A Soapcity Special
Y&R's David Tom: "Daytime Has Done So Much for Me"

A young Emmy winner leaves the show that was truly a "family affair" for him.

Arriving in Genoa City in June 1999, the character of rich kid Billy Abbott, played by David Tom, made a huge impact. Y&R fans quickly took to his combination of good looks, intelligence and charm, and rode the roller coaster of Billy and Mac's love right along with the star-crossed teens. Hearts broke when Walnut Grove Academy's prom king and his faithful consort could not find a way together through their problems.

Months after the character of Mac was recast -- with newcomer Kelly Kruger replacing Ashley Bashioum -- the young couple finally reunited, but not for long. Soon afterwards, Billy decided it was time for him to get some "real-life experience" and off he went to build houses for the disadvantaged with Mac's father, Brock. Before Billy left town, I sat down with David Tom for a farewell interview. Together, we contemplated the last three-and-a-half wonderful years of his life.

SC Victoria: I interviewed you for the Y&R fan club newsletter a few months after you started on the show, and you were very excited about working with David Lago (Raul) and Ashley Bashioum.
David Tom: One of the best things I got from this experience was a sense of family. I looked forward to having scenes with David because it's always fun to work with your buddies. David and I became friends -- he's a cool guy and has a great head on his shoulders. He knows what he wants.

SC Victoria: I would imagine that would make it hard to leave!
David Tom: It was very hard to leave although everyone understood why. It's not that I want to leave; it's that I need to try some other things and see what is out there.

SC Victoria: You mentioned the word "family." It hasn't just been friends who have become like family; you also got a chance to work with your sister Heather [Tom, who plays Victoria] for several years although you never had any scenes together.
David Tom: Right, she might have been in the background of the coffee house when I was doing a scene -- but I don't think Billy and Victoria ever said "Hi!" I think we look too much alike when you actually put us together.

SC Victoria: What kind of support did Heather given you?
David Tom: At first she showed me the ropes. Daytime performance is different than what I was used to technically. Here we tape 30 scenes a day, way more that I what I was doing on other projects. I could always ask Heather what she thought of a scene and she would tell me straight up. Heather is a different breed. She loves her work, loves to act and is so grateful that she gets to work everyday at something she loves.

SC Victoria: What kinds of things are you looking forward to trying?
David Tom: Pretty much anything! Work is work -- I want to see what else is out there.

SC Victoria: The teen storyline was so powerful with two young people wanting different things. Do you feel good about the issues that story raised?
David Tom: Definitely. I was happy with the way things turned out. Working with Kelly [Kruger] has been very fun. Billy wanted something that Mac wasn't ready for and that kind of thing happens all the time in life.

SC Victoria: You have gotten some intense, very positive attention from our viewers. The character and the story were very exciting to our audience. How did it feel to get so much attention from people who had become so invested in Mac and Billy?
David Tom: It was nice to see the audience liked the character and what I brought to him. I am glad people could relate to him or understand him. Soap fans are the most loyal, true fans around.

SC Victoria: What kind of relationship have you enjoyed with the viewers?
David Tom: I am pretty approachable. I like hearing what fans have to say and what their opinions areĀ… because the fans are the most important part of our success. Without their support none of us would have jobs.

SC Victoria: Would you consider returning to daytime television in the future?
David Tom: Sure, but later -- down the road. Right now I want to see what my options are and what bridges I can cross. I am open for anything because I don't know what the future holds in store for me.

SC Victoria: Have there been any moments that really stood out to you, perhaps a scene or a moment with another performer that you'll look back on and cherish?
David Tom: I enjoyed working with Peter Bergman so much and Jess Walton -- I can't say enough cool things about her. One of my favorite people I've ever met is Jeanne Cooper. She is so extremely supportive and is full of so much information that I could listen to her for hours and never get bored. She is a fascinating woman. Jess was one of the first people I met on the show: I had my first scenes with her. She and I hit it off from the start. Her son, Cole, used to work on the show and he and I started to hang out. Now we are buddies, so even though I am not on the show anymore, I'll still see Jess when I hang out with him. Jess is a good-hearted woman. Peter, he helped me out through some hard times and he would talk to me, giving me great advice.

SC Victoria: What did you discover about yourself in the last three-and-a-half years?
David Tom: A lot. Before I got the show I was unemployed for over two years. My self-esteem was in the gutter. I saw myself at 21 and hated that I was borrowing money from my sister to pay rent. I weighed 200 pounds and finally, I turned myself around and decided, if this is really something I want to do, then I need to start acting like it. I lost about 55 pounds and I started going to acting class and then I booked Y&R. I think the show, at the very least, gave me a job, but at the most, it gave me the confidence that I could really do this. It hasn't just helped me, but my whole family. Heather has been on the show for 12 years. I'll never forget Y&R for that. Daytime has done so much for me.

SC Victoria: What meaning does your Emmy award have for you now? [FYI: David won in 2000 as Outstanding Younger Leading Actor.]
David Tom: The same as it did when I received it. It's incredibly cool that people decided to acknowledge my work. Receiving an Emmy was one of the coolest things in my career so far.

SC Victoria: And it happened early in your stint on Y&R.
David Tom: I had only been on the show for six months.

SC Victoria: Both you and Ashley [Bashioum] left the show at a time when your characters and story were very popular. Did you guys ever talk about what this next step in your careers would be like for the two of you?
David Tom: To tell the truth, it was a surprise to me to see her leave. For anybody, it's not an easy choice to leave, but you have to take risks in life and hopefully it will turn out well.

A few days after I completed this interview, I had a chance to speak with Ashley Bashioum about David's departure. She knows very well what it can be like to take a big chance and pursue something different in your life. (Fans may recall that Ashley left the show in late December 2001 to earn a college degree and pursue her dream of becoming a doctor.) This is what she had to say: "I think it's great David is branching out and trying something new. You have to take risks and although it can be scary, you have to figure out what you really want and go for it. It's always hard to leave a place that has become like family and David was on the show even longer than I was. Even though he and I haven't really talked about his decision, I know it must have involved a lot of thought and I wish him the best!"

By Victoria Curea

From Soapcity.com