© SOW June 26, 1990                                                                                   

 

WHISTLIN’ DIXIE

 

AMC’s Cady McClain is a Happy Camper

By Chip Orton

 

OFFICIAL SOURCES DISAGREE about Cady McClain's age. One source says All My Children's Dixie Cooney is a mere 19 in real life; another makes her out to be a mature 23.

 

"They're both wrong," laughs Cady (pronounced Katie) McClain. "I'm 20," she announces with a flash of her beautiful blue eyes.

 

What does she think, then, about portraying what for her is certainly an older woman – and looking the part? "It doesn't bother me a bit," she says. "When I was a teenager, I always wanted to get out of it as quickly as possible!"

 

And she did, dropping out of high school in her junior year, completing her high school equivalency program so she could devote her full energies to the acting career she'd been pursuing since she was 10 years old!   

 

McClain's parents divorced about 12 years ago, drastically changing the pampered,  California life-styles that Cady and her sister Molly had been enjoying. Independence and career goals were encouraged by their artistic mother and the two young girls learned their lessons well. With a master's degree under her belt, Molly is an associate teacher of history at Yale and will soon leave for England to study under that school's doctorate program. Cady's progress has, of course, been familiar to AMC viewers for the past

year and a half.

 

McClain's mother still exerts a highly positive influence on her daughter; they live together!

 

“Yes," the actress joyfully declares. "She's my best friend and buddy. We share a tiny one-bed-room apartment right in the middle of the theater district of Manhattan ... with all the resources for the arts, the classes, the colorful neighbors ... and the dirt! Actually, my mother is more like a great roommate. It's really marvelous ... she's a nice lady. We share responsibilities, sit and discuss life over coffee every morning, share the joys and the frustrations of our work.

 

"I guess the three of us - Mother, my sister Molly and I - are achievers. And, fortunately, we're all very supportive of each other."

 

It was McClain's mother who gave her the motivation that led to success. "She never pushed," McClain explains. "She encouraged and made us feel good about ourselves."

 

McClain's devotion to her mother is evident. It's too bad her character can't say the same for her mother-in-law, Opal Purdy, a troublemaker if there ever was one Unlike McClain, Dixie Cooney never had the advantage of a lot of support - especially during her marriage to Adam Chandler (David Canary). What trials, tribulations and horrors of the damned does McClain see in Dixie's future?

 

"My guess is that Adam may decide to try to get his baby back and I'll wind up in a menage a trios with Michael (Knight, who plays Dixie's husband, Tad Martin) and David. I love it!" she laughs.

 

Whatever the storyline, you can bet that the writers will be keeping Dixie - and thereby McClain - extremely busy, a prospect the actress finds exhilarating.

           

"I have come to have a lot of respect for the medium," says McClain. "More than ever before. I mean, it's such an incredible feat to do an entire show in one day, day after day after day. I was much more used to film, where a scene was shot and then it was over. In a series, a plotline can go on forever. I'll never forget when I first started that thing with Adam and Brooke, I swear, I thought that scene would never end! To me it was 'The Shoot That Never Died!'"

 

Her only concern when she started playing Dixie was how she would be accepted by the rest of the cast, as she was taking over someone else's role . "I know it sounds like a cliche," she says, "but we really are a family. You can't spend that many hours every day with the same people without becoming close."

 

This closeness on the set can result in professional envy, but McClain swears there is no competitiveness in her cast. "I feel no competitions with Liz Vassey," she declares, "and she feels none with me. Actually, the most exciting thing about this year's Emmy nominations is that everybody in my storyline was nominated, We're very proud of that. It shows that we have a strong ensemble. When the nominations were announced, you should have seen the jumping and yelling that was going on in the hallways!"

 

Love life? She howls with laughter, "What love life?" she asks. "I have no love life. Nobody's in my life - who's got the time? I've got a family at home, a family at work, a job that takes everything I've got...

 

"Relationships take a lot of responsibility," she adds, "I just don't have the time right now."