Un Cafe Interview
Date: February 2004
Un café: Hi, Alexandra. Welcome in our French café. Do you usually drink coffee?
Alexandra: No I don’t actually – I try to streamline my vices, so I go for lots of chocolate instead.
Un café : Alexandra, you’re famous in France especially for your Lt. Stephanie Holden’s character in the TV show “Baywatch”. How long have you been starring in this show ? How do you feel now about this period and this job?
Alexandra: I worked on Baywatch for 5 seasons, and it was a very special part of my life, and certainly my career. It is very unique being on the most-watched show in the world, not to mention that the entire cast was so wonderful and hardworking. No primadonnas, nobody taking our success for granted. David Hasselhoff said to me, “Alexandra, enjoy it while it lasts, because it isnt going to last forever”. He was right, and my memories of Baywatch are all wonderful.
Un café :You’ve been an actress for already 22 years and have played in numerous movies and TV films. In particular in “Christine”, adapted from Stephen King’s novel. How did it happen that later on you starred mostly for television shows ? Would you have preferred to work only for cinema?
Alexandra: In Hollywood, feature films are more respected than television, so yes, from a “power and respect” point of view, it would be nice to have a strong feature career. But I really, really enjoy making television, because I like the faster pace, and, in terms of a series, I like the continuity of going to work with the same people every day and getting into that rhythm. Also, for women, the roles are MUCH stronger in television than in film, where 99% of the time the only roles are the girlfriend or a minor character who has only a few scenes. Most movies (and this goes for French ones too, I will bet), have at least 8 decent roles for men, and, at most, two for women. Television is a wonderful medium too, as there are so many different types of shows, and different characters to play.
Un café : Baywatch’s success was worldwide and really large. Pamela Anderson and Yasmine Bleeth became superstars. In France, David Charvet is now a singer. And what about you ? How did you live the period after Baywatch? How are you now considered in the USA?
Alexandra: I have worked steadily in films and television. Since Baywatch, I have been in 23 movies and 2 more series, Melrose Place and Fire Co 132 (which I know played in France); I have hosted 2 sports shows and produced 2 environmental films that have each won several awards, Jampacked and The Cost of Cool.
I have gotten married to the most wonderful man in the world; raced more than 15 triathlons, including the Ironman in Hawaii, and run 3 marathons. I continue to protest the Bush administration and the debacle that is the “war on terror” and to register voters every week. People still recognize me from Baywatch every time I go out in the street, even after more than 7 years off the show!
Un café : Lt. Holden’s character was the only natural woman, pretty mature, in front of a team composed of young people whose bodies were modified by plastic surgery. You were not like the others, you were different . How did you feel in this team?
Alexandra: All my costars are beautiful women and wonderful people. We certainly have more in common than we do differences, but certainly physically I did not look like them. I have always liked my breasts, and so have my boyfriends, so I never saw a need to have plastic surgery.
Un café : The episodes of Baywatch often ended upon ecological morals. Bad characters polluted the beach and threatened the environment, whereas good people prevented all these attacks and allowed people to have a bath in a sane water. Did this TV show have a goal, a message that you wanted to transmit to the TV viewers?
Alexandra: I liked the fact that the women on Baywatch had the same job to do as the men, and that there were so many women’s roles in the show. I was always concerned that, for the years I was on, all the lifeguards were caucasian, as I wanted the show to be more racially mixed. The producers had many episodes that were about kids and the disabled, and I liked doing those shows a lot, but it was not an environmental show. It was about heroes- the lifeguards, so in that way it was about good vs evil.
Un café : I’ve discovered on your website that you are a real activist. You even had to spend last year 5 days in jail because you had shown your hostility to the war in Iraq ! Could you tell us this "adventure"?
Alexandra: Please refer to my website for this answer.
Un café : You quote Gandhi, Martin Luther King. In your own way, you fight against the big issues of this world, you try to find solutions, as for example by buying only what is necessary, in order to avoid overconsumption. Isn’t it a surprising side of your personality for a woman who’s part of the show-business and global entertainment?
Alexandra: I suppose people don’t expect an actress from Baywatch to be so heavily involved in political and social issues, because viewers often think we are dumb and superficial, but there are many people in Hollywood who care deeply about those kind of things. My personal morals (not buying a lot of things, not wearing leather, silk or wool, not buying from companies that test on animals, etc.) don’t make it easy to be a fashionista, that is for sure, so I am definitely not on anyone’s Most Glamorous or Best Dressed list!
Un café : You also talk about overpopulation and say that it should be enough to solve the problem if each couple only had a maximum of two children, so as to maintain the species but not to increase the number of inhabitants on the planet. Indeed, it was enough to think of it ! But every country’s strength comes from the growth of its population, don’t you think?
Alexandra: No, a country’s strength comes from the education and happiness of its people. It comes from everyone being able to find a job, breath clean air, have good medical care, safe roads etc. etc. A country whose population continues to grow will not be able to provide the quality of life essential to have a prosperous land. With an ever-growing population traffic becomes terrible, schools become overcrowded, the water and the air get dirtier. The most populous countries in the world are China, India the US and Indonesia. Besides the United States, do you consider those countries places you would want to live? Among the countries with the fastest growing populations are Nicaragua, the Ivory Coast, Cambodia and the United Arab Emirates. Are these countries with stability, desirable places to live? The transition from a growing population to a stable population can be a challenge economically, because at first there are not enough of the younger generation to pay for the needs of the older generation, but it is worth that short term sacrifice for the long term health of the country and the planet. Over 200,000 thousand people are ADDED to the planet every day. That is a number that is just too big to sustain, we cannot keep growing like that forever. In my lifetime, and I am 40 years old, the population of the world has more than DOUBLED. Twice as many people on the planet since I was born.
Un café : Don’t all these standpoints (viewpoints) attract you lots of problems, do they ? Do you succeed in mobilizing people around you?
Alexandra: I believe firmly in standing up for what I think, but I respect other people’s beliefs, even if I dont agree with them, and I treat everyone with kindness and respect. For the most part, I dont try and mobilize people – I simply do what I do and if others want to join me, that is great. If not, that is OK too.
Un café : Alexandra, what are your plans for the weeks and months to come? Personal and professional?
Alexandra: I have 2 movies airing on television and I will be doing publicity for them. I will continue to work to make sure George Bush doesnt get re-elected for another term, and that the unjust laws he has enacted like the Patriot Act are abolished. I am planning to swim a 6 mile race ocean race in November, so I will be training for that. I will continue to register voters, spend time with my husband, and count my blessings that I have the friends, family and good health that I do.
Un café : Alexandra Paul, thank you.