Kate Linder
The Young and the Restless star Kate Linder (Photo credit: CharlesBush.com)

Kate Linder has starred on The Young and the Restless for over 30 years, appearing as Esther Valentine, maid and confidant to Katherine Chancellor (Jeanne Cooper). “I was just supposed to be there for one day. It’s just so hard to believe! I remember my first line because that’s something my family never hears at home, “Mrs. Chancellor, dinner is served.” Linder was recently in Toronto to “OpportuniTEAs for Independence,” a high tea on December 2 at the Royal York hotel to benefit March of Dimes Canada, which provides services to people with disabilities, their families and caregivers.

Linder, who is also celebrity spokesperson for the ALS association in the U.S., feels very fortunate to be doing what she loves to do. “It’s just a no-brainer for me. I have to give back. I have no choice. We’ve done this tea before in Vancouver. This will be the 15th or 16th tea that we’ve done. I met the people for March of Dimes Canada and they love what we do. What I like about March of Dimes is that they’ve been around for 60 years. Y&R has been around for 40 and I’ve been on it for 30. We have a lot of years behind us and with all those years, we can really put together something good. March of Dimes helps the old, young, rich, poor – everyone. They have a children’s’ program that I was able to see today and it’s unbelievable at what they accomplish. I know the money raised is going to a good cause. I really love that the money goes to the programs and not the staff. I’m really careful about that. We want to make sure that it gets to the programs,” says Linder at the March of Dimes Canada’s Toronto office, a couple of days prior to her event. The $80 tickets were sold out within three days after promotional spots aired during Global TV’s afternoon broadcasts of the number one-rated soap. The organization and Linder were already keen on discussing plans for next year’s event due to popular demand, in addition to other parts of the country, “we’re definitely trying to go to other parts of Canada, it’s just a matter of working it all out, the logistics and everything.”

Joining Linder for the event are some of her co-stars: Christian LeBlanc (Michael Baldwin), Tracey E. Bregman (Lauren Fenmore Baldwin), Jeff Branson (Ronan Malloy) and Elizabeth Hendrickson, who plays Linder’s on-screen daughter, Chloe. “They’re great. I don’t think people realize that they are not paid. A lot of these people can make a lot of money by doing personal appearances on the weekends, but these people donate their time and energy to come and help. I’m so grateful to them all. The cast members were also joined by Global Toronto’s news anchor, Leslie Roberts and featured a performance by Canadian guitar legend Liona Boyd. A number of items were auctioned off, including makeovers done by Y&R’s Emmy award-winning hair and makeup team, wardrobe pieces, autographed scripts, as well as a tour of the set in Los Angeles, which included air fare and accommodation.

Linder was able to share some of her favourite moments from the show: “Giving birth in the middle of the storm to my daughter Chloe (aka Kate)!” When Hendrickson stepped into the role in 2008, Linder admits that it was after years of fans writing to her and asking where her TV daughter was and she would in-turn ask the producers. “And then one day, they came and said to me: ‘Okay, you can’t tell anybody but your daughter is coming.’ My daughter was already a character there at that point, but none of us knew. I think it’s great because people say we resemble each other. Elizabeth’s terrific! [The reveal] was on a Friday where Chloe comes in [to the Chancellor mansion] and I’m carrying this tray of champagne and then I drop it! We did that in one take. ‘Kate!’ I yelled. She changed her name because she was embarrassed that her mother was the maid…that hasn’t changed! I was so happy when they decided to do that. She’s a fabulous actress and I enjoy working with her. Of course, I also love working with Jess Walton (Jill Abbott) and Jeanne Cooper – to have worked with her for over 30 years is amazing! She’s actually the one who named my character. In the very beginning, the scripts just had “Maid” on them. And then one day, we were saying the lines like we were supposed to and then started calling me “Esther,” and fortunately, I responded! Other characters started calling me that and then the writers started writing it [into the scripts]. Later, Bill Bell, who was my boss and the creator of the show, held a national contest for my character’s last name. One of names that came in was Valentine, I think “Valentine” really fit her and not only that, I was married on Valentine’s Day in real life, and so that’s my anniversary. I thought that would be good luck and it was! 30 years! I’m so fortunate, thrilled and happy to be part of the show.” One storyline Linder would love see is Esther finally finding true love, after a number of failed relationships with conmen who are only after the Chancellor fortune.

The Young and the Restless is currently transitioning into a new creative phase with the return of Josh Griffith as head writer, along with soap vet Jill Farren Phelps (Another World, General Hospital) serving as executive producer.  Despite behind-the-scenes changes, Linder is happy to report that she’s not going anywhere, having recently signed a new contract with the soap. Linder is also adamant that Y&R is here to stay despite some dark few years for the soap industry, “The Young and the Restless is the number one show for so many reasons and it’s going to stay that way. We’re not going anywhere.” Linder also insists that fans will always have a voice, “If they want to see their characters, they need to write in on CBS.com. If they get enough of that, they’ll listen. I think the show is strong and wonderful. Jill is working very hard to continue Y&R. The Bell family is also incredible. It is unbelievable what the writers accomplish, and what they do day in and day out. One thing about Josh too is that he knows the characters because he’s been here before and that’s a good thing. I think that everybody wants the same thing and that’s for Y&R to be strong and continue to grow. It think it’s all good. It’s all going to be good!”

As for Y&R’s upcoming 40th anniversary next March, Linder teases that the writers are probably working on that now. “I know we’re taking a new cast photo on December 10. We haven’t taken one in a long time, so I’m really excited about that. It’s going to be nice.”

The soap actress also recently starred Hysteria, the Maggie Gyllenhaal film which premiered at the Toronto International Film Festival last year: “It was a small role, but it was neat because I got to play with Hugh Dancy. The film’s wonderful and it’s about the accidental invention of the vibrator.” Fans can also keep an eye out for Linder in the upcoming Aaron Eckhart flick, The Expatriate. As if working being an actress and giving back wasn’t enough, Linder is also a flight attending for United Airlines, leaving everyone to wonder how she manages to pull everything off: “It’s kind of crazy. It’s like that saying, ‘When you want something done, ask the busiest person you know.’ I just keep going and somehow things get done! As long as I can do everything well, then I will continue to keep doing that. The Young and the Restless is definitely a priority for me and I’m so grateful to them because they have afforded me the opportunity to give back and I think that’s fabulous!”

The Young and the Restless airs weekdays on CBS and Global. Canadian fans can also keep up to date with Y&R on GlobalTV.com and through On Demand and mobile devices. For more information about Kate Linder and the cause she supports, please visit KateLinder.com.