Harmony's Favorite Physician
By: Michael J. Maloney
TV Guide Online
February 12, 2002

Who could blame Eve Russell, played by Passions's original cast member Tracey Ross, if she turned out to be Julian's killer? The presumed dead Crane tycoon betrayed and seduced a young Eve, giving the good doctor ample motivation to do a very bad thing. Eve's got other problems besides a possible murder rap. When not going head-to-head against the morally challenged Ivy Crane, Eve is lending support to best pal Grace Bennett. A protective mother and wife, Eve is also concerned over her family learning about her past. Ross's frontburner status recently earned her an Image Award nomination in the category of Outstanding Actress in a Daytime Drama Series. The awards will be handed out later this month and the ceremony will be televised on March 1 on Fox. The beautiful and gracious actress recently invited TV Guide Online into her dressing room to discuss how soaps have changed since she first appeared on Ryan's Hope (as attorney Diana Douglas), Eve's twisted relationship with Ivy and why she left New York. Read as TV Guide Online celebrates Black History Month with Harmony's favorite physician.

Congratulations on your Image Award nomination.
Thank you. I got home and there was a telegram congratulating me on the nomination. I also got a phone call from [Passions's publicist] Eva Demirjian. It's very exciting.

You've had some great material to play over the past few months, especially Eve's showing empathy for Theresa and subsequently blasting Julian for his treacherous ways.
I agree. Eve felt that she was watching herself all over again; only it was too late to help Theresa. It was like watching a house being set on fire and you want to stop it because you've already been in that fire. I loved all those scenes. I thought that they were very well written. I was glad that the Image Award nomination came after those scenes. I felt that those scenes really supported the nomination.

Eve really connected with Julian's face when she slapped him.
We had a stunt person there showing me how the punch should land and what I should do to make it look real. I could not get it down in rehearsal to save my life, but after we did the first take, everyone said that it was wonderful. I realized you don't have to show anyone how to punch when he or she is angry. Eve was so furious that she wanted to kill Julian, and all of a sudden I knew how to hit like a professional boxer.

It looked like Eve got a makeover of sorts after Passions premiered. Was Eve allowed to become more glamorous as time went on?
I think so. We got a new [costumer] after the show started. As soon as that happened, I got to start wearing all kinds of things, like red suits and high-heeled boots. I was so pleased.

Kim Johnston Ulrich (Ivy) has said that Ivy blackmails Eve so she can have a friend to talk to.
{Laughs) That's so funny. Kim and I talk about that. I told her that Ivy really wants to be friends with Eve, but she doesn't know how to make that happen. I said, "Couldn't Ivy just ask Eve to go shopping?" That's a much friendlier move than trying to blackmail someone and ruin his or her life. Nobody in town knows Ivy better than Eve does. In a way, Eve was the closest thing to a friend that Ivy had.

What was it like being part of a show like Passions where everyone joined at the same time, as opposed to when you came onto Ryan's Hope?
Ryan's Hope had been on for [10] years when I came on. It's actually not the best example of a traditional soap experience because we were under the threat of cancellation every other week. It was like walking around a morgue. People were on pins and needles as to whether or not they'd have a job in a few months. I came in all fresh and new and excited, but a lot of the other people were understandably concerned about what was going to happen. Coming onto Passions has been the exact opposite: It's so full of life. Everyone is hopeful. Everyone there is grateful because they got hired. There are so many things to look forward to. It's like being in the spring of a soap opera, and when I was on Ryan's Hope it was like being in the winter of one. Everyone's really open and looks at everyone else as a comrade. It's made for a real sense of binding between everyone here. There are no egos or competition.

Would you like to see the story of Eve's child with Julian explored this year?
(Wryly) Who said Eve had a child with Julian? Is that what you've heard? I know that Eve had a child with Julian, but whether or not that child lived or was kidnapped or is still alive, I really don't know. I want to explore it, but I'm really nervous. I read Hidden Passions a few times and from being on the show, I'm involved as a spectator, too. People ask me about Eve's past all the time. They want to know if Chad is Eve's son. I say to them, "Honey, I'm 30 days ahead of you in terms of the storyline. If it's not cleared up by then, I don't know anything more than you do." I have to say that I love working with Donn Swaby ( Chad ). Part of me would love it if they made him my son. We'd have some great scenes. Then I think I could get lucky if in a few years they came up with a storyline where our characters would have an affair.

How is Passions different from other daytime dramas?
I think that Passions is more adventurous. I think that everybody still had the same idea of what a soap opera should be, but then [Passions creator and head writer] James Reilly came in and didn't necessarily have that idea. It's like when you have a preconceived notion as to how something works, but then a kid who doesn't have those same notions will come in and make it work in a totally different way. I think that's what James Reilly has done with Passions.

Have you found that soaps have changed in how minority characters are represented since your time on Ryan's Hope? Passions, for example, is much more multi-ethnically diverse.
Yes. That was built right into it from day one. I believe that I was one of the first black people that Ryan's Hope ever had under contract. They were doing an interracial relationship between Frank Ryan [played by John Sanderford] and [my character] Diana Douglas. Unless I'm being really naïve, it was a courageous and scary thing for them to do at the time. I don't think anybody considers it a scary thing to do today.

It's interesting that when Eve and Julian's past is talked about, the focus is on how Julian took advantage of her, not that it was an interracial situation.
You're exactly right. Race doesn't even enter their relationship. Eve could have red hair and blue eyes, and the writers wouldn't have to change a single line. She's a full person, complete with flaws and her own unique qualities. In the past, people felt that they had to make a big statement [with minority characters]. You couldn't be just a person. You had to be a walking, living philosophical statement. You had to be almost an ambassador in regards to every issue about race relations. I thank the people who laid the groundwork for me. I think every character that's first represented is done in a minstrel-like way and can have a tough road to travel. Ellen [DeGeneres] had to pave the way for Will & Grace. They deserve so much credit because they made it easier for me to be Eve.