Chats with Former Young and the Restless Star Brenda Dickson! image

Brenda Dickson (Harry Langdon)

Brenda Dickson as Jill (B. Dickson)

Between the years of 1973 and 1987, actress Brenda Dickson molded The Young and the Restless's Jill Foster Abbott into one of the sultriest, and most notoriously villainous characters in Daytime television. Brenda has spent time away from acting since then, and recently had the pleasure of catching up with this remarkable woman, who after surviving some life challenges, not only has a book and a DVD coming out, but is ready to revitalize her acting career!

As readers may know, clips of Brenda Dickson's infamous 1980's era video, "Welcome To My Home," were posted on the Internet and quickly became a cult classic hit as viewers indulged in a fascinating "piece of pop culture." New York Magazine calls the film "must see." Brenda told me she thinks the interest in the video is "amazing," and that "glamour has come back." The fashion and décor styles in Brenda's video are 'hot' once again, as today's trends go retro, and the health and exercise advice Brenda gives in the video, then ahead of it's time, still works in 2009! The big news is that Brenda, in response to requests from her fans, is re-vamping and re-releasing the video on DVD for purchase on her official website, with an added portion that she says, "brings it up to 2009."

The other piece of big news Brenda shared with is that she has taken everything she has learned about make-up, health, diet, and fashion in the past 23 years, and put it in a new book! In it she outlines "the perfect diet," which, she jokes, "no one can stay on!" She assured me, though, that if readers have the knowledge in her book, they will always be able to get back where they belong. "If you don't have these building blocks of knowledge, you're sort of lost!" She is proud of the fact that the book focuses on a daily regime that can be done at home with minimal expense.

Although Brenda wouldn't give away the title of her book, which she expects to be out in a few months, she did elaborate, sharing that the "in-depth" book is partly autobiographical, touches on spiritual well being, provides many secrets and tips, and will boast fabulous photos featuring plenty of over-the-top fashions! Now that sounds good!

When pressed Brenda to give up her #1 health and beauty tip, she replied, "Your skin is one of the most important things that you have to take care of," warning that women's skin is more vulnerable to the adverse effects of things like smoking and drinking because women have smaller kidneys. So, while Brenda has no problem with enjoying a glass of wine with dinner, for example, she recommends maintaining a healthy diet and drinking adequate water to keep skin healthy and looking its best.

As far as Brenda's acting career goes, her chance at landing the plum role of Edie's (Nicolette Sheridan's) sister on "Desperate Housewives" was lost when series creator/producer, Marc Cherry, was unable to reach her. Brenda, incredibly, was incarcerated in Hawaii at the time! As a result of a dispute with her ex-husband, who is an attorney in Honolulu, Brenda confided that she was terribly mistreated, and consequently missed this excellent opportunity to re-ignite her acting career. However, Brenda is a resilient woman, and after hearing her story, one realizes that she has turned it all around. Not only is she fighting back legally, but she has also been helping other women who have written to her with similar stories. Details of Brenda's experience, including a stunning video, can be viewed on her personal website.

So, which way her acting career will go next is up in the air. Brenda says her fans have expressed an interest in seeing her pursue a 'villainess' type role in Primetime television. The actress notes that she would like to appear in a sci-fi series, or psychological thriller, as she is a big fan of those particular genres. She divulged that she is also considering doing her own talk show, which would focus on diet, exercise, and fashion - a 'lifestyle' type show.

Brenda also used to act in plays, and reviewers likened her to actress Vivien Leigh (Scarlett O'Hara, Gone With the Wind) in both her appearance and acting style. Anyone who has seen both actresses can attest to the similarities between these two classic vixens. Brenda names Vivien as her favorite actress of all time, and says she "identifies with her energy." wondered if Brenda would consider returning to the stage at this point. She said, "Of course," telling me that she absolutely loves the stage, and how you keep growing in the character.

Speaking of characters, I couldn't let Brenda go without asking about her role as Jill Foster Abbott on Y&R. She told me that she loved playing Jill, saying, "She was so much fun to do. When she got evil I absolutely had so much fun with her!" Brenda told she adored working with Terry Lester (then Jack Abbott), describing him as a "surprisingly interesting actor, who never really did his performance until he was actually being taped." She says this introduced an element of surprise to the work that she loved. Brenda also enjoyed working with Jeanne (Cooper, Katherine Chancellor), who was a lot of fun, and Don Diamont (then Brad Carlton), whom she describes as "so much fun to work with, and so beautiful to look at!"

Brenda still keeps in touch with Thom Bierdz (then Phillip Chancellor III), who sends her his art, and invites her to parties. She says he is a dear person whom she loved working with. She also fondly remembered working with Lauralee Bell, calling her "very sweet," Colby Chester (who played one of her love interests, Michael Crawford), Jerry Douglas (John Abbott), and Tricia Cast (Nina Webster). Brenda, who virtually grew up on the set of Y&R, and still has her fans from that time, says she hopes the show goes on forever. wishes Brenda all the best in her future ventures. Don't forget to take a peek at Brenda's official website, where the DVD of "Welcome To My Home" will soon be for sale, along with posters of the iconic actress - both retro and contemporary - taken by photographer Harry Langdon, with whom she has worked all of her life. readers, also watch this spot for updates on Brenda's book when it becomes available!

- Candace Young

Do you remember when Brenda played Jill on The Young and the Restless? What would you like to see the actress do next? Leave your thoughts below!