The new Santa Barbara's Kelly

 By Janet Di Lauro, Soap Opera Weekly, 1991

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When Kelly Capwell resurfaces on Santa Barbara in a few weeks she'll be a little older, a lot wiser and an independent dynamo. She'll also be played by Eileen Davidson, who originated the role of Ashley Abbott on The Young and the Restless.

"There are major similarities between Ashley and Kelly," Davidson says. "They both come from rich families, although Kelly is more spoiled than Ashley. I think Kelly has another side to her. She's attracted to that darker side."

Davidson left daytime three years ago, but she was coaxed back by Santa Barbara's executive producer, Paul Rauch. "My agent got a call from him about a month ago," she says. "We'd never worked together before, but he was absolutely familiar with my work. He wanted to if I'd be interested in doing Santa Barbara. At the time, I wasn't sure I wanted return to daytime. Paul asked, "What would make her interested ?" All of a sudden my ears perked up, "laughs Davidson. "I remember thinking, "Now, that's a first.""

At Davidson's first meeting with Rauch, "he didn't mention a specific character. He said (the writers) might create one for me. Then, he made a terrific offer... one I couldn't refuse."

"At the time, I had no idea it was for the role of Kelly Capwell," she notes. "When I found out, I was told the show planned to take the character in a new direction. They were totally revamping her. So it really was like creating a whole new character. It made my imagination run wild. To have lot of input into a character is very exciting." Of her contract, she says, "I signed for a year plus... That was one of the nice parts of the deal."

Davidson's familiar with Santa Barbara. Actually, it was her former co-star Terry Lester (ex-Jack, The Young and the Restless, ex-Mason, Santa Barbara), who convinced her to watch the show. "He started me on it," she notes. "He kept telling me it was different from other daytime show. Subsequently, I'm watching it even more now for obvious reasons. I've always liked the pace of the show. It's very fast and different from what I was used to before."

Davidson's eager to begin life in the Santa Barbara fast lane. "They gave me a page of history in the character, so I can become familiar with her past," she notes. "But they don't want me to look any old tapes of the character." The fact that Carrington Garland, the previous Kelly, is younger doesn't phase her in the least. "I don't think they really care about it," she says.

Before joining Santa Barbara, Davidson was a regular on Broken Badges, a CBS nighttime series. "I played an undercover cop with a bad attitude," she says. "Broken Badges was supposed to be in the fall lineup last season. Then it got pushed back to a mid-season replacement and wasn't picked up. When Broken Badges was over, I really wanted to find other work," she continues. "Doing a series is very different from doing a soap. There isn't as much work to do. Your schedule isn't as heavy. Plus, I had had the better part of the year off. So, I felt a little frustrated."

Davidson thinks she'll get back into daytime groove without any difficulty. "I was on the set the other day and I thought, "Wow ! I used to do this and it was second nature"," she says with a laugh. "It's just like riding a bicycle."

One ironic thing about Davidson's new job is that many markets Santa Barbara airs opposite The Young and the Restless, which means her show will be going head-to-head with the one on which her beau, Don Diamont (Brad, The Young and the Restless), appears. "We both think that's a little funny," she says. "It won't affect us, because we don't really watch our shows. We just do them. But I'm sure our families are going to be torn."