have to just put it in the hands of the writers and get your scripts. You do the best you can, and you know they’re doing the best they can too.
D: How do you deal with disappointment when something in your job isn’t working out the way you prefer?
B: (pause) Well, really, I’ve been doing this for twenty years and it’s really 50/50 where things are going well and things aren’t. So you have to make your life full in all other areas so that you don’t have all your eggs in one basket. If you bank everything on your job, and things aren’t going well, then you’re going to be
If you’re in the New York area, catch The Divas of Daytime TV in concert Sunday night, April 19. The divas are Kassie DePaiva, Bobbie Eakes, and Kathy Brier. The show is at 7 p.m. at the Prohibition Club, 503 Columbus Ave. For ticket information, call 212-579-3100.
miserable. You have to have rich relationships, and other facets of your professional life that you develop. Like my singing with Kassie (DePaiva) and Kathy (Brier), that has been so fulfilling and enriching in my life. Just having a couple of girlfriends get together to rehearse is fun. So if you have a hard day, it’s not the end of the world. If you feel like, “They don’t respect me at work [fake sobs] and I’m not getting the story line I want,” you find other outlets in your life to give you that kind of satisfaction. It’s relationships, it’s friendships, it’s joy from things you really love to do. I really love to act but I really love to sing. The other big thing is to give back to people in society. When people get down and say, “Things aren’t going my way,” I think they’re lacking in doing other charitable things. Getting involved in organizations where you look at people and can say, “Okay, my problems are so small.” You’ve got to get involved in some sort of activity where you realize that your little problems are just minuscule compared to what other people are going through.
D: Does giving to others help you deal with life’s struggles?
B: Absolutely. It’s huge.
D: Anything else you would like to share with the Thinking Fans?
B: We need to talk again in about a month because there is so much good stuff coming up. This whole story arc is going to be wrapped up and people are going to understand everything so much more. They will understand my behavior more. There are just some really good surprises coming up. Shocking stuff, but good stuff.
D: Great. I want to thank you for speaking to me and for all the hard work you are doing every day.
B: (laughs) We need to talk about your rates!
Damon L. Jacobs is a family and relationship therapist practicing in New York City, and the author of Absolutely Should-less: The Secret to Living the Stress-Free Life You Deserve. He blogs regularly at www.shouldless.com.