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The Cady McClain Interview – The Young and the Restless

Photo Credit: Courtney Lindberg

Photo Credit: Courtney Lindberg

Over the last few months, Daytime Emmy winner Cady McClain has taken over the role of Kelly Andrews on The Young and the Restless from Daytime Emmy winner Cynthia Watros, and released her very personal memoir Murdering My Youth.  This should come as no surprise to anyone who knows the talents of this hard working actress, who is also an author and a filmmaker that always immerses herself in creative projects and different ways of self-expression.

McClain, who has been a prominent name in daytime soaps for decades, first with All My Children as Dixie, and then on As the World Turns as Rosanna, joined the cast of the CBS soap opera in 2014 and was immediately paired romantically on-screen with her former Pine Valley friend, Peter Bergman (Jack Abbott).  As the two characters draw closer … what will happen when Phyllis (the incoming Gina Tognoni) comes back to Genoa City and finds these two are intertwined?  And just what is Kelly’s relationship with Ben, err, Stitch (Sean Carrigan)?  In this interview with On-Air On-Soaps, Cady in her own inimitable style – with grace, humor, and intelligence – weighs-in on what might happen next to her latest on-screen incarnation … Kelly!

But before we get to what’s going down in Genoa City, we took the opportunity after being riveted and heartbroken reading Cady’s memoir, to talk to her about the tumultuous events that shaped her early life including; the sexual abuse suffered at the hands of her father, growing up in an alcoholic environment, her mother’s emotional and damaging outbursts, and how as a young child actress and even later into her early years on All My Children, she was footing the bill for the family and being used, for all intent and purposes, as their meal ticket!  The story is haunting, but true.  And at the conclusion of our chat, we came away with how Cady triumphed over her own tragedy.  Here’s what she shared …

MICHAEL:

When did you actually come to the decision to write the book, Murdering My Youth?   Was there any hesitation to bare your soul to the world in this way?

CADY:

Courtesy/Cady McClain

It was about five years ago that I started to write the story, and I originally started writing it as a fictional tale.  I wrote the entire book in the perspective of a third person, and then in the last year people kept pushing me to make it my story.  That was really terrifying.  I kept feeling like I had to warn everybody in the first few pages.  I would be saying, “Don’t worry if this upsets you!”  I put all these codicils in the front of the book to sort of make it OK for everyone, and that was a real process.  Probably the last year of writing the book was the hardest.  I wrote it because I had to, because I lived with this story inside me for so long, and for some reason writing it was not just cathartic in the way it released it, because I have been dealing with it and releasing it for my entire life.  For me it was about putting the personal into an artistic form, especially when putting it into words.  It becomes a story that no longer belongs to me; it belongs to the world.

MICHAEL:

You talk about the horrors and difficulties you suffered at the hands of your parents.  As a child actress, and throughout your early career, your mother would live off the money you made.  Did you feel at some point you were carrying mother around as a baggage, since you were in essence financially supporting her?  Were you still able to still find inside your heart love for your mother?

CADY:

Well, I absolutely loved her, and I felt she was my responsibility.  She was like a crazy child, and sweet and adorable in a lot of ways.  I remember doing a drawing when I was a little girl of a giant elephant on the back of a young girl, and that’s how it felt.  The elephant was just terrified.  I felt incredibly grateful that I could be strong and take care of her, but at the same time the things she did that were wounding were very hard to understand.  Also, the reason I wrote the book was to come to some compassion for her since she was wounded very deeply as a little girl.  I wanted to think of her as a person, and not as a mother who had to be fully responsible to a child … that was me.  By doing that, I felt more powerful, and more at peace.  I had to do the same thing with my dad. They were adults … but they were children.

MICHAEL:

Courtesy/ABC

The sexual abuse early on in your life from your father you carried with you into your professional soap career, because you would have to play, as any leading actress would, love scenes!   How did you conquer the fear that would come with that given the traumatic event in your life?

CADY:

My very first love scene on TV was with Michael Knight (Tad, AMC).  I was stiff as a board and I was terrified, and this is one of the reasons I will be so grateful to Michael ‘till the day I die.  He was always incredibly intuitive and sensitive to me as a young girl.   He was incredibly kind.  He understood, and that helped me a great deal.  What was harder was when the production couldn’t make any adjustments for me!  Even when my mom died, I was working five days a week, and kicking holes in the wall from the stress and the difficulties of everything.  They wrote scenes where men would grab me and drag me across the room, and they had a stunt coordinator, and thank God for him!  He got me, and he saw me freaking out!  The funny thing is being here at Y&R and starting to have some love scenes again … I have to admit I was nervous.  I hadn’t done love scenes in a while.  I had just gotten married, and so thank God for Peter Bergman (Jack)!  Peter is a total gentleman, and we had these conversations.  And this is the thing … I sought out the help of good men.  Good men will help you get through this crap.  So thank God for the good men here, and at home, who allowed me to have my fear and work through my fear.  The whole point is… you’ve got to get to the other side!  I don’t want to stay stuck in hell.  I like sex!  I don’t want to live as a victim of one experience.

MICHAEL:

… And in the book you detail that while at AMC was when you were having the hardest time emotionally.

CADY:

Photo Credit: HutchinsPhoto.com

Yes.  It was prior to my mother’s death, and leading up to that.  I was cutting my hair all the time!  I don’t know if anyone remembers the “Many Looks of Dixie”. (Laughs)  I almost had my hair shaved off!   It’s a funny thing.  A woman’s hair is her mane … her sense of power.  You can always tell how a woman is doing by her hair! (Laughs) Like, “Oh! She’s a bit Cruella de Vil today!”  (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

It’s interesting that in your book, and when you read other performers stories, they always seem to get the acting, or performing bug, early on when they are children; when they receive an instant form of gratification when they perhaps sing, dance, or impersonate someone in front of the family, and see that they can entertain.

CADY:

There is a sentence in the book: “This is how performers are made. It’s when you can affect the happiness of another person by your entertaining.”  It’s how I became an actor.  I would tap dance and people would be happy.  It was like, “Hey, I will dance and sing.  I am making money.  Are you happy now?  Here, take the money!”  I always think, though, that I have been a creative person my whole life in terms of the outlets of writing, filmmaking, and songwriting…

MICHAEL:

 … And Suzie F*cking Homemaker!

CADY:

Courtesy/TOLN

(Laughs) And Suzie!  And even my short film Flip Fantasia was inspired by me walking through Central Park going, “I have so much baggage!”  I was thinking that I am literally dragging a dead body, my mother, around!  And that is where the idea for the film came from.  I thought I will turn this into a comedy, because it’s so bad that if I don’t laugh, what am I going to do?   I am going to jump off the Brooklyn bridge.  And that’s not cool; we don’t want to do that!  (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

What has been the reaction you have received from people that have read Murdering My Youth?  Have others shared their personal stories with you?

CADY:

People with mothers who beat them, or people that were raped as children, all kinds of people have written me very, very personal stories; and how they have lived with this sense of fear as adults, and feeling alone, and unconnected to other people.  I think for me, one of the greatest gifts of this book was my way to not have anybody feel as alone as I did.  What makes us happy is to feel connected to one another and understood, and that sense of connection and understanding that makes life worth living.  You can move forward from things.  For me, to have that response from others was great.

MICHAEL:

Your sister is mentioned throughout this book, and in your story.  It seemed at times you were the one to take the brunt of the abuse from your parents.

CADY:

Courtesy/CBS

My sister gave me permission to write this book, but she was by no means unscathed from the horrors.  I just did not tell her story; this is my story to tell.  My sister deserves her privacy.  She is not a public person, and she is not on television, but we did go through this very much together.

MICHAEL:

You mention well-known former Hollywood children’s agent, the late Iris Burton. What a potty mouth on her!

CADY:

She was a children’s agent and my first agent for close to six years.  I remember she would say crazy things like, “Let me see your feet, honey!” or “Never wear that T-shirt again.”  She kind of was the beginnings of Suzy Homemaker! (Laughs)  Iris was kind of a monster.

MICHAEL:

Has your husband Jon Lindstrom (Kevin, GH) read Murdering My Youth?  Was he aware of much of your personal stories before you revealed them publicly?

CADY:

He knew some of it.  Most of the times he would want to hold me for a long time.  He is a great guy and a great hugger, too.  The love of a good person can really make things alright, and maybe that’s why in soap operas we tell stories about love.  We are all looking for that!

MICHAEL:

Everyone knows from your past work that you often have very high stakes and emotional scenes!  Do you think your work on the soaps has been, in a way, cathartic for you?

CADY:

Courtesy/CBS

It is not therapeutic; it’s an art form.  I love when a scene is well-structured and  well written, and I have a good scene partner and a good director.  It’s like a dance.  It’s dancing and everyone knows their steps.  It’s like Dancing with the Stars!  There are steps you must follow, and if you screw it up, you can screw up the whole dance.  There are times it can drain you.  I remember there was a time on As the World Turns where I was crying every day for five weeks straight about this baby.  I was ready to throw the baby out the window!  (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

In a recent interview with On-Air On-Soaps, Y&R head writers Jean Passanante and Shelly Altman discussed your work as Rosanna on As the World Turns as one of the reasons they knew you could play the part of Kelly Andrews.   Rosanna had an edge.  Does knowing that Jean, who was at one time the head writer of As the World Turns is writing for your character, give you hope that Kelly will be written to your strengths?

CADY:

Kelly is very different than Rosanna, or Dixie.  She is a fully adult woman with a really screwed up childhood … surprise! (Laughs)  Kelly has a lot of secrets.  I don’t see her as necessarily manipulative, but she is genuine.  She give her “male friend” Stitch a really hard time.  I was able to see in Kelly a strength inside all of that brokenness.  Depending on what they write, and Jean knows that I can do, which is awesome, this character can be terrific!  It’s nice to have people writing the show who know what I can do.

MICHAEL:

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Were you surprised you got cast in the part of Kelly?

CADY:

Shocked!  Cynthia Watros (Ex-Kelly) is a powerhouse.  She was a real presence in this role, and she has a real strength about her.  So when they called me and said, “You’re in the running for the part,” I was like “Oooh!”  Then I thought: “How can I convince them that I would be right for this role?”  So, I put together this reel.  I had to prove what I can do, and I had to have people go to bat for me.  Then I had to prove myself once I got the job.  To get the opportunity is fantastic, but to keep the opportunity is very nerve-wracking! (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

Coming to Y&R can be nerve-wracking because there are some heavy hitters in the cast!  Did you want to make sure it did not become the “Cady McClain Show”? Sometimes it’s important in soaps, when people take over from another actress or are added into the canvas, that they are not shoved down the audiences’ throat too quickly.

CADY:

I think one of the most important things to me was to make sure that everyone here knew I respected them, and was happy to be a part of the show, and that I am not here to step on anyone’s toes, but to be an ensemble player.  This is not about me… it’s about being a member of the ensemble.  That’s how I am happiest, and that’s how I work best.  It also shows consideration for all the people who are working here for so many years.  I think everyone knows by now that I feel grateful to be here, and that I care about the show.  I want to do the work, and get out on time, and go home, and be with my husband and my dogs, and have a life.

MICHAEL:

Photo Credit: HutchinsPhoto.com

What is going on between Stich and Kelly?  Do you know what their “true” relationship is to one another?

CADY:

Kelly knows who Stitch is to her.  Their relationship is incredibly complex!   When their relationship is revealed, and you find out more of their history, it’s a devastating revelation for all involved.  I love working with Sean Carrigan (Stitch).  He is hilarious and really fun, and works really hard on all of his scenes.  We even text each other about how to develop our relationship more as actors working on characters.  He’s super cool.

MICHAEL:

So here you come to Y&R, and lo and behold, you are paired with your former AMC cast mate, Peter Bergman (Jack)!  What did you think about that, initially?

CADY:

The most beautiful thing is just looking at him in the glory days of All My Children, and the soaps, and being in New York when AMC was the top-rated show, and the world was young and we were all innocent.  The Internet did not exist, and we did not have cell phones!  We might as well be braiding our hair and singing love songs like hippies!  (Laughs) It was sort of post-70’s magic.  It was a magical time. When we moved down the street to the new studios, suddenly we became a corporate entity, and the show lost some of its sparkle.

MICHAEL:

How is Peter Bergman to act with?  Is he any good?  (Laughs)

CADY:

Courtesy/CBS

(Laughs) The most amazing thing about Peter is he has been here for 25 years, and you would think he just got the job yesterday.  He treats every scene with a passion and conviction, and he loves what he does.  Peter was so excited to work with me, which was so heartwarming.  We have had the same tales working with former AMC director Henry Kaplan, who was in my book.  Henry would say, “Do you love her?  Well show me!”  We would say those silly sayings to each other before a love scene to break the ice with one another.

MICHAEL:

So Kelly is truly, truly into Jack?

CADY:

She really likes him.  He is a nice guy, and sexy, and a turn-on for her.  I don’t think she knows why.  She is just drawn to him.  He is smart, and sophisticated.  Kelly is well-read and fought her way out of a tough upbringing to make herself into somebody, and to her Jack has become all of those wonderful things – confident in himself – and he has a rich history!  Apparently, Jack has been a bit of a playboy! (Laughs) Girls tend to find that very appealing … men who have experience.  It just means they know what they are doing when they get under the sheets, and that is good to know.  I prefer a little expertise, if you know what I mean! (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

And Kelly had now slept with Jack!  How was that? (Laughs)

CADY:

Peter and I sat around the dressing room and I said to him, and I love doing stuff like this. I said, “What do you think Kelly and Jack’s sex life is like?”  And we go, “Multiple Orgasms!” (Laughs)  Peter Bergman said that!  Why do you think Jack has had so many women!  (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

Courtesy/ABC

Phyllis is coming back in the form of two-time Daytime Emmy Winner Gina Tognoni!  What do you think of Gina being cast in the pivotal role?

CADY:

I am thrilled that Gina has been cast.  I am a fan of her work, and am in awe of her talent. I can’t wait!

MICHAEL:

You know when Phyllis wakes up out of her coma she is going to come back for Jack!  And who should have her claws into her man?  Kelly!  I see fireworks!

CADY:

That seems like it’s ripe for that!  I do love a good catfight!  I remember I did one with Maura West on As the World Turns, where it was so much fun.  So we shall see what happens when Phyllis returns.

MICHAEL:

Where is Kelly at with her relationship with Billy Abbott?

CADY:

Billy has moved on, and they have made it very clear to each other that it was one time, and he made a mistake.  There is still a connection.  When you sleep with somebody you kind of know them a little bit better, and you have been intimate.  I think it’s odd now that she is with his brother, but everybody seems to have done that on Y&R! (Laughs)  These things do happen in real life, and we are trying to be adult about it.  But these stories are great because they turn into really tangled vines.

MICHAEL:

Courtesy/IMDB

When you joined Y&R, David Tom was playing the role of Billy Abbott, and soon Burgess Jenkins will be taking it over.  What are your thoughts on the acting switch?  Have you met Burgess yet? 

CADY:

I met Burgess yesterday and he was lovely.  As a recast myself, I know how overwhelming the whole new world of Y&R can be!   I am looking forward to working with him and exploring more of the dynamic between these characters!  I hope I get to have a lot more with “Billy” soon!

MICHAEL:

Who in the cast made you feel the most comfortable from the minute you landed at Y&R?

CADY:

I am so grateful that Melody Thomas Scott (Nikki) is who she is.  She does set the tone. She is just the loveliest star of the show.  We did a scene where she said, “I was just so mean to you, I have to hug you now!”  When I first got here she screamed to me: “Welcome to the loony bin” while wearing her slippers with her script in hand!  I just adore her.

MICHAEL:

Some fans online at first seemed to want to reject the notion of you as Kelly, and then they seemed to come around.  You are very active on social media, so what is your take on the fan’s reaction?

CADY:

Photo Credit: Sue Coflin/Max Photos

The fans online have been so supportive.  I love when people have watched All My Children, or As the World Turns, and say, “Well now I am going to watch Y&R because we love those characters, etc!”  And I am very interactive and accessible on Twitter, and Facebook, and stuff.  So I definitely read everything.  Even people at the beginning were like: “I don’t know if Cady is going to work as Kelly!”  However, they seem to be coming around, and I am so grateful for that.   I am doing a different take on the character and I am happy that they are supporting me, and their verbalization, if you will, of that support.  But I will say; message boards are not for the weak of heart.  It’s tough though, sometimes comments do hurt.  I want to say, “Please don’t hashtag me if you want to say something mean!” (Laughs)  Enjoy your meanness, but please don’t hashtag me … or my boss!

MICHAEL:

Recently, one of my favorite things you wrote on your website blog at CadyMcClain.com was the piece on your nose!  What prompted you to do that?

CADY:

So one day I was looking up most popular searches for my website blog.  So I put in “Most Popular Searches”.  It said, “Cady McClain” and then “Cady McClain’s nose”!  I thought that was so bizarre. (Laughs)  I guess it’s not a secret anymore that I have a prominent nose.  So, I thought I would address it, laugh at it, and so I wrote a blog about it.  The nose is out of the bag! (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

So here you are the number one rated soap, The Young and the Restless.  Who else would you love to get the chance to work with that you haven’t had the opportunity to have scenes with yet?

Photo Credit: Courtney Lindberg

CADY:

I have not had the chance to work with Christian LeBlanc (Michael) and Greg Rikaart (Kevin). I think those guys are amazing, and Steve Burton (Dylan) is amazing!  I have not worked with him either.  There are so many good actors and actresses on this show.  It’s great to work with people who have been in the business as long as I have.  You can sort of talk to each other in short-hand, if you know I mean.  It’s like being a professional tennis player. You want to play against the best, and hit the ball back to you, and let me tell you, some of the best are right here in Genoa City.

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Harry
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Harry

I had no idea Cady had such a hellacious childhood. The book sounds compelling and I will read it. And yes, I do remember she (Dixie) went through a period of changing her hair almost every month it seemed. Love, love, love reading about her experience with two of my favorite actors from daytime–Michael Knight and Peter Bergman–it always came through that both actors are very gracious and lovely.
I hope the writers can write decent stories for Kelly–she deserves it.
Thank you for the very interesting interview, Mr. Fairman.

A Baptiste
Guest
A Baptiste

Love and respect for this true star who keeps daytime alive with other greats. She had much responsibility while so young on AMC and delivered and still delivers. She is a strong, positive team player. And her book, it is brave and it has helped me, as a survivor of very similar abuse…and I am a man, these things do happen to men, too. I am so glad she is happy and I do think Cady may be part of daytime’s resurgance “in new ways” after all, bless her.

Ginger Willett
Guest
Ginger Willett

I love you and Jack together and I am thrilled you are on Y&R…hope we find out the Stitch connection soon!!!

Kim Huck
Guest
Kim Huck

This was a mistake to recast. i liked the other kelly. I really hope Phyllis never comes back

Harry
Guest
Harry

We have got to give our actors time to settle into their characters (for example–David Tom really deserved a fair chance). Cady is finding her stride and I really enjoy her scenes with Peter Bergman.

Megan
Guest
Megan

Well sorry Phyllis is coming back. So you better get ready.

Carole
Guest
Carole

I love her!

mollie
Guest
mollie

Love Cady, too! I was thrilled she was cast as Kelly. She works well with Peter/Jack, too.

My hope is that the audience gives her a minute to settle into the Kelly character and make it her own. Please, dear God, give Cady good script !

PS Susie F*cking Homemaker is a riot. Hope Cady does more 🙂

Conny
Guest
Conny

Thank you Mr. Fairman for this interview with Cady McClain. It is always nice to be ever so enlightened as to what make actors tick they way they do. You covered some sensitive material with Cady. But , also delivered it in a way that allowed to be professionally presented. Some of the the tools of Cady ‘ s personal life that was afore mentioned., I did not know. Through your interview, I’ve learned how much of an overcome Cady is and where she draws her strength from. I used to watch her as Dixie on AMC. Kelly seems like… Read more »

Scott (ATWT Fan)
Guest
Scott (ATWT Fan)

Cady is a class act, always has and always will be. I knew she would be perfect for the role of Kelly Andrews when they announced their decision to recast, and I was right! I paired her and Peter in my own webseries in 2012, and it’s almost as if I saw this coming from a mile away! She is a strong woman to share her back story, and I applaud her through everything for doing it. It takes a strong and confident person to admit the things she’s admitted, while still holding strong in her own life. I applaud… Read more »

Carole
Guest
Carole

Stranger things have happened like Nikki and Ashley being cordial, and Lauren and Christine having lunch together!

Izabel
Guest
Izabel

Loved reading this. Never really read too much on actors but its good to know a little about where they came from and how they translate that into roles.. Having said tthat, its hard not to judge character since all we see is their tv role. I liked cynthia watros’ version of kelly but now I tthink cady has a good chance to make the character more her own. Cozy for her and jack! Always liked her friendship with Lilly! And can’t wait to see the connection with stitch, hope its intense.

Mary SF
Guest
Mary SF

Admire her as a person and respect her as an actress, but sorry I don’t like her interpretation of Kelly. CW’s Kelly was dark, and you could tell the character was beaten down by life, but Cady’s Kelly is too light and almost bubbly that the transition is hard to adjust to. I get the character is moving on, and has a new outlook, but I just feel something of the character’s personality was lost in the recast and I think it would have been more interesting to see CW take on Kelly learning to be vulnerable as Jack worked… Read more »

Sherie
Guest
Sherie

Sorry, I don’t like her very much. I never liked the character of Kelly so it is hard to appreciate any one in that role. But I did prefer the original lady.

Megan
Guest
Megan

Cady is truly an inspiration to me and many others. Her book is a fantastic read that I encourage everyone to read. She’s one of a kind.

Timmm
Guest
Timmm

Cady is a huge upgrade from Cynthia. I can now believe that this Kelly and Jack would actually be together and I see Cady and Gina blowing their scenes out of the water! Cady, great job on Y&R and a greater job of overcoming your horrific childhood.

jaybird369
Guest
jaybird369

AWESOME INTERVIEW!!!!! And, as an actress, Cady McClain TRULY ROCKS!!!!!

Nikki
Guest
Nikki

Wow… Heartbreaking. Thank you for the very interesting questions.
I am not a fan of the recastt. The character has taken a very sharp turn which I don’t think is bad. The old Kelly was always angry. I think there is such a drastic change in character that you forget how Kelly first came to be. My problem is that I feel Cady is wY over the top n every scene. Not a fan f the acting.

Rapids
Guest
Rapids

How do we know if her story of abuse is true? It is easy to say bad things about the deceased.

Nita
Guest
Nita

Not so easy to think someone would make up such a horrific lie stemming from the unfortunate acts of the adults that were responsible for the care and well-being of a child. Not to speak ill of the dead, but what were the parents thinking? Just goes to show how God takes care of children and how strong it made her. I was a victim in some of the same ways, so it is not so hard to believe. What happened in your life that made you so cynical?

Rapids
Guest
Rapids

What happened in your life that you automatically believe every accusation made is true? I don’t know these people and either do you.

Lindy
Guest
Lindy

One does not normally question something like this without a good reason. What makes you think her story of abuse is not true?

Patrick
Guest
Patrick

this is my most favorite response of Ms McLain : The most beautiful thing is just looking at him in the glory days of All My Children, and the soaps, and being in New York when AMC was the top-rated show, and the world was young and we were all innocent. The Internet did not exist, and we did not have cell phones! We might as well be braiding our hair and singing love songs like hippies! (Laughs) It was sort of post-70’s magic. It was a magical time. When we moved down the street to the new studios, suddenly… Read more »

Tracey
Guest
Tracey

Ms. McClain has always been a class act. <3 her.

Interviews

Y&R’s Mishael Morgan Talks Amanda’s Gut-Wrenching Scenes With Her Mother, Romance with Devon & Vice-President Kamala Harris’ Historic Moment

Since Mishael Morgan returned to The Young and the Restless as Hilary’s twin, Amanda Sinclair, it’s been a slow burn for the character.  However, recent revelations of Amanda’s childhood past have exposed the emotional wounds and the inner fight of this legal eagle, who is now poised for a romance with her late sister’s husband, Devon Hamilton (Bryton James)!

And who better to take on the challenge of trying to make Amanda and Devon a couple to root for then the talented Morgan.  In recent scenes, viewers watched as Amanda learned the harsh reality from her biological mother, Naya (Ptosha Storey), that she gave her and her sister up at birth and never really regretted it! Mishael played those scenes as you would expect for all they were worth and then some.

Michael Fairman TV chatted with the Trinidadian-Canadian Morgan, as the United States marked Martin Luther King Day on Monday – a holiday that holds a special place for her – and then the inauguration of Joe Biden and Kamala Harris as President and Vice-President of the United States on Wednesday and its historical significance.

 

While Mishael shares her thoughts on these moments of our time, we also do a deep-dive into how she created a second life in Genoa City and the challenges of playing a twin and making her unique and different, plus what fans should look forward to in the months ahead, which to us looks like it could be a love triangle between Elena (Brytni Sarpy), Devon, and Amanda.  And, as the second anniversary of the death of Kristoff St. John (Neil Winters) is fast approaching, Morgan opens up about the impact her former co-star had on her daytime career.  Here’s what Mishael had to say about it all below.

Photo: AP

Yesterday was such a historic day watching the swearing in ceremony of Kamala Harris, as Vice-President of the United States.  She is the first woman, first Black woman, first Indian woman, so many firsts to hold this office.  I just wanted to get your thoughts from watching it.  What was it like for you?

MISHAEL:  For me it was such a beautiful moment, and such a defining moment because now there is no person in America who can feel like they can’t do it all, that they can’t make it to the highest level of office, or at least one of the highest levels of office.  I think that is going to transform this country and the world in many ways because the rest of the world really does pay attention to American politics, and to what goes on in America.  I think it will really have a ripple effect throughout the entire world.  For me, it was so exciting to see this moment actually come to fruition because I think that the impact is even greater than we all could imagine.  You never know who you’re inspiring.

Photo: Hustory.com

It was really amazing, and this was also right after Martin Luther King Day and I know you produced your “I Have a Dream” Project.  How was the holiday for you?

MISHAEL:  It was funny because even though I did the MLK project, I didn’t really think that it was something I could really explain to my son.  Then, yesterday my son really wanted to know: “What was Martin Luther King Day about?  Why was it a holiday?”  It was so interesting because I had to come up with a way to explain it to a five-year-old, and what I came up with was so basic but so true.  I just said, “This was a day when Martin Luther King, a very famous man, who was famous because he stood up for everybody’s rights, and he marched to make sure that everybody can do the same things in this country as everyone else no matter how they look,” and that’s what he was.  He wasn’t just a champion for just Black lives.  I think he is a champion for equality, and he is a champion for making sure that we always remember to see each other the same.

Is that what inspired you originally to do your project?

MISHAEL:  Yes.  100%.  I remember being inspired by Martin Luther King as a child when I was learning about him for Black History Month and stuff like that, and then when all of the social unrest happened, I just remembered him again, and it was something that I wanted to explore.  When I started reading about him again, I just became so inspired by him all over again that I wanted to do something, and that’s what really inspired me to do the “I Have a Dream” Project.

Photo: Getty

I just hope that we will make strides in our country in stomping out systemic racism – it’s such a deeply-entrenched issue in our society.  A lot of people talk, but we need action to bring change to the system.

MISHAEL:  That’s the thing, I think that this moment, you can’t stop – like the moment when Kamala Harris got sworn in as our Vice-President – you can’t stop the train now because strides will be made that the next generation will look at as normal, and of what it means to be a Black woman or a woman in this country is going to change forever.  It’s the next generation that is really going to continue to move it forward.  So, I think that at the end of the day.  This will always be something that’s remembered.

Courtesy/CBS

Now on to Y&R, I wanted to tell you that these performances that you gave that recently aired were just great.  I always love it when they give you the ball.  How did you feel about the scenes and the storyline, where we learn the deep pain and hurt of Amanda’s childhood and the truth from her mother?

MISHAEL:  I was so excited to play it because for me, I really love telling human stories.  I love diving into that part of myself, and I really know that a huge part of why I am an actor is because I just have this outpouring level of empathy for every life that’s lived.  When I talk to people, and they tell me their stories, I want to take it on because I want to show that beautiful side of humanity.  So being given this story, I wanted to be very careful with it, because I knew that this is a reality for a lot of people.  I also thought about the fact that twin stories have always been done before, paternity stories have been done before, but I have to make sure that it comes from a truly honest place inside of me and a truly empathetic place.  I was excited to take on the challenge to be true to myself, and be true to my artist, and just find the beauty and the honesty in this real human story.

Courtesy/CBS

Ptosha Storey, who played your on-screen mother, Naya, was amazing in the scenes with you.  What was it like working with her and the gravity of it, where this woman is basically unapologetic that she didn’t want her children and she gave them up, and she did not sugar-coat it.

MISHAEL:  Ptosha was amazing.  I loved working with her.  We really got to kind of know each other a little bit.  She has such an interesting story about coming to LA to pursue acting, taking a break from it, (and I don’t want to speak for her), but then really going full-throttle right now when Black, female characters are being played, and she’s getting an opportunity to get back out there and do what she loves to do.  Just listening to her story was so inspiring to me. We had a true respect for each other when we got on the stage, and I think we made some art.

Photo: JPI

It was almost like watching a two-person play in those scenes.  What did Amanda feel at this point?  Was she hoping that her mother would say, “I loved you.  I wanted you?”  Was she hoping for a different outcome in her head?

MISHAEL:  I think anybody who goes into a search for their parents is hoping for a positive outcome.  I think for her, it was heartbreaking to hear that if Naya could go back and do it all over again, she would have made the same choices, and also knowing that those choices really impacted Amanda’s life in an incredible way.  I don’t think that all of it has come out yet.  I think a lot of the pain and hurt that she had to go through as a child, and the loneliness that she had to go through as a child, and hearing from a mother that she would put you back in that situation because it was more comfortable for her, and the level of selfishness is hard to take. Then there is the anger and everything that would come out of hearing that from your biological mother.  It’s funny because the way that those scenes were scripted, there was no stage direction, which to me, I love, because a lot times it will say like, “in this moment she is going to get a little angry,” or, “in that moment she is going to be sad,” but for those scenes, for some reason (and they were really juicy scenes) they really didn’t give much direction. I appreciated that because then it really allowed me to really just make the scene what I thought it was and just really live in the moment.  I know this was a roundabout way to answer the question, but yes, it was very heartbreaking because nobody expects that somebody would say that to them.

Photo: JPI

It was just so heartbreaking.  I kept thinking, “Maybe she’ll…” but no, Naya just stood her ground on it even though Amanda grew up in a foster home.  She wasn’t the “chosen” twin either!

MIHAEL:  No, and she was never chosen, and I think that’s an interesting thing that you said because she was never chosen, and I then even to this day, as a grown woman, she still isn’t chosen, and that I think is heartbreaking.  It’s an interesting thing because I do happen to have a bit of a personal experience with this.  My father wasn’t in the foster system, but he was raised… kind of farmed out to two aunts as a young child and didn’t really get to have a relationship with his parents until he was older, and with his mother, until he was in his 20s.  So, it was so fascinating watching my father.  I just remember always looking up to him and thinking he was so strong, and so powerful, and never cared about what anybody thought, and because of his upbringing, it made him a very driven person, very much like Amanda, but there was a weird sense of wanting to be good enough when his father was around, or when people talked about his father.  It was very fascinating for me to watch that.  It was like I would see my father almost turn into a child again, just wanting that love.  I think it’s because that is so organic to who we are as human beings that it just never goes away, that need to know that your parents love you, that there are two people in this world who no matter what will be there for you, and they will love you.  That’s a hard reality to come to when you realize that’s not true.  I think that’s something that’s really hard for the human spirit to let go of.

Photo: MMorganIG

Yes, and I think what you are saying is also true that you realize as an adult that we are so deeply affected by our childhood and how it plays into our choices, or how we perceive things that happen in our lives.  So, when you think of that, and because you’re a mom, doesn’t it make you feel even more that you want to do right by your kids? That you don’t want to do anything to screw them up in their later years?

MISHAEL:  Yes, it’s true.  It does make you want to be the best person for them and the best example, especially the best example for love.  You want them to feel accepted, and appreciated, and proud, and you want them to know that you’re proud of them.  You want to do everything you can because you think of every single person you may have met who felt like their parents didn’t love them enough, and you want to do every single thing to make sure that your child doesn’t feel that way.  I talked to one of my friends, and they’re like, “My parents never told me that they were proud of me,” and I’m like, “Alright!  Well, Niam, I am so proud of you!” Every day, “I am proud of you!  I am proud!”  It’s like every day I better make sure to tell my kids that I am proud of them, and that I love them.  I was talking to Bryton James about this because I had a disciplinary moment with my son, and you wonder if they are going to take it the way that you take it, but at the end of the day, that might get burned into his memory as “the worst thing that my mom ever did to me,” and meanwhile I thought it was a life lesson that I think he learned.  You kind of have to get rid of that fear that you are going to screw them up because I think it doesn’t matter.  You’re either going to love them too much, or you’re not going to love them enough, and you just have to do the best that you can, and you just hope that it’s good enough.

Photo:JPI

Now, you were brilliant as Hilary on Y&R and had this amazing story send-off, and then you came back to the show as Amanda, a new character.  How has it been to try to define Amanda as her own character without the ‘Hilary-isms’, or does it not matter anymore?  Do you feel you have made the distinction for yourself that they are two very different characters?

MISHAEL:  I feel like now they just are different.  It was active choices that I was making in the beginning, and it was important for me in the beginning.  That’s why, for me, when I was bringing Amanda in, I was trying to stay very steady in my tone and how I spoke because Hilary was very, very up and down, and everything was all over the place.  So, for me, that was my beginning moment, just really focusing on how Amanda spoke and how she conducted herself. I can’t change the way that I look, but I feel that the way that I speak and the way that I carry myself will naturally start to define the character.  After a while, when that becomes more second nature, I feel like more of the character comes through … more of how she is and how she takes things in.  That’s just sort of explaining a bit of my process. It’s just the weirdest situation that I never thought I would ever be in, but I definitely feel like a different character for sure!  I do feel like I know who Amanda is now.  In the beginning, when I read the script, all I heard was Hilary.  I really had to think about how I was going to say things because I didn’t want it to sound like Hilary, and now when I read the script, I see Amanda.  I don’t hear Hilary anymore.  It’s become easier for me now to lean more into the role and get more comfortable with it.

Photo:JPI

Amanda had said to her mother that she was also robbed of her sister.  How does that play into her whole psyche?  She does know that Devon was deeply in love with her sister, and now she has feelings for him too.  Did she want to meet her sister?  Does she feel robbed of that?

MISHAEL:  She feels very much robbed of that.  For me, it was very important that the time when she discovered that Hilary was her sister and that Hilary was gone, that I’m playing that loss properly.  It was important for me because if you couldn’t believe that Amanda’s heart is truly breaking for her sister, then you can’t believe anything else that’s coming afterwards.  This is a really defining moment for me as an actor playing two characters on the show.  It was really important, leaning into the fact that I had a twin, and I’ll have a connection to a person who doesn’t exist anymore, and really letting that break my heart, and break Amanda’s heart.  Once the audience believes that, then they can really believe that Amanda is a different character.  Then, our amazing fans will start to just buy into it, and they will figure it out, and they will work it out, and they will wrap their heads around it, but for me, it was that they had to believe that Amanda’s heart is truly broken for Hilary, otherwise we can’t hook them.  Amanda and Hilary have to become two separate characters in people’s minds.

Right.  So, after the confrontation with her mother, she runs to Devon, and she is torn up, and he consoles her.  This week he asked her out on a date.  She likes this guy, right? 

MISHAEL:  Yeah, I think she does!  He’s the first person that she met when she came to town, and I think she’s always been impressed by how he treated her even when he hated her, and the more that she learned of him, the more she became impressed by who Devon was, and his patience with all of this. In seeing his vulnerability with Hilary, and everything that he went through, and then seeing his heart being broken because of Elena and Nate, I think all of it together is starting to give these two characters reasons to be okay with exploring something that may seem strange to other people, but you can’t control who you love sometimes.

Photo: JPI

Hilary and Devon were such a hugely popular couple.  Do you feel pressure to hit lighting in a bottle, twice?

MISHAEL:  It’s really hilarious because we’re the same people!  Yeah, there is a little bit of pressure because you do wonder if you’re going to be able to create the same magic, especially because Bryton and I have known each other for so long, and we know each other so well now.  Looking back at some of the Hilary and Devon scenes, there is something that is so interesting about it and fun about it because I think Bryton and I were just getting to know each other at the same time.  So, wondering if we are going to be able to recreate that and just make it feel fun and fresh, I think is the worry or the challenge.  I think we will figure it out.  Bryton and I were talking, and the one thing that is missing, or the one thing that we have to get to in terms of the underbelly of Amanda and Devon’s attraction is that Amanda is more like Devon than Hilary ever was.  It’s almost like Devon realizing that the whole journey with Hilary was meant to happen just so that he could meet Amanda.

Isn’t Amanda going to be kind of worried that he was so in love with Hilary and the way that she looked…

MISHAEL:  Well, she doesn’t need to worry because Hilary is dead anyway.  It’s not like she’s coming back!  (Laughs)

Photo: JPI

Since the last time you played an on-screen relationship, Bryton is with Brytni Sarpy in real-life, and Brytni is on the show now, and there is all of that.  What has that been like working with Brytni?

MISHAEL:  Oh, I’m so Canadian!  As soon as I got back to the show, I was like, “I’m so sorry,” and she was like, “Why are you sorry?”  I said, “I just feel very sorry that I’m here.  You guys have your real-life love thing going on, and your on-screen love… I feel weird.  I’m happy to be back on the show, but I’m like breaking up the party!”  She’s like, “No!  It’s fun!  It’s fine!  Maybe we’ll be rivals!”  I’m like, “Yeah, okay it’ll be fun!”

I can see a classic soap bitch-fight on the horizon on Y&R!

MISHAEL:  Brytni has been awesome about it.  That’s been great.  We don’t know where it’s going to go, but it’s going to be fun.  They’re also playing with Devon’s love for Elena still.  They still have a pull.  Devon is still looking at Elena.  So, I think it’s going to be interesting either way.

Photo: JPI

We are going to have the fan wars again for the couples!

MISHAEL:  That’s even more fun!  I always said I’d rather people be fighting for me to be with this person and that person as opposed to just always with one person because then to me, I kind of wonder, “Is it just this one actor who makes me better?”  I want to be an actor who makes everyone better!  That I can work off of anybody and get that chemistry or that thing that audiences are looking for, that’s what I really challenge myself to do.

Photo: JPI

On February 3rd, it’ll be the second anniversary of Kristoff  St. John’s death, which is hard to believe that it will have been 2 years already.  I keep remembering when I first met you.  Kristoff and you were on The Price is Right, but it was also a crossover for your characters, and you were the new girl on Y&R.  Do you still feel his presence at Y&R?

MISHAEL:  A few days ago, I had asked Bryton, who is s actually in Kristoff’s old dressing room, “Do you ever feel Kristoff in there?  In your dressing room?” and he’s like, “No, not really.  Definitely not in my dressing room, but on set sometimes.”  Even though he’s not here, it’s like he’s still with us because you still see him in pictures and sometimes that happens while you are on set doing a scene.  One time, I was on set doing a scene with Christel Khalil (Lily), and I saw a picture of Kristoff in the background, and it’s just kind of a reminder that I think he is always going to be here in terms of his impact on me and my time on the show.  He means a lot to me because I think I am the artist I am largely because of his influence, and how he really took me under his wing and made me feel so comfortable.  He was such a light, and he made acting so fun, but he always had your back as an acting partner and as friend, and I miss him a lot.

Me too.  He was just a wonderful actor too, when you look back on some of the work.

MISHAEL:  Oh my gosh, yes.

Photo:JPI

What does Amanda think of Naya’s other daughter, Imani (Leigh Ann Rose)?

MISHAEL:  She’s just irritated by Imani because she basically got to live the life that Amanda should have had essentially. To watch her be up on her high horse to Amanda, it’s laughable because the amount of hoops and obstacles that Amanda has had to go through to get to where she is standing today, somebody like Imani is just a complete joke to her! In Amanda’s mind, she is who she is just because of the opportunities that she was given and because of the family that she was born into.  It was complete luck, and it had nothing to do with hard work.  In Amanda’s eyes, everything that she is and every ounce of who she is, is because of her determination, and the choices that she made, and the obstacles that she overcame.  So, the way that Amanda looks at Imani is like she is just a person who she doesn’t even think could fathom how insignificant Amanda thinks that she is.  There is a deep-rooted resentment for Imani because I just think that Amanda has been through so much.

Would you like to have more scenes between Amanda and Naya and Imani?

MISHAEL:  Yes.I want more scenes with both of them!  Both of them are so amazing.  So, I’d love to work with both Imani/Leigh-Ann and Naya/Ptosha again.

Photo:JPI

What can you say to the fans to look forward to?

MISHAEL:  I think I would say that Amanda coming to Genoa City was a really big surprise, and I think that those surprises will continue … ff we want to be as vague as possible! I think there are a lot of things to look forward to because this relationship with Devon is definitely going, and I think it will be interesting to watch how Bryton and I figure that out, which will be fun!

Photo: JPI

Big surprises? Hmm.  Are you going to tell me that there are four of you? That Naya really gave birth to quadruplets … and you are about to take on two more roles?

MISHAEL:  Well, you never know!  That’s all I’ll say!

So, what did you think of Mishael’s recent performances where Amanda met her birth mother? Are you rooting for Amanda and Devon to wind up together, or Devon and Elena? What have you thought of Amanda Sinclair vs. Hilary Curtis Hamilton?  Share your thoughts via the comment section below.

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Days Of Our Lives

Watch the Replay: GH, DAYS, Y&R, B&B & OLTL Stars at Michael Fairman’s Virtual Birthday Party for SAG-AFTRA Foundation Covid-19 Relief Fund

Earlier this week on Monday night, several of the stars of General Hospital, Days of our Lives, The Young and the Restless, The Bold and the Beautiful, and One Life to Live, took part in a virtual livestream “party” for Michael Fairman’s 60th birthday.

The event was held virtually to help performers in need who have been deeply affected by the Covid-19 pandemic by letting viewers know where to make a donation to the SAG-AFTRA Foundation’s Covid-19 Relief Fund.

Photo: ABC, NBC, CBS

Participating throughout the 90 minute livestream were: The Young and the Restless, Jason Thompson, Sharon Case, and Christian LeBlanc, General Hospital’s Maurice Benard, Laura Wright, Wes Ramsey, and Chloe Lanier, The Bold and the Beautiful’s Katherine Kelly Lang, Days of our Lives’ Rob Scott Wilson, Eric Martsolf, Galen Gering, Arianne Zucker, Shawn Christian, Santa Barbara favorite, A Martinez, One Life to Live’s Kristen Alderson and Eddie Alderson, and Studio City’s Sean Kanan.

You can catch the replay of the birthday benefit event below or on The Michael Fairman Channel on You Tube.

Throughout the evening, the actors shared stories of how they got their SAG card, played a game of Michael’s trivia, and revealed stories about themselves and other “party” guests in a wonderful display of community and camaraderie at all went down live!

Since March of 2o2o, the SAG-AFTRA Foundation has given out more than $6.2 million in emergency aid to over 6,500 SAG-AFTRA performers and their families facing hardship and uncertainty during this pandemic. Thousands of SAG-AFTRA artists have found themselves in dire need of assistance to help pay their rent, buy groceries, cover health care premiums and other bills.  You can still make a donation of any dollar amount to the SAG-AFTRA Foundation Covid-19 relief fund here. https://members.sagfoundation.org/donate 

Now, check it out below, and let us know if you enjoyed the virtual birthday party livestream via the comment section.

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General Hospital

GH Co-Head Writers Chris Van Etten and Dan O’ Connor Interview – “Soapmakers of the Year” Honors 2020

In a year which saw production of your favorite soaps shutdown for several months due to the coronavirus pandemic, everyone in daytime had to pivot.  As original episodes aired, they eventually ran out, giving way to rebroadcasts, while the audience eagerly awaited the return of the current stories.

At General Hospital, once production resumed over the summer, head writers, Chris Van Etten and Dan O’ Connor had teed-up: surprising homecomings (Dante, Britt) shocking twists and revelations, the conclusion of what will become an all-time soap classic, the Alzheimer’s storyline, dipping into the rich 57-year history of the iconic soap to tie story to the present (Laura, Cyrus, Martin), and crafting stories for its A-list cast which gave 2020 some of its finest on-screen moments.  GH became can’t-miss television again, coming back even stronger than its pre-pandemic self; which also kicked the year off in high-style with the reveal of Nikolas to his family, alive and well, and the long-awaited truth about baby Wiley.

Chris and Dan’s depiction of Mike’s heartbreaking battle with Alzheimer’s gave viewers many tears through its unrelenting and realistic storytelling, plus their commitment to air the standalone episode to honor the passing of the 19th amendment of the women’s right to vote in November.  Both were noteworthy, and illustrated what daytime can do best.

 

Each year, Michael Fairman TV gives our highest honor to a creative or creatives who most delivered to its audience and whose quality of work continues to keep us engaged, on the edge of our seats, or reaching for the hankies. That is why this year’s Soapmkers of the Year honor goes to GH scribes: Chris Van Etten and Dan O’Connor.  Shortly after receiving their acknowledgement, the duo spoke to us about some of the 2020 highlights in Port Charles, and how they work so well together to bring their stories to life.  Here’s what they shared.

Courtesy/ABC

First, and foremost, I want to commend you for the Alzheimer’s storyline  As I’ve shared publicly, my mother died of Alzheimer’s, and I have seen the progression of this disease and the effects it has on a family and loved ones, and the person afflicted with it.  You did a beautiful job of telling every beat of the story within the context of what you could do within a soap opera.  What can you tell me about crafting that and seeing it through to the end?  You never abandoned the story, which at times, can happen on daytime.

CHRISNo, we didn’t abandon it.  Soap operas have a power that I am sure we have acknowledged before, to allow audiences to really get to know characters in a deeper and more profound way than I think most other mediums do.  We get to see characters’ lives day in and day out.  For us to tell a story about Alzheimer’s, which is a disease that is devastating in so many ways, not the least of which is the fact that it can take years to develop and years to finally claim a life, we felt that among our audience, there had to be many people who had experienced this in an up-close and personal way.  So that to tell the story too expeditiously would really deny their experience and would take away from their appreciation of the show as a reflection of reality.  Of course, soap operas don’t do that in every sense on every episode, but when you’re telling a story about a disease that people experience every day, you have an obligation to reflect the real-world experience.  So, by bringing it to a close too fast and by doing it in a way that didn’t honor what at times is the horror of the disease, felt like it would be a cop-out.  We wanted to do our best within the constrictions of the medium to depict that; while at the same time, of course, not wanting to leave people so depressed as to not want to tune back in.  It was a really delicate dance.  We are very grateful to have had the support of the network and Frank Valentini’s (executive producer, GH) ingenious production team as well as a great repertory of actors who were willing and able to give their all to this story.

Courtesy/ABC

Maurice Benard (Sonny) did some of his finest work of his career in this story, and you gave him the ball to do it, and Max Gail (Mike) was amazing.  Two standout episodes included: when Mike passed and was taken to heaven by Courtney (Alicia Leigh Willis) and Mike’s funeral episode.  Did you realize when you were writing it, the impact it would have on the audience?

DANAs for the funeral, I’d say that we knew as we were writing it that not only did we want to give the characters and the audience a chance to say goodbye to Mike, but we also wanted to give the performers a chance to say a goodbye to their relationship with the actor, Max Gail as well.  Max is a fantastic, phenomenal actor, and he formed close relationships with many of our performers.  So, when we wrote the episode, yes, we did want to give the audience a chance to say goodbye to the character, but we also knew that because of the close relationships that these performers have made with each other that the actors were going to bring their all, and it was going to provide the audience with some powerhouse performances.

Did you get emotional seeing it? 

CHRIS:  Oh, personally, I cried.

Courtesy/ABC

I know you both love and appreciate the soap genre and understand that the audience often wants a good cry and is invested in these characters.  So because of that; what’s it like for you when you see these emotional moments play out that start in your mind, go to the page, then to the stage, and now are out in the world for people to see and experience?

CHRIS:  I can’t speak for any of the other writers, but I’m not crying when I’m writing it, but I’m crying when I see it realized and how the actors, and the producers, and the directors realize it.  I personally am always surprised by the nuance and the beats that they find that we, in our first draft kind-of-lifestyle that we have as soap opera writers; where we are writing six or seven episodes per week, we don’t have the time or the luxury to really sit with an episode and mine it for every single beat and every emotion. That’s why we have great directors and great actors who take these scripts and find these extra moments.  So, it is really gratifying to watch – yes, to see something that we’ve imagined be produced and personified, but then to see how the production then takes it in other directions, that’s the best.  I think that’s the most gratifying part of writing for a show, not seeing what you’ve written produced, but seeing how it was parented into life.  When you have a baby, I think you have all sorts of ideas about what the baby will be, and then the baby becomes something else as the result of its environment and of the people who are influencing and guiding it along and that may be a bit of a stretched metaphor, but it kind of feels relative.

As co-head writers of General Hospital, how do you work together to come up with long-term story?  What is your process?

DAN:  Chris and I will meet regularly and discuss the long-term stories that we are telling, and plan to tell, and maybe some adjustments that we have to make along the way.  We get to meet with our writers several days every week as we figure out the best way to tell that story in the form of however many episodes we write a week.  Chris and I also write episodes along with our great breakdown script team, and every week we figure out the best way to either stay on the path of the story we are intending to tell, or find new opportunities or new twists and turns we can take along the way.

Photo: ABC

Do you get into friendly, creative disagreements? Is one of you more protective of a certain character than the other? 

DAN:  Chris and I have known each other for close to 15 years at this point, and we are not just colleagues, we are also friends.  There is a certain amount of shorthand that we have with each other which is just invaluable in telling story.  What’s great is that we sometimes come at the story from different angles or we have a different point of view, much like any two fans of the show wouldn’t agree on necessarily everything, but in our discussions about the show’s needs, wants, and haves, and the story trajectory, we ultimately get somewhere better than where either of us could have come up with on our own.  At the same time, there are those moments where we both come to the same idea at the same moment, and that’s definitely when we go, “Okay, we’re onto something good.”

CHRIS:  I can add as a partial translation that I can get really snippy, and Dan has the patience of a saint.  So, often times, I need 24 hours to go away, and sleep on something, and wake up, and say, “Oh Dan, you were totally right about that.  I’m so sorry I was snippy the other day,” and he doesn’t seem to hold it against me.

Do you ever get a writer’s block; as has to happen often with scribes in the unrelenting medium of daytime drama, and if so, I would think having a writing partner would be an asset during those times?

DAN:  I think it’s the nature of the beast.  At a certain point, you might hit a roadblock somewhere, but that’s why having a partner is so valuable that there is somebody else that you can bounce ideas along with, and just as, if not more importantly, our team of writers are always there to sometimes give us even better ideas than what we would have come up with on our own.

Courtesy/ABC

This year you utilized and delved back into a lot of GH history.  How did the idea come about to bring back the character of Jackie Templeton and have former All My Children and NYPD Blue favorite, Kim Delaney, take on the role?

DAN:  Jackie Templeton is a character who has been an Easter egg on the show for many years now.  Whenever we needed to namedrop a famous journalist, she was always our go-to.  It always felt like the character was in the ether of Port Charles for awhile, and we were excited to bring this take-no-prisoners character back and explore her history with Robert (Tristan Rogers), and at the same time, we were finally teed up to tell the story of Finn’s (Michael Easton) falling out with his father and step-mother, and we realized we had a great opportunity to have the character serve both stories and collide with not just Anna (Finola Hughes) and Finn, but Robert as well. Those three played wonderfully with each other. When we heard that Kim Delaney was interested in playing with us, we were just over the moon.  .

Courtesy/ABC

You have also been delving back into Laura’s childhood past and her history. I love that you brought up the death of David Hamilton and her teenage years, which hasn’t been discussed for a very long time on the show while tying it into the present.

DAN:  We were always aware of the story just because we love General Hospital and we love the character of Laura, and there is nothing else like daytime drama, and one of the great things about it is that you can reach decades into the past and expand on stories and themes that the audience actually witnessed. Long reaching history is a tool in our toolbox that not many other series have.  Chris and I love honoring and using our characters’ histories to propel the show into the future with some serious momentum.

Photo: ABC

You created and brought the character of  Cyrus Renault (Jeff Kober) on to the canvas. Was it originally a case of, “We need an uber-villain to come and shake things up,” and then you decided to connect him to Laura?  It’s been an intriguing shocker for viewers.  Jeff is playing the multi-levels of Cyrus with great finesse, and whenever you give Genie something, the fans go nuts, and she, in turn, delivers every time.

CHRIS:  The story of Cyrus has a couple of phases to it.  We wanted to bring on a villain who would not only be an adversary to Sonny, but someone who we could use to really test Jordan (Briana Nicole Henry) and Curtis (Donnell Turner), and we knew going in that the first phase of this story would really hit the Corinthos family and also the Ashfords, and as we developed it, we thought about what the act two would be, and we knew that we had an opportunity to really engage Genie Francis and to expand her sphere and expand her footprint on the show, and by connecting her to Cyrus, who is not your typical face or presence for a soap, but is also not your typical person who I think Laura would encounter in her daily life.  So, we knew, as we really developed Cyrus as a villain, that for Laura to find out that this man is her brother, would really allow us to play with Laura in a different context and in a different light and really give Genie a new kind of challenge.

Speaking of Genie, what did you think when you watched back her performance in the episode where you wrote that Laura has to say goodbye to her comatose daughter, Lulu (Emme Rylan), before she was sent off the canvas to a long-term care facility?

CHRIS:  I mean to me, that’s vintage Laura.  I came to General Hospital personally in the late 80s to early 90s, so my experience of Laura really only begins with her, and Luke (Tony Geary), and Lucky (Jonathan Jackson) at the Triple L Diner.  I think that what we’ve gotten to see with Genie is really reflective of the high emotion that she is capable of delivering.  At the same time as the high emotion, you’re also seeing really small human moments that she really breathes a lot of life into.  I can speak for Dan and myself when we say that we are just really thrilled with what she has been able to bring to the screen.  Thrilled, but I guess not surprised.

Coutesy/ABC

Nelle (Chloe Lanier) was such a great interloper and threat throughout the year in story; whether it’s hatching plots to gain custody of baby Wiley, or her “death” scene and confrontations with Carly (Laura Wright).  However, through all of this, when was it decided to make Nina (Cynthia Watros), Nelle’s biological mother?

DAN:  There are very few things that are as exciting on a soap as a character that makes you wonder what they are going to do next, and Chloe and Nelle provided that role with just gusto.  The truth is, the idea that Nelle was Nina’s daughter has been a part of the conception of that character, and over the last few years, the story evolved, and we ultimately got to reveal the truth to the audience.

Courtesy/ABC

As writers, there has to be characters that are just so delicious and treacherous to write for that you have to get a kick out of it! Chloe Lanier is so good that she makes the audience want to slap Nelle when she takes the dialog and then brings it to the screen.  

CHRIS:  It is tremendous fun.  Yes, yes, we love writing for these characters who are willing to do and say anything to get what they want.  We are constrained when writing for characters who have morality.  It takes a moral character a lot of really difficult circumstances for them to make a decision that might go against the grain, but when you have a character like Nelle, who is not shackled by certain societal norms, then you really get to live out the worst impulses that a person could have, and it’s really fun, especially when you take a really great performer like Chloe and see her as Nelle unleash all of the poison that she’s capable of.  At the same time, she can turn on a dime and rip your heart out a little bit when she turns on the water works.

Photo :ABC

Ava Jerome’s (Maura West) story this year had her moving into a relationship with Nikolas (Marcus Coloma).  We, the audience, didn’t know how that was going to go – if they were just going to use each other, or ultimately fall in love.  Was that the plan all along … that they would develop deep feelings for each other, or did you want to see how it progressed and played out on-screen, and then make that determination?

CHRIS:  I think that once we saw the chemistry between the two actors, we knew we had gold. So, we wanted to take our time, especially the way that it was constructed.  These were two people who had little use for each other emotionally, and in fact, probably wanted to see one another’s downfall, and that’s what makes it so great to write – that these are people who, in a similar vein as Nelle, don’t live by the same rules as most of the rest of us, and therefore, they might do things to each other that the rest of us would not do to anyone let alone whether we like them or not.  That’s what makes Ava and Nikolas so delicious is that from one moment to the next, you don’t know if they’re going to hatch a plot against each other or fall into bed and ravish each other. That’s what I think we hope to continue to play as we go forward because they certainly have very strong, passionate feelings for one another.  When you’re talking about Ava and Nikolas, these are two people who do not have a lot of fans necessarily in Port Charles, and there are a lot of people who don’t necessarily want to see them achieve happily ever after.  Knowing that there was so much initial mistrust and suspicion between the two of them could really provide the foundation for their own undoing or their undoing from someone who does not want to see them happy.

Photo: ABC

Back in November, GH made good use of a standalone episode spotlighting the history of the women’s right to vote and the suffrage movement; just as the presidential election was happening.  What made you decide to write this special show, and how do you feel it turned out as it also spotlighted the female cast?

CHRIS:  We had long intended to honor the one hundred years of American women’s suffrage with a special episode to air on the anniversary of the 19th amendment’s passage, but we missed the date due to the pause in production.  We realized we had a second chance as the election neared.  Going forward was a no-brainer. The biggest challenge was in distilling such an epic story into one episode. We think ABC would do well to consider a spinoff: “Port Charles, 1920”

Courtesy/ABC

You have such a powerhouse cast to write for.  It’s loaded.  It’s got to be a challenge for you to construct the story for GH when you’ve got to front burner people and back burner people, and then you’ve got these huge daytime stars all in one show.

DAN:  It’s an embarrassment of riches to have a cast as talented as we do quite frankly.  We are fortunate enough that we know that we have these amazing performers that we can trust with whatever stories that we throw their way.

CHRIS:  I will say that we do have a great cast.  They’re all wonderful, and when you have a show that is only approximately 35 minutes of airtime on any day, it’s a real balancing act to make sure that everybody gets a story that really is worthy of their talents, and we’ve got one for everybody.  Sometimes it’s just a matter of which story takes precedence in which moment, which is why occasionally some characters aren’t featured on a daily basis, but you can bet your bottom dollar that they will be.  If you were to ask me, “Who are the standouts?”  I would say all of them.  You saw this year: Maurice Benard, Nancy Lee Grahn (Alexis), Maura West, Genie Francis, and Laura Wright (Carly) to name but just a few.  They’ve all done such fantastic work, and we can’t wait to give them more material to give them more moments to shine.

DAN:  A priority of ours is every week, we meet up and look (well, it’s virtual now during Covid-19) at the big board of our cast photos and we go through each character and always make sure that they have some story percolating even if it’s not on the air at the moment.

Photo: ABC

As we close out 2020, and look forward to 2021, any parting thoughts, and perhaps a tease of what GH fans can look forward to in the New Year?

CHRIS:  In general, I would just say that despite all of the challenges of the year, we are really grateful to our cast and the crew back in Los Angeles for realizing and improving the show that we imagined, and we are so excited for everything that is coming in 2021.  We hope to continue to throw a lot of surprises at the audience, and at the same time give them a lot of moments and stories of heart and love and excitement.

So, what did you think of the year in story on General Hospital in 2020? Share your thoughts on Chris and Dan’s comments and their year-end honors via the comment section below.

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