Actress KIMBERLIN BROWN, known for playing one of daytime television’s most historic villains, has added interior design and a decades-long partnership with American Airlines to her diverse résumé.
Mention Sheila Carter, and fans of The Young and the Restless and The Bold and the Beautiful think of a murderous, baby-switching psycho who wreaked havoc across two soap operas for more than 15 years. Mention Kimberlin Brown, the actress who played Sheila on and off from 1990 to 2006, and regular attendees of American Airlines’ annual Celebrity Golf & Tennis and Celebrity Ski events think of one of the most devoted and caring people around. Brown, a fixture at American’s charity weekends, recently showed the world a third facet of her life via Dramatic Designs, a new online show that premiered in October 2013 on The Design Network. The multitalented woman sat down with American Way to talk design, dastardly daytime deeds and dedicating herself to worthy causes.
American Way: How did you get involved with American’s charity events?
Kimberlin Brown: I was on The Young and the Restless, and the storyline was so popular that I started getting calls to show up at events. I’ve been playing in Celebrity Golf [benefiting Susan G. Komen] for going on 20 years, and after the first year, they found out I could ski, so I was invited to Celebrity Ski, a phenomenal event for cystic fibrosis. My association with American Airlines is deeper than the charities. It’s about the people and what they do to raise awareness and funds.
AW: What is fan interaction like at the events?
KB: You meet people, and yes, they’re fans, but it’s not like a regular fan event; it’s people who have come together for a common goal. I’ve met people at Celebrity Golf and Celebrity Ski who I look forward to seeing every year. Everybody is so friendly, and with all the years I’ve been doing fan events, it’s not always like that. The American Airlines celebrity events do it right. We have a lot of fun.
Go to aaevents.com to sign up for AMERICAN AIRLINES CELEBRITY SKI, benefiting the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, an American Airlines Kids in Need organization.
AW: How did you get into interior design?
KB: I was always fascinated at how fast the design department [on the soaps] could turn around a set. Most actors would be in their dressing rooms, and I’d be watching them build sets and looking at their designs. When I was still at The Bold and the Beautiful, I was going to design school. I started landing jobs while I was still enrolled. I graduated with my design certificate.
AW: What is the premise of Dramatic Designs?
KB: For my first season, it’s [designing a property in] Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, start to finish. Season 2 [premiering Jan. 15] will be a hair salon in a historic building in San Diego — industrial chic. I had to redo every piece of electric; every piece of plumbing; the floors, built in the early 1800s … I had some challenges.
AW: Describe your design principles and your personal style.
KB: Listen to your clients and give them what they want. I fix so many jobs that other designers have done because they don’t give the client what they want; they do what they think the client should have. My style’s very warm. I like to put my feet up on everything. I don’t want a piece of furniture I can’t touch or that other people are worried about putting a drink on. I don’t want to live in a museum.
AW: Did you ever anticipate that you would end up playing one of the most infamous characters in the history of soap operas?
KB: I never did because I had screen-tested for a different role before I got the part of Sheila. The one note that I got: “Think Kathy Bates in Misery.” There’s no wrong interpretation with crazy. You can do whatever you want. A three-month part turned into 15 years or more. It was legendary. All the show has to do is mention Sheila or show a picture, and people go nuts — and the ratings show it. I had a great time playing Sheila. I would do daytime [TV] again in a heartbeat.
AW: What has been most moving about your involvement in American Airlines’ charity events?
KB: When I started raising funds for cystic fibrosis, the average life span, I believe, was 15 or 16. When I started [with] the event, Libby and Sam and Piper were children, and they were only going to be children. [Editor’s note: The three women were profiled in American Way’s Sept. 15, 2011, issue.] Now they’re married, having babies, in their 30s, and they were never supposed to get there. Every year the life expectancy goes up, and that’s because of the money that [American helps] raise. To think that I may have in some small way been a part of that … you can’t bring words to that.
Go to www.thedesignnetwork.com to see both the first and second seasons of Dramatic Designs. Season 2 premieres Jan. 15.