Kate Linder is a living example of the old phrase “don’t quit your day job.” She’s starred on The Young and the Restless for more than 25 years, playing maid Esther Valentine. But this day, fans can still meet her on a United Airlines plane ride, as their flight attendant. Between acting and her day job, she is a tireless supporter of many charities, most notably the ALS Association for which she is the celebrity spokesperson. Not enough? She’s on the Board of Governors for the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences, the group that hands out the Emmys, and next year she’ll be getting a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Between all this, Kate Linder found some time to talk to BuddyTV about the many plates she’s spinning every day.
Hi, this is John from Buddy TV, and we’re talking to Kate Linder from The Young and the Restless. Hello, Kate!
Hi John, how are you?
I’m fine. So, you’ve been on this soap for more than 20 years, correct?
Oh, actually, over 25 years.
Over 25! How has it changed since it started?
Well, there’s been a lot of changes. I think The Young and the Restless, it’s the number one show for many reasons. One change that doesn’t happen too much was just great, and which I think is one of the reasons is that number one, a lot of the characters are still there. We really don’t have a revolving door, which is a really good thing, so people grow up with the show. They look forward to seeing the character that they know, and so they tune in and they still see those actors and those characters.
It’s definitely different from a lot of soaps.
Right, but I think that our show has changed lately, because it’s much faster-paced now. I think that goes into, you can see the difference in all television. I feel and I call it from the MTV generation, and I think it’s just because you’ll notice the cuts, the different cuts of the show.
They’ve put their cuts, and things are faster, and they’re moving the storyline along faster. I think that goes completely into what’s going on in today’s society, because we live a very fast-paced life with the technology and everything else. I think that just goes right along with it, so that’s the major changes, I’d say.
I’d have to agree completely with that. MTV generation TV is definitely getting snappier, shorter attention spans. What’s been your favorite moment on the show, since you’ve been there for so long? Do you have any one moment or plot that you really enjoyed?
Well, I have a couple, but there’s one that when Esther, my character, gave birth in a middle of a storm on the stairs of the Chancellor mansion. I’ll never forget that, that was really something, and we worked late that night too. So we went until almost midnight, I gave birth at midnight, that was really something.
And also, when I answered an ad in a singles magazine and sort of lied and said I was the lady of the house, and then I had to talk my bosses into playing the maid and the butler. I was able to play the wealthy woman and wear all the great clothes, and he did turn out to be a bad guy, and I ended up marrying him.
But I wasn’t really married to him because my boss Mrs. Chancellor didn’t trust him, and so she hired an actor to play the minister. Of course she was right, ’cause they turned out to be bad, and they ended up killing my boss’ husband! But those were a couple of my favorite storylines.
I would imagine that would’ve been fun, because you played the maid on the show. So do you ever get tired of just seeing all these people wearing all these glamorous clothes, and think, “I’m just the maid?”
OK, so now are you a flight attendant currently?
Yes, for United.
So I guess, why? Do you just love flying, or…?
Well, the whole thing is that I’ve done it for so long, and I thought in the beginning it was really ridiculous to do it away for some sort of ego thing. I thought if I can handle doing both of them, I will do that. So I mainly fly on the weekends and not every weekend, depends on what I’ve got going on and how many appearances and things like that. So it’s great, because I get to see a lot of the fans of the show, and I end up doing personal appearances on the airplane.
It’s a lot of fun to me, and also I’ve seen a lot of people come and go. You really can’t forget who you are on Monday, you know. I’m working on the set next day, I’m talking to you, and the day after that I’m serving coffee at 35,000 feet, and you really don’t forget who you are that way.
Definitely gives new meaning to the phrase, “Don’t quit your day job.””
Right. Or a bad pun, you know, “Being grounded.”
OK, now in addition to those two, you’re also on the Board of Governors for the Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. That fascinates me, because that’s the organization that hands out the daytime and primetime Emmys.
Well, there are two academies. They used to be one, but there was a divorce between the New York academy which is called NATAS, and our academy on the West Coast which is just called ATAS. And when that happened, NATAS took over the daytime Emmys, so they’re really in charge of that.
We don’t have a whole lot to do with that right now, but then our academy here deals mainly with the primetime and the awards. But I am one of the co-governors for the daytime peer group, so we are constantly trying to make it better and make daytime better.
And what exactly like, is there any specific thing that you’ve done in that capacity?
Well, the governors are in charge of the policy-making and the budget up for the academy, so I’m part of that group. The head of the academy just appointed me recently to co-chair of the Emmy Awards committee for our academy, so that’s an ongoing thing. We’re trying to make daytime Emmys better.
Well, in addition to all of that, you have a lot on your plate. You’re also the official spokesperson for the ALS Association, in the U.S., correct?
Right, I’m celebrity spokesperson for ALS, which is Lou Gehrig’s disease. It’s a horrific disease, and actually I just finished doing a tea in Canada, where I brought The Young and the Restless actors for that. This year the money went to ALS in Canada, which they call the ALS Society.
I’m hoping that eventually, maybe this can become a worldwide thing, because I feel that whoever is gonna find the cure, this will help everyone. So I’m out there, trying to do everything I can to help people with ALS, because it’s such a horrific disease. They call it an orphan disease, and they say that because not that many people have it, as opposed to people that have cancer or that kind of thing.
That’s not exactly true, just as many people come down with ALS. But with cancer, and I’m not saying it’s a good thing to have cancer by any means, but there are more and more people surviving with cancer, living with cancer. Whereas with ALS, you do not survive.
I mean, it’s a death sentence. You’re trapped in your own body, and your mind is working perfectly, just perfect, and then everything else breaks down. So that’s the problem, and that’s why we need to just… I’m just really out there trying to get more research dollars, and trying to get a handful on this disease. It’s terrible.
Definitely admirable work, and it’s refreshing to see someone so dedicated to a cause like that in the entertainment world.
I just feel that I’m really fortunate. Number one, I’m working in my field, this is all I ever wanted to do. You know, little girls want to be whatever they want to be, but there’s nurses, flight attendants. I never really wanted to be anything other than an actress, I didn’t have anyone in my family that was in the business.
Though my parents were extremely supportive, they didn’t have the first clue how to go about this. So it was something I had to keep trying and figuring out for myself, and I feel so lucky that here I am working in my chosen field. And not only that, on the number one show, which is just icing on the cake. So I thought, not only my right, but it’s my duty and I need to give back. I have to give back, I’m so lucky, and so that’s what I try to do.
Now for all this hard work, it was announced last month, I think, that next year you’ll be getting a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.
Yes! This is so unbelievable.
Now I’m looking over the list, and is it slightly diminished that one of the other TV people getting a star is wrestling promoter Vince McMahon?
You know what? I don’t think it’s diminished by any means. I mean, you look at the list of the people that are getting stars, there are hundreds and hundreds of people submitted every year, and I’m just so blown away and so honored. I mean, you’ve got Angela Bassett, she’s getting one. Christina Aguilera, Ricky Martin, and then you’ve got Kate Linder.
I mean, it’s just totally amazing to me, and I’m totally honored. They’re just gonna make me work that much harder, you know. So it’s just really hard to believe that, because just as a little girl, I’ve walked that street a million times going to the theater, walking on the stars, thinking, Wow, look at these people, look at the stars. Gee, wouldn’t that be something, never even thinking that would possibly happen for me.
Yeah, definitely. Congratulations on that, and that should be a fun experience.
And just finally, do you have any other plans? You seem to be pretty busy all the time, but do you have any other plans for the rest of your summer?
Not really. Just doing what I do, my different activities that I continue to do. We go all-year around on the Young and the Restless, we don’t have a hiatus. It’s not like night time shows where you’re off for the summer. This is the usual, really, which is a good thing.
Well, thank you very much for talking to us, Kate!
Oh, you’re welcome, I enjoyed it!
-Interview conducted by John Kubicek
(Image courtesy of CBS)