The Good Life
Soap Opera Digest
JUST THE FACTS:
Birthday: June 10
Birthplace: Toronto, Canada
First Big Break: Playing a receptionist in the 1991 movie Strictly Business. "I had about ten lines. I said things like, 'Here are your messages, sir.'"
Hobbies: Travel, hunting for antiques
Why She Wouldn't Take In A Rock Concert With Marty: "Marty listens to grunge music, but not me. I'm mellower. I like more relaxing music. I like Phil Collins, k d lang - love ballads and stuff like that."
It took a horrifying rape to transform One Life to Live's reckless Marty Saybrooke into a real role model. But for Susan Haskell (Marty), setting a good example comes a lot easier. While many models-turned actresses make the old Marty look straight laced, Haskell has never even taken a brief stroll on the wild side. "Certain things go along with the business, but I never much cared for them," she says. "I don't mean like going out dancing - I like that. But I've never done drugs, and I've never wanted to. I'm happy, and I don't need anything else."
Haskell's one vice is industrial-strength coffee, and she always has a pot of it brewing in her dressing room she shares with Ellen Bethea (Rachel). Though the space is small, the atmosphere is more cozy than cramped - thanks to dried flowers, knick-knacks and personal photographs that grace the walls and countertops.
Haskell likes to spend time with Bethea, Wortham Krimmer (Andrew) and David Ledingham (Suede). After work every day, she goes to the gym with Hillary B. Smith (Nora). "We'll be sitting there sweating like pigs, and people will come up to us and say, 'I really like your storyline,'" she says with a laugh. And away from the cameras, she's become good friends with her on-sceen nemesis, Roger Howarth (Todd). "He's such a nice person that when we do scenes together, I have to work hard to turn on the anger. I look at him and think, 'Rapist, rapist, rapist.'"
Haskell says signing with OLTL was a major turning point in her life - "It finally set me in one specific direction." But she didn't always want to act. Only a few years ago, Haskell graduated from Boston's Tufts University with a degree in biopsychology. "I was always interested in science," she explains. "And I think it is important to get a degree, no matter what you decide to do. That's the way my family is geared."
The twentysomething actress is blessed with a stable, tight-knit family. The middle child of three, "sibling rivalry" is not a part of her vocabulary: "I have an older brother to look up to, and a younger sister to take care of. It's perfect."
When Haskell was growing up, her mom, Marilyn, spent her energy taking care of troubled teens. "She worked with a lot of people like Marty," she relates. "We had these people living in our home. Kids from our church or from school who needed a place to go gravitated towards my mother."
Kids with a drug or family problem often stayed with the Haskells for up to a year: "My mother got them professional help, or steered them back to their families." But sometimes, Marilyn's kindness didn't do the trick. "She was really good with these kids, and then some of them would be out on the street again," Hakell remembers. "I didn't understand it. But often, they'd get their act together three years later. They'd call and thank her, saying, 'You gave me the self-confidence I needed.' That has a lot to do with Marty. Until she met Andrew - and other people who believed in her - she didn't see how much she had going for her."
A high-school haircut made Haskell consider modeling and acting. "My hairdresser told me, 'You should try it,' she recalls. " Even though I was interested in science, I wound up doing television commercials."
When she was in college, Haskell spent summers modeling in Europe with her sister, Carolyn, appearing in everything from women's magazines to TV ads. The excitement lured Haskell away from her scientific aspirations. After graduating, she moved to New York and attended the American Academy of Dramatic Arts. She snagged small parts in films and a role in the TV series My Secret Identity: " I had been modeling on an island off the coast of Australia, and I'd been in a Jeep accident. I had a pin implanted in my leg, and I had it removed right before the audition, so I was in a lot of pain. I really wanted the part, so I didn't say anything about it. Then I got cast. Luckily, my leg was feeling better."
Despite her glamorous job, Haskell stays down-to earth: "Being on a show and having people cater to you can give you an attitude. You have to look at things and say, 'Okay, reality check.'"