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Interview: Kate Linder on The Young and The Restless

Being a star on television’s most popular soap opera, working as a flight attendant, and doing countless hours of charity work cannot be easy, but Kate Linder does it all. Linder first appeared on the hit soap The Young and the Restless in 1982, as Esther Valentine, the maid to the grandiose Catherine Chancellor (played by the late Jeanne Cooper). Among the many charities that Linder is associated with is March of Dimes, an organization that assists the physically disabled in Canada. On Sunday, December 7, Linder, along with four of her costars, will be hosting the third annual OpportuniTeas event in Toronto, to benefit the organization. We spoke with Linder about her role on the Y&R, her charity work, and what it’s like to be the only working flight attendant with a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.

Linder photo- CharlesBush.com MUST USE PHOTO CREDITScene Creek: You’ve been on The Young and the Restless since 1982. How did you first get involved?

Kate Linder: I went in and I did an interview with the casting director Tom Palmer, who has since passed away, and so I went in and left him a tape with some of my work and then he went home. A little while later his assistant called me and she said, “Tom has finished with your tape and you can come pick it up.” and I said, “oh already?” and she goes, “yeah it is kind of unusual he doesn’t usually do that but he went right in and looked at it.” and I said, “okay well I will.” I went there a couple of days after because I didn’t live near there at that time. So a few days later he called me and he said, “it is really small. If you blink you are going to miss it. I want you to know I am looking for something else for you, because usually if you do a small role like that, that is it and you can’t do anything else.” So I said, “okay.” If I had not said yes, I wouldn’t be there today. Most people would not have taken a small role like that.

SC: It was just one line wasn’t it?

KL: Yeah. The line was something my family never hears, so it was true acting. The whole thing was, “Mrs. Chancellor, dinner is served.” That was the whole line.

SC: And Esther went on to work for Mrs. Chancellor until Jeanne Cooper passed away is that correct?

KL: Yeah. It was so sad.

SC: She really was one of the monumental figures in the soap opera world. What was the show like after she passed?

KL: It was awful. I mean, I worked the last show she was on, and right after that she went into the hospital. I had to go back and look at that show, because at the time I didn’t think that there was anything wrong. Then I went back and looked; I could see clearly there was. I think I was either so into the moment and acting that I didn’t see it or I didn’t want to see it. She is deeply missed and it is hard to believe that she is gone. She is an amazing person and it was incredible having worked with her all these years. I think the chemistry between [Mrs. Chancellor and Esther] is really great and then you add Jill into the mix, who is great as well. It is really fabulous, but the fact is that we need to go forward and continue to make it the best show it can be, and that is what she would want, so that is what we are doing.

SC: You also work in your spare time as a flight attendant.

KL: Yeah, for United. I basically fly on the weekends and do the show during the week. I have just been juggling them both for so long.

SC: Do you get recognized often?

KL: Yeah a lot of people know, and then a lot of people don’t know. One day I was going up and down the aisle and this woman was actually looking at this soap magazine. She was looking in the magazine and looking at me, and I didn’t say anything. I kept waiting for her to say something and finally she didn’t, so I went to her and said, “gosh, I haven’t seen that one yet. Can I see that?” and she goes, “oh are you Esther? I thought it was you!” It is fun.

SC: Do people get confused? It’s not everyday one sees a TV star working on an airplane…

KL: Yeah. A lot of people say, “you know, has anyone told you that you look like this woman in The Young and the Restless?” or “Do you have a cousin or a sister in The Young and the Restless?” But there is other times when people are just shocked and I am shocked, because they know right away that it is me and I don’t know how they figured that out. I am always really surprised when that happens.

SC: You also filmed a movie with Katie Holmes recently that is now getting released called Miss Meadows.

KL: It just came out last week in the US and it is a great film. I play someone so different from Esther, so it was a lot of fun to do. I play a principal, [Holmes] is a teacher in my school and everyone loves Miss Meadows, except for me. My character is Trudy Navas and she is on to Miss Meadows and doesn’t like her one little bit. It was definitely fun to work with her and I think the film is a very different kind of film, it is very enjoyable and I think people will really like it.

SC: When you’re not in the sky or starring in the most popular soap opera on television, you are doing charity work. You often do work with March of Dimes and are also a celebrity spokesperson for the ALS association. The ALS association has been in the spotlight recently with the ice bucket challenge, which has raided almost one-hundred-million dollars. What is that like for you, who has been working with the association for years?

KL: That was just an amazing thing that happened. It just took off like wildfire and went viral. The main thing that I am happy about is that it causes attention and awareness to be given to ALS. They all call it an orphan disease and only because they say not that many people have ALS, but that is clearly not true. Just as many people come down with ALS as cancer or any other horrific disease, but because they don’t often survive it, the numbers are down. So in that respect, I am so happy that the awareness has gotten it out there and that people realize what this is. I mean, it is horrific, there is nothing worse. You are trapped in your own body, your mind works perfectly and nothing else works. My brother-in-law had ALS, so that is how I become involved. He recently passed away, so I know all about it and how terrible it is.

The Young and the Restless airs at 4:30PM, Monday through Friday on Global.

For more info and to purchase tickets for OpportuniTeas click here.

Matt Hoffman

Matthew Hoffman is a Toronto-based cinephile who especially enjoys French films and actresses over the age of 50; including but not limited to: Isabelle Huppert, Meryl Streep, and Jacki Weaver.