Previous generations grew up with Jennifer Landon’s father, Michael, who starred on Bonanza, Little House on the Prairie and Highway to Heaven. Now she’s making her own mark playing two roles on CBS’s As The World Turns. On June 15, Jennifer, 23, could bring home her second Daytime Emmy for outstanding younger actress in a drama.
On Losing Her Dad: Jennifer was 8 when Michael, then 54, lost his battle with pancreatic cancer in 1991. Grief-stricken, she temporarily abandoned her dream of acting. “Before he died, I wanted an agent, and afterward I didn’t act at all,” she says. “I thought maybe I wanted to be a lawyer—or a basketball player. Acting is emotional. Sports are perfect for anyone who wants to avoid grief.”
On Watching Her Dad’s Work: “I’ve never seen an entire episode of Bonanza. He’s younger than I am on it. He doesn’t look like my dad,” says Landon, whose mom, Cindy, 50, was Michael’s third wife. (She has a brother, Sean, 20, and seven half and stepsiblings from Michael’s previous marriages.) Recently, she adds, “I started to Tivo Highway to Heaven. I love it. Who wouldn’t? It’s magic.”
On Soap Stardom: In 2005 she snagged the role on World of Gwen, the girl from the wrong side of the tracks. “I expected soap people to be divas, but everyone is so humble and grateful to have a job,” she says. Now she has two: In April, she also started playing the mysterious Cleo. “I wear these big teeth that give me a lisp. She’s very odd. She might drive other people nuts, but it’s been so fun.”
On Winning Her First Emmy: She celebrated quietly last April. “I crawled into bed with my trophy. I don’t have a boyfriend—but I have an angel who is holding the world.”