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McKenzie stars as "Sheridan Crane-Lopez-Fitzgerald" on NBC's soap opera "Passions". Westmore was the third child born to Michael Westmore and Marion Westmore on April 26, 1977 in Van Nuys California. Her first feature film appearance was at the age of three when she played Robert De Niro's daughter in the Oscar-winning moving Raging Bull (1980). Despite her spot in Hollywood, McKenzie became a shy child and her parents entered her into acting and singing classes to bring her out of her shell, including theater classes at the Lee Strasberg Theatre Institute and the Uta Hagen Master Class. When her parents heard her humming the theme to "Star Trek" (1966), they started her in opera training. Her appearances on stage include "Dido and Aneas", "The Sound of Music" and "Little Shop of Horrors". McKenzie had small parts in film and screen as well, including Star Trek: Insurrection (1998), "Star Trek: Voyager" (1995), "Weird Science" (1994), "Star Trek: The Next Generation" (1987) and NBC's "Days of Our Lives" (1965). Most recently, she filmed a guest appearance on NBC's hit comedy "Friends" (1994). Besides acting, McKenzie is a trained equestrian and personal trainer! Her big break came in 1999 when she tried out for the role of Gwen Hotchkiss on "Passions" (1999). The studio thought she would be better for Sheridan and asked her to come back dressed "more sexy". With her mother's assistance, McKenzie bought a new dress and returned. On her birthday, she blew out the candles and asked to get the part (she was due to leave for the Chicago Concervatory the following week.) Two days later, she received the call to pack her bags; she was leaving for Paris where she would begin filming as Sheridan Crane, and that's where she is today. McKenzie recently met the love of her live, Keith Volopone AKA Seven of the band "Seven and the Sun", on the set of "Passions" (1999) where he was filming the 2002 summer theme song. She said it was love at first sight and, on May 25, 2002, the duo were married in Las Vegas.
McKenzie Westmore: West Is More
Born Into a Hollywood Family, McKenzie Westmore is PASSION-ate About Making a Name for Herself. Most actresses would be nervous wrecks about making their movie debut alongside the likes of Robert DeNiro. Not McKenzie Westmore (Sheridan, PASSIONS). Then again, she was only 3½. At the time, her father, Emmy- and Academy Award winning makeup artist Michael Westmore, was preparing for work on Raging Bull.
"Robert DeNiro would come into the house and sit down and play with me and my toys," smiles Westmore. "He became like a second father to me. We had such a close relationship that he eventually approached my parents and said, 'Can she please play my daughter [in the film]? I have a great rapport with her.'" The rest is history.
Recently, the actress ran into two-time Oscar-winner DeNiro while visiting her father on the Paramount lot. "My dad said, 'Do you remember McKenzie?' And he was like, 'Oh, my gosh, I remember you when you were this high!'" Westmore laughs. "He was so sweet. He was thrilled about me working with PASSIONS."
But not half as excited as she is. "It's better and more than I expected," Westmore enthuses. "It's so nice getting to come in from the very beginning. I like Sheridan's zest for life. She just goes after everything full-throttle and doesn't give up."
Ironically, a wardrobe glitch nearly cost Westmore the job. After initially going in to read for the role of Gwen, Westmore was brought back for the part of Sheridan. The actress had made it to the last round when she got a call saying the producers didn't like the dress that she had worn. "They wanted to show me in the best light possible, and they felt the dress was too matronly. For Sheridan, they really wanted something sexy and bombshell-ish."
With one day to find a frock that would knock everyone's socks off, Westmore enlisted the help of her mother, a former film costume model, and hit every story in town. "We ended up in one of those little teeny-bopper stores and found this great red dress," she recalls. Seems the dress (and Westmore in it) did the trick. "I had my birthday wish that I'd get the part of Sheridan," she remembers. "And the next day, I found out. That was on a Tuesday, and that Sunday, I had to leave for Paris."
A whirlwind? Indeed. And if growing up in Hollywood helps Westmore relate to her alter ego's glamorous, fast-paced life, the actress, whose older brother is an editor and older sister is a business manager, can't relate one whit to Sheridan's unhappy upbringing. "I really had a great childhood, and it's all because of my parents," Westmore beams. "My parents were always there for me. I loved it because after school, my dad or my mom would take me over to Paramount Studios, and I would spend my afternoons there. I would do my homework in the makeup trailer or on a STAR TREK set." (Her father has worked on the TV series and the films).
These days, Westmore spends her afternoons working – and occasionally reading letters from admirers. "It's strange to get fan mail from the little girls saying they want to be like me," she says with a grin. "I get a lot of heart-warming letters." Westmore pauses before adding, "And then there are also those from, like, older men … I think I'll leave those alone.
Facts About McKezie Westmore:
Birthday: April 26
Birth Place: Los Angeles, CA
Former Soap Experience: DAYS OF OUR LIVES, where she had a one-day gig as Bible-study group member.
Boyfriend 411: Scott, a former body-builder and sometime personal trainer.
Hear Me Sing: "I would love it if PASSIONS could incorporate my singing because I've trained in opera for 10 years."
Sweet Treats: "When I have a cheat day, I love SnackWell's cookies. Or 31 Flavors Maui Madness [ice cream] on a sugar cone."
Tube Turn-On: "Even though it is my dad's show, I really love STAR TREK. I love ALLY McBEAL. And WILL & GRACE is probably my No. 1 favorite."
Getting To Know McKenzie Westmore
tylish and romantic – and a chocoholic, too? PASSIONS Sheridan shares more than a few traits with McKenzie Westmore, who expounds on her love of the sweet treat and her taste for real-life romance.
Margarita or Martini? There's nothing better than a strawberry margarita at Chevy's [in L.A.].
Beach or Mountains? Beach because of Rollerblading. And with the sun setting on the water, it can be very romantic.
Candy or Flowers? I have to go with flowers. I love flowers, any kind.
Money or Warhol? Money because of the colors.
Calvin Klein or Ralph Lauren? Everything in my closet is pretty much Calvin Klein. His clothes just fit me perfectly.
Making Dinner or Making Reservations? Making reservations. I'm not much of a cook.
Book or Movie? It's a tossup, but movie. I'm more of a visual person. I like to be able to see what's going on.
CD or Vinyl? CD. I like the sound better. It's just crisper.
Chocolate or Vanilla? Chocolate. It's my favorite and always has been. My dad used to take me to a chocolate convention when I was growing up, and for two days straight, all you did was eat chocolate.
Rain or Snow? Rain. There's nothing more romantic than being next to the fireplace hearing the rain on the roof.
Gel or Mousse? Gel. I rarely use mousse. If I'm going to slick my hair back, I use gel.
Bath or Shower? I always take a shower, but I prefer a bath because it's very soothing and relaxing.
Boxers or Briefs? Boxers. I've never been a briefs fan.
Dog or Cat?
Matt Damon or Ben Afflect? Matt Damon. There seems to be more of the masculinity thing going on with him.
On THE VIEW: Meredith, Barbara, Joy, Star or Lisa? I love Star. She just cracks me up.
Sunrise or Sunset? Sunset. Again, it's the romantic thing.
The Princess of Harmony Gives a Little Insight into her Life
Recent fad I admit to trying: Yoga
Favorite actor: Anthony Hopkins
Favorite actress: Sharon Stone
Favorite movie: The Sixth Sense
Greatest fears: The dark, and heights
Favorite TV show: Will & Grace
Favorite Musicians: Michael Crawford, U2, Prodigy and Korn
Film or theatrical role of the opposite sex I would most want to play: The Phantom in Phantom of the Opera
If I could only keep one household appliance, it would be: My blender
Something you'd be surprised to know about me: I can do gymnastics on horseback
Currently reading: Men are from Mars, Women are from Venus, by John Gray
Favorite book: Jurassic Park, by Michael Crichton
Favorite foods: Vogel bread and Hershey's low-fat wafers
Least favorite food: Liver and onions
Favorite comfort food: Ice cream or chocolate
Favorite songs: Anything from Les Miserables or The Phanton of the Opera
Favorite items of clothing: Sweats
Nobody knows I can: Bench press 25-pound dumbbells for three sets of 20
Greatest achievement: Getting my job on Passions
I can imitate: My cat, Mickey, howling
If I couldn't be an actor, I'd be: A veterinarian
Causes I most believe in: Helping abused women and disabled children
If I had one wish: People would be more understanding and less judgmental
Most treasured possession: My cat
First thing I do when I wake up in the morning: Kiss Mickey
Last thing I do before I go to bed: Give my parents a goodnight kiss
Most embarrassing moment: When I was little, my older brother and sister caught me checking out myself naked in the mirror.
Best quality: Caring about other people
Worst quality: I'm stubborn
Biggest regret: Not going blond sooner
Something that makes me see red: Whenever I see an animal or a child being hurt
If I could live anywhere, it'd be: Santa Barbara, California
Celebrity I'm most often mistaken for: Sharon Stone or Meg Ryan
What I dislike most about my appearance: My big feet
Smartest thing I ever did: Listen to my parents' advice
Greatest love: Musical theater
Qualities I like most in a mate: Honesty, loyalty, love and caring
My hero: My dad
My epitaph: I didn't do it; it wasn't my fault.
Catching Up with McKenzie Westmore
'Passions' Online recently dished with McKenzie about her guest spot on 'Friends,' being buried alive, and chatting online with fans. Oh, and you just might find out what it's like doing those steamy love scenes with sexy Galen Gering!
Luis and Sheridan are finally happy! Are you enjoying playing the happiness and romance between them?
It's so much fun! It's nice to have a little bit of a change and play this, although I do miss some of the bickering and some of the fights. Those are always fun to play. But I definitely love the romance. It's like a fairy tale.
Were you happy that Luis and Sheridan finally made love?
Yes! It was definitely time. We all waited long enough.
What was it like to do all those love scenes?
Oh, it was such hard work…yeah right! It was funny though, because it really was hours of doing these scenes one after the other. And after I while, it was like, "Okay, can we put some clothes on now?" It's funny because it's not what people would think-it's not romantic in any way. Everybody is standing around and the director is coming out between scenes or is sitting there at the edge of the bed telling us what to do. It's really not all that romantic! Thank God Galen and I have so much fun together. We laugh a lot and that's what gets us through it.
What do you think accounts for the great chemistry between you and Galen?
I think it has a lot to do with us having so much fun together. Neither one of us takes things too seriously. We really enjoy each other's company and we're always laughing. We have the same sense of humor so that helps a lot. In between takes, we both find the same things humorous and poke fun at that. We just get along so well and that's what we bring into our characters.
What would you like to see happen to Sheridan next?
I would like to see some of the adventures come back. I love the recent stuff with going into the vault and trying to find the diaries. I love that stuff. That's what's been so enjoyable about Sheridan and Luis-their adventures. They were always in some kind of trouble, or she was in trouble and he was getting her out of it. They're like the dynamic duo.
What have been some of your favorite scenes to play since you've been on the show?
Of course when they sent me to Paris-I loved that! The first tango, the mud slide, all the stuff when we were in Paris running from the drug dealers-flying through the window, hiding in the vents. Those were some of my favorites. Some of the stuff we just recently taped was so off-the wall and so funny. It doesn't get crazier than that, so everyone will just have to tune in. That's what's so special about this show…there are no limits!
Speaking of no limits, how did you feel about the "buried alive" story?
The thing I liked the most about the story was the attention it got and the attention the character got. It was so great to see the support of the fans. It was great to see all the letters I got in support of keeping Sheridan around. Taping it was a little tough on some days. Just having to be closed in a coffin wasn't too much fun. When it was open it wasn't too bad though, because I just had to lie there and keep my eyes shut-I accidentally fell asleep one time! And when it was over, it was really nice to have scenes with people again! But I really loved the attention it got-that was the best part.
Was it hard keeping the secret that Sheridan wasn't really dead?
It really was hard…especially keeping it from my family and friends. Even at FanFest, I had to play it off like I didn't know. And in all reality, we really didn't know. At one point, we didn't know where it was going to go. It was like an acting job outside of an acting job!
You're known as being very accessible to fans-such as through on-line message boards and chats. Is that important to you?
It's very important to me. The fans are so gracious and nice, and they're the reason I continue to be where I am and have a popular character. It's the least that I can do to thank them for their support-to do the chats, and write on the message boards, and do signings. My brother set it up on my chat room where I can go in there with my own name. It's passworded so the fans all know it's really me. Every now and then, I'll go in and do a surprise chat. And all of a sudden I see the room growing bigger. They all have their buddy lists going!
What have been some of your most memorable interactions with fans?
One time a woman told me she was naming her baby McKenzie. And another time, I was at Universal Citywalk and I had this girl jump on me! It was really cute-she kept saying, "I love you!" And then she pulled back and said, "I'm so glad you're alive!" She was just so adorable. I don't care how crazy or enthusiastic the fans get-I love when they come up to me. They're always so sweet.
In 'Hidden Passions,' it's revealed that Luis and Sheridan were involved in past lives. What do you think of that?
I think it's so awesome! The thing that was so cool is that I remember one scene between Ethan and Sheridan. She was looking out at the ocean and she told Ethan this story of Sarah. I remember this from quite a while ago. She basically recounted this fairy tale to Ethan. When I read it in the book, I couldn't believe it! It was so cool how they brought it all together.
You do a lot of charity work. Are there any particular charities that are especially important to you?
The last charity I worked with was Make A Wish and that was wonderful. Ronald McDonald house is another one that I really enjoyed working with. I hope to do more work with them in the future. I'm a sucker for anything that helps kids and animals!
You recently did a guest spot on 'Friends.' What was that like?
It was so cool and so much fun. Everyone was so nice. Matt LeBlanc and Jennifer Aniston, who I worked with, were incredibly nice. It was an amazing experience-everyone from the PA's to the director, to the stars, to the writers were so nice. It was interesting because they operate completely different from how we operate. They basically rehearse all during the week and then tape in one day. I went in on a Thursday and rehearsed for about an hour and was done for the day. On Friday, I got there at 10am and did hair and makeup. It was a very relaxed environment. They said they start taping at five o'clock but if we didn't start at five, it was no big deal! I wasn't used to that. I'm used to being called to set at 6am! In the episode, I play a presenter at a soap awards show. Joey is up for 'Favorite Returning Male Character.'
Would you like to do more projects outside of 'Passions?'
I'd love to. I'd love to do more sitcoms, and eventually do bit roles in movies. I'd love to do theater. I would eventually love to follow in Susan Lucci's footsteps and take a couple of months to do a Broadway show.
How has your life changed since you've been on 'Passions?'
It really hasn't changed a whole heck of a lot. I don't have as much time anymore for my cat! The only thing that did change was that I got a new car.
Where do you see yourself in ten years?
I pray to God that 'Passions' continues on for ten plus years. I'd like to continue playing Sheridan, as well as branching out and doing movies and theater.
What are you most proud of in your life?
I'm proud of continuing on in my spirituality. I'm proud to have that in my life. That's what keeps me going and makes me strong. And my family.
McKenzie Westmore Takes Five
Share your favorite childhood memory?
"When I had my 13th birthday, I did not want any gifts because I felt I had all that I needed. So, I had all of my friends donate gifts to a charity for children"
Which is your favorite aisle in the grocery store?
"The health food section – I love soy nut butter."
Who was better for Archie, Betty or Veronica, and why?
"Sorry, they were before my time. But ask me anything about Garfield!"
In history, who had the greatest romance of all time?
Do blondes have more fun?
"Both do, seeing as I've had the experience as a blonde and a brunette. Honestly, it's who you are on the inside."
The Princess Diaries
Every Day At Passions, McKenzie Westmore Takes A Page From Her Own Book
Not every first-grader can bring an Academy Award to show and tell, but McKenzie Westmore (Sheridan, Passions) was, well, a Westmore. Back in the days of silent film, her great-grandfather literally invented makeup artistry by saving "some famous actor" – she isn't sure who – from a moustache mishap. Since then, the Westmores have become a bona fide Hollywood dynasty, fully or partly responsible for the hair and makeup in everything from Gone With The Wind to Raging Bull to Rebecca to Jurassic Park. They have won prizes galore (McKenzie's dad, Michael, has one Oscar and several Emmys), been the focus of books and TV documentaries, founded the Westmore Academy of Cosmetic Arts and the House of Westmore cosmetic line and befriended the rich and famous.
In spite of all this – or, perhaps, because of it – Westmore's early life was lonely. "My cat was my best friend," she says earnestly. "I didn't really have any other friends." Of her problems, some – shyness, nerdiness and the low self-esteem that being an ugly duckling ("I have the pictures to prove it") promotes – were fairly universal. Others could be filed under poor little rich girl. "Being brought up the way I was, my parents always made sure that I had everything I wanted, everything I needed, and I think that was hard for some of the other kids to see," she admits. "So, with all of that combined, people may have thought I was a snob. I don't know. But it got in the way of making friends."
On the bright side, it gave her plenty of time to enjoy a world that most girls can only dream about. "Every day growing up, I'd go over to Paramount Studios to do my homework," she remembers. When at home, she would spend hours in her dad's laboratory, where prosthetics from his various projects were housed. "It was normal for me to go into the garage and see all the body parts and severed heads around," she laughs. "Other people would go in, see the blood and guts and get creeped out, but to me, it was very ordinary."
As Westmore entered her teens, the gravity of her family's name – and profession – weight heavily on her mind. "I was really set on singing, dancing or acting, but I remember this article came out in a magazine, it was on the cover, and it said, 'The Last of the Living Dinosaurs.' They were referring to my dad that way, as the last of the living dinosaurs of makeup and of the family name. And I panicked. I thought, 'Oh, my gosh, I can't let this die. I have to do makeup. I don't want to, but I really should.' So I tried to do it, but I couldn't. My heart wasn't in it. And actually, my sister-in-law is a makeup artist, so she's carrying on the name anyway, thank God."
Besides, Westmore figured she could honor her family as an actress. To that end, she plunged into drama workshops, trained to be an opera singer and hit the audition circuit, nabbing bit parts on DAYS OF OUR LIVES, WEIRD SCIENCE and the various STAR TREK franchises. Alas, the fabled Big Break remained elusive, and eventually, Westmore was forced to consider Plan B: an opera program at University of Cincinnati. "Nothing was coming along in Hollywood, so I was pretty much set to go to Cincinnati. I didn't want to go, and I remember praying to God, 'Please, please, please let something come along. I don't want to leave town.'"
God may or may not have heard her, but PASSIONS Creator James E. Reilly did, mere weeks before she was due in Ohio. Appreciative of Westmore's inherent upper-crust poise, he decided she'd make the perfect Sheridan – someone graceful and blue-blooded enough to have been Princess Diana's friend. "I've heard he saw a lot of similarities between my life and Sheridan's," she notes. "We're on a much smaller scale, obviously; we're not as rich as Alistair. But the way I was raised – there was never any swearing in the house, none of us smoke or drink or ever did drugs – helped me learn to carry myself with class and [evoke] that old-Hollywood feel."
"So I guess I kind of play myself," she continues. "It doesn't bother me one way or the other. It actually makes my life easier. I mean, I have to learn the lines and, of course, there's the acting part, where I have to get angry or sad or whatever. But for the most part, I just have to be myself, and that makes it easy."
Much like the heiress she plays on TV, Westmore gets the royal treatment from PASSIONS. The producers seem to pick her for all their high-stakes publicity gambits, like the FRIENDS crossover, the Paris remote and the cover of TV Guide. It all leads to one inescapable conclusion: She's a hit. "its really a huge sigh of relief," she laughs, alluding to the professional paralysis anyone with a legacy like hers might suffer. "But what's better than anything is seeing the proud looks on my parents' faces. For my dad to know I'm achieving my dreams, that the best feeling of all."
Just The Facts About McKenzie Westmore:
Born On: April 26
Hails From: San Fernando Valley, CA
She Drives: A Mercedes CLK 320
Best Quality: Ability to love unconditionally.
Worst Quality: Impatience.
Pet Peeve: "People who flat out just don't get it."
Love Life: "I'm kind of dating someone, but it's nothing serious."
Fave Flicks: "Gone With The Wind, Moulin Rouge, The Matrix, Dumb and Dumber."
Cooking Specialty: Baked goodies sweetened with applesauce. "You should try my guilt-free brownies!"