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You have just finished performing in our benefit, “Soaps In The City”, and I know you have been involved so much in the fight against HIV/AIDS.


I probably have been involved for the last three years, at least. Last time, we had the east coast event at the club ”Prohibition” in New York. It’s for a great cause.


Have you personally been affected, or touched by people in your life, or in show business that have died of HIV/AIDS?


I lost many, many people… and there was a friend mine that was the stage manager from “Grease”, and then we lost another stage manager. Then, my wonderful Christopher Adler died, and this was early on. Then I lost more than 20 people that I knew, some which were really close to me. I lost my manager, and that was a tough one, because I don’t think he knew he had AIDS. Then he got pneumonia and he died. This was in 1994, and that was extremely difficult. It was a real shock because there was no time to prepare for that.


Do you feel that here in the US, AIDS awareness has been sidestepped as an issue, where globally it’s a pandemic?


Honestly, I don’t think we can ever do enough. But, I think it’s changed considerably from the 80s, for sure. I have a lot of friends living with AIDS, but not dying of AIDS. One of my very closest friends is HIV-positive and he is doing well. Of course, he is on the cocktail, and if people can’t afford the cocktail and the medications, that’s a problem. It’s changed a lot over the last 20 years, so people aren’t dying immediately. In fact, I haven’t heard of anybody dying that I have been friendly with. So, that’s a great thing!


We all know you from your portrayal of Roxy Balsom on “One Life to Live”, and
the amazing, Delia, on “Ryan’s Hope”. But now, you seem to be taking the musical aspect of you talents to new heights?


I have always sung with one rock band or the other. I have always kept it on the down- low to some degree. If people had bands, they would want me to sing with them; so I would. Then, I started songwriting a lot in the 90’s. I had written
a lot in the 70’s and then I was doing a lot of other people’s songs. Then in the 90’s I started doing my own stuff. I started writing with a great writer out in LA…
Kenny Mazur. One day he said, “You know, you really ought to start writing, because you have so many adventures and you need to get them out, and start getting your life out.” There was a song I wrote called, “No Matter What”, which was about my life, and he said, “You are on a soap, Ilene, and you need to spice this up a bit!”


Why were you so low on the radar with your great singing ability?


It’s a very big problem, and it’s kept me from doing a lot because I grew up listening to the best music you could listen to. My criteria have always been very high. I listen to Joe Williams and Ella Fitzgerald, just the great people. The way I sing, is like a Julie London- type singer, kind of smoky. I feel if I am not as good as those people, I don’t count. And then after seeing KD Lang last night, I never want to open up my mouth again. But because I am a very good actress, I am going to pretend that I am full on KD Lang. I am the feminine KD Lang. She is all boy. ilene-soaps.jpgIt’s fantastic! I think
she is so comfortable in her skin, and she came out with no shoes on and looking like a man, but she was beautiful… and the voice was the best instrument that I ever heard! You want to be up there with the really good people to call yourself a singer, and I don’t call myself a singer. I call myself, a “Thinger”. I have a “thing” and I think it’s good.


The songs you performed for us at “Soaps In The City”, please tell us about them?


This one jazz song I wrote is a combination of “Fever” and “Moondance”. Then I wrote a song called, “Rise to the Occasion”, and my first job was with the great, Johnny Pacheco. I was a dancer at nine, dancing with two Cuban guys, and that is how I started in show business. So, this song is a kind of Latin boogaloo, which was popular in the 60’s. It was written as an assignment, between Lenny Kravitz’s, “Lady” and Cyndi Lauper’s, “Girls Just Want to Have Fun”. Then when that did not happen, I changed into a different groove. I performed a song called “Flesh and Blood”, that was written for a friend of mine who was dying; the wonderful and beautiful, Nancy Addison (Ex- Jillian Coleridge, “Ryan’s Hope”). I remained close with her, and was with her every day until she died. Nancy was a wonderful friend and she died from a form of cancer. The doctors did not know the origin of it, and it was very difficult, and it took about two and half years. I started writing the song about the thought of losing someone, but knowing they will always be there with you…. and then 9/11 happened! This song came out of that, and then it really wrote itself. I knew Nancy would be dying, and I knew I would sing this song at her funeral, which was what happened. It’s a song I did not sing at my father’s memorial, but I recited the words. I have done it at other friend’s funerals. The list just goes on. I am proud of it.


Your stupendous and stunning portrayal of Roxy on “OLTL”, is so completely different than any character or actress on daytime. The scene that aired last week where Roxy pushed Adriana up against the hospital glass letting her know that she was causing her son, Rex, to basically die. That was because Adriana would not allow Gigi in Rex’s hospital room, and that was heart wrenching. Did you know those scenes were dynamite?


I knew things were real for me. The thing that is so difficult about that is, once they put up the hospital set, they will do three shows a day at the hospital set. You are so overwhelmed. You are so scared that you are going to be sacrificed, and you have to get to another scene. I felt like there was a little scene I had with the troll days, and I was not sure I was totally on my game. But then, the stuff where I put Adriana against the glass, I felt that I was on my game. With age, you are able to pull so much stuff out of your life and access it for your character. Before, when I was playing Delia on “Ryan’s Hope”, I had to do crying scenes all the time. I would have to go in back of this set, and do all this sense memory stuff. Now, I don’t have to go to that place or substitute much anymore, because of my life experience as Ilene.


How is working with John Paul Lavoisier (Rex)? We need more mother/son scenes between them.


Oh, it’s great! The audience wants more, and its short changing both Rex and Roxy, but they may get it. We got extraordinary reaction as to who is Rex’s father? That is yet untold, and they better tell it!


Will it be Mitch Laurence?


It would be great if it was Mitch, if they
tell a real story. They were about to do something when the writers’ strike happened, and then they felt it was not an important enough story to do, so they bypassed it. We waited till head writer, Ron Carlivati came back to the show. Once Ron came back, it didn’t go anywhere, but we are hoping that it does. You know, stories have to be approved by ABC Daytime and SOAPnet President, Brian Frons. So hopefully, he will see fit to give us a story. I know he likes me, but he has to like me enough to let me tell a story. The one thing I know I am capable of, is telling a good story…. even the stuff I had with Miles…. where did it go?


What about working with Erika Slezak (Viki)?


She is wonderful to work with. With Erika, this is nothing that she enforced, but she has her scenes early in the morning. So, if you have scenes with Erika, you better be on your game. First of all, she is so professional and wonderful to work with, and so generous. But, she knows all of your lines as well, and that’s a spectacular thing to do. Every once in awhile, I am on my game like that, but she is always on her game. Erika has been very, very, good to me.


I love that Roxy stumbles around drunk all the time. Do you think that will ever change?

Until she resolves certainly some of her issues, I think she should have a bit of a substance problem. I think when she goes to work, she really tries to do that hairdo. I know a lot of people like Roxy, who have more than slight substance problems, whether they are on Quaaludes or something else. I think Roxy was pretty coherent with the recent hospital stuff with Rex, though.


In your performances, do you like towing the fine line between comedy and drama?


Oh, yes! I like towing the line, because I feel that people need the humor, and it’s hard to play comedy on a soap. I think I have managed to do that extremely well, and better than most, and it’s my background. When I came on the show I came on right after 9/11. I felt that people needed a break, and also needed to be highly entertained. I felt people needed cushioning, especially in New York; it was like a scorched landscape. What happened was I got the job on September 10 and I only called a couple people to let them know, and then 9/11 happened. At first I thought, what is acting? What does that mean to people, after we have gone through something like this? Does anyone even care anymore? Is watching television, except for watching the news, important? And then a couple of days before I had to go to work, I got very inspired. I felt that somebody had to entertain the troops, and I really felt it was my job to do that.


Now tell me about working with the fabulous Melissa Archer (Natalie)?


I really like working with Melissa. She has had a lot of responsibility at “OLTL”. You know, once they see that you can do three shows in a row that is probably 18 scenes, they will do that and work you a lot. They will get away with doing that, and it is very difficult. One day Andrea Evans (Tina) had 100 or so pages. The Game Show episode with Rex, of “Whose Shane’s Daddy?”, we had a lot to do that day. Then the director said to us, “Not to put any stress on you, but this is going to be my Emmy submission!” Then it was like, you got to
be on!


I think you have a few good shows to submit for Supporting Actress Emmy competition for next year. Would you go for it?


I think I would. I did have scenes last year had I gotten nominated. My second year on the show I got nominated and it was a bit tricky. First of all, you have to have shows, which not only are you good in,… but the person you are working with is good, too. There is nothing worse than your doing a good performance, and the other person not delivering. I tend not to like to submit hospital scenes. I said to ’JP’, when it was the scene when I was in the hospital with Charlie and he comes in and says, “I don’t want to know you! Both of you!” I said to ‘JP’, “I don’t care what other people say, but these are the scenes you are going to submit!” In the past he has not submitted the right scenes. He has not done the right choices. I helped Renee Goldsberry (Ex- Evangeline) with her choices, and I was very proud that I could help her with that, and she had good stuff.


Now to “Ryan’s Hope”, and your iconic role of Delia Reid Ryan Coleridge. Ah, the list of married names goes on and on. Why do you think that worked so well?


The answer is, because of the show’s creators and head writers, Claire Labine and Paul Mayer. They wrote something from their heart. They had the bible on that show written extraordinarily well from day one, and what they had written for these characters always stayed in my mind. I knew what they wrote in those three paragraphs for Delia… I could get it. At the time, what was hard for me was that I was a very happy person playing a very unhappy person and that was difficult. I had just come from doing “Grease” and making people laugh, and once you have made 1200 people in a room laugh, you want to do that all the time.


So, after “Grease” you went to “Ryan’s Hope”?


I had done “Grease” for two years. I quit “Grease” in 1974 and got “Ryan’s Hope” in 1975. All of a sudden, I am playing this semi-tragic character who is crying all the time, going, “Love me. Please love me!” That was not second nature to me… being that screwed up. So, it was hard for me and difficult. Also, what was difficult, was you got these long scenes, which made it extremely potent for the audience, and addictive for the audience. You’ve got to travel with these characters when they made certain transitions. What disturbed me about the recent scenes with Adriana on “OLTL” in the hospital, was that the initial scenes with her were so short. I said to her, “Listen pipsqueak…” and the scene was over.


The soap climate now is faster, quicker scenes, than in the classic soaps presentations of yesteryear. It seems to fans that they think perhaps the perception is the actors can’t handle that much dialog.


I don’t think that’s what they are doing. When MTV came in, and I do not know what they are doing now, people got faddy or trendy. Now in daytime, they are trying to tell as many stories as possible, where Claire Labine just tried to tell two really good ones. I actually think the half-hour soap format is better. It gets you to concentrate and to be mesmerized by these people’s lives. People were addicted to the emotion of it, and not so much to flashy story. You know, I don’t know why we try to do car crashes or train crashes on soaps. Why do we do that, when “Lost” does it so much better? Why are we trying to compete in an area that we shouldn’t compete in, when people just want to be touched by a story? I think there was real value to the way “Ryan’s Hope” was done and was shot.


Can you tell me, off the top of your head, some Delia moments that you just loved?


The hysterically blind scenes when I am on a cruise with Pat. He realizes I am lying and throws the hairbrush at me and I catch it. The stuff with Roger and Sheila in the cooking lessons were fabulous, and every time Maeve would say, “Where you going Delia?” And she would go, “Oh, I’ve got cooking classes”, and the audience would go nuts.


Speaking of Maeve Ryan, tell me how was working with the incredible Helen Gallagher?


Oh my God, fantastic! She is a pure gift. Both of us were hoofers! The wonderful thing about the cast was it really didn’t matter what you paid us, we would show up, because we did not make a lot of money on “Ryan’s Hope”. It was like
hoofer pay. Helen did have in her contract, that nobody could get more than her. Malcolm Groome (Ex-Pat) Kate Mulgrew (Ex-Mary), and Ron Hale (Ex- Roger) these were great, great people.


Now to “OLTL” favorite Roxy moments?


First of all, working with Jim DePaiva (Ex- Max) was a pleasure. Our wedding scenes in Las Vegas, where he wakes up the next morning, and does not realize he married me, was during the live week. Everything shot during the live week was priceless, but it scared me.


But you perform sketch comedy, as you did here in Los Angeles this weekend at the ACME Theatre and other venues. Why are you scared, if you can do such impromptu performances on the spot? I know why, but probably most people looking in from the outside, would not figure it to be the case.


I am scared of everything. I did “Grease’ for two years and the adrenaline would be out of control. It’s all scary to me, but I guess it’s good to be scared, because you can come up with interesting work, but your stomach is upset all the time. I have been in this business so long, and I am still scared. It keeps you coming up with new creative things for yourself.


Do you ad-lib a lot as Roxy? Some of those jabs she gives to the other citizens of Llanview seem like it.


I am a great ad-libber, especially in the role of Roxy. If it’s a group scene and they need a Roxie line, they go, “Please come up with one!”


You are in a new film called “The Manhattanites”?


Yes. We had a screening for it in New York and Aidan Turner (Aidan, “AMC”) is terrific in it. David Fumero (Christian, “OLTL”) is also in it, and Forbes March (Ex-Nash, “OLTL”) plays my competition and steals my boyfriend away from me. Jill Larson (Opal, “AMC”) was going to do my part, but it worked out better because she ended up playing a homeless woman in the movie, because she wanted to try something different.


What is the premise of the movie?


It’s all these people’s different stories and how they intersect. They are in somewhat of a community, and that gets the ball rolling. I play a real professional type. I play a lawyer. It was not a comedic character, and not a villain. I am kind of one of the leads in it.


In closing what would you
say is at the core of Roxy Balsom, if you were going to explain her to someone who does not know her very well?


Party! Party! I think she has fun, even in times of tragedy, and she will always find a way to rock.

Days Of Our Lives

Peter Porte, Miranda Wilson and Colton Little Tease Dimitri’s Love Interest, Who’s the Daddy & The Future of Andrew & Paul

Following recent revelations on Days of our Lives, which include that Dimitri Von Leushner (Peter Porte) is the biological son of Megan Hathaway (Miranda Wilson), thus making him a DiMera, Megan moving back into the DiMera mansion after her prison term, and Andrew (Colton Little) being kidnapped, the performers who take on these roles chatted with Michael Fairman on Friday during a livestream conversation on You Tube’s Michael Fairman Channel.


During the live chat a myriad of subjects and upcoming story teases came up including: if there might be the love interest for Dimitri. Peter Porte shared, “Yes, there certainly will be. There will be two. One, out of perhaps, we’ll say necessity, and one out of heart’s desire.”  As to if ‘said’ relationship will show Dimitri’s obsessive side, Porte expressed: “I think he goes through a full journey of emotions. I don’t think he fully reaches obsession. I would say he reaches a level of extreme devotion.”  When Porte found out who the character would be that Dimitri seemingly falls for, the actor said, “I was certainly surprised.”

When we posed the question to the DAYS fans in the live chat, as to who they think will be Dimitri’s love interest or interests, guesses ranged from Gwen (Emily O’Brien) to Sloan (Jessica Serfaty) to Leo (Greg Rikaart). Could any, or two, of those be right?

Miranda Wilson and Porte weighed-in on the mother/son bond and troublemaking duo of Megan and Dimitri.  Wilson shared: “I think it’s fair to say that Dimitri is a grown man and probably has his own mustache twisting to be doing without Megan to be involved.  I just think that what is going to be coming up now is a beautiful relationship between the two.”  Porte followed with, “At the heart of it, Dimitri would do anything for his mother, anything.”

Photo: Peacock

Another mystery on DAYS fans minds is just who is the bio-dad of Dimitri? Is it someone on the canvas? Someone from the past? Porte previewed, “He certainly has a name and a title, but I don’t know if we’ve met him yet.” Wilson added, “I don’t believe he has been on the show.”

Many DAYS fans are also hoping that there be will be more to the burgeoning love story of Andrew and Paul (Christopher Sean). Colton revealed, “I have a real-life love and affinity for Christoper Sean, because he is just a ball of light and energy and a good human. I don’t think my success on the show would be anything if he hadn’t taken me under his wing and showed me the ropes. So much kudos and love to him. Getting to play opposite of someone like that as a love interest, is a treat and a joy. I think it’s really sweet, a lot of it is happening off-screen. I know the fans have expressed they want to see it on-screen.”  However, Little teased, ‘There is some good stuff coming up with Andrew and Paul. Stay tuned.”

Photo: NBC

When Miranda Wilson first appeared on Days of our Lives, it was back in 1984 as Megan was revealed to be the daughter of Stefano DiMera, played by the late, great Joseph Mascolo.  This week, Megan made her way back to the DiMera mansion and Miranda weighed-in on her relationship with her late on-screen father, and more. “Joe was a very dear friend,” she detailed. “When we worked together in the past, he was truly a father figure for me. DAYS was my first professional job in Los Angeles. The fact that Joe was there for me and we worked together so frequently, and he had a lot of time for me, meant the world to me. So, it was bittersweet being back (in the DiMera mansion), and him not being there. It still touches me, but at the same time, the character of Megan has her edge and she doesn’t let this show. As the actress, there was a lot of tenderness, that the character didn’t necessarily display. The whole ‘being back’ thing was amazing.”


You can watch the entire livestream featuring Peter, Miranda and Colton below.  The talented trio also chat on working with Steve Burton (Harris, DAYS) and Colton’s opportunity to work with the one and only Dick Van Dyke who is making a guest appearance this fall on the soap.

Now weigh-in: Who do you think will be the love interest or interests for Dimitri? Who do you think will turn out to be Dimitri’s father? Are you hoping for more Andrew and Paul? Share your thoughts and theories in the comment section.

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Y&R’s Melissa Claire Egan Chats On Tackling Chelsea’s Depression Storyline, and Being the “SuLu” of The Daytime Emmy Nominations

While the 50th annual Daytime Emmy Awards have currently been put on hold until there is a resolution of the WGA Writers Strike, that doesn’t mean we can’t continue our series of spotlighting the nominees who will be going for gold when the ceremonies are rescheduled.

The Young and the Restless’ Melissa Claire Egan (Chelsea) delivered what was one of the most gut-wrenching performances in recent memory, when Chelsea attempted to end her life via suicide, only to be saved at the last minute by an astute Billy (played by Lead Actor Daytime Emmy nominee, Jason Thompson). The conversations and intensity of that moment, and the scenes that followed, had an impact on so many viewers and shed a light on mental illness and people battling with depression. Clearly, something that many in this country have been grappling with, especially during and coming out of the Covid-19 pandemic.

For Egan, this marks her seventh Daytime Emmy nomination, and her second in the Lead Actress in a Drama Series category, in a soap career that started in Pine Valley as All My Children’s troubled Annie Lavery, before coming to Genoa City as grifter, Chelsea Lawson.

Michael Fairman TV caught up with Missy, who is an expectant mom-to-be with her second child, to discuss portraying her harrowing nominated scenes, and being the current ‘Susan Lucci’ of the Daytime Emmy Nominations. However, for Susan, it was 19 tries before her iconic Emmy victory in 1999. Let’s hope it doesn’t have to last that long for the talented Egan!


Congratulations. I knew this nomination was in the cards for you. What scenes did you end up deciding to go with on your reel? I assume, it would be from Chelsea’s suicide attempt and her battle with depression?

MELISSA: I did. I put in two episodes worth of everything that happened: on the ledge, and the aftermath, the next episode that followed. It was when Chelsea and Billy are in the hotel room and she’s still going through the stages and she’s angry at him for stopping her. She’s like, “You had no right to stop me on that ledge. That was my choice. You had no right. You don’t get to tell me what to do in my life.”  I like that those scenes showed kind of the levels of it. I talked to Dr. Dan Reidenberg (Managing Director at National Council for Suicide Prevention) a lot in preparing for the scenes about what happens after. i.e., “You’re in shock, and then in anger if you get stuck. You had emotionally planned to die and come to terms with that, and then what happens after that, if it doesn’t happen.” So, I really liked that episode as well, so I put in both of those.

Is it hard for you to watch your work, or are you good with it?

MELISSA: You know, it depends. I don’t watch my work all the time. I did watch these episodes because I wanted to see how they turned out. They were so important to the story, and it’s definitely hard to watch yourself with a critical eye. I don’t always watch, but I did watch these.


You know, this story resonated with so many people. I follow how and what people are reacting to, as part of being a journalist. This was one of those transcendent performances of the nominations. It felt so real, as I’ve told you before. It was really hard to watch, which I think was good. It put people in an uncomfortable place they don’t like to be. Jason Thompson plays the other part of it with the, “Oh, my God” of it all, and the, “What do you do when you’re faced with somebody that’s about to try to end their life?” What reaction did you get from viewers, or people that reached out to you after these performances aired?

MELISSA: Oh, gosh. It was so profound. It was so beyond words. The fans are always supportive, but I couldn’t believe the reaction of just people sharing on Instagram, on Twitter DM’ing me saying, “This was me, ” or saying, “This was my daughter, this was my aunt, this was my mom, this is my son. This was my cousin.”  Some people shared things like, “This happened to my cousin two weeks ago.” I just couldn’t believe how much it resonated with people.  I was so moved and so touched that people were willing to share and that it got a conversation started. It truly meant the world to me. I know for all of us at the show, it’s all you can hope for, is to hopefully help people feel less alone, and feel seen, and feel that it’s hopefully done properly. Like you said, that it is maybe uncomfortable to watch, but maybe in a good way.  It was pretty profound, and I will forever be grateful for that.


I had talked with Jason Thompson about how the two of you approached the emotional scenes together. What happened to get the two of you to the place you were able to deliver these performances? Did you prepare together before hitting the soundstage to tape?

MELISSA: We didn’t really, Obviously, Jason is such an amazing actor. We rehearsed it the way we always do. You know, we ran the lines and then we did each scene in one take, which is the norm there, too. If in the booth and the director, and Josh Griffith (EP and Head Writer, Y&R) who was watching, weren’t happy, obviously, we would’ve done it again. We did every single one of those scenes one time. We ran lines before and then did it. Actually, because of the director’s schedule, we had to shoot out of order. We shot the scenes in the hotel the day before we shot the ones on the ledge. There were definitely challenges involved.  At first, I remember thinking, “Oh gosh, we can’t do this. We have to shoot it in order.” But then, I was like, “You know what? We can, we can do this.” It just becomes a different challenge. We shot the scene in the hotel on a Thursday. We shot the scenes on the ledge late on a Friday night.  Jason did his research on his own. I did mine, but we came together. Obviously, we talked a lot about the scenes leading up to it for week.

Photo: ABC

Now, I remember when you and I have talked in the past and would kid, that you are the “SuLu” of the Daytime Emmy Nominations. Currently, this is your seventh Daytime Emmy nominations, with yet, a win.

MELISSA: I’m the Sulu!  I’ll take it anytime I can be compared to Susan Lucci. I know it’s wild, right? Number seven.

It is wild. However, I feel like this is the strongest reel you have had to enter into the Emmys.  It’s a game.  It’s being judged by people. It’s a competition. And unfortunately, you have to play the game, which is usually about the strategy of, “How does this reel connect to people, and how can people understand what’s going on it if they don’t know the show?” How do you feel about how this submission stacks up with the six previous ones for you?

MELISSA: I’ve always been proud of my reels and I’m so proud of the seven nominations in 17 years of doing soaps. However, because the material is so important and the material is so relevant, and it’s touched people in such a different way, it’s become the work I’m most proud of, for sure. The truth is: I’m so excited to be nominated again, but the real reward has been being able to affect people and touch people and help people. There’s nothing that can compare or compete with that. So, I feel like no matter what happens, I feel like the real reward is being able to tell the story and help people feel less alone. It really is.

Photos: ABC, CBS,

What a “Lead Actress” group to be nominated with.  Two of your castmates, Michelle Stafford (Phyllis, Y&R) and Sharon Case, (Sharon, Y&R) along with Finola Hughes (Anna, GH) and Jacqueline MacInnes Wood (Steffy, B&B), are all in the category with you.

MELISSA: I know! It’s so exciting. It’s such a great group of women and great group of actors. And of course, having Michelle and Sharon on there is just icing on the cake. It’s so cool and so special.

You know, Finola Hughes, right?

MELISSA: Yes. I got to know Finola for our girl’s nominee luncheon, two years ago. We were both nominated together two years ago along with Jacqueline MacInnes Wood, too.  She won that year. So, three of us were in this together two years ago, which is weird and fun. I was pregnant then, too. There’s like a lot of similarities. It’s all been these very ‘pinch me’ moments. I’m just so excited and so grateful no matter what happens.

Photo: JPI

If you get the opportunity to give an acceptance speech, will you have something written down if your name is called, or will you just wing?

MELISSA: No. I’ve never written anything down. But again, I haven’t had to. I always kind of think about it in my brain, in my thoughts, of what I would say, but I’ve never put a pen to paper, ever, which is probably not smart. I’m sure I would end up forgetting somebody very important. I just never have written it down. It’s just not my way.

Jason Thompson made a comment to me when he was a special guest on my Daytime Emmy nomination special.  He mentioned, like so many actors have to me in the past, that even as a kid, he would practice in the mirror, winning in Oscar and giving an acceptance speech.  Did you ever do that?

MELISSA: I will say the cool thing about the Emmy is … two years ago, we all got to ‘pretend’ win, and walk on that stage and a hold an Emmy and thank our parents, and then of course, four out of five of us did not win.  However, you got to experience what it would kind of feel like.  I’ll always have that in my back pocket if I continue to be the “SuLu” of my generation.

Photo: NATAS

If for some reason you continue to be the ‘Sulu,’ you’ll have to call Susan Lucci for advice!

MELISSA:  The next time I see her, I will definitely tell her. I mean, I can’t compare it to the ‘Queen’, but, you know, I’ll take any kind of comparison, for sure!

Photo: ABC

Will you be rooting for Melissa Claire Egan to win this year’s Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series? Were you affected and touched by Y&R’s suicide prevention storyline which featured Melissa’s performances as Chelsea, front and center? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.

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General Hospital

GH’s Maurice Benard Talks On His Daytime Emmy Nomination, Sonny’s Journey with Bipolar Disorder, and His Advocacy for Mental Health

General Hospital’s Maurice Benard has often tapped into his harrowing real-life experience with bipolar disorder and manic episodes, and brought that to the inner life of the character of Sonny Corinthos. Over the years, Benard has been very open with his struggles with mental illness while becoming an advocate and shedding light on mental health through his You Tube series, State of Mind, his autobiography Nothing General About It: How Love (and Lithium) Saved Me On and Off General Hospital, and his numerous talk show and personal appearances.

In the early part of 2022, GH’s Sonny was on a downward spiral, off his meds, and in the throes of having his relationship with Carly (Laura Wright) hit the skids, while turning to Nina (Cynthia Watros) for comfort, help, and much more. Those moments and others, gave Benard powerful scenes to play, and it landed him a Daytime Emmy nomination this year in the Outstanding Lead Actor in a Drama Series category. This marks the 10th time Maurice has been nominated. He has already racked up three Lead Actor Emmys previously: in 2003, 2019, and 2021.

Michael Fairman TV chatted with the popular star to get his take on: what this Daytime Emmy nomination means to him, how he sees the category in which he is included with four other talented actors, and how he hopes his road, and Sonny’s road to a better emotional place has helped others. We also reminisce on Maurice’s seismic first Emmy victory at Radio City Music Hall in 2003, and the lessons he’s learned for himself along the way, and come Emmy time.

Make sure to watch the 50th annual Daytime Emmy Awards on Friday night June 16th live on CBS (9 pm EST) and streaming on Paramount+.  Now, here’s what Maurice had to say.

Photo: ABC

Congratulations on this Lead Actor Emmy nomination. I understand that you submitted scenes dealing with Sonny’s battle with bipolar disorder. Can you tell me what was on your reel?

MAURICE: First, I have scenes with Michael (Chad Duell) where Sonny wants to reconcile with him, and we talk about how many people have died. You can tell something’s off with Sonny. Then, he has scenes with Carly, where Sonny wants to get back with her and she didn’t want to, and then he’s very emotional, and he leaves, goes to the nightclub and he’s manic. I love those scenes. He goes home with Nina and she has to deal with someone who’s manic. Those scenes happened earlier in the year, and I think it was kind of forgotten about, but I felt really good about them, plus it was dealing with bipolar disorder. So, I’m very proud of the work and the writing was phenomenal.

Photo: ABC

There is this scene where Sonny is sitting with Nina on a bench and he leans his head on her shoulder admitting he needs help. Is that on the reel?

MAURICE: Yes, that’s at the end of my reel.


I remember when I saw it.  It was an episode that aired at the end of January of 2022.  I wrote it up and I gave props to you and Cynthia, because that was such an amazing scene. Sonny was really lost and off his meds, and Nina had never seen him like this and didn’t really know what to do.

MAURICE: Yeah, he had grabbed her really hard before that on the wrist, and it scared her and scared him that he did that. Then, Sonny admitted right after that, he needed help.  They sat on the bench and he was crying.

So, was that a difficult scene to play for you … or are those easy when you have to go into playing the manic-version of Sonny?

MAURICE: Yes, but it’s only hard in terms of what it does to me. I honestly think, if I didn’t have a mental illness, I wouldn’t have as much fear, because I don’t want to have another anxiety attack.  So, that’s the reason when I do those scenes afterwards sometimes, I’m feeling like, “Oh, God. Why did I do this?”

Wasn’t there a time years ago that you couldn’t play those types of scenes at all?

MAURICE: There was a time when I did a bipolar story where the show had it last too long. My wife called them and said, “Stop this already.” I was hearing my mom and dad in the scenes, and I knew I was in trouble.

Photo: ABC

Based on the subject matter of your reel, and where we are in the world today with mental illness, plus how you use your platform on ‘State of Mind’, this kind of would close the loop on your entire journey if you were to receive the Emmy this year.

MAURICE: Yes, It would. I don’t really anticipate trying to win Emmys and this and that. I’m just so proud of the story, that after this I’m not sure I’ll get this kind of story again.

Photo: ABC

Winning the Emmy for these performances, would afford you the opportunity in an acceptance speech, to address mental illness.

MAURICE: Yes! Look, the only thing that made me happy was getting things, and that’s a false happiness. You have to find the happiness within yourself, then everything makes you happy.  I couldn’t do that for 58 years.  Now, this is the first time I got nominated where my initial feeling was like a normal person. Of course, it’s great to be nominated, but I don’t get overly happy, because what happens is when you get overly happy or whatever, you’re gonna fall if things don’t go your way.  So, this time I’m feeling so good either way, but I would love to speak on mental illness. That’s why I would really love to win.

It’s all so prevalent and topical in society today what you are speaking about. In recent weeks, the news cycles have been talking about studies on loneliness that is gripping America right now. People are suffering from loneliness and depression. It has been difficult since Covid, and coming out of that, for so many people. 

MAURICE: Yeah, and I think now is the time that it’s really getting tough because sometimes it takes a while for it to hit and kick in. They say after two years is when it kind of starts kicking in.


And this nomination, like you just spoke to, is different. The last two times you were nominated and won was for the Alzheimer’s storyline. Those were difficult for you to play too, because your dad was going through the same thing at the time. Correct?

MAURICE: Yes. Anything I do that has mental illness or anything like that is very close to my heart.  I was very proud of those two Emmys because of the Alzheimer’s story and because my dad died of it.

Photos: ABC, CBS, NBC

So, what do you think about the actors nominated with you for Lead Actor? You’ve got Peter Bergman (Jack, Y&R), Jason Thompson (Billy, Y&R) Billy Flynn (Chad, DAYS), and Thorsten Kaye (Ridge, B&B).

MAURICE: I respect all those actors. I really do. I’m not just saying that. I think they’re all damn good actors. I watch their work, each of ’em. I remember, I watched Thorsten Kaye with Jacqueline MacInnes Wood (Steffy, B&B), and it was about drug addiction, if I recall, and they were just nailing those scenes. I watched Billy because he was on my show, State of Mind. Peter’s always, you know, Peter, and Jason is Jason, you know …fantastic! So, I’m into it, man.

When we had my annual Daytime Emmy Nominations Special last month, Jason shared he was stoked to be in the category with you. Did you mentor him at all while he was at GH?

MAURICE: No, no, we just had great talks. I didn’t do what I do with the younger actors. He was a little older, and he’s a hard worker. Jason has talent and it’s amazing. You know, I told him on the State of Mind that it’s not easy to go from being popular in one role and then go to another show and be very popular also. That’s not done very often. So, my hat’s off to him.

Photo: ABC

I also was talking with Finola Hughes (Anna, GH) and the two of you were all over mainstream press representing General Hospital for their 60th anniversary.  How was it for you to go to New York and then do the all of the guest appearances in support of the show? I know it’s hard for you to fly and you flew alone.

MAURICE: Yeah, and I almost got off that plane, but thank God I didn’t.  It’s amazing. I never thought I’d get to a place where people talk to me as much about mental health as they do about General Hospital.  I love it.

So, you have experienced walking down the street, for instance, and people stopping you to discuss mental illness over asking what’s going down on GH?

MAURICE: Yes. The driver that drove me to the airport, you know, it’s just about mental health. Then, in New York on the streets. I love it, obviously, although it can be a little draining. I was just about to get on the plane and this guy was telling me his brother is bipolar, and he’s worried he’s going to commit suicide. I’m thinking, “Oh, man.” But, it’s all good.  I’m proud of Sonny … I’m proud of everything I do with mental health … State of Mind … and everything.

Photo: ABC

I remember your first Emmy win in 2003 at Radio City Music Hall in New York City. The fans were going crazy for you – it was so loud in there. The only other time I ever recall anything that loud was when Susan Lucci finally won her Emmy after 19 tries. The entire Felt Forum erupted.  Do you remember going on stage to accept the Emmy, and where you were at that point in your life and taking that all in? Everyone was so excited and happy for you.

MAURICE: That one felt like catching the ball in the end zone and we’re all just celebrating. That was a different feeling. I will never feel that again, obviously, it’s your first one. You’ve been waiting 10 years and then ‘boom’ it hits, and it’s at Radio City Musical Hall. I remember my dad was there. Then, the other two wins were a little more subdued, but the second win was difficult because I didn’t have any speech prepared. I thought I was gonna lose for sure, because nobody picked me to win.  So, I was like, “I’m good” And then ‘bam,’ it happens. I’m like, “Oh, man. I don’t have a speech!”

And to your point, I asked all the nominees if they think it’s better to have a speech prepared and or just wing it? How would you respond to that knowing what you went through?

MAURICE: It’s never good to wing it. Somebody said to me, “Well, you didn’t have a speech, but it was great.” I said, “But you could still be great with a speech and it’s not so hard on you.” When you have a speech, at least you have stuff that you can say, and it’s ready to go.

Photo: NATSS

Are you going to attend this year’s Daytime Emmy ceremony?

MAURICE:  Oh yeah, I’m all good. I’m good, win or lose, I don’t care. I’m in a different place. I can have fun now and not feel nervous, or whatever, inside.

That’s amazing. That has to be a relief where you don’t feel that kind of weight coming down on you.  I can only imagine that it makes you feel lighter, emotionally.

MAURICE: There’s no better feeling than where I’m at inside my myself right now. I used to get nervous going to the supermarket, and I couldn’t talk to people. I put my head down. It’s such a different vibe for me now.

Photo: ABC

How did you find out you were Emmy-nominated this year?

MAURICE:  I found out, I think, on Twitter. It’s not like it used to be for me, because I was more intense with it. You have to understand something. I was so crazy that the night before the nominations, I couldn’t sleep. I didn’t sleep at all. That’s where I was, and then if I get nominated or not, I’d have to go through that.

I know we all want some form of validation. I mean, let’s be honest. Of course, we all want to be validated for the work we do, especially in a creative industry.  I think everybody would love to win an Emmy, but as you were figuring out in your journey, it did not define you.

MAURICE: It’s like my friend.  He’s a billionaire, right?  I said, “What’s it like being a billionaire?” He goes, “Listen, I’ve been rich and I’ve been poor. Rich is better.”  That’s the way it is, right?  Of course, you want to get nominated, then not nominated, but it’s just a different feeling that I have now about it from what I used to have.


I was so touched to see Sonya Eddy’s (ex-Epiphany) name in the list of nominees for Outstanding Supporting Actress posthumously. I know you worked with Sonya over the years. What did you think about her receiving this nomination and what can you say about the loss of your colleague?

MAURICE: Sonya was just a ball of happiness. I mean, she was always laughing, always smiling. We had a relationship where I’d make her smile and then I’d kid with her. She was just a beautiful, beautiful person.

Sonny and Epiphany would have some run-ins, but she fought with her feelings.  She liked her friendship with Sonny, and even those he was a mobster, she found the good in him.

MAURICE: Exactly. It was just sweet. It was just nice. And you know, that’s the thing, in life sometimes only the good die young.

Photo: ABC

Lastly, the late Nneka Garland, former producer at GH, was so pivotal to these Emmy nominations and the reels, and working on them for the cast and the show.  I know you worked with her for many years and her passing has been hard on everyone.

MAURICE: That’s a tough one. Nneka was very close to my wife, Paula.  They talked all the time. It’s sad, another one gone, and it’s these people who are just good people. It’s interesting what life brings, but it’s part of life. Nneka cared for all of us at General Hospital.

Photo: ABC

Please note: Jackie Zeman (Bobbie, GH) passed away a few days after our interview with Maurice was conducted, which is why it was not addressed directly in this interview. However, Maurice did take to Instagram to share his grief on the loss of his beloved co-star, expressing: “This hit me really hard, a gut punch. I think because Jackie was such a sweet, delicate soul. And I got to know her really well in the later years, I just loved her spirit I keep telling people life is not fair, we just have to except what is. I will miss you, Jackie we all will✝️”

What do you think about the scenes Maurice chose for his Emmy-nominated reel? Showing Sonny being manic and being off his meds? How Maurice hopes this potential Emmy win might afford him the opportunity to speak to others who live with mental illness? Share your thoughts in the comment section below.


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