Over the many years she has played Lauren Fenmore Baldwin on The Young and the Restless, actress Tracey E. Bregman has been kidnapped, buried alive, drugged, stalked and arrested. She’s survived a plane crash, a yacht explosion and escaped from a building on fire. Lauren has often lived to regret falling in love, which may be why Tracey takes a cautious approach to romance in real life. “I don’t believe in love at first sight per se,” Tracey, 58, tells Closer with a laugh. “I am much too jaded for that. I do, however, believe in an instant connection.”
Soap fans have felt a connection with Tracey since she burst onto the small screen in 1978 playing troubled teenager Donna Temple Craig on Days of Our Lives. In 1985, she won a Daytime Emmy Award for Y&R’s Lauren, a role she still plays on the show today.
You were born into a showbiz family. Your dad, Buddy Bregman, was a well-known musical arranger and producer, and your mom is actress Suzanne Lloyd. Do you feel you were destined to act?
“Growing up in London, my mother was on The Saint with Roger Moore, and my father was the head of BBC specials. I was always on a set. But I also had a strong connection to animals from a very, very early age, so the first thing I wanted to be was a veterinary surgeon.”
What changed your mind?
“When I was 11 or 12, I was holding my dad’s script and thought it might be fun to try.”
What were your first jobs?
“My first job was as a Mattel toys hand model. I became the Apple Jacks [cereal] girl at 14. Right after that, I got Days of Our Lives. It was supposed to be three days, but it turned into almost three years.”
Your dad worked with a lot of music legends. Did you get to meet any of them?
“Yes. He worked with Sammy Davis Jr. and Ella Fitzgerald. He started Verve Records and was responsible for bringing Ella and Bing Crosby to Verve. I did not have a normal childhood, but I enjoyed it because I was an only child and I went everywhere.”
That’s so fun! Who else did you meet?
“I was known as the wanderer. I’d always go around the studio and make friends easily. When I was about 8 or 9 … there was this engineer who was working on an album and I really loved it. The next day I knocked on the [studio] door, and he said, ‘Oh, this is whose album you’ve been listening to.’ It was David Bowie.”
Wow, it’s remarkable you turned out so down-to-earth.
“There’s no reason to get a big head. I started working at 14 and have never stopped. It’s not very glamorous when you’re actually doing it. It’s hard and the hours are long, but it’s also wonderful.”
What has been your favorite acting job?
Was it hard to balance your career with motherhood?
“All I can say is thank God I did it when I was young because I don’t know how I did it! We were working very long hours then. I came home from work, and I was doing bath and bedtime and learning 20 to 40 pages of dialogue. I have to say, my children became very adaptable. I could take them anywhere. If they were tired, they’d curl up, put their head on my shoulder and go to sleep. The studio was so noisy that they learned to sleep through anything!”
Did either of your sons follow in your footsteps?
“My younger son [Landon] is an actor and musician. Austin used to do extra work when he was home from college. He went to business school. He is amazing in business.”
What kind of advice did you give your younger son?
“I have always said to everyone, make sure you have a plan B, because it’s a tough business. But I’ve seen how talented he is, so I am behind him 100 percent.”
What do you do when you’re not working?
“I have six horses — five of them are rescues — and a horse farm in Nashville. When I am there, if it’s not raining or snowing, I am on a horse. I also really enjoy my family and friends. Obviously, the last two years have curtailed a lot, but I love to see everybody.”
How do you stay in shape?
“I’m getting to an age where it’s a little bit of a fight to keep everything where it’s supposed to be. I started doing Pilates Reformer [exercises] when I was 24 years old, but now I work out with the Pilates Pro Chair Max. I lost 10 inches all over my body in the first 10 sessions. Now I am always on the chair. I have my 89-year-old mother doing it as well.”
What do you know now that you wished you knew when you were younger?
“[Laughs] I probably wouldn’t have covered up all the time. I would have been naked far more often! I tell my friends to wear the bikini and enjoy it now.”
Do you consider yourself a spiritual person?
“I’m very spiritual. I meditate and have my own practice and connection.”
You’re divorced. Can you see yourself getting married again?
“If I lose my mind! [Laughs] I would like to find a partner who I can have fun with and hopefully spend my life with, but I don’t know if I’d ever get married again. I just got out of a long relationship. It’s the first time I have been completely single in a long time. I need a moment.”
Are there any words of wisdom that you live by?
“Play to your strengths and know your audience — that’s what I say to my kids. And never give up.”