Does It Better!
Soap Opera Stars Magazine, July 1987
by Jeffrey Pearlstein
Article Provided By Wanda
After striking out three times, even Ryan's Hope knows there's only one Delia - and her name is Ilene Kristen!
She's back! After a long absence away from Ryan's Hope, Ilene Kristen returns to active duty in the role that she originated, the delightfully devious, much married Delia! "It just seemed like the right time when the producers called me and said, 'we want you back because we know what you can do and we want you to do it,'" she boasts proudly.
Due to health problems a few years back, Ilene was fired and three other actresses stepped in to portray Delia, albeit unsucessfully. "It was a terrible slap in the face," she says, slightly angered at being replaced. "If I were a certain kind of person, I would have been offended and devasted by it, but I thought it was the stupidest thing they ever could have done," she says of the producers trying to recast Delia. "There are certain times a person creates a role and it's just best if you leave it alone and just let that person either do it or not do it. It was obvious that the audience didn't want to accept anyone else playing Delia."
Ilene feels glad to be back especially with the storyline her character is involved in. "I think it's outrageous," she laughs. "The fact that my son has aged ten years overnight is pretty interesting. It also makes me the youngest grandmother on TV, but it's a challenge. If they're crazy enough to write a storyline like this, I'm crazy enough to do it."
There was a little problem but Ilene managed to solve that with a laugh. "My scenes with Jason (Johnny) Adams are funny because everytime he calls me 'mom' I just crack up. Trying to approach him as a mother is a little hard," she reveals. "I really don't have that kind of maternal instincts, although Delia doesn't know that much about motherhood, so it really doesn't matter," she shrugs.
During the three years she was away from Ryan's Hope, Ilene has always managed to keep herself busy. Besides a nine month run in the play Mayor, she also released her first record. "It's a twelve inch single form Colony Records, called Give Away," she states proudly of her accomplishments.
At times the pace of putting together a daily show is hectic, and every so often, Ilene wishes she had chosen another career. "I should have gone to Greece and become a goat-herder," she laughs, not being serious in the least. Once she regained her composure, she did offer this bit of insight to those who wish to enter this business. " Every once in awhile," she ponders, "there's got to be an easier life, and there is, but not the life that I'm leading. I'm doing what I'm supposed to be doing, and actually sometimes the busier I am, the better I feel both physically and mentally. I guess show business is my life," she laughs at the cliche.
With her return to Ryan's Hope, she did, however, have to make a few adjustments. "The facilities at the new studio are much better." she explains. "I really have a place to put msyelf, and I'm much happier and more relaxed this time around." But a new studio wasn't all she had to conyend with. Looking around Ilene noticed that some of the faces have changed. "I've been gone myself for three years, so I've had no problem. Everybody is wonderful. I know the rhythms of working with Nancy, Ron, Helen and Bernie very well. With some of the newer people, I didn't, but then my rhythms are so off the wall that some people at first may have a hard time working with me because I have to go so fast," she reveals. One aspect that did make matters a bit easier was that many of the younger actors didn't work with the other women playing Delia, "so it's not like they have to get used to me, it's just getting used to Delia."
Explaining the differences between herself and Delia, Ilene notes, "She is different than me. I'm much more laid back than Delia, but I do admire her," she says. "Delia somehow always gets what she needs and sometimes I think I don't. I see what I need, but I don't want to ever connive anyone like Delia does. She's a pretty smart girl. I think she's smarter than Ilene," she laughs.
At this point in her life, Ilene Kristen is feeling an air of exhilaration and is looking forward to the challenges that lie ahead. When she rejoined Ryan's Hope she signed a two year contract, not knowing what kind of trouble lurks ahead for Delia. What Ilene does know for sure is that feelng of accomplishment when people on the street approach her and say, "You're the real Delia!"