OLTLís Hillary B. Smith: Combining Her Career With A Happy Home Life

SOM 5/17/94 by Sheila Steinbach

Juggling the demands of a busy career against the needs of her family, OLTLís Hillary B. Smith has managed to make a success of both important areas of her life.

But it isn't easy, she admits in a SOAP OPERA MAGAZINE interview. "It's difficult being a working mother," says Hillary, who's been nominated for an Emmy as top daytime actress this year for her portrayal of NORA GANNON on the show.

"I think it's even difficult being just a mother, but when you add all those other things on, you want to make sure you're getting quality time with your children. Yet you don't want to sacrifice discipline or any of the other guidelines you need to give your children.

Happily married for more than a decade to real estate broker Phillip "Nip" Smith, Hillary is mom to 8-year-old Courtney and little Phillip, nicknamed "Phips," who's almost 6.

Although both Hillary and her husband are pressed for time during the workweek because of the their successful careers, weekends are family time for the Smiths.

"I cherish my days with my family," says the actress. "Mornings are always spent being together for breakfast, before everyone goes off to do whatever they have to do.

"My husband coaches hockey and my son is on the team, and my daughter has skating lessons. Nip and I take turns going out and enjoying our own sports activities. He plays tennis and I play paddleball.

"And we do a lot of other things with the kids. In the evenings we often rent a movie for the kids and stay home with them and just hang out."

Surprisingly, Hillary and Nip were teenage sweethearts. Hillary was born in Boston, but at age 14 her family moved to Palm Beach, FL. During a vacation from boarding school, she met Nip, who was then 15 and visiting a friend in Palm Beach.

The two fell madly in love and saw each other on vacations after that. But eventually they drifted apart and didn't see each other again until years later. When they did reunite, it was for keeps, and they got married the following year, in 1983.

Even as a child, Hillary says, she wanted to be an actress. What kind of child was she? "Precocious, but fun. If you ask my older sisters, they'll probably say I was adorable, loving, fun and wonderful," she says with a smile. "Actually, my nickname was the brat!'"

During her college years at Pine Manor College and Sarah Lawrence, Hillary combined her drama courses with her interest in science, specifically, genetics.

"I was always very interested in science and genetics, but I knew I was never going to make a career out of it. I didn't have the patience or discipline to do it."

But Hillary did have the discipline, and determination to follow her dream, of becoming an actress. Before she even graduated, she was performing in the off-Broadway play Song Night in the City, and as soon as that run ended she was auditioning for new roles.

After other roles on Broadway and off, Hillary made her first venture into daytime as KIT McCORMICK in the defunct soap THE DOCTORS in 1982.

After getting married the following year, Hillary joined the cast of ATWT in the role of MARGO HUGHES and remained on that show five years. During that time, Courtney was born. When her second child Phips was due, she left ATWT to spend time with her family.

Eventually, she returned to the show - bringing her son with her to play the role of her onscreen baby ADAM. "I missed out on so much with my daughter, the only way I would go back was if Phips came with me,Ē Hillary explained.

After leaving ATWT in 1989, Hillary appeared in several plays and the TV pilot for Driving Miss Daisy. Then in September she joined OLTL to create the character Nora. Sheís turned in such riveting performances in that role that she's now up for an Emmy. And Hillary loves the part.

"It would take a very unique part to make me want to leave Nora, because sheís a character that doesnít come along often," she says. "But the one thing Iíve learned is I never say never.Ē- Sheila Steinbach

(Soap Opera Magazine May 17, 1994)