'All My Children' Actress Adjusts to Life on Set After Landing New Role as Mom
As a soap opera actress, Alicia Minshew was used to heavy doses of daily drama. What she wasn't accustomed to, however, was drama in her own life.
Minshew, who plays Kendall Hart Slater, the strong-willed daughter of Susan Lucci's Erica Kane on "All My Children," got a shock in August 2009 when she was six months pregnant and found out that the cast and crew were relocating the show from New York City to Los Angeles.
"We panicked when we got the news because my husband (Richie Herschenfeld) and I lived right around the corner from the studio in Manhattan and we had lots of family on the East Coast to help us out with the baby," the actress tells ParentDish. "Our master plan quickly went south."
The couple's daughter, Willow, is now 9 months old, and one month after returning to the set, Minshew, 36, shares why her real-life role as a mother played a huge part in her decision to move her family across the country.
PD: You play Susan Lucci's daughter on the soap opera. Did she give you any advice while you were pregnant?
AM: Yeah, she did. We were talking about working while you were pregnant and what to do when you get tired, nauseous or just need to put your feet up. I asked her what it was like to work once the baby arrives and she gave me great tips on balancing the two. Matter of fact, my very first day on the set almost nine years ago I got slapped across the face by my TV mom. Welcome to daytime TV and the start your new job. (Laughs)
ParentDish: We love the name Willow. Why that name?
Alicia Minshew: We named her for my husband's father Willy, who, unfortunately, passed away. The name Willow was an earthy, happy name that we both liked.
PD: After Willow arrived in November 2009, how much time did you take off?
AM: I was home for eight months. I took off the extra time because it is such a special time because the baby changes every day.
PD: How did the writers tap dance around an eight-month absence for your character?
AM: They were unbelievable. My character Kendall was on a boat in Europe with her kids.
PD: You have been back at work for a month. How would you describe the transition?
AM: It is OK. It was hard at first because I was breast -feeding and Willow did not like the bottle. But now that she has gotten older and eats food, it has gotten easier.
PD: Were you surprised that "AMC" moved West?
AM: Yes -- shocked as a matter of fact. I said, "Well I can't do that. I am a first-time mom and there is no way I can pack up and leave with a newborn." Plus, my roots and family were in New York.
PD: So moving was not in the cards?
AM: My initial reaction was, "Oh, s**t!" I kept saying, "No, no, no." I have been in New York for 14 years, my husband owns three restaurants, our family is all on the East Coast and I live around the corner from the studio. Richie and I had it all worked out and then everything changed right in the middle of the most difficult time in my pregnancy. The whole thing just freaked us out.
PD: Was it a tough decision to make?
AM: Yes, very. I am basically taking Willow away from her grandparents, aunts, uncles and cousins. Just that thought alone was huge in itself. We talked it out with our families and everyone agreed: I have a great job, the baby is small, she isn't in school, so do it now.
PD: What was the deciding factor?
AM: There were a few. First off, we have so many friends out here in Los Angeles and the "AMC" cast is my extended family. We also knew Richie was able to hire some great managers while he was away. Third, we know this was temporary. We are renting a place and know ultimately we will be back in New York because we want to raise our daughter in New York City.
D: Do you feel you wrestled with this so much because you were now a parent?
AM: Yes. Being parents definitely made us weigh our decision even more. But thank god Richie brings Willow to the set every day during lunch so I can nurse her and see her. Plus, we Skype with our families on a regular basis so they can see the baby crawl, stand up and wave.
PD: What benefits is Willow getting by living in California?
AM: She is taking a one-on-one swimming class. We never had access to a pool in New York City and Willow loves it. She kicks her feet and even goes under the water. Plus, she goes outdoors all of the time.
PD: You made reference to this being a temporary move. Why is it so important to raise Willow in Manhattan?
AM: New York children are exposed to so many different kinds of cultures and people. They are more well-rounded because everything is out there. Kids in the city have a sense of independence, they are more savvy and there are a million things for them to do. There are great music classes, Broadway shows, museums such as the Children's Museum, the Museum of Natural History. You can walk with them everywhere and even stroll in Central Park.
PD: What do you see as being the biggest change in your role as Willow's mom now that you are on the West Coast?
AM: I do miss out on some of the fun stuff she gets to do with her daddy since I am on set all day. My role is shifted now that I am back at work. Come to think of it, I don't even think she misses me because she is having so much fun with her daddy.
PD: Do you get jealous that your husband gets so much alone time with Willow?
AM: I thought that I would, but I don't because I know we came out here with the plan he would be taking care of her. Keep in mind, the first eight months he was working and I was home alone with her. I think because I am still nursing and she still depends on me that is sort of comforting.
PD: What is Willow doing now?
AM: She is crawling like a mad woman. I turn my head for one second and she is on the other side of the room. Plus, she is pulling herself up and standing up. She now has a few teeth. She is non-stop energy until she hits the crib and is knocked out.
PD: Have you and your hubby discussed a time frame as to when you plan to return to New York?
AM: I am going to finish out my contract and then we will see where we are at.
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Start by teaching him that it is safe to do so.