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Playing A Bad Girl And Loving It

November 05, 1995|NANCY M. REICHARDT

From her very first scene as an alluring telephone voice flirting with the very married Nathan Hastings (played by Adam Lazarre-White) on "The Young and the Restless," it was clear that actress Wanda Acuna was going to wreak havoc as Genoa City newcomer Keesha Monroe. So far, viewers have not been disappointed.

"I play a character that you would love to hate," says Acuna, who is determined to put "a positive spin" on her bad girl alter ego. "I try to put in the fun, quirky sides of Keesha. I want everyone to feel for her. I want them to sympathize with her, and to understand that she has this ultimate love for Nathan and wants her man so badly."

Bringing this happy homewrecker to life has been fun for Acuna.

"I'm glad that I started out gradually," says the actress, whose appearances were limited during her early weeks on the show. "It gave me time to understand more and to develop more. Because I've got to tell you, your first day on the set is -- Whoa! The lights, the cameras, and everything else! What did I do? What did I get myself into?' After the first day jitters are gone, you begin to understand more. You realize, 'Yeah, OK. I can do this.' "

Acuna, a native of Puerto Rico who was raised in California, admits show business was not a consideration while growing up.

"Acting was the furthest thing from my mind or even my family's mind, she says. No one in my family is in the entertainment business. I was studying to be a dentist."

But Acuna's dental aspirations fell by the wayside after she competed in and won several beauty pageants and got lured into modeling as a teen-ager. Within a few years, she had made the crossover from commercials to acting. Among her credits are guest appearances on "Doogie Howser, M.D." and "Married... With Children" and the films "Encino Man" and the soon-to-be-released "An Eye for an Eye." The role of Keesha on "The Young and the Restless" marks Acuna's first recurring gig.

"It's wonderful to have the chance to do ongoing work," says Acuna. "When you do a little role on a film or nighttime, you work two, maybe three days and then you're done. You want more! On 'The Young and the Restless,' I come back every week. I love the whole creation process and getting into the role."

Away from the set, Acuna has another favorite role -- playing wife to husband and fellow actor Cylk Cozart.

"A commercial director introduced us to one another," she notes, "and it was friends at first sight. Then, after about four months, we just decided to develop things into more of a relationship."

The pair share a "fixer upper" home in Los Angeles, which they are renovating. "We tried to do the work ourselves in the beginning. It was a disaster!" she says with a laugh. "I'd pull out a closet; then, the contractor would get there and say, 'This is a retaining wall. You're not supposed to do that.' So, my construction days are over."

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