Celebrating her 35th anniversary on NTV’s The Young and the Restless, The Newfoundland Herald caught up with actress Tracey Bregman for an exclusive interview on her childhood, her acting career, and her personal life
Currently on its 45th season, 1973 marks the release year for American soap opera The Young and the Restless. Since its debut, the show has gone on to win nine Daytime Emmy Awards, has been the leading daytime drama for an unprecedented 25 years, and is currently the highest-rated daytime drama on American television.
At only 19 years old, Tracey Bregman accepted a summer gig on The Young and the Restless. Little did she know that today she’d be celebrating her 35th anniversary with the long-running soap opera, in the role of Lauren Fenmore. The Newfoundland Herald caught up with the actress to talk about her personal life, versus a life on set.
“I never expected it to be longer than like five months. I thought it was gonna be a great summer gig. I had done Days of our Lives when I was 14. I went and did some movies, came back and did a night-time series for NBC, and a bunch of guest stars,” Bregman explained.
“Wes Kenney, the then executive producer, drove up in my driveway and I happened to be walking out of the front door and he said, ‘Hey kid! You wanna do a soap again?’ I came in as Traci’s best friend, who was this sweet girl with monologues about how horrible it was losing my virginity. Maybe a month or so in, I was doing a scene and I looked back at her, and Bill Bell was in his office watching, and he saw me give some sort of look. It must’ve been menacing and I didn’t mean it, but hence bully, mean girl Lauren Fenmore was born.”
And so the 35-year journey of playing Lauren Fenmore began. Acting in the same role for such a long period of time, and going through character development in real life versus in your characters life, must have it’s differences.
“Lauren’s always been stronger than me, and she came from extraordinary wealth. It was very interesting to, in a way, trade places with a girl who had all of that. I was just not born with a silver spoon. I was born with a lot of love, a lot of fun, and a very different kind of childhood,” she explained.
“I loved playing mean girl Lauren. People either loved or hated her. I hired this lady to help me organize my apartment, and she came over and we talked for like 20 minutes. All of a sudden she literally fell back and was like; ‘Oh my god, I thought you were going to be so mean to me!’ I felt so horrible. We forget what we do. We go in, we do our job, we have a great time acting, and then I sometimes forget the affect that it truly has on the audience, and that’s always stayed with me. I was such a mean girl on television at that point, that she thought I was going to be my character in real life. I hugged her and I was like; I’m so sorry, that’s not me!” Bregman shared with a giggle.
Born in Munich, Germany, she moved to London, England at a very young age. Then, by the age of 10, Bregman and her family relocated to California, where she began acting at only 11-years-old. Both of her parents were in the business. Her mother, Suzanne Lloyd, was a Canadian-born actress, and her father, Buddy Bregman, was a music elite, the creator of Verve Records. He was a conductor and arranger for artists like Eddie Fisher, Ella Fitzgerald and Bing Crosby. He also went on to be named Head of Specials for BBC Television.
“I always say that I went from the hospital to a set. I never made it back to the flat. I literally spent my life in edit booths until 3 o’clock in the morning, or on sets while my dad was directing,” she explained.
“I was surrounded by the industry my entire life, and I loved it. I always say in a way my father was really ahead of his time. He empowered me as a little girl, as a teenager, as a woman, to have the same kind of power that he had. He never made me feel that because I was a girl, that I was any different from him, or that I deserve a penny less, or any less respect. My father worked with very powerful women, and he respected and adored them.”
Starting as a young girl, Bregman was taught about zero tolerance, about gender equality, and taught that women should be respected on the same level as men, and vice versa.
“I think we’ve all experienced things from different degrees. I don’t think we should just be looking at men. To be put in a position where you would have to perform things that you don’t want to do, by anyone, with a threat of losing your career, losing the job, and being blacklisted, is the most disgusting thing. It’s inhumane,” Bregman emphasized.
“I think it’s amazing that there’s been a turn. I never in my entire life, in this business, seen a turn of events that’s happened in such a huge way. It’s extraordinary. The discrepancy in pay has been the most frustrating thing ever. I remember as a single woman raising kids and taking care of parents, I could maybe not be making as much as a single man. I’ve never thought that was fair. If I’m putting in the same effort, and the same time, I actually would think as a single mother taking care of her children and family, there might be a little bit more put my way than a single man. Just like if it’s a single man taking care of his kids, you would want to give him more too. I’m just glad it’s all coming out.”
Everyone in the business has their favourite storylines, and their least favourite storylines. While Bregman will always hold the love story between Lauren and Michael as her favourite, she admits that there were a couple of scenes that were a little hard for her.
“I have to say, I’m a bit of a broken record on it, but I loved the beginning. I loved playing mean girl Lauren,” Bregman admits.
“The only part of that whole thing that I did not like, of the singing and the rivalry from Michael Damien, is when I had to say things that weren’t nice to Beth Maitland, because she has been one of my closest friends from the very beginning and we still are. We’ve always stayed close.”
Outside of The Young and the Restless, Bregman watches and follows quite a few television series’. She shares some of her favourites?
“CBS Sunday Morning, best show on the air after The Young and The Restless, of course. I loved Ozark, I loved Big Little Lies. I loved Girls. I’m watching The Marvelous Mrs. Maisel – love it! I’ve always been a huge Amy Sherman-Palladino fan, always. I did not miss a single Gilmore Girls. There’s so many great things to watch. I also watch the TV series Episodes.”
All in all, it’s been an incredible 35-years for Tracey Bregman, and we all look forward to seeing more of Lauren Fenmore in seasons to come.
“I couldn’t be more thrilled to be celebrating 35 years. I can’t believe I’ve been anywhere for 35 years. It’s been an extraordinary experience to literally spend my entire adult life with this extraordinary group of people that make me awestruck on a daily basis. The talent, and the sweetness. We truly are a family to each other.”
Watch NTV’s The Young and The Restless 12:30 weekdays on NTV.