Dynasty's Deborah says "Success
by David Johnson - Nightime
TV Stars - August, 1984
"Through talking with friends
and lots of reflection, I have come to see things in a different
light. The main thing that has been constantly reinforced is
that I am not a broken-winged little bird, not helpless. I'm
It's not Chasen's or Ma Maison or some trendy eatery in Beverly
Hills. No, actually, it's an unpretentious coffee shop in West
Los Angeles that Deborah Adair has chosen for our breakfast interview.
"Hi, Debbie," says the frozen-faced cashier, warming
up considerably as Adair, a regular, breezes in through the front
door. We're handed menus up front and sent off, unescorted, to
a quiet booth in the back room. After ordering omelettes, we
sip black coffee and do some catching up.
It's been over four years since I first interviewed the bright,
beautiful actress, who'd just taken over the role of Jill Foster
Abbott on The Young and the Restless. In the ensuing years,
she made the part her own, creating a multi-faceted character
who was opportunistic yet vulnerable and appealing. Now, Adair
has moved from one of daytime's most popular soaps to finishing
up her initial season as Tracy Kendall, the coniving executive
sweetie, on one of the nighttime's most popular soaps, Dynasty.
(One of the reasons Adair looks so comfortable in those office
scenes is the fact that this graduate of the School of Communications
at the University of Washington worked at a Seattle televislon/radio
station, writing and producing commercials. Clients liked Adair's
"enthusiastic" delivery of her copy so much that she
ended up reading the spots on the air as well.)
Right off, I ask Adair about the changes in her life since
joining the Dynasty company. There must be many
changes. What does It feel like? "The changes are due --
oh, gosh, the changes are not necessarily because of Dynasty,
although there are some obviously related ones," she says.
"I'm busier. Things are a little bit more hectic. I have
to be a little more organized. It's fun. It's not like work.
This is what we entertainers strive for. So I should enjoy It
while it's here.
"The changes are in Deborah. Now, I don't know what comes
first -- the chicken or the egg. Were the changes a ramification
of Dynasty, or was Dynasty a manifestation of changes
in my life? I don't know. And I don't think it really matters."
Adair smiles. "I feel like I'm sitting on the abyss of
something wonderful. And then at the same time, I think, 'Wait
a minute! You're in it.' I love to get up in the morning.
I love to work. Everything connected with what I'm doing
for a living is exciting. I've never in my life felt more optimistic,
stronger, and more sure that there was a reason I was put on
this earth. It's a fabulous feeling.
"I don't feel I can be beaten," she says in a quietly
positive voice. "And it's not that I feel like I'm in a
constant fight or struggle. It's something that has happened
in the last four months. It's a metamorphosis. A butterfly goes
through very slow stages in its development in the cocoon, and
then all of a sudden, there's a beautiful creature. And I think
human beings do that too. I continue to know nurturing -- my
mind and my soul and my body. And, hopefully, the people around
you do the same thing. There are no signs of changes, and then
it seems like almost overnight, there's an understanding of things
that one never had before.
A graduate of the University of Washington,
Adair wrote and produced TV/radio commercials In Seattle. Moving
to L.A. to become an actress, she waited on tables to pay her
rent while awaiting her big break.
"Through talking with friends and lots of reflection,
I have come to see things in a different light. The main thing
that has been constantly reinforced is that I am not a broken-winged
little bird, not helpless. I'm very self-sufficient. I'm strong
and have an in inordinate amount of power. The only times that
I have ever felt 'abused, used,' as they say, was when I gave
that power to someone else.
"The point is, 'they' can never take your power
-- what you really are. They can borrow it and play with it,
but they can never own it. And when you know that, you realize
you cannot be manipulated or controlled by anybody. It's the
Where does Adair think she inherited this strength?
"I was raised with a very healthy desire for a better
life. Not a 'Keep up with the Joneses' attitude -- but it might
have been connected with the American work ethic. The environment
I was raised in was: 'Do the best you can.' My mom has had an
incredible influence on me. My grandmother too. Both women are
very strong, can do anything, know no limits -- real Survivors.
The older I get, the more I realize that that's exactly what
I am. I will always persevere. And it is those determined attitudes
that have given me a strong foundation for anything that's
going to come down the pike."
Adair remains close pals with such
Y & R cast members as Terry Lester (Jack Abbott), Alex Donnelly
(Diane Richards) and Jerry Douglas (John Abbott).
We discuss "networking," women helping other women
in and out of business. Do women really help each other?
"Oh, yes. It's funny that you would even ask,"
Adair answers with an incredulous look.
But aren't there still some women who, out of fear of, losing
what they have, resist "networking?"
"Part of that is because women have not been working together
in a team environment in the office -- or wherever -- for that
long. Traditionally, women have been by themselves at home, and
they tended to guard their secrets.
"When you're by yourself, you tend not to recognize that
sharing is one of the greatest powers of success. I watch men
work together. 'Hey, show me how to do this.' Or 'Do you know
so-and-so? Do you think he could get me that loan?' Men were
in an environment where they shared.
"But things are changing rapidly. More and more today,
women in all walks of life are sharing. I get together with my
friends, and we trade ideas and concepts. We're not afraid to
give. Because it just means more knowledge out there, more positive
"I think women have an extraordinary advantage over men,
because we have the minds to learn business skills and the ways
to adapt within the business world, but we also have ingrained
in us those wonderful senses of instinct, perception and sensitivity
that men have been taught to hide and cover. I think it takes
more effort to make yourself vulnerable -- which is something
men will have to learn.
"Just last night, a good friend -- a very successful
business man -- and I were talking about men and women in business,
their roles and how they were changing. It dawned on me that
men have been sold a bill of goods for a while. They have been
given omnipotence by virtue of our social structure. Now, all
of a sudden, they're having to sit up and take note of the 'cookie'
next to them. She is just as great at the job, just as assertive
and possibly more powerful. This man's position in life is not
just being handed on a platter to him, as it was to his father.
"It must be very frustrating for some young, rising executives
these days -- or men in general -- to have seen their fathers,
in many cases, handed power and now the sons are really having
to compete for It. It's a very confusing era, but it's also very,
What does her friend, the businessman think? "He agrees.
He also said that as a successful man, he thinks the sexiest
thing is a successful woman. Successful not necessarily meaning
monetarily, although, I think that just happens to be a byproduct
of a successful human being."
After all, don't women find successful men sexy? "Yes.
In fact, the flip side of that is there was a period in my life
when I thought it was 'gold-diggerish' to want to be affiliated
with wealthy and powerful men. It dawned on me -- again, just
recently -- that I plan to be a very productive woman. Now if
a man is attracted to success, why shouldn't I be attracted to
the same thing?
"I've talked a lot about wealth and power, but when you
get right down to it, it has nothing to do with money and clout
--" Or greed?
"Absolutely nothing to do with greed. Success
is not a negative trait. It is not unloving or uncaring. It's
a sense of well-being. The tangible things, the external things,
that I've been discussing -- like money -- come from the internal.
A feeling of self-worth can be created when one is determined
to become successful, and that determination will fuel the desire
to keep it going.
Married and divorced before entering
the theatrical arena, Adair now shares a West Los Angeles condo
with her pooch, Clouseau. The bachelorette considers Interior
decorating a "hobby" and is in the midst of redoing
"I know I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing right
now, and I'm enjoying it. It mean, I can't tell you what it feels
like to wake up in the morning -- and go to bed at night -- with
a smile on your face." Deborah Adair laughs warmly. "It's
a real good feeling."