by Jacqueline Cutler
It would be a better world if more people were like NYPD officer Faith Yokas on NBC's Monday night drama "Third Watch."
Brave, streetwise and loving, she has one of the world's hardest jobs, and she does it with compassion and grace. Tough enough to wrestle doped-up perpetrators, she's also gentle enough to embrace her children. In many ways, Yokas is the woman many strive to be, juggling the pressures of a job, the rhythms of a marriage and the challenges of motherhood. And she emanates a warmth that makes people want to be her friend.
Not all of these qualities can be found on the pages of a script, no matter how well-written. Faith is three-dimensional because of Molly Price, the actress who has portrayed her for the past four seasons.
"She has gone through an evolution," Price says from the Manhattan apartment she shares with her husband, a cocker spaniel and a pit bull. "Originally, I was a comic sideman, straight man to Bosco [her hotheaded former partner]. I was a cookie-cutout ubercop. Now, I have become a woman who does the police work as opposed to just a cop. I get to be funny and sad and silly and strong and feminine and maternal."
"Third Watch" has grown from a show with an interesting premise -- focusing on the work of firefighters, cops and paramedics during the third shift in New York -- to a gut-wrenching drama, particularly in the wake of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. The show explores, as it is uniquely equipped to do, the lives of those who wore NYC rescue uniforms that day.
For Price, the story is personal. She spent that sunny Tuesday, the day she was supposed to be shopping for a wedding gown, watching the horror on television and waiting for her then-fiance, New York firefighter Derek Kelly, to call. They married a month later, as planned, offering friends a wedding after a month of funerals.
Now expecting their first child in the fall, Price is "over the moon" and unabashedly in love with the firefighter from Queens whom she met on the set, where he is an extra.
"When he talks Queens stuff, it drives me crazy," she says. "I love that 'Charlie so-and-so took a heart attack.' Not 'had a heart attack,' 'took one.' Only in Queens. I just love that whole sort of 'Goodfellas' [ambience], where there's always a pot of coffee on the stove and an Entenmann's cake on the counter. There's no pretense."
Growing up as the third of five children in North Plainfield, N.J., Price says that she knew "from birth" that she wanted to act. Her first role was as a soldier in a fifth-grade play, and from that point she was hooked. She saw lots of plays in New York, and wound up studying theater at Rutgers University, where Calista Flockhart was a classmate.
Though she has worked in movies and television in Los Angeles, Price prefers New York. "I am in love with New York," she says. "I am very proud to live here. It's a little badge of honor."
"When you are a New York actor, your agenda is a little different than if you are a California actor," she says. "New York actors really want to act, and California actors tend to want to be stars, and being a star makes you a lot more fidgety. New York actors are not so interested in that. We eat and drink and fight and are out in the city. In L.A., you are very isolated and you tend to spend a lot of time in the mirror."
Now that she is pregnant, Price is looking forward to hiatus, which she plans to spend "sleeping and eating and reading books. And I am going to plant a garden in my Block Island [Rhode Island] house and make love to my husband and just rest and chill and recharge my battery."
She and her sisters have a sandwich shop on Block Island, Three Sisters. A specialty is the Twisted Sister, made of turkey, cheddar, avocado and bacon. This summer, however, Price says she won't work the counter much.
"I have other interests," she says. "Eventually, I would love to produce. I would love to do women's material. The place I feel most fulfilled is when they shout 'Action!' You get to be everything you can't be in real life. You are able to be so clear about it when you are acting. In real life, there is no script. You don't know what the next scene will be. I have a very diverse personality and very diverse interests. Acting relaxes me and makes me focused and I can leave the rest of the world behind."