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The Gina Tognoni Interview – One Life to Live

Courtesy/AmericanRedCross

Courtesy/ABC

It is always hard to say goodbye…and this week on One Life to Live, the first of the early exits that viewers have known about for some time is coming to fruition.  It affects one of Llanview’s most famous cliques and families, the fabulous Cramer women.  First up, two-time Daytime Emmy winner Gina Tognoni bids farewell to Llanview as Kelly heads off to London with her man Joey Buchanan in tow to reunite with her son, Zane.  Today’s episode signals the dwindling down of some of the key members of the cast with Gina first, and Robin Strasser (Dorian) set to exit tomorrow.

On-Air On-Soaps had the opportunity to speak with Gina in this exclusive interview to get her thoughts on the end of her run as Kelly Cramer, a role that started her soap career.  Gina also acknowledges that her second time around was not as easy finding Kelly’s groove, and is having a difficult time like many of you, processing the upcoming network television loss of One Life.

And while one door closes another one, as they say, always opens.  Gina is ready to spread her wings either on a hit primetime show or a hit daytime soap.  You will learn which ones strike her fancy and what daytime bad boy she would love to be paired with. Now, while Gina has wrapped OLTL, she still feels there is more work that she wants to do to bring the fans closer to their Llanview favorites.  That is why Gina is spearheading the efforts for a very special upcoming benefit concert for the American Red Cross in October that is a must-attend for all soap fans.  We will fill you in on all the details!

So what makes Gina Tognoni so special to us, and we hope to you?  She has heart, she has depth, she has guts, she is a fighter, and she is a master communicator.  And with that, we bring you this farewell interview with Gina!  Spoiler: You might need a hankie or two.

MICHAEL:

Courtesy/ABC

Looking at the photographic images of your final day on the set of One Life to Live, they brought in a cake, and you cried a bit, and you were with Michael Easton (John).  How did you feel during those final moments in Llanview?

GINA:

That was on June 24th, and it was not a heavy day as far as material.  There were a few scenes with Michael, and I cannot tell you how happy I was to have my final day with him.  I am such a big fan of his.  I think he has one of the most generous awesome souls to work with, and I didn’t get to work enough with him. But I was always happy to see him on the script, because that meant we would be working together. That was always a really positive thing.  I did not get to see Robin Strasser (Dorian) very much that day, but I know she was wrapping up as well.  In fact, she was wrapping up right around the same time I was, but I was not able to connect with her that much and neither was Kassie DePaiva (Blair) around that much.  So the Cramer women stuff happened a week or so before I taped my last scenes.  So we did get some time to bond together, but you know what?  I was thinking about it today.  It is so hard to put into words everything that I feel, but One Life to Live was just a great place to work.  It was a great group of people and everyone wanted this show to succeed, and it so sad that it is going away as we know it.  And as far as what it does online, that is yet to be seen.  But as far as the years and what they have put together as a team at a television studio, this was something really special.

MICHAEL:

What about the remarkable team at One Life to Live made it even that more a special place to work for you, especially being a part of the A-list cast?

GINA:

Courtesy/ABC

Everybody seemed to have each other’s back and that was sort of the energy there. Nobody was really hurtful to one another.  If anyone did say or do anything that was hurtful, everybody would be able to talk to one another.  It was a terrific environment, and as an actor I was able to always kind of do my best, be who I am, and not feel like I have to put on any airs or anything.  So that is why in the picture you saw, I was getting so choked up in the end.  I was extremely grateful to spend 18 months there this past go-around.  It was not long enough in many ways, and there were so many things about Kelly I wanted to see developed.  I think a lot of the development of Kelly and her coming back on the canvas happened when unfortunately there was so much going on in Llanview.  It is what it is.  There were many things going on that the fans loved about Llanview, and Kelly was one of them. They integrated me into the 18 months I was on the show in lots of different ways and it had its high points! There was finding her mother’s killer, Joey coming back in town, and hooking up with McBain, and in each one of these events people were kind of getting to know Kelly again.  When I left the show before I was a young woman, then I came back as a full on woman.  The one thing about Kelly’s energy was that it was quirky and goofy and naïve at times.  But as a woman, it is very hard to play those qualities and still be a mother, and a responsible editor at The Sun, and someone who you take relatively seriously as a love interest.

MICHAEL:

I think fans at times, had a difficult time trying to invest in Kelly, as she would be paired with certain people for a while or be in certain storylines, and then things were dropped.  And you are one helluva actress!  So I think people were waiting for a story to take hold and take off big-time.  Now at the end of your run, Kelly is consumed with getting back to her son Zane, who is in London!

GINA:

I think Ron Carlivati (OLTL, head writer) was trying to find this balance with her.  We needed to talk more about Kelly’s son, Zane, and we were starting to do that.  At the end of my run they decided to push the Zane angle.  Some fans liked that, and some fans thought, “Oh please… Give me a break.”  So there was a little bit of criticism to that, and I get it.  But I just think the bigger picture was we had to get to know Kelly, and over the last 18 months, I think there was some positive and negative about that.

© JPI Studios

MICHAEL:

I think it looked a bit manic; that after wanting to get back together with her true love Joey for so long, and she did, that now suddenly she has this overwhelming need to get back to her child in London, pronto!  Were those scenes hard to play or pull off, because quickly her agenda became getting to Zane?

GINA:

First of all, you have to make it work, and I think I did.  Yes, it was like we got to scene A without getting to Scene B, and we jumped from A to C, and it was disjointed.  I can’t “un-joint” words, but I can try to make it come from an emotional place.  I know we never really explored why all of a sudden she needed to go see Zane.  Can the audience believe it?  Yes, that is plausible, but it leaves you questioning, “Where did that come from?”  And of course, we never saw it answered because it was time to go.  Yes, it is hard and can be difficult, and it has made me very sensitive to what the viewers are being fed when you have been doing this for awhile.

MICHAEL:

I want to go back to our discussion at the Moving Down the Block Party in February 2010, when OLTL moved into AMC’s old digs.  You had recently returned to the show, and when I asked you who would you like to play Kelly’s love interest, you told me you wanted to be paired with Michael Easton.  You wanted to see Kelly and McBain.  You obviously must have been elated when it actually did happen!

GINA:

© JPI Studios

I loved the scenes with the two of them in the Minute Man Hotel.  You talk about brilliant writing?  It was great!  You put two people in the same room who should not be doing something like that, and then you watch it and can go, “Hey, wait a minute. That does kind of work.”  The only reason I thought Kelly and McBain were so great together is they both have a checkered past.  They have such a deep availability emotionally, and there are lots of positives there, and that was me saying, “Hey guys, that could work.”  I am telling you, Michael Easton is a lovely person to work with.  But I think they wanted to hang Kelly’s hat with Joey.  And that is tough, because you are filling Nathan Fillion’s (Ex-Joey) shoes, and that does not in anyway take away from Tom Degnan and what he brought to the role.  We were uphill in a lot of areas, and in my experience in doing soaps, at times I felt like I had to keep my mouth shut, because I needed them to find it as much as me.  It was a very tight line to walk.  I am not there to write, I am there to act.

MICHAEL:

I think perhaps, it was difficult for you as Kelly to be come anchored. You had so many people coming and going in and out of the show, and so many old and new characters they needed to write for, and then Tom Degnan appears as the new Joey, who nobody had seen before in the role.

GINA:

Problem number one: I think nobody knew this Joey, so it gave Tom Degnan an uphill battle.  Tom did a great job and I really dug him.  I loved Tom and working with Robin and Kassie.  I also loved watching Bree Williamson (Jessica) who is adorable and really fun to watch, and Florencia Lozano (Tea) is just a little firecracker, but I think we really had not found Kelly’s voice yet, and I will say that as an actress, because it is a process.  I think we would have found it if we had more time.  I said that to Ron Carlivati, “I think we needed more time.”  And he sort of agreed with me.

MICHAEL:

Courtesy/TrevorStJohn.com

I thought Trevor St. John (Todd now Victor Jr.) and you could have made an exciting couple there for a while.  When the two of you were working at The Sun together, I thought the sparks would really start to fly, but then …it fizzled.

GINA:

Talk about your heavy-hitters!  I know!  But then, “boom” no manifestation.  Working with Trevor was fabulous and really fun.  I think he takes chances.  It is hard to do daytime because there is so little rehearsal and we move so fast.  Trevor really goes for it, and he really makes a choice.  He gives you a lot to react off of.  Kassie DePaiva was fun energy, and Robin Strasser will work a scene from every angle you can possibly think of. So every single one of these people at One Life, including all the actors, and Ron and Frank Valentini, our executive producer, were doing their best trying to keep this thing going, and that is what I take from the show.  Not necessarily that we did not quite find my voice.  When I walked away, and it was my last time, I had some sadness.  I did not come back so I could win more Emmys.  I mean, yes, you want to keep accomplishing things in your life, but I wanted to come back and really give Kelly a wonderful voice. Trying to be in the process of finding that, and then having the show cancelled, was a real heartbreaker!

MICHAEL:

How did you get the news that One Life to Live was cancelled?  Were you at the studio that day when ABC Daytime President Brian Frons gave his bi-coastal video conference with the bad news to both OLTL and AMC?

GINA:

No, I was off that day.  I was in between episodes, and my agent texted me and she said, “Oh my goodness.  I just heard.  I will call you in five minutes.”  And I am like, “Oh man.”  And I am thinking, “I can’t imagine it’s just All My Children, because she wouldn’t be texting like this.”  I just could not quite believe it; to have both shows cancelled at once!  It is like this big gaping hole.  I am sorry, it really is, and it just does not make any sense.  It made sense to someone, because someone pulled the plug.  Daytime has been so good to me. I have invested more than a few years in it.  I have had nurses come up to me who I know, and whether it is in a nursing home or whatever it is, and they tell me for people who are watching daytime, it brightens their day.  I know, I have seen it.  We were a part of that, and to see that deteriorate is sad.

MICHAEL:

Photo Credit: Steven Bergman

What does this mean for you in terms of the future, and if you fit into the picture when OLTL moves online?  Since you were written off early, did you not receive a proposal from Prospect Park like the other actors?

GINA:

I really don’t know where I fit within this new Prospect Park venture.  I also don’t know what will happen with any other perspective daytime jobs.  We will see.  Yes, I have spoken to other shows since the cancellation of OLTL.  I am flattered and we will see where that all leads.  At the moment, I am in New Jersey with my husband.  I love the east coast and it’s my home.  There is quite a bit of acting opportunity here in the Northeast, which I am extremely excited about.  There are over 22 shows being produced in New York over the next year; including pilots and existing shows.  So there is so much going on and I am excited about the new chapter in my life.  I have no idea of what is coming around the corner.  So you talk about having faith?  This is when I truly have to have faith in the process.  And, it is not the easiest thing to do every day.  I am here to say, it is possible.  It is about taking a moment and trying not to act out of fear or scarcity.  You have to remember, you have been taking care of yourself this far and you will get yourself to the next place.  But, it is about staying centered, relaxed, and grateful.

MICHAEL:

When you look at the different network primetime shows, is there somewhere you can see yourself fitting in?  And, what would you like to play?

GINA:

I absolutely would love to play a role on The Good Wife and Blue Bloods.  I would love to play a detective or an investigative reporter.  I like the police procedural aspect of those shows.  I really dig it!

MICHAEL:

What about the four remaining network daytime soap operas?   Is there one you sort of fancy and could see yourself on?

GINA:

© JPI Studios

I would say Y&R has always been the most glam, well-done soap.  I think Maria Arena Bell (Y&R executive producer and head writer) is terrific.  I am also a fan of B&B.  I think it is an adorable show and it’s out there, and it does not try to be more than it is.  I think Brad Bell (B&B executive producer and head writer) is really neat, too.  I would love to play opposite Billy Miller (Billy Abbott, Y&R)!  I think he is so adorable and vivacious.  I have known him from various events we have both been at.  He is really cool and I dig him.  I think he is a great young talent.  So I think it would be really fun to run around with him on Y&R.  I gotta tell you, CBS is a great place. It would be hilarious if we could bring Dinah from Guiding Light to Genoa City!  Wouldn’t that be interesting?  And can they do that?  And if not, maybe have me come on as a distant cousin of Dinah.

MICHAEL:

Where are those two Daytime Emmys that you won as Dinah on Guiding Light housed?

GINA:

They are in my office in my home.  That office is where I do a lot of my thinking and a lot of my quiet time.  I think and look at them.  And let me tell you something, I wish I could drag them along to every audition. (Laughs)  So I would go in and say, “OK, before we start, here they are and let me act around them.” (Laughs) They are such a reminder of what hard work and being honest can manifest for you.  Those were the most awesome storylines on Guiding Light. Those were issues that were emotional and people could connect to them, and they were earned.  It reminded me of what good soap can be.  If it is written on the page that is one thing, but you have got to play it.  In 2004 when I joined Guiding Light, I actually asked my mother, “Well, should I do this?  Should I move back to New York?”  And she said, “Absolutely.  Don’t think twice.”  And I remember thinking, “Oh, I don’t know.  I am out here in L.A….”  And for one minute I was regretting it, but I was so wrong.  It was the best and richest experience I have ever had in daytime.  I loved working with Rob Bogue (Ex-Mallet, GL).  He was so funny and joyous.  I look back at it now and realize what an awesome time that was.  It is so funny that we don’t realize how great things were sometimes, until we look back and have some distance from them.  There is one thing I can say and that is, appreciate every moment that you are in.

MICHAEL:

You left early from Guiding Light, too!

© JPI Studios

GINA:

Yes.  I took off to Bosnia in a Helicopter!  Now I could not figure out how I would get to Bosnia in a Helicopter? (Laughs)  That was a little strange.  At Guiding Light, my contract was up, and it was my first exit storyline, and it was very similar to OLTL.  The difference was at One Life, I actually had the desire to stay till the very end.

MICHAEL:

So to clarify; at One Life your contract was up and the show decided to have you exit at this point.  Did you want to stay on?

GINA:

They needed to shut things down, and start to have people exit story, but I would have been open to staying on and be with my friends and the audience.  But it was time to go. And for them it was a financial thing, and it was tough being the first to go.  I felt sad.  Now Guiding Light was a little hairier.  It was right at the end, and my contract was up and things were unclear, and it was time to go.  And the fact that we were in Peapack at that time, and things were kind of going south, and the wheels were coming off, and as much as I admire the people that I was working for and with; it was time to go.  OLTL, that was sad… that was sad.

MICHAEL:

And while there is sadness, you are putting some of your incredible Gina T. energy into a very special and big benefit coming up with lots of soap stars.  Fill me in!

GINA:

Courtesy/AmericanRedCross

It’s the American Red Cross benefit, The Rock Show for Charity on October 8th in New York City.  People can get tickets online at www.rockshowforcharity.org.  Tickets are approximately $ 115.00, and a portion of the proceeds goes to the American Red Cross Relief Fund.  The benefit will be a concert like we have had for the last three years, where Bradley Cole (Ex-Jeffrey, GL) leads the band. Then, we will have incredible performers from OLTL including: David Gregory (Ford), Kristen Alderson (Starr), Kelley Missal (Dani), Josh Kelly (Cutter) and Kim Zimmer (Echo) who will all sing. We will also have auction items that will be going up September 1st online through eBay.  People can bid on some very cool things, like a vintage twenty-year-old jacket that Bob Woods (Bo, OLTL) wore around 1985.  It is a fabulous leather jacket! There will be a signed script from the entire cast of OLTL, and signed cowboy hats, and Todd Manning Sun newspapers, too.  Those proceeds from the eBay auction will go 100% to the American Red Cross Relief fund.

MICHAEL:

Why did you decide to get involved with this benefit?

GINA:

I am the bridge between Bradley, the American Red Cross, and One Life to Live. Since I worked at OLTL, I had available resources and the talent, and Bradley got the band.  So I am the middle guy or the facilitator, if you will.  And believe me, I have asked myself many times, how did I fall into this?  But because it’s for a good cause and it’s a chance for everyone to say goodbye, I said to myself, “Why not?  Lets see if we can do it.”  We did the event last year and it had a really great turnout, and I think this year will even be  bigger!

MICHAEL:

Where is the event going to be held?

GINA:

Photo Credit: Steven Bergman

This year we have it at the historical Soho Playhouse, and it’s about a 200-seat theatre.  So it is set-up for a really great show.  We are going to rock it out, and I am not going to sing, but I may do a little back-up. (Laughs)  We will leave the singing to Kristen and Kelley and Kim.  But, I am going to be the host introducing the folks along with Kristen. There is a bar downstairs and people can get their drinks and bring them into the seating area. We really want to get people out, so we can say goodbye to them.

MICHAEL:

So if fans come to The Rock Show for Charity, there will definitely be an opportunity for people to say goodbye for now to cast members of One Life to Live, and get some “face” time with them?

GINA:

You are definitely going to get one-on-one time with the actors.  You can definitely get things signed.  We want to see everyone we can.

MICHAEL:

How was the One Life to Live Fan Club Weekend a few weeks ago?  And, “The Ladies Night Out” event that you were a part of?

GINA:

That was very nice, and you know they had it sold out to over 140 people!  That whole thing was great.  Hundreds of people showed up.  It was really well done and I was really impressed.  Your heart just broke going, “Why can’t we have this every year?”  It was special with this being the end of OLTL’s run on ABC.

MICHAEL:

So many fans have been broken hearted, and rightfully so, in losing their favorite characters and actors on both All My Children and One Life to Live. What were people saying to you at the fan club events?  What sentiments did they share with you, and in the end how did it make you feel?   It seems like all of us in the industry are being emotionally affected by the changes, just as much as the loyal fans.

GINA:

Courtesy/ABC

People were saying to me, “You have brought such joy to my life.  You are terrific.”   “I loved your strength, whether it be playing Dinah or Kelly.”  “Thank you for making me laugh.” “I love the Cramer girls and just the way you all loved one another.” “It reminded me of the relationship I had with my mother and my sister.” “I don’t know what I am going to do now without this hour of television.  I have been out of work for more than two years and I need to find a job, but at 2PM I could just take a moment as I loved OLTL”.  It never stopped… the amount of love was so overwhelming.  The next day, I was drained and yet uplifted.  I poured out my heart when the fans came to me, and I gave them my love and support, and told them to hang in there and that, “You are going to see us again.  I don’t know where or when, but you are going to see us all again.”  Just feeling that and being able to share that with the fans was an awesome experience. You felt so uplifted that day, and the next day, I felt such sadness.  It is because it is an ending of a very large cycle in all of our lives.  It’s very scary, and yet at the same time you have to try and find some peace within it… and that is not always instant and can take some time, but it is there.  So I am going through it, just as much as everyone else is.

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kaleb
Guest
kaleb

Glad Gina got her wish to have Kelly paired wit6h Michael Easton/John.. but I am glad it ended when it did. .. they did not have they chemistry, that i thought they would.

todd
Guest
todd

I was at the OLTL fan club weekend. When presented with difficult decision on whos line to wait on first from the talented cast….we chose Gina’s. She is so down to earth and seemed genuinely appreciative of our thoughts and comments. I agree that the writers never knew how to develop her character since her return. During Heather Tom’s run as Kelly, the writers trampled on her so much that very little was left to like. I was so looking forward to Gina’s strength to bring the real Kelly back, but the decision to not have her story involve Kevin… Read more »

Splum
Guest
Splum

So much about the rumour of her going to Y&R……

leah
Guest
leah

i hope that some of these people exiting will return when OLTL hits the net and cable. OLTL rocks and is #1 in day time right now-no thanks to the serial hater Frons.

harlee
Guest
harlee

I love her for different reasons, not as much as Kelly but my beloved GL as Dinah. She torn the hell out that part and 2 Emmys prove it. I hope she pops on a soap again, she is to strong of an actress not be written in the correct way. Ron C. didn’t know how to write Kelly and it showed and its so sad. I could tell from reading the article she has a big warm spot for Dinah and GL…that tickle me pink and rainbow! I would love it, if P&G would allow Gina go to Y&R… Read more »

Melissa
Guest
Melissa

Michael thanks for this interview with Gina. She’s an amazing actress and a beautiful and warm person, so down to earth and real. She’s right that the writing for Kelly was never developed as they didn’t know which direction to take her or who to put her with but she still gave it her all in every scene. I can tell she was frustrated by the writing as much as I was but as she says, she is there to act not write. I loved her as Dinah so much and she just delivered so many powerful scenes so I… Read more »

oltllover
Guest
oltllover

STILL CANNOT BELIEVE IT!

Brian
Guest
Brian

We Love You Gina! 🙂

anne
Guest
anne

If Prospect Park has any sense they will rehire you (if you’d do it) to bring Zane to Llanview. Hey, I don’t even care if they have to make him another “hunk” to make it work for ratings.
Hey could get involved with ? Dani or someone, but def. bring Kellly (Gina) back!

Claire
Guest
Claire

The way she’s talking about YR/Billy Miller it sounds like she wants the role of Victoria Newman. uuuuum, no thank you. Victoria is already taken. And I will only support the ‘Villy’ pairing with the currents actors in the role. Besides, with their fanbase, I sure hope MAB is thinking the same thing. She can’t afford pissing off more fans.

Jen
Guest
Jen

That’s nice she wants to be on Y&R but sorry that was all a bit too much. As someone else said the role of Victoria opposite Billy Miller is already taken and those two together are the best couple in years. I wish Gina good luck in the future.

Trim53
Guest
Trim53

Thanks for the interview! I enjoyed Gina equally as Dinah and Kelly, and wish her continued success. I don’t think she necessarily wants the role of Victoria; but she’s very obvious about wanting Billy Miller, and who wouldn’t? I’ll admit, though, that I find it irksome that she’s being so vocal about getting onto the show and into story with BM when he’s in a very popular pairing that fans (including me!) are dying to see reunited. I definitely appreciate that it’s her career she’s concerned with, but it still disappointed me a little to read that.

kay killgore
Guest
kay killgore

Ok, I dug him it’s cool, who talks like this 16 year olds? We do not need anymore new characters on Y&R And I beleive she turned down the role of Victoria way back when.

sakin
Guest
sakin

Thank you Gina for that wonderful interview. I think its great that you were (just thinking) about the idea of coming to the Y@R. I know you would be an excellent match for Victoria. I know you didnt mean you wanted to replace her. It would make good competition. Thanks again. Look forward to seeing you wherever that might be.

Trudi
Guest
Trudi

I guess no one will ever accuse Gina of holding back and not saying what she really feels. She wants what she wants and if it blows up other stories, so be it. Love her. Wasn’t crazy about Kelly. Best wishes for future success. Watch your back Amelia Heinle. :O

gato
Guest
gato

Kelly never had any storyline that wasnt featured more than every other week. FACT

Destiny Livingston
Guest
Destiny Livingston

she is awesome love her as well i want to meet her

Albert
Guest
Albert

Glad Gina got her wish about Kelly and McBain. They had amazing chemistry too bad it was short lived. I actually wanted Kelly to marry McBain and have his baby but oh well

General Hospital

WATCH: The Cast of ‘Studio City’ Talk On the Latest Five Episodes & The Making of the Critically-Acclaimed Digital Drama

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Michael Fairman chatted with the cast of Studio City in his latest interview for The Michael Fairman Channel on You Tube. Those taking part in this virtual conversation included: Sean Kanan (Sam), Sarah Joy Brown (Laurie), Tristan Rogers (Doc), Carolyn Hennesy (Gloria), Scott Turner Schofield (Max), Anna Maria Horsford (Jolene), and Justin Torkildesn (Jacob).  Ronn Moss, who also appears in the series playing a version of himself, was filming a movie during the scheduling of this chat, but his presence is felt when some hilarious moments featuring him and Sean Kanan were discussed.

Soap fans know these actors very well.  Kanan, Brown, Hennesy and Rogers have all, or are presently appearing, on General Hospital.  B&B fans recognize Torkilden, Horsford, Moss, and Schofield along with Kanan from their work on the CBS Daytime drama.

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Scott Turner Schofield talks about how Sean and his wife Michele Kanan, two of the creators of the show, have given him and the transgender community a space with Max’s storyline in Studio City.  GH favorite, Carolyn Hennesy shares how she crafted her role of Gloria, the executive producer, after Jill Farren Phelps, and Daytime Emmy winner Justin Torkildsen shares how he wound up with a part in the digital drama and the scenes he shares with Hennesy.

You can check out the full Studio City cast interview below.  Then let us know, have you checked out the series? What have been your favorite moments and performances in it? Let us know in the comment section.

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Interviews

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

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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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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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