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The Jess Walton Interview – The Young and the Restless

© JPI Studios

© JPI Studios

“Hello, Restless Style, Jill Fenmore speaking?”  What???  Yes.  As viewers learned late last week, and at the beginning of this week’s episodes of The Young and the Restless, the previously known Jill Foster Abbott apparently is part Fenmore… as in… Lauren Fenmore.  The truth of what we all hope will finally be the end to Jill’s long and exhausting plight and search for her biological birth mother, (for her sake, not necessarily the viewers), took a drastic turn when Jill’s adopted mom, Liz Foster, made a death bed confession to her son, Dr Snapper Foster. (The guest starring David Hasselhoff)  Loaded with the info, and following the powerhouse scenes by two-time Daytime Emmy winner Jess Walton (Jill), (when she has to cope with the grief and feelings of abandonment after losing the one mother that loved her unconditionally), Snapper tells Jill what Liz explained to him about her birthright.

On-Air On-Soaps chatted with the amazing Jess Walton to revisit the latest developments in the ongoing saga of one of daytime’s most unique and enduring characters.  In addition, Jess discusses her on-screen relationship that has endured and withstood countless relationship rewrites, that between her and soap legend, Jeanne Cooper (Katherine).  From the catfights, to the cake-fights, to the DNA results, to the doppelgangers, these two have gone through it all.  Walton also reveals she was sad the return of Y&R 80’s Foster brothers, (David Hasselhoff and Wings Hauser) was so brief, but yet it propelled great story. 
And, what of her current on-screen sons, Daniel Goddard (Cane), and Billy Miller (Billy)?  Find out what this savvy soap veteran has to say about these two popular soap studs.

And, with the 37th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards just around the corner on Sunday night June 27th from Las Vegas live on CBS, Jess and I take a trip down memory lane through her two Emmy wins – one for Supporting Actress in 1991, and the other for Lead Actress in 1997.  An irreverent, funny, tell- it-like-it-is phenomenal actress, and a pure joy to watch on-screen, here’s what Jess had to say about all her mommas!

MICHAEL:

Your performances last week when Liz was dying were phenomenal.  Now we learn, Jill is apparently part Fenmore.  How did you feel when your character gets thrown around so many times, in so many directions, with mothers, jobs, men, etc?  I think she is one of the soap characters who has changed course so many times, it’s hard to keep up with her!

JESS:

It is, isn’t it?  I agree with you, and it used to bother me.  I would try and keep a steady course with it, and now I can’t.  Now I just roll with the punches.  It’s impossible!  For awhile there you just kind of say things like, “My character wouldn’t do this, and who is this?”  But now, I just kind of go, “Oh, my God.  This is going to be fun”, because it’s something new, and it’s something different.

MICHAEL:

© JPI Studios

The episodes that just aired were very well written.  It really made the audience aware of Jill’s emptiness and issue of abandonment, and where it all stems from.  Therefore, the viewers felt really bad for her.

JESS:

They were well written, and that is what you have to do, because when Jill goes off on her crazy tangents, I have got to balance it with some sympathy.  Because, if the audience can a see a bit inside of her and understand her, and not just hate her, then it affects them. I thought the scenes with her brothers, Snapper and Greg, were just so good!

MICHAEL:

It was sad to say goodbye to Julianna McCarthy as Liz, and then at the Friday tag you end up at Lauren’s door.  And this past Monday you explain to Lauren what you were told by Snapper via Liz, of Jill’s biological background.  What do you think of the Fenmore twist, it sort of came out of nowhere?  However, the big question as to who is Jill’s real mother is still a mystery.

JESS:

It all happened so fast. We had David Hasselhoff for a week, and Julianna as Liz, dies within a week and all of a sudden it’s, “I am a Fenmore”.  And we really didn’t have a chance to explore it much, but in real life that happens.  My first thought as Jill is, “I actually know who my blood is, and I have a sister.” And, Jill was very moved and touched and shocked from the death of Liz, but full of love for her sister.  Lauren would actually be Jill’s half-sister.

MICHAEL:

Do Lauren and Jill have a bad past?

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JESS:

Most people don’t like Jill, and she hasn’t particularly loved Lauren. I have never had that much to do with Lauren, really.

MICHAEL:

So now, the canvas is wide open again, as to who could be Jill’s mother! Speaking of past mothers… how did you feel about the reversal of plot point that unconnected Katherine and Jill as mother and daughter?  Jeanne Cooper made no bones that she did not like it from the beginning and was glad it has been dropped. With everything that has transpired on-screen, how do you feel about Jill not being related to Katherine?

JESS:

As Jess, I originally loved the idea and it seemed a natural progression to me. I thought it would make it more interesting, because we had already been playing our relationship for 20 years on one note.  I thought it would deepen, but it never did what I thought it could have done.  But, Katherine and Jill have an incredible relationship on-screen in spite of all this.  The love and the hate is so mixed, and there is never any telling when it will bubble out now.  It used to be, “This month I like her… this month I hate her.”  Now, it’s more from moment to moment.

MICHAEL:

How was it to play those huge emotional scenes, and watch Julianna die on-screen?

JESS:

They were easy, easy, easy.  I knew we only had David Hasselhoff for one week, and it was all going to happen.  There was going to be a lot of pain, and a lot of crying, and I was dreading it.  But I have got to tell you, those tears flowed so easily.  Julianna, first of all, is a consummate actress.  She and I have a lot of history together, and we are friends. I adore her, and when I lock into those blue eyes of hers, I just become Jill.  And the strange thing is, Wings Hauser, who I never met before, because as you said, the scenes were so well written, that as soon as we started playing them, the story all made sense.  It was great, and pretty effortless.  I really felt Wings and David were my brothers.  I have to say there was a lot of distraction on the set while David was filming his reality show and that was different.  But I was kind of excited about it, because it was fun.  In the end, I think the scenes came out really well.

© JPI Studios

MICHAEL:

How was David to work with?

JESS:

He was wonderful and a friendly guy and upbeat.  David was proud to be back on The Young and the Restless, and like all parents, proud of his kid.  And that was all he could talk about… his daughter, Taylor-Ann, who played the nurse in some scenes who mixed up Liz’s medications.

MICHAEL:

Jess, you have won two Daytime Emmys, and I was watching this year nominated writing episode from Y&R where yet again, there you were with your mother issue. Jill found out at Billy and Chloe’s wedding definitively that Katherine was not an imposter and your DNA did not match.  Then comes the cake-throwing scene, which set back the Katherine and Jill feud to its rightful place!  What did you think about those scenes?  Jill was a raving bitch!

JESS:

Always, the scenes that turn out the best are the ones I am most worried about, because I know they have the potential to come out great.  I thought they were fabulous.  I had no idea how I was going to be playing all that craziness.  You remember how crazy Jill was acting?  She was all over the place and flip-flopping.  I said to Sally MacDonald, who was directing the episode, “Um, you have to give me a drink in my hand at the very beginning of this wedding because I have to have a little aid, and you have to assume Jill is a little tipsy.  It gives the excuse for why she is so all over the place.”  So, Sally started me out with a Mimosa right at the beginning of the show and it kind of explained it.  And what did I say to poor Murphy?  I know, “You dig up worms for a living!”  (Laughs) She was awful!  Then I threw the cake in Nikki’s face, too!  I said to Melody Thomas Scott (Nikki), “You better watch out Melody.  I am going to get you, too.”  It was great!

MICHAEL:

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What did Jeanne think of this cake fight extraordinaire?

JESS:

Jeanne was like, “bring it on” with the cake fight.  Here was the problem. The problem was that the frosting was butter cream and it got on the floor on the tiles.  And whoever was holding me up, was really holding me up…and it was Beau Kayzer. (Brock) That was because Jeanne was trying to get her arms around the entire cake!  I am telling you, that is what she was trying to do!  She is so funny! (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

So to make this extraordinary pairing work on-screen at this point, after so many years, do you and Jeanne sit down and have a process where you run lines, or is it all just hit your mark, say your lines, and we will make it remarkable?  With daytime production moving so fast these days, has it at all impacted you and Jeanne?

JESS:

There is very little time to run lines if we are first up to tape in the day.  Other than that, there is usually time to rehearse.  We use to have a drama coach on set who was great.  His name was Judd Lawrence.  He was great for group scenes, and he had a little room near hair and make-up.  When we had those group scenes with a lot of people, as we passed by his area, all of us would sit down in a room and get those really fast cues that you have in party scenes.  So that was cool.  But for Jeanne and I when it comes to one and one scenes, we find each other and we put in the work.

MICHAEL:

Jeanne is a remarkable lady!  And the two of you still “bring it” to the viewers!

JESS:

© JPI Studios

I thank God every day for that woman.  She feeds me. She is like a shot in the arm when you see her in the morning.  She is funny and sharp and I love her.

MICHAEL:

What are you playing as Jill now?  Inner-struggle? Is she going to have a metamorphosis?

JESS:

She is feeling all of her emotions right now to the hilt and thinking, “Whatever I am feeling, it’s like what the hell!  Life had always brought me a lot of dirty blows,” but she always tries new things.  She has really deep feelings for people like Cane and Billy.  She adores them, even though Billy is such a little brat.  He has a lot of Jill in him, but when she gets mad, she really gets mad, but I don’t think she is any longer trying to make much sense of it.  Jill went out of trying to fit in and be part of society.  She is now like, “What is going on?” (Laughs) Michael, I can tell you, there is really good stuff coming up.

MICHAEL:

Jill is such a shrew sometimes!

JESS:

She can be such a shrew!  Did you know that a Shrew is really an animal that has a horrible personality! (Laughs)  Jill gets her happiness where she can, and she certainly is not going to contain her anger.  She lets it out, so it does not fester in there.  She is on a roller coaster though, I will say that much.

MICHAEL:

So she is going to be in a continual search for her biological mother, coming up?

JILL:

I suppose.  I can’t tell you anything. (Laughs)

© JPI Studios

MICHAEL:

Another thing, Jess, is that Jill has had a lot of job changes. (Laughs) Where is she working now, officially?

JESS:

She is still with Billy. He fired her once (laughs), but I am working at Restless Style.

MICHAEL:

How is working with Daytime Emmy nominee Billy Miller (Billy)?

JESS:
Oh, it’s fantastic.  He is the best actor. Yesterday, Billy walked on the set after we had just rehearsed these scenes, and during the performance I looked at him and I saw so much!  I think back to when he met Cane, and the character had just come back.  Billy was jealous of him and happy to be home with Jill, and it was all playing across his face. He is very, very good.

MICHAEL:

Your other on-screen son, Phillip Chancellor III played by Thom Bierdz, came back for sort of a reverse coming out story to his family, but the story fizzled.

JESS:

When I worked with Thom recently, I have to tell you, he hasn’t changed a bit.  He is still the same sweet guy that he was.

MICHAEL:

And how is working with Daniel Goddard (Cane)?

JESS:

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Oh my God, it’s like butter.  It is, it’s like butter, and we have this connection.  He reminds me of my real life son.  His energy is like my son.  And I feel like he is my real son, and he is just amazing.  Daniel’s sense of humor is so terrific.  I love his wife and his kids.  I am always thrilled when I work with him.

MICHAEL:

On Sunday, the 37th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards will be handed out on CBS.  So as a past recipient, where are your two Emmys?

JESS:

They are on each side of the TV.

MICHAEL:

When you look at them, do you look back and go, “Wow, I won these!  How cool.”

JESS:

They are always there so I don’t always notice them, but as I am sitting here talking to you, I am looking at them.  Sometimes when I have new people come into the house that don’t really know me well or know what I do, I think “Oh, what are they going to think when they see those?” (Laughs)  They are very impressive, but most of the time I forget.

MICHAEL:

When you won them, do you remember what went through your mind at the time, close to when your name was called or shortly after?

JESS:

© JPI Studios

The first one was at the Marriott and it was a lunchtime deal. I remember when I won them I was very angry that I had to do anything, because all I wanted to do was feel.  I remember it distinctly.  First of all, I sure as hell did not want to get up and give the damn speech. (Laughs)  It was just horrible!  Then I wanted to go hug my husband and I had to do the press, but I did not want to do the press.  Not because it’s difficult, or that I don’t like doing it, it’s just that I wanted to feel that feeling, and I wanted to feel it purely and not have to work.  Then the second one was killer and the icing on the cake.  It was for Lead Actress and it was really, really great.  And, at that time it had been many, many years since The Young and the Restless was on, and no one had ever won in the Lead Actress category.  I think it had been on 20 years maybe at that point.

MICHAEL:

What would you say to the actresses this year who are in the final five, as we countdown to Emmy night?

JESS:

I would say, enjoy the nomination process, because everyone is a winner until that night and it’s a glorious, glorious time.  And for the winner, it goes on, and for the ones who don’t win, it sort of stops right there.

MICHAEL:

Well, after seeing this last week of air shows, I think you have some very strong material, that if you so choose to throw your name in the mix next year, you could just get a nod!

JESS:

If I decide to do it, we shall see.  But the great thing about the Emmys is: once I won one, and then won a second, it did not matter to me anymore.  It’s over and done and I did that.   I did not have that yearning that I had before.

MICHAEL:

OK Jess, of all the numerous twists and turns in Jill’s storylines, there had to be some that you were like, “You have got to be kidding me? How I am going to make this work?”

JESS:

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Oh, my God, Michael.   I had those moments a lot when you think of the twists and turns. And the very first one I remember was when Billy was small.  I was fighting for custody with John Abbott.  Jack went and hired a guy who sweeps me off my feet who lets me know he is not interested in a child.  And…I give up custody from that one day of scenes. That was a “How am I going to make this work?”  And every time I have scenes with the whole town (Laughs), and I announce to the whole town that I was going to take over Katherine’s house, knowing they all loved her and hated me (Laughs)…. I am always having to do stuff like that.  I mean, when I had to tell poor Murphy that he digs worms for a living…you know, it was like, “How am I going to do this?”  My whole soap opera life is filled with, “How am I going to make this work?”  Sometimes, my solution is going to the director and saying, “Please give Jill a Mimosa the first thing in the morning so I can make this work.” (Laughs)  The other story that was the hardest, “How am I going to make this work,” was Brittany’s baby.  I fell in love with the baby, and I was going to go into the Witness Protection Program to be the nurse maid for the baby. (Laughs) And then, Michael Nouri was on the show for a while.  He was a dishonest CEO for Katherine, and I was trying to get the goods on him and fall in love with him.  But then, Jill runs off with him knowing he was an embezzler and never to see her family again. Well, please! (Laughs) You know what I mean?   It’s so much fun, and it’s been such a
challenge to try to make it some sort of cohesive tapestry of a human being.

MICHAEL:

But you had to speak to the writers at times to clarify or find out where your story is headed sometimes when things were perhaps, murky?

JESS:

I have gone on the phone with the writers before to shape an idea, or to go over the forward thrust of a story, but mostly it’s self-explanatory.  I don’t know how to answer that except there have been times I have needed to talk to them.  Particularly, if I saw in the direction it was going that there were going to be problems.  But of course, they are great that way and glad to talk about it with us.

MICHAEL:

Who do you think is the dream mother for Jill?

JESS:

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I think Julianna was!  Liz was the dream mother for Jill.  She always could handle Jill.  That is the trouble on soap, you can never be happy. You always have to be unhappy because that is where the drama lies.  I had many mothers now haven’t I?  Remember Elizabeth Harrower, played by Charlotte, and Jill was crazy about her! (Laughs) Oh, my God.  She had so many mothers! (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

But Jill’s deep rooted insecurity and issues stem from that and from when she was poor.

JESS:

There is a basic insecurity that came from her being the housekeeper’s daughter. She was around Katherine with her rich society country club friends, and she had this deep feeing of inadequacy, and that is where I think it all stems up.  But, she is very much a bossy little lady, and domineering.  Jill is attracted to powerful men, but yet she is not going to buckle under to them.

MICHAEL:

Have you ever been bored with playing Jill?

JESS:

No, it’s never boring now.  When it was boring, was the time I won Best Actress because all I was doing at that time was supporting Sonny Von Deusen who played Keith Dennison, and his two girls, Megan and Tricia. That is all I did for two years and it was really boring, and nothing ever has been that boring, and no period of time on the show has ever been as boring as that one.  Sonny was a wonderful actor and I loved him, but I wasn’t doing hardly anything.

MICHAEL:

When you heard all these people were coming back for one week, David Hasselhoff, Julianna McCarthy and Wings Hauser, were you shocked when they told you?

JESS:

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I have a really good friend whose is David’s agent, so I was not completely unaware of what was going on.  But, I was very sad that it was so quick though, and no, I am not in David’s reality show!

MICHAEL:

What would you say about working with Jeanne Cooper after all these years?

JESS:

It’s like rolling off a log at this point and so easy.  Working with Jeanne is stimulating and we laugh constantly.  We are so in the same boat.  We know each other so well, and we know the looks on each others faces, and we know if we have gone up on each other’s lines, and we know if this isn’t working right or it doesn’t feel right.  It’s just wonderful.

MICHAEL:

So what happened when Jeanne’s prediction that the mother/daughter storyline was not going to work came true?

JESS:

What are you going to do?  I hate that Jeanne was proved right that it didn’t work, because I think it should have.  But, I thought it would deepen it in theory, and make it more interesting, in theory.  C’mon, we got years of story out of it, and there was no wrong to that.  I don’t care what she says.  It’s been 25 years that I have been on the show, and there has been a Jill in her life for way longer than that. You have got to throw it some curves.

MICHAEL:

OK, after all the mothers, men, children, boardrooms, and manicures that Jill has come in contact with or had in her life, what is something you would still love to see your character get to do?

JILL:

I would love to see a lot more fantasizing scenes, where apparently I put Katherine under the hair dryer and electrocute her! (Laughs)  And one time, I know I did hide the toilet paper in the Colonnade Room when she went into the stall.  And, I loved it when I rented the Doberman, because I knew she was afraid of dogs.  And I loved it when I hired my own maid, so we could have dueling maids, with her Ester being her maid.  I remember, Beverly Archer from Momma’s Family, who played the neighbor on that sitcom, played Jill’s maid.  She was hilarious, and her sense of comedy timing was out of this world.

MICHAEL:

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Would you like to see Jill have a new romance?

JESS:

No.  I would like to see her become a master spy.  (Laughs) Look, I am up for anything new and different at this point.

MICHAEL:

Well Jess, I know and the fans know, that there is some big stuff coming down the pike for Jill, from discovering more about who she is, to God knows what else, in the coming weeks!

JESS:

It will be an emotional roller coaster, and it’s never smooth.  It’s all about going for broke with her coming up, and its going to get very interesting.

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waldo doe
Guest
waldo doe

Thanks for the great JW interview. I don’t think I have ever read an interview with her. She seems pretty cool, so unlike her neurotic alter ego!

I’m not so crazy about this Fenmore storyline, but I will keep watching to see where it goes.

KELLEY MIES
Guest
KELLEY MIES

Jess is the BEST actress on daytime tv!!! She makes Y&R the show that it is #1!!!

Nora
Guest
Nora

Great interview! I love Jess and I’m looking forward to this new development!

Diane
Guest
Diane

Absolutely one fabulous intereview with the great Jess Walton whom I love and adore and have since I saw her ‘ions’ ago when she was a young gal on the now defunct soap SOMERSET! Awesome ballsy broad and I love her character and what she brings to it. Thanks Michael.

Mandel
Guest
Mandel

Good interview Michael. When people say that they don’t like Jill, that shows that Jess is a good actress.

cburdsall
Guest
cburdsall

found interesting and helpful. Jill is such a difficult person to like; but now, separating the actor from the character, makes it easier to watch the prerformance.

Trish
Guest
Trish

I like Jess but my favorite of all time was the original Jill, Brenda Dickson.

General Hospital

GH’s Laura Wright Talks on Mob Boss Carly and Her 30-Year Evolution in Daytime

She’s a fierce, force to be reckoned with, one who delivers raw and emotional performances time and time again, while never forgetting from where she came, and always willing to pass on to her newer co-stars’ the wisdom she gained from the grind of performing in front of the camera in the toughest acting genre there is … daytime drama.

General Hospital’s Laura Wright’s (Carly) real-life soap journey actually has a very humble beginning when in 1991 – fresh off a job at a gas station – she landed in Corinth and the role of Ally Rescott on ABC’s Loving.  Up next, a jaunt to its re-imagined version, The City, until the series ultimate demise in 1997. But that was just an appetizer for soap fans of Wright’s burgeoning talent, when next she ventured to Springfield and CBS’ Guiding Light to take on the role of a stripper with a heart-of-gold who ultimately would be crowned a princess, Cassie Layne. Then, after a popular 8-year-run, she would head to General Hospital, and one of the most coveted roles in soaps, that of Port Charles’ Carly Corinthos following in the footsteps of powerhouse actresses, Sarah Brown and Tamara Braun. In her 20th year in daytime, Laura took home the gold for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Drama Series back in 2011, and that brings us to now.  Next week on June 7th, marks Laura’s 30th year in daytime filled with memorable on and off-screen moments that she has cherished.

Meanwhile, currently on GH, Laura is getting to play Carly in a whole new set of circumstances as she enters her three-decade soap anniversary. In story, we find Carly stepping up to run the mob, now that she and everyone else believes her husband, Sonny Corinthos (Maurice Benard) is dead, and while her best friend and mob enforcer, Jason (Steve Burton) had to go on the run. And from the looks of it, Carly is adjusting to the mob boss role quite well … but is she really?

 

Michael Fairman TV spoke with Laura to get the lowdown on Carly’s life without Sonny, which has pushed her front and center into managing crimes and misdemeanors, mafia-style, all to protect the ones she loves, and to reflect on her amazing ride in daytime; which has made her one of the all-time leading ladies of the soaps.  Here’s what Laura shared about it all.

Photo: ABC

When you first found out what the structure of this storyline was going to be, where Sonny was going to “die” along with Julian (William deVry), and then he turns up alive and has amnesia, what was your initial thought?  Did you know how far they were going to take this for Carly, as far as her now running  the mob in Sonny’s place?

LAURA:  I had no idea about the mob part of it until about two months ago. As far as Sonny having amnesia and having another life now, I love those kinds of stories.  It also gives you as an actor something to play, and what else are you going to do with Sonny and Carly?  You can’t really break them up.  You’re talking to the person who is game for almost anything, so I loved it.  What does Carly’s life look like now as everybody believes that Sonny has died? How does she even take care of herself?  For me, it gave me great material to play because of how it all started to crumble.  Ava (Maura West) takes Avery, Cyrus (Jeff Kober) starts taking over the territory and the town, and Carly starts losing all of this security in her life as she knew it in trying to protect her family, and it was scary for her.

Photo: ABC

Of course, viewers could see where this storyline was heading once Carly lit in to Nina (Cynthia Watros), when Nina was in Nixon Falls and saw that Sonny was very much alive! You could see that Nina was going to seek revenge on Carly and not tell her about Sonny, aka “Mike”, all the while getting closer to him.  What do you think Carly would do if she found out that Nina was with Sonny and kept it from her?

LAURA:  You know, Carly before taking over the mob would have been awful, but now… and I was thinking about this the other day …  I’m like, “Carly would go after her with a gun!”

For years, I’ve always loved this idea of, “What if Carly became a mob boss?”

LAURA:  If they did have Carly go after Nina, then Jason and Sonny would be like, “You cannot do this.”  I think there is this blind rage, at least for a moment.  It can’t just be standing there and yelling at her, do you know what I mean?  Carly would probably take action and then Nina would disappear, or it’s like ‘get me away from her because I am going to kill her’ for what this woman did.  So, you have to have at least an episode of that before you come to your senses and realize that you have children and responsibilities, and you’re going to have to do this the right way, but you have to have the moment of losing it.  It’s stealing their life.  It’s great stuff.  My other thoughts are, “Poor Cynthia,” (laughs) because she’s got to be the nicest human being on the planet, and she is so fun to work with, and so great and committed, so we are going to have some interesting times getting through whatever they write.  I have no idea what they’re writing by the way, and I have no idea when it’s going to happen, but I am sure it will be great.

Photo: ABC

With the way GH shoots their taping schedule, I am assuming now you barely see Maurice, because you are basically in two different parts of this interconnecting story?

LAURA:  We shoot by set.  So, if Maurice is working in the morning, and I am scheduled at let’s say at noon, by the time I get there, he’ll be gone.  So, it’s fascinating. It’s kind of running parallel of what is happening on and off screen because I don’t see him at work, either.

Photo: ABC

Carly seems that she is becoming pretty comfortable in this mob role.  There was a scene that recently aired between Diane (Carolyn Hennesy) and Carly, where Carly was discussing her options of what to do with Gladys (Bonnie Burroughs).  Does Carly like the power this brings her?

LAURA:  I think so, but it’s not like she’s sitting around going, “Oh, this is amazing.”  It’s seriously what she has to do.  What she is seeing is that there are so many moving parts that she didn’t realize how difficult it was.  Sonny made it look easy.  There’s not a time to even take a breath.  You’ve got to always be on your toes.  You know, she is doing it in ‘Carly fashion,’ so it’s always entertaining, and trying as a woman to put out all the fires, but there’s 20 fires behind it, because there is just someone constantly trying to take your seat, trying to hurt your family.  There’s just always something to look out for whether it be from the other families or law enforcement.  I think that Carly is surprised that she is good at it and surprised at how making these decisions is becoming easier and easier for her, but I don’t know if she sits back and enjoys it.  At this point, from air to what we are taping, the decisions don’t stop, and the danger doesn’t stop, and more decisions have to be made, and there is no one else to do it.  This is a world that is life or death.  This isn’t like, “Well, if they don’t like me, I’ll just find someone else to do the job.”  There’s nobody else to do that job.  It’s not that world.  You don’t get to walk away, and she is learning that more and more, as she plays in the big world.

Photo: ABC

So, Jason went on the run with Britt (Kelly Thiebaud).  How does Carly feel about that?

LAURA:  Britt saved his life.  She said that on camera.  “She saved your life; she can take you wherever.  I trust her.”  Carly saw how Britt stepped up and helped him.  I don’t think there is anything else that Carly is thinking right now.  Carly doesn’t have the luxury of being old Carly and being snippy, catty, wanting to vet every person in Jason’s life.  It’s just not her reality right now.  That would be a luxury if she could go back and be that person, but that’s not it.  Right now, it’s assessing the situation.  “Is he safe?  Is she taking care of him?  Great.  I don’t care about anything else right now.”  This is the difference between old Carly and mob-boss Carly.  Those days are gone.  She would give anything to go back to those days because she didn’t have to have the world on her shoulders because Jason was safe, and Sonny was alive.  It’s not where she is now.  It’s a different dynamic that she was forced into.

Photo: ABC

When you and Steve Burton are in scenes together, whether it’s just in your eyes, or expressions or emotions, there is so much going on, or at least that’s how it plays to the audience.  Is the relationship between Carly and Jason one of your favorites to play, because it’s so unique and deep rooted into their history? 

LAURA:  Oh, I love the Carly/Jason relationship. It’s the loyalty and that their dedication to each other is unbendable, unbreakable.  It’s so unwavering.  It’s great to play because it’s like being in a really good relationship, even though he’s not her ‘person’, but he kind of is.  It’s being in a great relationship that means that you get to be 100% you and everything that means, and that person loves and accepts you. There’s such incredible love and freedom, and that’s what it’s like to work with Steve because Steve approaches our scenes – and almost every scene when I watch him with other people – that there is no undercutting judgment, only help.  If I’m struggling with a line or I don’t want to do something, he’s either like, “Yeah, I agree. That’s unnecessary; cut it,” or he gives me a really great way of looking at it, where I’m like, “Oh, that is a really interesting thing, thanks!”  So, then you have full freedom to feel and play and do anything, and that’s kind of what you see.  There’s just a confidence, and I think it is also the relationship.  I think it has to be there when I work with Steve because the relationship between Carly and Jason is that way.

Photo: JPI

Carly and Jason accept each other for who they are, all their flaws, and the dangers that come with their lives.  Wouldn’t you say?

LAURA:  She accepts him 100% for who he is.  She wants to manipulate the world around him, so he is safe, and perfect, and always there, but she still accepts him when nobody else does and vice versa.  He knows that Carly is going to destroy things, and mess up, and spiral.  Like, she had that scene where she said, “Even when Jason knows I’m wrong, he supports me.” It’s really that right there that is everything between the two of them, and it’s the hardest thing to find in any relationship, real life, TV, etc.  We always want to change people to make them be who we want them to be so that we feel okay. It’s a great soap opera relationship because it causes conflict in every other relationship that they have, which is great for storytelling in a show because then there is always a challenge, always a hurdle, always a problem built-in if you need drama. It’s because there is so much acceptance and unconditional love and support that they are free to be who they need to be, and I feel that as an actor working Steve as well.  I think that’s what you see when you say there’s ‘a lot going on’.

Carly’s plan for Gladys took quite a turn!

LAURA:  Well, Carly thought the second that Cyrus finds out that Brando (Johnny Wactor) is the father of Sasha’s (Sofia Matteson) baby that Cyrus is going to want to take him out, so she basically said to Gladys, “Look, I’ll set you up.  I’ll give you all the money you want.  Hell, I’ll even buy you a house.  Leave town, but you have to tell everybody that you lied about Jason,” and she doesn’t bite the bait.  So, you then have Carly saying, “Well, we can do this the easy way where I just pay for your life and you go, or we can do it the hard way,” and the hard way is me letting her know that, “You have a grandchild on the way, and your son is going to be murdered if you don’t do this for me,” because it puts Cyrus back in prison because he is on probation, and he has now obstructed justice.  It’s all on Gladys’s testimony.  That was Carly’s plan.  Right now, her biggest threat is Cyrus and obviously as viewers have seen things did not go as planned!

Photo: ABC

June 7th you will be celebrating 30 years on daytime! Do you remember your first day on Loving? What happened?

LAURA:  I do.  Oh, God!  I remember what dress I had on.  I remember how my hair was.

Were you like in “Oz”?

LAURA:  I looked like Oz. (Laughs) I looked like Dorothy… the dress they had me in, the hair, are you kidding?  I didn’t know what a boom was!  I was really loud.  I had one line: “Grandma!” and that was it, and then they had to note that because I kept saying, “Grandmaw,” and they were like, “It’s not ‘Grandmaw.’  It’s ‘Grandma.’”  Then, I did whatever they said at first, but then the longer I was on the show, I was like, “I say ‘Grandmaw.’ I’m not saying ‘Grandmuh.’ I don’t care. (Laughs) Everyone gets their own personalization of how they say what they say.”  That was my big argument, and now I’ve had a thousand arguments over 30 years, but that was my first big pushback because I would be doing, what in my mind was great work.  I got all of the lines out, my God, and that was before we could do pickups, and when we shot the show in order. Those cameras had wheels. So if you were on set, and they shot the scene before us, you had to be ready to go, and they would fly down the studio on those cameras to set up to start shooting the next scene.  If I got through a scene and they had to do it over again because I said, “Grandmaw,” I would be so angry. (Laughs)

Photo: ABC

Who helped you the most on Loving?

LAURA:  Nada Rowand, who played my grandmother, Lisa Peluso, who played my aunt on the show, and Eric Woodall was my best friend and he played Matt Ford.  He and I would get together every Sunday night, and here’s a little bit of trivia for you … Eric lived with Billy Porter! They graduated from Carnegie Mellon together.  So, I would go over to his apartment, and on Sunday night, we would go over all of the scripts together for the whole week because Eric graduated from Carnegie Mellon; I worked at a gas station. (Laughs) We had very different talents that we were bringing to the table for this soap opera job.  Eric helped me a great deal, my gosh, and so did Bernie Barrow (Ex-Louis).

Bernie was an amazing actor and the only Daytime Emmy winner, ever from Loving!

LAURA:  I had scenes with Bernie because he played my grandfather on the show. I had no idea about half the notes that they were giving me. Bernie would pull me aside and explain what they meant and teach it to me in a way where I knew how to incorporate it into my scenes and adjust and take the notes.  He was extremely helpful.  Then, there is the famous Noelle Beck (Ex-Trisha) story, where two weeks after starting the show, Eric and I were invited to go to the Daytime Emmy Awards.  I was dying because I grew up watching daytime television, and I grew up watching the Daytime Emmys.  So, when I was allowed to go, I told my mom to ship me my prom dress from my senior year of high school, which was this poufy, emerald green thing, and it looked like something from Dynasty with jewels all over it.  I got it, and I was so excited, and everyone on the show was like, “Oh, my God, someone has got to tell her … she cannot wear that dress.”  I didn’t know you could go to wardrobe and ask to borrow a dress, because I’d only been on the show for two weeks maybe.  The same day, they came to me and said, “So, if Susan Lucci (Ex-Erica, AMC) doesn’t win, you’re going to be interviewed on Good Morning America the next morning about how the gas station girl got a job.”  So, it was a big deal. I’m getting ready for the Emmys, and to put this emerald-green dress on, and there is this knock on my door, and it’s Noelle Beck.  She has this beautiful, black, strapless dress. She’s like, “Your dress is beautiful, but I don’t know, I think this is really simple, and I think you might really look beautiful in it if you want to try it on.”

Photo: JPI

Her dress?

LAURA: Her dress! It was a dress that was in Noelle’s closet on the show because she went to wardrobe and was like, “Laura cannot wear that emerald green prom dress.  She will be laughed at.”  I would have been mortified because I did not know what people wore.  I had never been to a red carpet! Noelle went to wardrobe, and they all came up with this dress, and so she came to me and said, “Your dress is so pretty, but I think this might go better with Eric’s suit,” or however she sold it! I tried it on, and I just felt so sophisticated, and I was like, “It’s okay if I wear this!?” and she’s just like, “Oh, my God, yeah!”  When I think back to that story, I’m like, ‘thank God for Noelle Beck’.  It was one of the funniest stories ever, and her dressing room was right across the hall from me, and she was from Maryland; I was from Maryland.  She was like a sister.  Noelle was always looking out for me, personally.

Photo: ABC

Over the years, you have become one of the great leading ladies of daytime.  Was there a moment, when you were like, “I’ve got this down now … I really know what I’m doing.”

LAURA:   There have been different moments.  I remember the first time where I felt like ‘an actor.’  It was when they shot and killed Casey (Paul Anthony Stewart) on Loving, and he had to die in my arms.  I embodied something and felt it in a way that was different.  I didn’t know what it was at the time because I was playing my emotions of Paul leaving the show. I was really confused because I was like, “Do I really like this guy?” like in real life, because I didn’t know.  I didn’t have any tools of acting to know how to separate.  I was so in love with the characters’ love story, which was also my feelings at the time because I didn’t know the difference.  I didn’t know where Ally stopped, and Laura started.  I was just kind of playing myself.  I remember they called Paul to the set for a goodbye, and they were giving him a big cake and everything, and I could barely hold it together.  I couldn’t believe he was leaving.  I was like, “You’re going to say, ‘I changed my mind,’ right?” and I really believed that.  I really was like, “There’s just no way he’s going.”  Then, we had to shoot his scene, and I was very emotional and upset.  But, it was the next day where I had to go and play the scenes where he is dead and talk about it to the family, and that was when I just lost it.  I just changed as an actor in those scenes.  I remember having an opinion.  When the writers were telling me the story that they were going to tell, I remember saying, “Well, I think the interesting moment is she is not going to believe it,” and they were like, “What do you mean?”  I say, “When she comes home from the hospital, I think she needs to be like, ‘We have to go back.  Casey is at the hospital, and he needs us,’ and they were like, “That’s such a great thing to play.”  That’s what shifted for me.  I just remember there was a moment where Ally couldn’t lie anymore. She couldn’t convince herself, and then she had to tell her son that Casey wasn’t coming back.  I really understood what it was to get lost to a scene; what it was to not be Laura going, “I’m going to act now and play this scene.”  I learned how to become the character and transform in the moment.

It’s was on-the-job training.

LAURA:  Oh, for sure on-the-job training, because I went to one acting class thinking that in New York City I need to know what I’m doing, and I was so terrified to get up and speak in a scene that I literally could not talk.  I couldn’t even function outside of the safety of what I knew on a soap opera set.  I had that happen with my meditation teacher training a few years ago.  I almost left the training because it was terrifying for me to get up and not know what I’m going to do and have the script, no cameras in front of me!  It was very bizarre.

Photo: CBS

And later, Guiding Light came your way!

LAURA: When The City got canceled, I shot a pilot that did not get picked up, and my agents were like, “What do you want to do?” and I was like, “I’m really good at daytime… can we just stick with that?  I don’t really want to do this auditioning thing.” So, then all of the sudden within a week of me saying, “I think I’ll do daytime again,” I had a screen-test for All My Children and Guiding Light at the exact same time.  I was like, “What are the parts?” and I wasn’t going to pit them against each other because my agent was like, “It’s bad taste. We don’t represent that kind of negotiation.” You have to pick because before you go into any screen-test, you already have a pre-negotiated contract, and the deal has been placed.  So, you know going in what your situation will be.  So, it was All My Children, playing a doctor, or a stripper with a heart-of-gold on Guiding Light.  It was the role and that Guiding Light just had a better money offer that pushed me towards that screen-test. Then, I had to go in and meet Paul Rauch (Former EP, GL) before I screen-tested, and then Jim Brown and Barbara Esensten who were now the head writers at GL. They wrote for me on The City.  They were the ones who said, “Let’s get Laura Wright in here and see if she wants to do this.”  It’s interesting, because when they were shooting Annie’s (Cynthia Watros) big trial on Guiding Light, and Kim Zimmer (Reva) had these incredible, long days and tons of dialogue in the courtroom scenes. Then, they throw this screen-test at her with me in the middle of the afternoon! I remember when we were doing the scene. Kim had jumped to another part in it, and of course, I knew the script backwards and forwards because I’ve had it for a week and a half.  Kim had probably looked at it that day because she’s got a thousand other lines that she’s learning for that week of shows.  We were in the middle of the scene, and they’re rolling cameras, it’s very emotional, we’re going at each other, and Kim had jumped to the next page of a line, but I knew exactly where she went, so I went right there. We got back on track and ended the scene, and Kim goes, “She just saved my ass in that screen-test!” and we just started laughing.  It was a great moment.

Photo: LWInstagram

The cast of Guiding Light was so amazing!

LAURA:  So amazing, and that’s where I met my man.

Wes Ramsey (Ex-Sam, GL, now Peter, GH) at the time had a crush on you if I recall the story.

LAURA:  Yes, he had a crush.  I don’t know if he wanted to go out with me because when I first came on, I was pregnant, so that would have been weird! (Laughs) We have a funny story that he told me four years ago when we got together. Wes was going through old photos that he had logged into his computer and was trying to put things in different files, and he’s like, “Oh, my God.”  He had come back a few times on Guiding Light after he’d left, and one of the times was after I’d had my son, and this was when Richard had died, and Cassie had chopped all of her hair off.  So, he was going through these photos and he showed me that he had snuck a picture of me.  (Laughs) Then, he’s like, “See, I told you I had a crush!”  I’m like, “Oh my God, that’s so funny!”

Do you and Wes run lines together at home, even though you are in different storylines on GH?

LAURA:  If he needed me too, I would, but Wes has a totally different way of learning his lines than I do.  His prep work is very different than mine.  His is very professional and probably how you should do it. He is a Juilliard graduate.  So, he was taught well, and I’ve just figured it out.  Mine is just pure survival …’the gas station girl’.

Photo: ABC

What was the impact Guiding Light had on the trajectory of your career?

LAURA:  Guiding Light was 100% an actors show. They told a different kind of story, and the actors across the board were serious and wanted you to take it just as seriously. You were either going to sink or swim on that show, and I had to figure out how to swim. I think I spent the first six months in my dressing room crying when I wasn’t on set, trying to figure it out.  I was really taken care of on Loving.  I was 20-years-old when I got that part, 27 when I left. When I went to Guiding Light, it wasn’t like I wasn’t taken care of and protected, but it was a new energy. No one knew me.  No one knew what I was capable of.  I didn’t even know what I was capable of at the time, and you weren’t going to phone it in there.  I started working with Kim Zimmer and Jordan Clarke (Ex-Billy Lewis).  My God, you’re thrown in with people who make you feel things and play things that are uncomfortable, because that’s what we do as actors.  We make it uncomfortable, and we stretch the boundaries, and we play these emotions that are so raw and real.  One day I was freaking out over a scene with the characters of Edmund and Dinah, and I just said I would never do this.  I was just adamant. The director, said, “We have to do this.  So, you have to give me one reason where you could stay in this room.”  I said, “I guess my daughter could walk in the door, and I don’t want to leave her,” and he goes, “Great!  That’s great,” and I go, “Or…” and it just opened this door of there’s a thousand ways I could play a scene.

Photo: CBS

When you came onto General Hospital and embodied Carly, did you feel like this was it now… and that you were in command of your craft?

LAURA:  No, because it took me a long time to get comfortable.  I’m the fourth Carly, so you want to honor what they’re writing, you want to honor the fans and what they love about the character, and there were three women who played her before me and somebody loved something about all of them. So, you want to bring that, as well as make your own mark.  You’re taking over a leading female role of the show with that much passion and dialogue that comes with the character, so it was a lot of pressure at first, but I was excited for it.  I showed up every day ready to kick ass, but as far as feeling like, “Ha ha, it’s mine; I’ve made it!”, I’ve never felt that.

Photo: ABC

I have spoken to many of your co-stars through the years, and they often share how you helped them within a scene, or with something they were struggling with.  That is where experience can be a great asset for a performer in this medium.

LAURA:  As a female lead on the show, I do think it’s important to lift other women up to become their own female leads, and I do mean that.  If I’m working with someone, and I see them get a note that they don’t understand, or it’s a technical note, but gosh, it’s an important scene for them emotionally, anything I can do to help them in that moment, whether it has anything to do with me or not, I am there for.  There was a bathroom scene that I think aired a week or so ago with Carly and Sasha.  In the scene, Sasha (Sofia Mattsson) has all of her makeup in front of her, and the shot they need to get is through the mirror.  Sasha has a full conversation with Carly, who is standing upstage. It’s very difficult to do that when you don’t have rehearsal time to figure it out. They gave her the note that they needed her to say her line into the mirror, or they can’t get her face, right? I’m like, “Hey, do you have any idea how you’re going to do that?” because it’s so hard! I wanted to help. Having 30 years’ experience in something feels great, and it’s shocking because where did those 30 years go? What incredible memories I have, but what it’s gifted me the most is being able to help people through my experience, and through what I have learned along the way.  The whole show shines when we all shine, not just when one person does.

Photo: LWrightInstagram

What do you think your late parents would say about your 30 years in daytime?

LAURA:  Oh, they would be so proud… so happy.  It’s just so crazy that it’s been 30 years, and 2020 being the longest year with what we all experienced with Covid-19.  Looking back on my daytime career, I don’t know why, the shows didn’t let me go. I think it really was work ethic.  I can really say my work ethic is a huge part of me sticking around because I never got lazy.  I was never not going to figure it out.  I was never one to show up not knowing her lines, or being a problem, or not caring. I think that’s what kept me going, and then listening, watching, feeling, and I’m just so grateful.  I’m like, “Wow, what a ride!”

Photo: ABC

… And what can you say about what your time as Carly has meant to you within your now illustrious daytime career?

LAURA:  I love every second of it.  It’s my choice how I show up on that soundstage.  After 30 years, I am not bored.  I have had my moments of trying to find the fun in it and caring about Carly’s storyline at the time. That’s my own choice though, right?  It’s a choice – how I choose to show up every day there – and what I choose to find interesting and challenging, and I do.  No matter what storyline they’ve given me, I can choose for it to be, “Okay, I’m here.  I’ve been doing this for so long, I could do it in my sleep,” or I could choose to show up and go, “Where am I going to kickass today?  Where is the moment?”  Now, I don’t love the amount of time it takes for my hair to get blown out; I’ll be honest (Laughs). I’m an antsy person.  But when I get on set, it’s my choice to find the love and the fun of it, whatever that is for me.  I choose to open up every script I get, the second I get it, and am always excited to see what I’m doing.

Photo: ABC

Finally, what would you say, as a tease of what we should look forward to in the coming weeks involving Carly?

LAURA:  All I can say is there is amazing stuff coming, amazing performances, amazing excitement, amazing heartbreak, amazing surprises.  It’s all coming.

So, are you into Carly running the mob? What do you think will happen when and if Carly finds out Nina has been with Sonny aka Mike for months?  What has been your favorite moment of Laura’s on the soaps throughout her 3 decades in daytime? Share your thoughts and congrats to Laura in the comment section below.

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Interviews

Y&R’s Telma Hopkins and Bryton James Talk on their ‘Family Matters’ Connection, Amanda Sinclair’s Past, and the songs of Tony Orlando and Dawn

This week, kicks-off a very special guest appearance by Telma Hopkins on CBS’ The Young and the Restless.  Hopkins plays Denise Tolliver, a private eye with some very important intel for Amanda Sinclair (Mishael Morgan), about her past, her father, and her biological family drama.

Photo:CBD

Telma’s guest stint on Y&R reunites her with her dear friend and former on-screen son, Bryton James (Devon Hamilton) after they appeared together on the late 80’s and 90’s sitcom Family Matters.  Fans of the comedy series remember a very young Bryton as Richie Crawford and Telma as his mother, Rachel.  Year laters, they now have the opportunity to work together in Genoa City.

Photo: CBS

In a new interview out today on the Michael Fairman Channel, Telma and Bryton chat virtually with Michael, and we learn that Telma is a longtime fan of Y&R, a huge fan of Mishael Morgan’s, and just how Denise Tolliver’s arrival in Genoa City will set the stage for fireworks to come.

And while Telma and Bryton reminisce about first their first impressions of each other on the Family Matters set, we also delve into another key part of Hopkins career as part of the iconic singing trio Tony Orlando and Dawn, whose hit singles included: “Tie a Yellow Ribbon Round the Ole’ Oak Tree”, “Candida”, “She Don’t Love You” and more.

Photo: CBS

So, excited to see Telma and Bryton together again? What were your first impressions of Telma as Denise Tolliver on today’s Y&R? What is your favorite Tony Orlando and Dawn tune? Did you watch “Family Matters” with Telma and Bryton years ago? Share your thoughts in the comment section.  But first check out their full interview below.

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Days Of Our Lives

WATCH: Daytime Emmy Nominations Special 2021 Replay

Last night, during the Daytime Emmy Nominations Special Livestream on the Michael Fairman Channel, 15 nominated performers who will be going for gold on the upcoming 48th annual Daytime Emmy Awards, shared their reactions and their excitement at learning they were in the running in the major Daytime Drama performer categories as chosen by their peers.

Throughout the livestream, the actors also shared what scenes they chose for their reels in the competition that landed them in the top spots in their respective categories.

Photos: ABC, CBS, JPI, NBC

During the broadcast, Michael welcomed: The Bold and the Beautiful’s Darin Brooks and Courtney Hope, General Hospital’s, Maurice Benard, Finola Hughes, Max Gail, Briana Lane and Dominic Zamprogna, The Young and the Restless’ Bryton James, Melissa Claire Egan and Alyvia Alyn Lind, and Days of our Lives nominees: Victoria Konefal, Cady McClain, Wally Kurth, George DelHoyo, and Tamara Braun.

In addition, NATAS President and CEO Adam Sharp shared insight into this year’s nomination process, the year in daytime, and teased what to look for on the upcoming Daytime Emmy Telecast on June 25th on CBS, where the award show recently got a two-year pick-up.

In case you missed it, enjoy this kick-off to Emmy season and watch the Daytime Emmy Nominations Replay below.  Then let us know what moments you enjoyed the most during our show, and who you are rooting for to take home Emmy gold in the comment section.

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GH’s Kelly Thiebaud (Britt) chats with Michael Fairman about Britt being on the run with Jason, their burgeoning romance, working with Steve Burton and her other co-star and Britt’s diagnosis of Huntington’s Disease. .Leave A Comment

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