© SID July 11, 2000
Will a dance with the devil be what it takes to keep Dixie - and Cady McClain happy?
With a sly smile, an alluring pose and a well chosen declaration, Cady McClain can make even white, traditionally the purest of colors, look a good deal dangerous. Clad in a colorless silk top and prone against a mirror, the actress playfully announces, "I've got a long list of people whose asses I'd like to kick."
Is she serious? Or is this merely a tease by the sweet, sunny blonde who since 1988 has portrayed AMC's wholesome Dixie Cooney Martin? It's hard to tell, especially illuminated by a peek at the tempestuous side which ruled McClain's younger days. "I was very rebellious, moody and troubled as a teenager," she admits with an uneasy laugh. "I was just unhappy. I found suburbia to be dreadful. I was bored out of my mind!"
Are we talking about the kind of angst-ridden rebellion that manifests itself in random acts of juvenile delinquency? "No, I never set anything on fire," she answers with a giggle. "But I changed high schools and friends a lot, and I partied a good deal. Then I figured, 'Why be miserable and in school when I can miserable and working, earning money and learning new things?' So I hung onto my work, started doing commercials, and got these small parts in big things that gave me a lot of experience."
THE ROAD TO ROMANCE
At the ripe age of 17, with commercial, primetime television and film roles under her belt, McClain left her Southern California existence for the bright lights of New York City. After nabbing a guest spot on Robert Urich's Spencer: For Hire, the up-and-comer successfully auditioned after initially rebuffing the opportunity to do so - for the role of AMC's Dixie in 1988.
Soon into her daytime debut, McClain struck gold when she was paired with leading man Michael E. Knight, and the duo gave life to Tad and Dixie. And even through 11 turbulent years have transpired since the supercouple's first kiss, Dixie and Tad still have "it", as evidenced by their romantic reunion a few weeks back at the Queen of Hearts diner.
"I was very excited when i read the script for that show," McClain attests, "and I had a great time playing it. Mike and I have been having a lot of fun just being a married couple participating in the 'community' thing, but when the writers give us the opportunity to keep the romance alive and not fall into a 'Mom and Dad' type of role, it's very hope-inspiring."
THE DOCTOR IS IN
Alas, the Tad and Dixie fans who toughed out their favorite couples travails only to enjoy the recent reconciliation over grilled cheese sandwiches are now about to have their mettle tested again. McClain points out that the seeds for the pairs upcoming obstacle have been planted slowly over the past eight months.
"Tad has been going on and on with the 'revenge against Adam' thing and that really wears on a relationship." Dixie's portrayer explains, "If your partner is behaving badly and refuses - despite many conversations and fights - to change, it creates a wedge. In this case, that wedge has driven Dixie to find her own life... and created the opening for David to have appeal."
Yes, you read that right: David as in devilish Dr. Hayward. After years of tolerating Tad's rougish ways, Dixie slowly is going to find herself in a new predicament as she works closely with her intense new employer.
"Dixie has been a child with Tad, and she has grown up with him, but she has never explored her adult self," the actress observes. "Something about David asking her to work for him is sparking her to take all her skills as a mom and wife and put them into being a woman with her own life. David's strength and worldliness inspires that in her...And she also thinks he's damn cute!"
BIDDING DIXIE ADIEU
It appears that McClain's rebellious side is percolating to the surface again, and infusing Dixie with a new attitude—perhaps the precise creative wrinkle which will keep the actress content in Pine Valley. Acknowledging that the option to leave AMC soon is approaching for her, she is quick to address the rumor that she already has one foot out the door.
"A few months back, I was asked by a reporter if I was a 'lifer,'" - she recalls. "I said, 'I don't see myself as a lifer,' and they blew it out of proportion. They didn't ask me if I was leaving the show; they asked if I saw myself as a lifer, which, first of all, is a rough term. I don't think anybody plans to stay in a job for life.
"I love working on daytime," she continues, "and could see myself staying on AMC for a while longer. As long as I am appreciated and wanted - and written for - I'm open to it.
"But nobody wants a job where they don't work. It doesn't feel fulfilling. You want to be a part of something, to have purpose. I don't want to just hang around to be a comforting face in the background - 'Oh, there's Dixie! I recognize her from the year 19-whatever!" I want to work."
BABY'S GOT A BRAND NEW BAG
So what's the magic formula for ensuring McClain's professional happiness? "Three days a week (for a schedule) and a great storyline!" she voices, realizing instantly the very catch-22 within her wish. "When you're frontburner, you work five days a week, 10 hours a day, and it's exhausting. But it would be great to have something in the middle."
And if that winning storyline comes at the possible temporary expense of Dixie's marriage, so be it, responds McClain. "I really like that they're grooming Dixie to go in a new direction," she raves. "And I hope that they do explore the David thing, because there are a lot of opportunities there for more than just a 'triangle'. If Dixie fools around on Tad [especially after he dallied with Liza years ago], it could mean irreparable damage, because it's not within her character to do that.
"Dixie will always try to do the right thing." she concludes. "But she definitely is very vulnerable to David. He's a bad boy, and she likes bad boys!"
Spoken like a true, spirited rebel.