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Mishael Morgan Talks on Her Return to Y&R and Tackling the New Role of Amanda Sinclair

Photo: Monty Brinton/CBS

So, just how did The Young and the Restless lure back one of the series most powerhouse actresses to take on a brand-new role? Mishael Morgan, who earlier this year was nominated for a Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for her gut-wrenching final performances as Hilary Curtis, reveals in a new interview with Michael Fairman TV, what went down to bring her back to the CBS Daytime drama.

As fans know thus far, after appearing as ‘Ghost Hilary” through the late spring and summer, Y&R’s creatives worked behind the scenes to get Morgan back on screen without tainting Hilary’s ultimate demise.  That is when they came up with the role of the sexy yet tough lawyer, Amanda Sinclair.

So, enter Mishael in a new wig and style that defines Amanda as her own character.  Question is, since Amanda is a dead-ringer for the late Hilary, are they related? And, what will ultimately be proven to be in her DNA?  In story, Amanda entered the scene as the often-mentioned Chance Chancellor’s attorney.  She shows up in Genoa City to contest the legitimacy of the late great Katherine Chancellor’s will and the fortune she left to Devon (Bryton James).  With Devon directly in Amanda’s line of fire it sets the stage for potential fireworks down the line.

We sat down with Mishael backstage at Y&R for this informative and entertaining chat as we officially welcome back this truly kick-ass performer.  Here’s what Mishael shared below.

Photo: JPI

What transpired behind the scenes to make it possible for you to come back to Y&R?

MISHAEL:  Tony Morina (executive producer, Y&R) kind of gave me a little bit of a heads up.  They called me back to come in and do the ghost episodes as Hilary, and it happened really quickly.  It was like, “Hey, Mishael, do you think you can do this?  Yeah?  Okay.  We’ll work it out with your team.  Alright.  We’ll see you tomorrow.” (Laughs) It was really, really fast.  I was hesitant for a second about the whole Hilary ‘ghost thing’, because I felt good about how we wrapped up Hilary’s storyline.  I’d only left for a couple of months, and I still felt funny about it, but I was like, “I’ll do it.  She’s a ghost … so she hasn’t returned from the dead.  So, it’s fine.”

Originally, I was concerned that they were going to have you as Hilary keep popping up as a ghost to Devon for an indefinite amount of time; when the show has already done that with Jack Abbott (Peter Bergman) and his father, John (Jerry Douglas).  Because of your previous performances, and Emmy-nominated performance for the final arc of Hilary’s story, I thought, in the end, it might detract from that.

MISHAEL:  Yes, and I think that’s how I felt too, but I agreed to do it because they said that it was going to be a max of seven episodes.  So, while I was doing that, Tony was on set watching the scenes.  Next, he just called me up and said, “Well, how do you feel about coming back?”  I was like, “Coming back?  Hilary is dead.  Like, Hilary is dead-dead.  Is this going to be an alternate universe?” (Laughs) He said, “Well, no.  You’d be coming back as a different character.”  That was really intriguing to me, because one of the reasons why I left was because I felt like creatively I’d played a character from beginning to end, and it felt like it would just be nice to go off and play somebody new.  I never in a million years thought that I could come back to Y&R and actually play someone new!  That was weird to wrap my head around when they said, “You’d play a new character,” but then when they said she was going to me a lawyer, my ears really perked up! I’ve always wanted to play a lawyer, because I have the background where I wanted to be a lawyer in real life.  So, then I’m like, “OK. Now I get to play a lawyer on TV.”  They really got their hooks in to me with that … and just hooked me in from there.  Then, I got open to the idea and the story that Josh Griffith (head writer, Y&R) wanted to tell.

Photo: JPI

Once you learned the idea of the story from Josh, it seemed that things happened very quickly!  We all found out about your return via a social media post where you got to tell the fans yourself that you were coming back … but as a new character.

MISHAEL:  It happened relatively quickly in terms of me tentatively coming back, but then they still had to write the story.  So, everything wasn’t really confirmed until a couple of weeks before I started taping again.  We were in talks for about two months, and we worked it all out.  I said, “I’d do it,” and then it was 100% confirmed around August of this year, and I was airing in September.  It was kept was very, very quiet.

Are you still figuring out what Amanda’s back-story is?

MISHAEL:  I am.  I feel like every writer is a little different, and I feel like Josh likes to keep things very close and tight to his chest so that you kind of don’t know what’s happening.  Josh gives you enough information to play a little bit of something that is coming down the pike, but he doesn’t really disclose everything.   I’ve gotten little hints, and I kind of know where we are going, but I still don’t know the whole back-story of Amanda.  I’m still trying to figure her out.  If she’d been the polar opposite of Hilary, I think it might have been easier, but if you read her description, she’s very much like Hilary: A-type, strong, driven, all of those things.  Hilary had this very malicious, unscrupulous side to her, but I don’t know if Amanda has that.  In terms of the general description of the character, they’re very similar, which I was happy about just because I like playing strong women on TV.  If they had said, “We’re bringing on this character, and she is homeless” … or somebody who was super quiet… that would pose a different set of things for me as an actress.  I think seeing strong women of all different colors, shapes, and sizes is so important right now on TV, and it is very relevant.  I am happy to be a part of that.

Photo: JPI

What was it like playing all of these entrance scenes as Amanda where your former and current scene partners had to suspend belief? There’s Bryton James, Christel Khalil, Daniel Goddard, Jess Walton, and you, and Amanda walks in like, “Hey there!” (Laughs)

MISHAEL:  We just laughed about it.  It’s one of those things that is so funny, and it can only happen in the world of soaps.  A lot of the fans said, “This is weird,” in the beginning, but the fans love the show, and they accept it, and they do suspend their disbelief, and then it becomes normal.   We just had fun with it.

You’re like, “Hi, do you like my new hair?” (Laughs)

MISHAEL:  That was the thing too.  (Laughs) I don’t even think Christel even saw my hair until she came to set, and she was like, “Oh wow! I like your new hair.”

Photo: JPI

What happened when you and Christel taped the scenes where Lily sees Amanda for the first time, after the former contentious relationship of Lily and Hilary that ultimately changed the course of both their lives?

MISHAEL:  For me, it was super fun and easy because I don’t know any of the Hilary/Lily back-story.  I just play very oblivious like,“Hi, I’m just here.” (Laughs)  So, it’s very easy for me, but I almost envy a lot of the other characters who have to play all of these layers because Lily does have that back-story because she was charged for Hilary’s death, and the guilt associated with doing something like that, and also the hate that she had for Hilary.  Then overcoming that hate, and then going on that entire beautiful journey that they had together as women.  But now having that as a layer, and adding on top of it this woman who looks exactly like Hilary, but is a completely different person, is really interesting. Even for Bryton, I feel like he has a golden opportunity as well, because to have that love of your life, and then a new love of your life there in Elena, and then see a woman who looks just like your ex-wife is, I’m sure, really difficult.  Your mind would just be exploding!

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How did Bryton find out that you were coming back, and what was his reaction to the news?

MISHAEL:   Well, I came in for the ghost episodes, and I just couldn’t hold it in any longer.  I told him before we finalized this new deal.  He’s a friend of mine.  I wanted to get his opinion, and he was like, “You should do it!”  I was like, “Really?  It feels so weird because I just left a year ago, and I was so happy and content with leaving, so it feels weird to come back.”  He was like, “No, it will be fine.”  He’s like, “The fans will love you either way.  They’ll want you back.”   I was worried about how the fans would feel because it is such a quick return.

Photo: JPI

What is the feedback you’re getting from the fans thus far on your transformation from Hilary to now Amanda?

MISHAEL:  I feel like it’s pretty positive for the most part.  There are always going to be a couple of fans who are skeptical … or who don’t like the storyline … and even if they don’t like it they say, “This is kind of weird to bring her back as a different character.  We miss Hilary, but we love that Mishael Morgan is back, so, that kind of makes it all OK.”

The story that brings Amanda to Genoa City revolves around the legitimacy of Katherine Chancellor’s (the late Jeanne Cooper) will, and she comes in and says there was a counterfeit will etc.  She’s the messenger at this point and her client is Chance, correct?

MISHAEL:  Yes, Amanda’s client is Chance.

Isn’t she starting to question the legitimacy of her client?

MISHAEL:  Yes, but I think she still believes that it was Chance.  She’s kind of wondering now … because she even accuses Jill (Jess Walton).  She’s like, “It’s your grandson.  He’s all out to lunch.  He’s not getting back to anybody.”  Jill is very much in the headspace where she is like, “Well, this is probably not my grandson.”  Amanda is like, “I’m pretty sure it is.”  So, I think Amanda still thinks that it is Chance, even if he is a criminal, and even if he is doing something tricky.

Photo: JPI

How did Amanda get contacted by Chance in the first place to take this case?

MISHAEL:  It was an email, and then Amanda spoke to him on the phone …  or at least to who she believed was Chance.  He signed the papers, he scanned them over, and he forwarded Amanda the retainer. She had no reason not to believe that it was him.

So, when Amanda came to see Devon and company, she had no idea that there was this lookalike of her that was intertwined with this family?

MISHAEL:  No, but then after Devon tells Amanda about all of this, she sees pictures of Hilary online, but this is all done off-camera.

Does Amanda now suspect that she could be a twin? 

MISHAEL:  I think so.  I’m kind of playing that or keeping that there.  I’m kind of playing that as part of the reason why I want to stay in town because Amanda is intrigued by this other person who looks like her.  This could possibly be family.  I think it adds an extra layer as to why she wants to stay on Genoa City.  It is not just because she likes this person, or that person.  I think it is because she wants to figure out her connection to this person who looks just like her.

Photo JPI

We’ve seen Amanda be a little shifty.

MISHAEL:  Maybe a little bit. (Laughs)

What do you think we, as the audience, should be feeling at this point about Amanda?

MISHAEL:  I think we just have to wait and see.  Hilary had a lot going on before I left, and this is a new character who is slowly building.

I think that one of the things that daytime shows often have done wrong is that when they bring in a new character, they shove them down the audience’s throats too fast that they get sick of them.  I don’t know if that’s the tactic for the emergence of Amanda, more of a slow burn?

MISHAEL:  I feel like they are definitely doing a good job of building her character slowly and adding layers.  It’s not all coming out right away.  I feel like people should be feeling excited to try and figure out who this woman is because that is what it is eventually going to be leading to.  Right now, we are all just together in trying to figure out who she is.  I feel like everybody is really excited (and I am too) to get going, but even when Hilary came to Genoa City, it took about a year for her to catch her stride.  I think it’s going to take a while to really understand the meat of this character and how she fits into everyone’s lives.

Photo: JPI

Do you think Amanda feels badly about what is going on with Cane and Devon with the will, and how it would change both their lives forever?

MISHAEL:  Yes.  I definitely think that she feels badly about that.  In the beginning, it was very much her job.  I think when Devon is contemplating giving over his fortune, it makes Amanda see him in a different light, and her empathy for him starts to increase because she sees that he is a good guy, and that there wasn’t anything that he did that was malicious.

I think there is an attraction brewing here between Devon and Amanda.

MISHAEL:  Possibly.  I mean … Devon was attracted to someone who looked like Amanda.

Photo: JPI

Will she like him if he has no money, though?

MISHAEL:  I don’t know… I mean, Hilary definitely wouldn’t. (Laughs)

What do you think about working with Brytni Sarpy (Elena)? I see a triangle or quadrangle brewing and I see catfights in your future!

MISHAEL:  I love Brytni.  I definitely see that because Elena is definitely in the state of mind where she can’t stand this Amanda character.  The second she walked through the door, she couldn’t stand her.  I’m sure there are going to be some catfights coming.  I’m sure that it is going to be very entertaining for everybody! We’ll see.

Because you were considering being a lawyer … wait until you get into the courtroom set for some scenes!

MISHAEL:  I know, I’m excited for that!

Christian LeBlanc (Michael) always loves the courtroom monologues because he says it’s like doing a stage play.  Will you be up for that?

MISHAEL:  I think it’ll be ready for it.  I had a little one already to kind of warm up.  I won’t tell you what it was about.  I was like, “I can do this,” and I think it would have been even more fulfilling if there were an actual jury there where it feels like you’re performing.

Photo: JPI

What kind of lawyer is Amanda?  Does anyone know? (Laughs)

MISHAEL:  Well, right now she specializes in estates and trusts, but the one thing that I do know about attorneys is that technically with your license you can kind of do anything.  It is just that your experience will be in a specific area.  So, certain people may not want you to defend them, because you’ve never defended people in these cases.  I feel like it is not the same as a surgeon.  A surgeon specializes in the heart, and they don’t really do anything else, but as an attorney, you can kind of do anything.  You can defend anyone if the price is right and you feel confident.

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When you were thinking of being a lawyer, did you think of the kind of lawyer you wanted to be?

MISHAEL:  Well, when I wanted to be a lawyer, I wanted to be an international human rights lawyer.  So, something very different.  I wanted to save the world.

You know what they should do?  Maybe Amanda could have a courtroom show.  Instead of Judge Judy, it could be called Judge “Mandy”!

MISHAEL:  Put people in their places.

That’s if Amanda doesn’t get a talk show gig on the side, like Hilary did with GC Buzz! (Laughs)

MISHAEL:  With the courtroom cases, and the talk show, that would be a lot.

Photo: JPI

We talked about Hilary and taking her through everything she had gone through, and it really was the perfect ending when she passed.   Do you look back on that time and that work which we all loved so much?

MISHAEL:  Yes, I do.  I still look back on it, and I feel so blessed to have gone through that journey with her and to have created such a great character.  There are times when I’m like, “Yeah, coming back as Hilary would have been a lot of fun,” because I read the lines, and I know how Hilary would say everything, and now I have to figure out how Amanda says it – and it never feels the same, because I got so used to this being Hilary’s home.  I feel like Amanda is a little more like me, so there is a little less playfulness happening.

You want more of that which is reminiscent of Hilary, or not as much with Amanda?

MISHAEL:  I feel like naturally there is not as much now with Amanda, but I do want more of the playfulness to happen. It’s fun to play that on camera.  I feel that’s the fun of acting and pretending in that you get to be less of yourself, and more like a character.  Hilary was so different from me that it was just so fun to play her.  I feel like I’ve got to find those things in Amanda that make her unique and different that I can indulge in.

Photo: MMorganInstagram

In real-life you’re now a mom of two.  When you leave your kids to come to work, is it hard for you?

MISHAEL:  It is, but it’s okay because my husband stays at home with them.  We bounce back and forth.  He doesn’t work when I am working, and the days when I am not working, I am at home, and I get to enjoy time with them.  Then, when I am working, he stays home, and he gets to enjoy time with them.  It sucks to leave them, but at the same time it’s great to know that they are getting to spend time with their father, and I’m getting some ‘me time’.  I think that is necessary, because being a stay at home mom was a lot harder than I thought.  It is exhausting, and you are always on call.  You feel like you’re a surgeon.  It is just too much at times.

You always have the best Instagram photos with your kids and their outfits.  Are you going to have them dressed for Halloween?

MISHAEL:  Oh, yes.  They are going to dress up.   My son is going to be a firefighter, and I am going to be the fire, and my husband is going to be the fire hydrant, and my daughter is going to be the fire dog, the little Dalmatian!

Were you thrilled that you had a daughter this time, after previously having a son?

MISHAEL:  Yes.  At the time, I was okay with whatever the gender turned out to be.  I know everybody says it, but as long as they’re healthy, that is the most important thing.  I even thought about if I did have another boy, there would be that brother bond.  I grew up with sisters so to give him a brother would have been great, too.  Everybody always wants to have one of each because you want to be able to see what a boy would look like, and what a girl would look like, and their temperaments and all of that.  So, it’s nice that we got one of each.  We are happy.  We are good.  No more kids in my future.  (Laughs)  I shouldn’t say that too much because what if I do get pregnant, and my kid is like, “I was definitely an accident, Mom?” (Laughs)

We don’t know who Amanda has ties to at this point, but would you like to see her in another romantic relationship with some guy who is not Devon?

MISHAEL:  I would like to see that just because it would be something that kind of defines her as her own kind of person with her own journey and her own likes and her own dislikes.  I even feel that if she just ends up with Devon, it would be kind of weird.  We don’t know if Hilary and Amanda are related, but if they are related somehow, you would not have the same experiences, you would not have the same connections as this person.  As far as who I would want to work with, I don’t know.  I don’t know how to judge.  Well, Sean Dominic (Nate) has been awesome.  It would be kind of cool to be with Sean character-wise, because if Amanda ends up with Nate, that’s a relative of Devon, so Devon would have to see that all of the time … so that’s interesting.

Photo JPI

How is working with Sean?

MISHAEL:  Lots of fun.  He actually has the same birthday as my dad.  He’s a really cool guy, and we get along great.  That is half the battle because every now and again (and you rarely hear about it) you can’t stand the person you’re working with, and every time you get into scene work with another character, you’re always wondering, “Am I going to get along with this person?”  I love Bryton because we definitely have a special connection when we are on camera and when we are working together.  We’ve known each other for so long, and we’ve done so many amazing scenes together, and I think there is a lot of trust there.  It’s easy to just work with him.  That being said, the challenge of working with another character would be great as well.  We’ll just see where the chips fall.  Either way; I’m going to have a blast.

So, Camryn Grimes (Mariah) and you obviously have this great relationship together on-screen.  Mariah was Hilary’s dear friend.  Did you ever see her performance after Hilary died and her heartbreaking monologue on the set of GC Buzz?

MISHAEL:  Yes, I did.  It was amazing.  She’s an amazing actress.  She’s an amazing person.  I was so happy to work with her, and I am so happy to be back, because we are such good friends.  My first day back on set when I walked in, Camryn was the first person I saw.

Photo: JPI

Did Camryn know you were coming back to the show as Amanda?

MISHAEL:  Yes, she knew I was coming back.  We had a big hug and everything like that, and we were laughing about the fact that she’d come back to Y&R too as a whole different character.  So, I was like, “What pointers can you give me?” I would really love to figure out how Amanda and Mariah can work together.

The big question … I wonder if Amanda will have friends in Genoa City? (Laughs)

MISHAEL:  I think she would.  I mean, I know she is a little uptight, but I think she’ll have friends.  I hope so.  I don’t know who though. Guess everyone will have to stay tuned to see.

So, are you happy to see Mishael back at The Young and the Restless? What do you think of the character of Amanda Sinclair thus far? Do you want to see her with Nate, Devon, or someone else on the canvas romantically?  Do you think it will turn out that Hilary and Amanda were twins? Share your thoughts via the comment section below.

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Stacy
Stacy

I’d actually would love to see Adam and Amanda hook up they would be explosive!

Semaj Debose
Semaj Debose

Amanda and Nate have amazing chemistry in there scenes together they would be an amazing couple

GramS
GramS

I thought I would love Nate as played by this actor. He played a gay man in Greenleaf and was full of personality so I was hoping he would bring some of that personality to y&r and Nate. I see no chemistry between him and anyone. He seems flat and monotone in all of his interpersonal relationships with both male and female characters. We know Mishael can act circles around anyone so the writers need to put her with someone of equal caliber.
Great interview Michael!!

Aurora
Aurora

If the actor has shown that he can be full of personality once, he can do it again! So, I’m inclined to think that the problem is not with him or the character – but with the WRITING for Nate.

And he is not the only actor or character who could be ever so much more interesting and dynamic with better, more developed writing. I’m getting discouraged with watching wasted potential.

GramS
GramS

I’m actually sick of all the complaints of writing and writers. We have had several writers in the past 8 years and complaints galore with all of them. Seems they can’t win ever since fans were able to connect thru the internet.

Momo
Momo

I’m glad to see her back. Just not sure how Amanda will work her way back into everything. Plus, what will make her stay in GC?

Therese
Therese

I’m elated that Mishael is back! I loved her as Hilary. Still trying to get used to her playing Amanda. But there are a bunch of possibilities for her. I see Nate falling for Amanda and jealousies and problems arising in Devon and his girlfriend’s relationship because of it!

Aurora
Aurora

Ah yes! Devon’s lovely, elegant girlfriend Elena!

Lots of quad possibilities.

Ramona
Ramona

Ecstatic that Mischael is back! Amazing actress. Can’t wait to see how they develop the Amanda character and how she is related to Hillary.

Violet Lemm2
Violet Lemm2

I didn’t like the Hilary character, but am warming up to Amanda, and have read she is possibly a twin of Hilary’s. Now that Devon is on his own, I bet he and Amanda will get closer. He was attracted to Hilary before, so I see history happening. Looks to me like Nate is showing interest in Amanda, but he was also pretty cozy with Elena. I definitely did not like him with Abby. Abby needs a strong, maybe older type. I loved her and Stitch, but that was ruined by bringing in the troubled step-son.

Aurora
Aurora

Devon is still very much with the lovely woman he has chosen to share his home, his life and his love – Elena. Her leaving to help her Uncle Jett with his medical problems is only short term. She will return; and, to quote Devon when she left, “I will be happy when you come back home.”

So, whatever happens with Devon, Elena, Nate and Amanda may be a story that goes on for a long time.

Violet Lemm2
Violet Lemm2

Oh Aurora, I bet you believe in the Tooth Fairy too!

Harry
Harry

Ahem, Violet Lemm, are you suggesting there is no such thing as the tooth fairy? Next thing you are going to tell me is that there is no such thing as Santa Clause!

Violet Lemm2
Violet Lemm2

Harry, I do believe in Santa, but if the tooth fairy was real, I’d be a very rich lady.

Aurora
Aurora

Just thought you should know that Devon is not yet “on his own” as you said in your statement. That he is still in a committed relationship with Elena – unlike what you indicated originally. That’s what we are currently seeing in the onscreen story.

You spoke about Elena in the past tense and I wondered if you thought her leaving to help her uncle was a permanent departure. It is not and the actress is still taping and her character was included in November previews. Apologies if I misread your comments.

We all know that breakups and partner switching happen all the time on soaps, so things can change quickly. No need to talk about the tooth fairy when we all know soap reality.

As for my last sentence about a possible longer story with this quad – Devon, Elena, Nate and Amanda, I’m just repeating an idea I’ve read in several places. Being able to play around with a foursome of family, friends and lovers is hardly “tooth fairy” imagining. It’s what happens on soaps! We all get that.

Violet Lemm2
Violet Lemm2

Aurora
Sorry if I offended in any way. I have watched these shows for 100 yrs. and in this case it just seems very probable that sending Elena away gives Devon and Amanda a easier chance to get together. Elena doesnt like or trust Amanda, and it would make it harder for she and Devon to get closer. No, I wasn’t insinuating a permanent departure for Elena, but just an easier and quicker way for Devon and Amanda to get friendlier.
Unless Amanda is a real phoney, wearing a Hilary mask, I think they will get together.

Aurora
Aurora

I agree that these absences are often contrived plot points. However, knowing what has been publicly shared about actors’s vacation times, I don’t think there will a lot of difference between Elena’s screen absence and Devon’s. In this specific situation,I think that this couple of weeks period may be more about setting up Nate and Amanda in each other’s orbit – rather than Devon and Amanda. This, too, makes sense if one subscribes to the widely-voiced theory that the writers will play a quad with Devon, Elena, Nate and Amanda.

It’s not as if the writers haven’t already teased a related triangle in the past. To quote a blogger I just read: “… let’s flash back to when they first reintroduced Nate to the canvas. You’ll recall that he would occasionally walk around half-dressed in front of Hilary, and it was very clear the show was preparing for a Devon/Hilary/Nate triangle. … it sure feels as if we might be heading down that road again, except this time with Elena thrown into the mix for good measure.”

We might have a few changes of partners before this over!! All traditional soapiness!

Violet Lemm2
Violet Lemm2

I see the points you have made, and agree that this quad as you called them, will indeed be playing musical chairs, so to speak, in the future.
On another note, I think Chelsea will be getting back with Adam and their son. How do you feel about that idea? I think it was inevitable once they were both back in GC, so goodby Nick. Will he ever find the right woman?

Harry
Harry

I think Mishael is a very talented actress. Therefore, when she left Y&R I thought she was moving on to greener pastures. I feel it’s disappointing to have her coming right back to Y&R playing Hillary’s double. How predictable! How trite! And how boring! In other words, Jimmy crack corn and I don’t care. In fact, I fast forward through her scenes with Duh Yawn.

Lisa Howard
Lisa Howard

I want to see Amanda send Adam get together. I live that Mishael is bac!

bongo
bongo

She is so damn boring. Deathly boring. Her flat affect, and dead nasal droning voice. Ugh. BORING.

Patrick Rose
Patrick Rose

she’s trying, flat dead twist, let her;

Days Of Our Lives

Wally Kurth Talks on His Daytime Emmy Nomination For DAYS As Justin’s World Is Turned Upside Down

You kind of know when you are handed the ball in the world of daytime drama, and it’s your turn to shine, especially when you get meaty material that runs the gamut of emotions. And this past Emmy season, Days of our Lives’ Wally Kurth delivered the performances of his soap career (although we suspect there is some more to come in 2020!) in the role of the grieving Justin Kiriakis.

For Wally not only played grief, but starting life anew in a romantic entanglement that can be all too familiar when someone tries to move on after the loss of the love of their life. Add to that, the complication that his son’s husband, was believed to be the person who caused the accident that killed his wife, Adrienne (Judi Evans), and with that the deck is stacked for an emotional fallout that landed Kurth in the running for the Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series at this year’s 47th annual Daytime Emmy Awards to air on CBS on Friday night, June 26th, albeit in a virtual presentation.

While Wally is getting many accolades for his work on DAYS, let’s not forget the double duty he pulls on General Hospital, where this week his Ned Ashton. This week Ned is front and center during the encore presentations of the GH’ Nurses’ Ball episodes, which feature Wally singing his heart out in numerous memorable performances through the years.

Michael Fairman TV chatted with Kurth to get his thoughts and insight into his well-deserved acting nomination for DAYS, plus to find out his favorite GH Nurses’ Ball performances, and much more. Here now is what Wally had to say about it all.

Photo: JPI

I am so thrilled about this nomination because you know, I willed this to happen.  I was like, “It’s got to happen!” (Laughs)

WALLY:  You actually were saying that, and you have been very supportive and positive.  I appreciate it.

What did you end up submitting? I believe I gave you “Power Performance of the Week” honors on my site for some of them, too.

WALLY:  I do try to put together a little story in my submissions for Emmys.  I think that’s kind of important because if you’re asking someone to watch 8 or 9 minutes of just you… I didn’t want to just (not that I had this material) but bludgeon them with one sad, sobbing scene after another.  I wanted to give them a whole range of Justin and a little story.  So, I did start off where Justin was asking Adrienne to marry him, and Justin is very happy, and it’s all good, and he gets down on his knee, and you see her, and it’s like, “This is something really good,” and I also wanted to include a scene with Judi Evans in my reel.  Then, I cut to where it’s a year later, and Justin is with Kayla (Mary Beth Evans) in their apartment. They are already living together, and they are discussing the anniversary of their marriages, and about the sadness of Adrienne, and she’s talking about Steve (Stephen Nichols), and then she brings up having to tell me that Adrienne died.  So, that was obviously in a flashback that happened six months earlier; where Justin is obviously very upset, and scared, and doesn’t want to hear it, and breaks down, and Kayla comforts him. Then, I did the continuation where Justin tells Kayla how much she has meant to him, and how he felt like he wasn’t going to survive, and how she came to his aid in a way to make him feel like he really has something to live for.   Then, at the very end, I did two scenes with Will (Chandler Massey) in the jail which is where Justin confronts Will, who obviously Justin thought was responsible for killing Adrienne.  It was a really lovely, really well-written scene where Justin tells him, “You’re a son to me, and you can be disappointed with a son, and you can be hurt by a son, but you never stop loving him.” I think it showed a nice range of the anger, the hurt, the happiness (because Justin tells him about Kayla), so you get an idea of what happened to Justin last year.  I thought it was a good collection of scenes that told a little story, and you could see the range of what Justin went though.  Evidently, it worked on some level because I got nominated.

Courtesy/NBC

In the scene with Will, doesn’t Justin also tell him, “Don’t give up on life?” in a very hankie-inducing moment?

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WALLY:  Yes.  “Don’t give up.  Don’t give up on life,” which is really positive… even though he started the scene like, “I don’t even want to talk to this guy.”  Justin is there talking to Ben (Rob Scott Wilson), and Will kind of surprises him. So for Justin it;’ like, “Now I guess I’ve got to talk to Will about this,” and so he is still angry, he is still hurt, and you’re right, at the end, the scene has sort of transformed him in a way.  So, all of that stuff was just really nice, really nice scenes to get to play and very emotional.

I’ve watched most everything on the soaps from the performances to the storylines, and that one scene with the two of you was one of the best scenes I have seen in long time.  It was just so good from the writing to the execution of it. 

WALLY:  Oh yeah, I can’t even imagine a scene that was as good. Thank God that scene aired in December.  My story really didn’t get started until October/November, and all of those scenes that I included were from October, November, and December.

So, what did you think then when you found out that Chandler, along with you, and Paul Telfer (Xander) are all in the Supporting Actor category together?

WALLY:  I love it.  How great is that?  I love both of those guys.  I mean, I am such a fan of both of them.  Chandler kind of gets nominated every year, so I wasn’t surprised there.

Photo: JPI

Well, he had one year, as he pointed out to me (laughs), that he didn’t get a nomination. But, Chandler has been pretty much a perennial nominee every time he submits!

WALLY:  Yeah, Chandler just delivers.  He is a really an outstanding actor Paul, I think is great.  I love the character.  I was kind of surprised and happy for him because sometimes his character gets overlooked; just like the bad guy with the smarmy smirk and the great English accent.  So, there you go.  It’s terrific.  I think people saw more to his performance, and they should.  He works on a lot of different levels, and Paul brings a lot to the game.

And obviously, you know James Patrick Stuart (Valentin, General Hospital), since you work on that show too, and he is also nominated in your category. 

WALLY:  Yeah, and I have been a big fan of his too.  So, I was really delighted.  I called him up and left a message.  I love James.  We did a thing last year together where we went back east and played some music in some clubs,   I always think that James should be nominated.  He does such an exceptional job at bringing that character to life.  That’s not an easy thing to do either.  It’s kind of like a Xander character, and so, it is nice to see my fellow actors see the complexity in their performances and appreciate it.

Photo: JPI

Last week’s DAYS airshows contained scenes where Justin confronts Orpheus (George Delhoyo), over killing Adrienne, and Justin also goes to visit Adrienne’s grave.  I think you have another run of shows next year to submit for the Emmys (Laughs)

WALLY:  I do like to include the big four emotions that an actor has to play:  happy, sad, angry, and fear.  That is a scene where you get to see Justin really angry.  So, I will probably look to that as you get to see the anger part of the character, which I think is important.  You don’t get to see Justin very angry and lose it like that.

No, and that’s what was so great about it.  George was a great scene partner, though.

WALLY:  Oh, he was great.  George and I had a great time.  It was really awesome.  I mean, it was a challenge because it was very tricky, especially when Steve (Stephen Nichols) and Kayla (Mary Beth Evans) came in because you know; there is a part of the character that is just like, “Please, just let me shoot.  Just let me fire a bullet and just put it over his head or something, or maybe his hands are shaking so much that he misses the target!”  I don’t know, but you do just want to let him shoot, just one bullet.  (Laughs) Another moment that I really, really loved – and I’ll probably include it next year in my submission -was that scene with Suzanne Rogers (Maggie) at the hospital.  They gave me a beautiful speech to tell her that she should be her judge and jury and sentence herself to death, a beautiful speech about how she reminded me of Adrienne.  It brought out a different side of Justin that you don’t usually see.

Photo: JPI

When I spoke to Chandler about this nomination he related to me, “I am so happy for Wally because I feel like he is often underrated.” You have always been the guy on soaps who is always delivering consistent work, but now you’ve been given a story.  So now everyone can see what you can do or are reminded of it.  It’s hard without a story on the soaps; especially playing the Emmy game.

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WALLY:  It’s true.  What did Maurice Benard (Sonny, General Hospital) say?  “If it ain’t on the page, it ain’t on the stage.”  It’s really true.  Let’s face it, you can only do so much, and that’s why I don’t get too competitive.  If I lose, that’s totally fine.  I feel like I’ve already won.  Being recognized by my peers, that’s it.  Being nominated is awesome, and honestly, after this, so much of it is the material and what the actors got to do.  It’s sort of out of your control, you know.   I am happy for all of my fellow nominees.  It’s all good at this point.  I’m really, really happy.

Photo: ABC

You’ve been nominated once before, right?

WALLY:  Yes. I’ve been nominated once before, two years ago on General Hospital.  It was the year that Jane Elliot (Tracy) left.  In story, Tracy leaves, so there was all of that emotional stuff to play.  That was the year I also submitted myself for Days of Our Lives too, and I was really proud of that work.  That year saw Adrienne having to choose between Justin and Lucas (Bryan Dattilo), and she chose Lucas.  There were just some really nice scenes there that they wrote for Justin and Adrienne, and she was dealing with cancer.  Anyway, I got nominated for General Hospital, and I learned from that year that I am never going to nominate myself in the same category for both shows.  That’s just stupid.

Well, you’re everywhere.  You’re on the Nurses’ Ball encore episodes right now on GH,  

WALLY:  Oh, isn’t that funny?  All of these Nurses’ Balls, it’s hilarious.

Courtesy/ABC

Are you watching them?

WALLY:  Yes!  I watched parts of them the other night, especially my performances. It looked good; actually, they were really good.  I’m always kind of surprised like, “Wow! The dances … the singing … the production!”  I always feel like there should be more people at the Nurses’ Ball.  Shouldn’t there be more people in the seats? (Laughs)  But other than that, good stuff, good story.  It was fun to see the beginning of Ned and Olivia (Lisa LoCicero) as well, you know that first year where she and Sonny were just breaking up on the red carpet at the ball, and the next year, Ned and Olivia are already together.  This week they aired where I sing with sweet little Brooklyn Rae Silzer (Emma), the Elton John and Kiki Dee duet, “Don’t Go Breaking My Heart.”

Photo: ABC

Do you have one favorite Nurses’ Ball number you performed of all-time?

WALLY:  You know, someone has been posting old Nurses’ Balls from the 90s, and I forgot that I sang “Forever Young” with Amber Tamblyn (Ex-Emily), and that was so sweet.  I also loved singing “Somewhere over the Rainbow,” in the very first one or the second year, we did it. Some of my other favorites include: “I Feel Good,” with the Quartermaine boys, and Robert Palmer’s “Simply Irresistible” – that was fun because I got to put my own vocal stamp on it, and I remember performing George Michael’s “Faith.  It was fun singing that with Lisa.

Courtesy/NBC

So, we know that this year will be a virtual Daytime Emmy ceremony, and we don’t know what that will look like yet.  So, how would you dress for it, if they had a shot of you from home during the broadcast on CBS?

WALLY:  I definitely am going to wear a suit and a tie.  I think that’s important to try to give the Emmys the dignity that it deserves.

So, thrilled that Wally received a Daytime Emmy nod for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series? What were your favorite moments of his last year? Are you enjoying seeing his performances on the encore GH Nurses’ Ball episodes? Comment below.

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Days Of Our Lives

DAYS Susan Seaforth Hayes Talks On Her Daytime Emmy Nomination For Julie and Doug’s Emotional Storyline

When you think Days of our Lives, what would it be without the legendary Susan Seaforth Hayes (Julie) and her real-life and on-screen husband, Bill Hayes (Doug Williams)?

This past Emmy season, the beloved duo got a chance to shine, when they were put through a ‘heartbreaking’ predicament – Julie’s heart gives out, she is in need of a transplant, and things take a turn for the worse.

What would life be like for Doug without his Julie? How would she say goodbye to him? Fans clearly felt the sentiments overflowing from this real-life duo capturing the essence of their characters in such a raw and realistic way. So much so, that Susan landed a Daytime Emmy nomination in the Outstanding Supporting Actress category for her work.

Already a Lifetime Achievement Award recipient along with her husband, Bill back in 2018, will Susan finally get an award for her acting for her decades of beautiful work on the long-running NBC soap opera? Fans will need to tune-in to CBS on Friday, June 26th to find out with the virtual presentation of the 47th annual Daytime Emmy Awards.  But for now, here is our conversation with Susan.

Photo: NATAS

Congratulations on your Supporting Actress nomination.  You have been racking up a lot of these recently, having been nominated in the same category two years ago, and also receiving the Lifetime Achievement Award along with your husband, Bill Hayes at the 45th annual Daytime Emmys in 2018.

SUSAN:  It’s really nice to be nominated, because I’ve had a few gap years.  I’ve had, what? 25 gap years between the recent nominations.

What scenes did you ultimately chose that landed you the nomination?

SUSAN:  I submitted when Julie dies.  I submitted the farewell montage scenes with Bill Hayes, and they were very moving to us… and we’ll see.  I did not submit anything snappy, or bitchy, or hysterical.  I’ve lost against hysterical every time.  Comedy has never worked.  So, I am going to try the heart and soul of soup opera: not bitchiness, but loss.

Photo: JPI

Can I ask how you got through those scenes with Bill, because it was so touching?  I don’t know how you did it.

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SUSAN:  It was very difficult.  I mean, these are the things that make us so connected to the characters and the show.  This is a place where we can show the public what love means to us, which is everything.

They were beautiful scenes.  Do you remember when you did them, if you felt good about them at the time?

SUSAN:  No… no.  I didn’t know.  Everyone on the set seemed happy.  We are blessed to have feedback from out producers now, and they didn’t say, “I think you can do it better,” and, “Another take,” not that we would have anyway, because there is never time to do another take.

Photo: JPI

How did you find out that you were nominated? 

SUSAN:  One of the producers, Randy Dugan called me, or I wouldn’t have found out for a couple of days,

What are your thoughts on this being a virtual Daytime Emmys ceremony because of COVID-19?  We don’t know anything about will play out yet or what that will look like, but it is back on network TV.

SUSAN:  It’s going to be a wonderful surprise.

So, if they have the shot of the nominees, do you think you’d be dressed in comfortable clothes or more formal?

SUSAN:  Well, I’d certainly wear my best earrings if I were at home, yeah.  If my grandson can arrange us to get on the internet (we have a grandson living on our property, and he’s our live-in techy), we will get dressed up, and sit there, if that’s the way to do it.

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DAYS did very well receiving 22 overall nominations and a lot of your co-stars got nomination as well.

SUSAN:  Yes, an excellent year for nominations for our show.

How many times have you been nominated now? 

SUSAN:  This makes six.

Photo: IMDB

Would it mean a lot to you to get the award?

SUSAN:  The Lifetime Achievement meant a lot.  It wouldn’t be bad to win this year.  I’ll say that.  It would be sweet for the show, since I am now the oldest living cast member of the original family – the original, original.  I’m not the original Julie, but close enough.  So, I think that would be some validation for the longevity of this original storytelling.  People look at the show and say, “Are you part of the DiMera family or the Brady family?”  I say, “I’m part of the Horton family!”

What did your husband Bill say when he found out you were nominated?

SUSAN:  (Yells) Billy, what did you say when you found out I was nominated?

BILL:  Yay!!!

SUSAN:  That’s about right. (Laughs)

Photo: JPI

What a guy!

SUSAN:  I know!  What a guy, what a guy, what a guy!

I was really happy to see your name among the other well-deserving nominees.

SUSAN:  I know you are because I know you care.  Who knows what will happen? It isn’t going to ruin our lives you know, one way or another.  But it was very nice to receive this acknowledgment from my peers.

So, are you glad Susan received a nomination for her work in her emotional storyline? Do you think she should finally receive the Emmy for her performances? Comment below.

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Days Of Our Lives

DAYS Chandler Massey Chats On His Bittersweet Daytime Emmy Nomination

He’s won three Daytime Emmys in the Outstanding Younger Actor in a Drama Series three years in row in 2012, 2013 and 2014, and now Chandler Massey is going for gold for the second time in his career in the Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Drama Series which in a field where he is competing with two co-stars from Days of our Lives among others.

Massey has long been a stand out performer, giving nuanced and emotional portrayals in the angst-ridden life of Will Horton and the love of his life, Sonny Kiriakis (Freddie Smith).

Back in February of this year, DAYS fans learned that Chandler and Freddie had taped their last episodes, and since the NBC soap tapes more than 6 months ahead of air, that the two will still be on the air into the fall.  That has made this moment of recognition for Massey all the more poignant.

Michael Fairman TV talked with Chandler to get his reaction to the news that he is once again a Daytime Emmy nominee, and here’s what he had to say about it all.

Photo: JPI

 

I thought it was great that you received another Emmy nomination.  What do you think?

CHANDLER:  Yeah.  I thought it was pretty great too, actually.   I was surprised.  I wasn’t keeping up on when they were announcing the nominations.   I was thrilled that Wally (Kurth) and Paul (Telfer) also got nominated too in the same category.  So, hopefully, DAYS, has a decent shot to take it home.

What did you end up submitting that ultimately landed you the nomination?

CHANDLER:  I went with some scenes that aired on December 16th of last year (I just looked that up), where Will basically breaks up with Sonny when Sonny comes to visit him in prison.  I liked those because they were sort of subtle.  I just found myself drawn in when I watched it, and it wasn’t big or dramatic, but it felt like two real people sharing their pain.  So, that’s why I chose it.

Photo: JPI

I remember those.  Those were heartbreaking because he had to get Sonny to let him go.

CHANDLER:  Yes.  He said he has a new prison boyfriend, and that he’s doing really well in prison, so he doesn’t want to be tied down. (Laughs)

You’ve had Freddie Smith as your scene partner for so much of your run on DAYS.  What did he give you in those scenes that helped you, or even further enabled the performance that you gave?

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CHANDLER:  Freddie always gives everything.  He is a consummate professional, so he really commits every time.  I think it is more that we are just so comfortable with each other that we are not afraid, and that there is no hesitation between the two of us, so we just are able to do the work.  We usually know we are there to listen to, and support each other. in the scenes.

Photo: NATAS

Was your entire submission from the prison scenes or did you include something else?

CHANDLER:  It was just that.  I know I could have included something else, but I like to keep it sort of short because I feel like as a judge, I know within a few minutes.  It’s not that I get bored, but it really only takes a scene or two, and then, you’re like, “this is something special.”  You can recognize it pretty quickly.

So, you have won three Daytime Emmys. This is your first nomination in a few years, right?

CHANDLER:  Yeah, I didn’t get nominated the year before.  I had a gap year… to my family’s great shame. (Laughs)  They were not pleased with me.

Photo: JPI

This is your second nomination in the Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Daytime Drama Series category.

CHANDLER:  Yes. I was nominated in ‘Supporting’ for the first time when I came back to DAYS, and then submitted for “Lead” the next year, didn’t get nominated, and then went back to ‘Supporting’.  I learned my place.  I went back to ‘Supporting’ for this year.  (Laughs)

It’s such a game though, right?  .

CHANDLER:  Yeah, you’ve got to be smart.  I just thought, “What the heck?”  Freddie and I were like, “Maybe there’s a shot that if we pick different categories, we can both get nominated,” but then, after that didn’t work, I said, “Screw that… going back to ‘Supporting”

Now, you’ve been through Emmy night before, and this is obviously going to be a virtual Emmy’s.  Now, if they did a six-shot of all of the nominees, what would you wear?  Would you be dressed up?  Would you be casual?  What would you see yourself doing?

CHANDLER:  That’s a good question. I think maybe… I’ll do a little of both.  I’ll go the middle ground.  I’ll be in my finest bathrobe, a silk bathrobe so it’s casual but also still sort of fancy.

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There you go.  (Laughs)  Is this nomination all the more special for you in that you are no longer working at DAYS? 

CHANDLER:  Oh, totally.  Every year is special, but you know, I’m not on the show anymore, so it’s a nice reminder that the work that I did had an effect on people, and it won’t be forgotten for at least a few more hours.

Photo: JPI

I saw the fan outcry and show of support for you and Freddie, when viewers got wind that you were exiting the series.  It was sad and heartwarming at the same time.  The WilSon fans are so behind you guys.

CHANDLER:  Yeah, if only they knew what horrible people that we were in real life, then they wouldn’t be this way, but thankfully… (Laughs)  Yeah, it’s really nice, but it is sad.  I started in 2009, and that was over 10 years ago, and nothing lasts forever.  I had a really, really great run, and so did Freddie.  I am very satisfied and don’t feel jipped, or like, I was entitled to anything more than I got.

Courtesy/NBC

Obviously, your co-nominees, Wally and Paul you worked with many times.  What can you say about them?

CHANDLER:  I think that both men deserve definitely to get second and third place.  (Laughs)  I have known Wally for a while now.  I love him.  I think his work is phenomenal.  I think he is really, really underrated.  Paul, I don’t know as well, but I think obviously his work speaks for himself.  If only he were physically attractive, I think that would really, really help his career.

Photo: JPI

I know, it’s a shame.

CHANDLER:  Unfortunately, he is kind of schleppy, you know?  (Laughs)

Photo: JPI

Did Freddie reach out to you after you received the nomination?  

CHANDLER:  Oh yes, he sent a text congratulating me, and we talked about it.  It was nice.  I feel like our stories are so intertwined, the scenes we submit are mostly with each other.  So, it’s really kind of a shared accolade.

So, will you be rooting for Chandler to cap off his career on DAYS with an Emmy win on June 26th during the virtual ceremony on CBS? What did you think of the nominated scenes he submitted? Share your thoughts via the comment section below.

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