Paul — Depths
By Gregory Von Dare
modestly describes herself as a working actress, one with a
name, but a working actress nonetheless. Yet Alexandra Paul
is familiar to millions of TV viewers around the world as Lieutenant
Stephanie Holden on Baywatch. Now dont groan. Alexandra
was the slender, serious, smart brunette who also happened to look
great in a red Spandex malliot. Shes quite realistic about the
exposure that Bay-watch gave her and the clout it created
for her in the entertainment industry.
much as Alexandra is a stunner — she started out as a teenage
fashion model — she goes way beyond the stereotype of the bubble-headed
TV actress and in fact, has surprising depth. Yes, shes an accomplished
performer, but shes also a respected athlete and a very active
environmentalist. She drives an electric car around Los Angeles and
has come to see it as a desirable form of alternative transportation.
For anyone who lives in that vale of tears, the L.A. basin, electric
cars seem like a very good idea despite some real-world concerns.
also passionately involved in population stabilization and has become
a documentary video producer to help educate school children about
the damage caused by too many people and too few resources. This well-rounded
woman is even a certified emergency medical technician and is qualified
to work on an ambulance.
now, shes most visible on the high-voltage last episodes of
Melrose Place. Alexandra plays Terry OBrien, the
former sister-in-law of Ryan (John Haymes Newton). It may not be Shakespeare,
but roles like this on highly visible shows provide an actress with
career longevity and enable her, eventually, to choose roles with
& TRAVEL Magazine recently spoke with Alexandra and found
her to be intelligent, engaging, and personable. She has a viable
career in a difficult and treacherous field, shes in love, and
shes committed to leaving this world a better place than she
found it. Not a bad résumé.
took to the entertainment industry with the speed and ease of a natural.
She was modeling at 18 when she was cast in a successful TV movie,
were looking for someone who was 19 but could play a 16-year-old model,
she said. The Connecticut native was modeling in New York at the
time she was cast, and when the TV movie became a hit, she quickly
made the move to Hollywood.
Los Angeles, Alexandra worked hard and partied hard but didnt
get involved with drugs or the wilder elements of show business. After
a few years of studying acting and getting small roles on TV, her
big break came with Baywatch. She was in her late 20s
at the time.
Hasselhoff liked me because I was tall and because I was a little
older, she said. Because she had been a junior lifeguard as
a teen and was a strong swimmer, she brought more credibility to the
role, something the producers responded to. Overall she loved the
Baywatch experience. She makes a point of speaking well
of her coworkers: People think that because a woman is blonde
and big-breasted she is automatically stupid. But absolutely none
of the women on the show were like that.
has also worked steadily on the big screen. Alexandra appeared opposite
Kevin Costner in American Flyers, was a romantic interest for Tom
Hanks and Dan Ackroyd in Dragnet, gave a powerful performance in the
thriller Eight Million Ways to Die with Jeff Bridges and Andy Garcia,
and had fun in Spy Hard. A believer in the power of independent films,
she also recently appeared in an assortment of indies:
12 Bucks, Arthurs Quest, The Reunion and Naked in the Cold
recent years, Alexandra was teamed successfully with Pierce Brosnan
for TV productions of Allister McClaines Nightwatch
Alexandra herself says, if all they can put in your obituary is that
you were in this movie and that movie, whats the point? So she
has a life. An interesting one. Depth.
1997, she took nine months off from her career as an actress to compete
in the World Ironman Triathlon, held in Hawaii. She very candidly
admits that she was invited to participate and it was a business deal.
a plodder, she says with a giggle, and I never could have
qualified on my own. But shes also a serious person and
she set out to make a good showing. She hired a personal trainer and
worked hard at conditioning. Her boyfriend, Ian, a professional athlete
himself, trained along with her, and she reports that they had a wonderful
time. Her composite time for the triathlon was a respectable 13:18.52.
And thats for a 112-mile bike ride, a 2.44-mile swim, and a
standard 26.2-mile marathon run. Were exhausted just writing
about it. The event seems to have been a good business decision as
well. She gained a number of sponsorships and endorsements after the
Ironman and tells us that even today many people mention it to her.
I think more people remember me for that than Baywatch,
a long time I was a gym rat, she reflects, but you know,
it gets to be a habit, a part of your life. And you cant imagine
going without it. If youre still training in your 30s, people
think youre a jock!
General Motors EV1 electric car is a source of pride to her, and its
not the first one shes owned. Alexandra began, as did many people
who drive electric cars, with a conversion. The process is simple.
A shop takes a gasoline-powered car, usually a compact or subcompact,
and removes the piston engine, often leaving the transmission in place.
Then a battery pack and a charging system are added. Voila! You now
have an electric car. In most cases, these are livable vehicles with
about three good years in them before the batteries (standard lead/acid
batteries from cars and trucks) need to be replaced. Such vehicles
make up about 75 percent of all current electric cars and trucks.
had a Datsun first, then a VW Rabbit, both electric conversions. Those
were just shells of cars, she says. Shes not a fanatic
about it but is quietly intense in support of her electric car.
asked if it imposes any restrictions or requires any sacrifices, she
quickly replies that breathing polluted air is a bigger sacrifice.
In the long run, she has learned to schedule her daily routine around
the range of the electric car, and if that doesnt work, she
has a fuel-efficient Toyota that she drives occasionally.
who lease the EV1, like Alexandra, get booklets with locations of
charging stations. In Los Angeles, there are quite a few, but of course
its nothing like having a gas station every three blocks. During
the gasoline shortages in the 1970s, diesel-powered automobiles had
a brief fashion and owners of those smoky machines received similar
pamphlets with the addresses of filling stations that sold diesel
fuel. At that time, Alexandra was the president of the energy club
in high school and wrote a detailed paper about Americas spiraling
and Ian are currently shopping for a gas/electric hybrid vehicle to
replace Ians car. With current new models from Honda and Toyota
and upcoming products from VW, Ford and others, they should have
a wide choice. Alexandra shows an appreciation of advanced technology
when she says that she sees the electric vehicle as an interim solution,
with exotic, non-polluting vehicles powered by hydrogen in the distant
interest in the environment has become a serious avocation. Growing
up in the country, she says, you just cant believe
that someone wouldnt care about the environment. In her
typical, deliberate way, Alexandra has taken a more thoughtful approach
to the problems we face with natural resources. She believes that
a root cause of pollution of the air and sea and the destruction of
rain forests is overpopulation.
knows this is a sensitive issue and describes how many environmental
organizations glance over the problem in their materials for fear
of offending anyone.
I was born, she says, there were three billion people
on Earth; now there are six billion. The population has doubled in
my lifetime! She also relates overpopulation to the status of
women, quoting a study that links the educational level of women worldwide
to the number of children they have.
help make her message clear without going overboard, she often speaks
at Southern California high schools. And she is pleased that she has
never had a single complaint about her presentation. Not long ago,
she was appalled to discover that there was only one video about overpopulation,
a five-minute-long animation, in the entire Los Angeles school district.
So she decided to create her own video for teenagers. It required
that she become a producer and co-writer, jobs she didnt relish
but took on because they had to be done. The result was Jam Packed,
an informative documentary that has won several awards and is still
being played on PBS stations across the United States. Shes
at work on a sequel of sorts that will be called The Cost of Cool:
Finding Happiness in a Material World.
extraordinary woman also spent five and a half weeks marching across
America on the Great Peace March and has been arrested many times
protesting at the Nevada Nuclear Weapons Test Site. She means what
she says. Alexandra also refuses to use cosmetics or other products
that are tested on animals, and she is a committed recycler.
the future, she plans to continue her acting career as long as she
Baywatch had a really high demographic of six- to eight-year-olds,
she said. And when they are in their late 20s, Ill be
... uhhh, 50. And maybe theyll remember me the way I remembered
some of the great performers I saw on TV when I was a kid. And that
will give me longevity.
would like to star in another TV series but admits that its
very hard work: long hours, lonely locations and often harrowing
physical work. So guest-starring roles, like her current stint on
Melrose Place, may be the ideal, but shed like to
take the step up in visibility and prestige that a star vehicle would
as she talks about the high-power world of Hollywood and the high
ground of TV stardom, Alexandra stops to add that she would like to
tutor teenage girls, to teach reading and other subjects. She feels
that education is the key to women making better lives for themselves.
For some teenage girl today, with luck, looks, determination, and
a truly good heart, she might turn out to be a lot like Alexandra