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Q & A with Patrika Darbo, 04.11.02 ...

Patrika Darbo (Nancy) knows that big is beautiful, and she's letting the rest of the world in on her secret. The sexy, curvaceous Days of Our Lives diva has written a sassy book, 365 Glorious Nights of Love and Romance, which encourages women to embrace themselves and their strengths — at any size.

Aside from her foray into the publishing world, this gorgeous gal is gearing up for an intense storyline that mixes a real-life cause into Salem's fictional batter. Partnering with Mrs. Fields Cookies, the show will help sponsor the company's annual cookie competition. The winner earns a Days walk-on role; a percentage of the proceeds from the newly launched cookie will benefit the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society. TV Guide Online caught up with daytime's most robust and outspoken gal to get the dish on her new book and the positives of plus-size living, and to get the scoop on her favorite frozen indulgence. — Delaina Dixon

Why did you decide to write this book?

Here I am, the busy mogul! I would have probably never decided to write it on my own, but Lorraine Zenka, who wrote the book with me, said, "Patrika, you have so many things to share, why don't you do it?" I said, "Okay, as long as you're with me. You have the writing experience; I just love to talk!" (Chuckles) So we just put it down. It's 365 days of love and romance, but it's primarily about how I got to where I am, and that I don't take "No" for an answer. If you tell me "No," I'm going to find a reason to make it a "Yes." This is to tell other people to do the same thing: Don't stay at home waiting to lose 10 pounds — we know how that 10 pounds isn't coming off tomorrow!

How is the book set up?

There are chapters with different things to do. There is a little section of things to do for the holidays, like have a slap and tickle with your husband. I had one woman who paid me the nicest compliment. She said, "Patrika, this book doesn't apply just to overweight women. I was the young, thin kid who couldn't play football. I was into music, and I wish that someone had given this to me. I would have had a better childhood." It's about having a good time.

So your words touch readers of all sizes?

Yes. One of the stories I didn't put in there is of a young girl in Texas who was overweight and spent her freshman year of high school at home. She didn't join [extracurricular activities]; she didn't do anything because she didn't like being called names. And when she saw me on TV when I first joined Days, she thought, "Well, if that big woman can do it..." And she went on to get the trophy for the school's speech team — the first in 20 years.

What's the one chapter that is a must-read?

That would be hard to say. Everyone is going to find something different in each chapter. I really can't pick a favorite. If I pick one, someone's going to say, "No, this is my favorite," and I'd say, "Oh yeah, that was good, too." So I'll be indecisive about this. The whole book, it's just exciting that I got to do it.

How did you research the playful advice you impart to readers?

I've been married for 28 years. Just the other day while I was out, someone said, "Those two kids over there are entwined like pretzels!" And I said, "My husband and I are still entwined, and we have been married a long time." We'll be in an aisle at the grocery store, and I'll grab his butt. People will be looking at us, but I don't care. Life is too short not to have a good time.

What advice do you give to women who are so conscientious of their size?

So you're not a size two? Should you stay in the closet? Or if you're single, should you stay at home? I tell my pals who are looking for a husband that the white knight isn't going to come riding down the street. You have to go find him, learn to live without or take a look at the little guy that's holding his horse and loves you so much but is terrified to say anything. We're all looking for the perfect person or trying to be the perfect weight, but we're not perfect.

There was a great scene on Days where you discussed your size with plus-sized high school student Susan.

We come into people's lives every single day, and we impact them on a real-life level. I will pit my health against any size two. I don't sniff something or shoot something into my body; I don't throw up, use laxatives or do any of those things other women do to keep their body a perfect size. I walk every day. Health is not just your body size; it's what's going on inside as well. If you're healthy on the inside, you can be this big beautiful goddess if you want to be. And let me tell you, it takes a lot to maintain my size, honey. It's just not an easy thing. I do have my own personal demon — Häagen-Dazs. When my boobs come up and choke me, it's time for me to restrict a few of those Häagen-Dazs moments!

How long did it take to put the book together?

It took a little over a year to complete. It will be officially out on April 30, though it's pre-selling on

Days has partnered with Mrs. Fields Cookies and the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society...

Which is amazing! This is the first time Mrs. Fields has been associated with a show like Days. Our matriarch on the show, Alice, has always been known for her donuts and now her cookies. There's going to be a little bit of testiness going on between her and Nancy, and that will be humorous. I think [this storyline] will bring this disease to light and Mrs. Fields's role in it. It's a nice little partnership.

All My Children recently struck a deal to make Revlon, a real cosmetics company, the newest AMC character. Do you think this will be a new trend in the daytime industry?

The businesswoman side of me thinks it's a fabulous marketing idea. Nancy could join Weight Watchers. The exposure Nancy could bring to Weight Watchers versus Fergie would be incredible. (Chuckles)

You just shot an episode of the Gilmore Girls?

It's a fun show, very well written. There's a character on there called Sookie, a rotund redhead. I said that I would like to come back on as her mother, sister, brother or whatever. (Chuckles) She's the chef at the inn. She has a boyfriend, they don't address her weight, and it's nice to see that. I offered to pay for the part. That's how much I wanted to be there. It's just a charming little show.

It seems that our society is finally starting to recognize the full-figured woman.

There aren't a lot of my size people [on daytime], but when you go anywhere, size 14 and up are the first sizes to go. Vogue magazine is now coming out with a full-figured spread. Hello! [Our image] needs to be there.

You're planning a trip to New York next month?

Yes, I'm going to be on the Today show on May 2. Then I'll be doing a big book show on May 4 and 5.

There's a singer, Gina Piazza-Hodes, here in New York who looks just like you.

Really! Then we'll have to set up a little déjà-vu-zy thing. Honey, I love meeting another goddess. This will be fabulous!
Credit: TV Guide Online

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