“I was new in Los Angeles and didn’t have my Screen Actors Guild card, which was the only way one could get union work,” she recalled to Soap Opera Digest. “A friend got me an audition for a non-union commercial for the Schick Center, which was a weight-loss clinic that used aversion shock treatment to help people lose weight. I did the commercial, which included a photo shoot, and it got bumped to SAG contract, so I got my card as well as a little raise in pay.”
However, while getting her union card and a little extra money was a welcome treat, the actress found herself getting more exposure from the ad than she might have expected.
“Here I was, a 20-year-old hoping to break into show business and I found myself in full-page ads in the L.A. Times holding out my clothes at the waistline with a pained expression for a shock therapy center,” Maitland admitted with a sigh. “It was an early lesson in a few things: First of all, it prepared me for the future Y&R storylines of bulimia, diet pill addiction, and bullying that Traci would soon face. I learned the truth that body image was driven by advertising and judgment and had nothing to do with who was inside that body.
“And secondly, I learned to think through my choices,” she continued. “I had done something a bit embarrassing, so I had to really process what the consequences would mean to me. At last of all — and a great win — I got my SAG card! It didn’t hurt anyone or compromise my values, and it opened doors I didn’t expect. I had to embrace my physical shape being not commercially accepted and it made me appreciate the opportunities to tell these tales at Y&R with honesty and commitment.”
Given that Maitland took home the Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Supporting Actress in 1985 for telling those tales, we’d say things definitely turned out okay!