Ask Alexandra – January 2016
1) I am watching re-runs of Baywatch and noticed in the show’s opening credits that you are always credited last. Was that something you negotiated, or did it occur by happenstance?
My credit on Baywatch my first season is “Alexandra Paul as Stephanie Holden” and comes up last in the opening sequence. This was negotiated, as all the other cast members simply have their real names come up, and no character name. My agent negotiated this because it is a better credit. Because I had already acted for 10 years before I was cast in Baywatch – and starred in movies opposite Tom Hanks, Jeff Bridges and Kevin Costner I got other perks: I was able to leave for 4 episodes each season to work on another project, something I did several seasons (the reason Stephanie Holden sailed around the world with a boyfriend was that Alexandra was shooting a movie with Pierce Brosnan called Detonator 2 Nightwatch.) My manager also insisted I wear the lieutenant’s dress uniform instead of a bathing suit, but after one episode I asked the producers to keep me in the red suit. Who wants to wear a skirt and heels when I could be barefoot in a bathing suit!
I was also fortunate to have input on the character of Stephanie Holden (I asked that she be assertive, because I wanted to work on a character that was less “girl next door” and more powerful than my previous roles), and even her name! Holden is the name of my high school math teacher, John Holden. He was athletic, passionate about his job and a tough teacher. I respected him immensely and thought having his name would inspire me to keep those traits in Stephanie. Yasmine Bleeth’s character was named after my real life sister, Caroline!
Note: the second season I was on Baywatch, every cast member’s opening credit included their character name, so they added an “and” before my credit (and changed the footage), which stayed last. The last full season I was on, my credit stayed the same but they changed the footage again.
That was a rather in depth answer to a simple question!
Thank you for writing in.
2) Hi Alexandra,
How much did you learn about the job of being a lifeguard and, rescue procedure on “Baywatch” ?
When I was a teenager, I worked as a junior lifeguard at a lake, so I was trained then to rescue swimmers. I also learned CPR and the Heimlich maneuver, two things we did a lot on Baywatch.
In 1989, I got certified as an Emergency Medical Technician because my twin who was a San Francisco firefighter at the time, thought it would be good knowledge to have. The course was rigorous and I got recertified every 2 years for over 2 decades, because I wanted to be able to help people if they got into trouble (I never put it to use… yet… although when I was 18 I did do the Heimlich Maneuver on someone choking and he swears I saved his life).
So that also helped me be a better lifeguard on Baywatch! We also had real lifeguards on the set, plus a medic, so they were always on the alert to make sure we look realistic (although I think it is hard to make CPR look realistic, and the fact that so many people we rescued got revived during CPR is not realistic at all).
I also love to swim, so that helped me in all the swimming sequences.
Thank you for your letter, Alex.