Soap opera stars created Billie Eilish, the "weird" singer who dominated at the American Music Awards

Posted Monday, November 25, 2019 9:18:13 AM

Rolling Stone calls her "weird," the New York Times says she's "not typical," while she calls herself a "Bad Guy." Singer Billie Eilish is all of those -- and she's also the product of soap opera stars.

Billie Eilish is currently the most talked-about teen on the planet. Following the spring release of her debut album, When We All Fall Asleep, Where Do We Go?, the 17-year-old musician began ruling the radio with her hit songs "Bury a Friend" and "Bad Guy," has graced the covers of countless magazines like Vogue and Elle, and just took home top honors at this past weekend's American Music Awards with wins as Best New Artist of the Year and Favorite Artist in Alternative Rock. As with any rising star, lots is being revealed about the California native -- including the fact that she is the daughter of soap opera stars.

Eilish was born in December 2001 to dad Patrick O'Connell and mom Maggie Baird. Daytime fans may remember Baird from her 1989 role as Rhonda Sadowsky on Another World, while O'Connell made a name for himself playing the 1983 role of Archie Knapp on Loving and the 1989 role of Neil Everest on Guiding Light. It was Days of our Lives, however, that first recognized the vocal talents of the family: the NBC soap opera hired O'Connell and Baird to do voice work back in 2011 -- long before the actors' daughter became one of the world's most popular singers.

Prior to Eilish becoming famous, O'Connell had small roles in The West Wing, Iron Man, and Supergirl, while Baird had small roles in shows like Everwood and Bones. Once it became known that Eilish was born to actors, critics began citing the singer in articles about connections, privilege, and authenticity in the music industry. Eilish has been quick to shoot down the negativity, claiming that she did not grow up wealthy and that "my parents were actors -- OK, no disrespect, but they weren't, like, famous actor celebrities. They were working actors."

That's not to say, however, that O'Connell and Baird didn't have a hand in the formation of their daughter's career. In an interview with the New York Times, O'Connell admits that he and his wife decided to homeschool Billie and her older brother, singer/songwriter Finneas O'Connell, due in part to the way the Hanson brothers -- famous for their 1997 song "MMMBop" -- were raised.

"I was completely swept away by these kids," O'Connell says. "They were religious Oklahoma home-schooled, but nonetheless. Clearly what had happened was they'd been allowed to pursue the things that they were interested in."

Meanwhile, though not much of a musician herself, Baird taught Billie and Finneas about music in a beginner's songwriting class while, as the NYT reports, the kids were generally encouraged to follow their passions; college was never the goal.

Now that their daughter is experiencing so much success, both O'Connell and Baird have stepped aside from their acting careers and travel with Eilish on tour and work as part of her team. Baird is her daughter's assistant, while O'Connell has gone from driving the tour van in the leaner days to now acting as the singer's lighting director. But it's possible that the pair's careers as daytime stars also had a hand in Eilish's success. The singer's lyrical themes include serial killers, domination, and monsters under the bed -- just the kind of jaw-dropping tropes frequently seen on soap operas.

As for whether or not Eilish will follow in her parents' footsteps and one day give soap opera acting a try, don't count on it; she tried acting a few times, but, as the singer tells Rolling Stone, she hated it.

"I went on, like, two auditions. So lame," Eilish says with her trademark "don't care" attitude. "This creepy, cold room. All these kids that looked exactly the same. Most actor kids are psychopaths."

Did you know that the parents of Billie Eilish starred on soap operas? What do you remember, if anything, from Patrick O'Connell and Maggie Baird's daytime roles? We want to hear from you -- so drop your comments in the Comments section below, tweet about it on Twitter, share it on Facebook, or chat about it on our Message Boards.

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