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The Michelle Stafford Interview – The Young and the Restless & The Stafford Project

Photo Credti: Ray Kachatorian

Photo Credit: Duffimages.com

This past Friday, fans and viewers of The Young and the Restless were dealt a real blow when two-time Daytime Emmy winner, and one of the series leading characters, exited the series!  We are speaking of the one and only Michelle Stafford … and … the one and only Phyllis Summers Newman!  After almost 16 years with the CBS soap, Stafford’s Phyllis was put in a coma, and needed to be transferred to a facility in Georgia, which keeps her close to her son, Daniel (Michael Graziadei, who returned to the series to help facilitate Stafford’s exit).  While many are unhappy of the way Phyllis has been written off, it leaves the door open … if Michelle Stafford was to ever decide to return, or if the powers-that-be at Y&R decide to recast.  But as one chapter closes, another chapter begins in life, and that next chapter has started for one of the most extraordinary actresses in this medium, or any other!

Today, Michelle launched her new web series, The Stafford Project,which in many ways mirrors moments in Stafford’s own life, but with a twist, in this reality/comedy hybrid which was born out of Michelle’s real life struggles to have a child, which she ultimately did via surrogacy … and thus gave us one of The Stafford Project’s most precious co-stars, Michelle’s daughter, Natalia!  Plus, The Stafford Project, whose lead character is an actress named “Michelle” who appears on a soap opera, will also look at juggling aspects of life and the dating scene by “doing it as single chick”, as is Michelle Stafford’s mantra in her new website www.michellestafford.com, which features blogs about: parenting, men, dating, style, fitness and more! (You can also access The Stafford Project there too!)

On-Air On-Soaps chatted with Michelle, just as fans were seeing her final airdate on Y&R, to get her reaction on her decision to depart the series, and the way Phyllis was written-out, and how The Stafford Project became its own reality.  Next, we take a look back at some of the key on-screen relationships for Genoa City’s fiery Phyllis, including: Sharon, Jack, Summer, Ronan, and Nick!  And in true soap opera fashion, there are several cliffhangers for Michelle Stafford and her fans: Will we see her on another soap? Will she land her own primetime sitcom?  Will The Stafford Project become one of the most viewed and personally minted web series of them all?  While we wait for those answers to unfold, enjoy our conversation with Michelle, or shall we say, the coolest chick we know!

MICHAEL:

Last Friday was your final airdate on The Young and the Restless!  How do you feel about that when it actually came to pass?  Did you watch the episode?  Was it at all emotional for you?

MICHELLE:

Courtesy/CBS

I saw a bit of it, and she is very calm and comatose.  Phyllis is very asleep. (Laughs)  I don’t have an emotional tie to the character, I just don’t.  I have an emotional tie to the fans though, but not to the character, because I am an actress, and I want to play a bunch of different things.  And, that is what we do as actors … we create a bunch of different characters.  I am connected to what the fans care about.  It is very important to me how they feel.  That is why I did “Phyllis Friday” on Twitter and answered some questions.  I am on Twitter a lot promoting The Stafford Project, and it on the web, so you want to touch people already on the web.  I care about what they think, and a lot of them are upset about me leaving.  And, I am sure there are some that are not upset. (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

Your fans have been so upset about your departing Y&R, but support you on your new ventures, and the new opportunities that will arise for you.  At On-Air On-Soaps on the posts concerning your exit, many have written such touching words, and many telling you how sad they are that you have left the show.  How does it feel to have such a strong and passionate fan base?

MICHELLE:

It is so nice.  It was sad when I saw part of Friday’s episode.  And if you were really a fan of that character, it would be really upsetting.  I have watched soaps growing up, and I remember I watched Ryan’s Hope, and I loved Delia (originally played by Ilene Kristen) so much, and when she left the show that was it for me.  Actually, that wasn’t it.  They recast the role with another actress, and so I said, “Nope!”  And I was done.  I was really was way too young to be watching soaps at the time, but I just loved the character so much, and so it was upsetting for me.  Also on Y&R, Phyllis is in a hospital, and she is in a coma, and you want to hear from her.  You want to hear Phyllis yell at people, and fight back, and she is not doing that.  I think that would be upsetting for fans of the character.

MICHAEL:

Photo Credit: Duffimages.com

So after Sharon and Phyllis’s war of words, Phyllis falls down the stairs.  And since that point, literally scene after scene, you were just lying in a hospital bed … just lying there!  Was that ridiculous to you?  Or, did you say to yourself, “I am doing my job…etc”?

MICHELLE:

I am doing the job … and the job is for me to lay here, right? (Laughs)  I do understand that viewpoint and people have told me that on Twitter that they were very mad that I was lying there, but you know, Y&R wanted to put the character in a coma, and it was actually a pretty nice gesture on their part.  They just wanted to make it so the role is still there, if I ever was to change my mind and come back.  I don’t feel like they should be blamed.  Of course, they could have had the character leave town too, or lose her mind and leave town…

MICHAEL:

But having Phyllis exit this way provided a secret for the other characters, and kept story going, so you can see why Y&R chose to do something like that.

MICHELLE:
Yeah.  It provides more story for the people remaining on the show, and that’s true.  Also, it also provided no one knowing about what really happened …. no one knows except Phyllis.  Sharon was looking through the window and Phyllis freaked out and then that was it … and then I had my massive seizure! (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

How was you last day at The Young and the Restless?

MICHELLE:

I was nervous.  It was not an overnight decision, and there were a lot of personal reasons, that of course I am going to keep to myself.  Even if I told everyone all the reasons, they would still speculate. (Laughs)   I felt like this is it.   I went to work and I was on instagram doing a whole countdown on it, and I felt nervous like, “Am I going to lose it?”  And, I didn’t.  It was very sweet, and people were lovely.  They all wished me well, and Y&R writers Brent Boyd and Josh Griffith came to the party, and CBS Daytime’s Margo Wain came to the party.  Everybody was really cool.

MICHAEL:

Photo Credti: Ray Kachatorian

Did you feel when you walked out of the studio (after nearly 16 years of playing this one-of-a-kind character) that you had done everything you could have done with Phyllis?

MICHELLE:

For me, I feel that way.  I am sure if they choose to bring the character back and have somebody else play her, there is a whole new thing they could do, just because there is another actor.  They bring something different to the role.  It’s a tough character, and usually villains who turn nice it’s a tougher character to write for, because you are always sort of walking the line between good and bad.  I felt like that was it for me with that character.  I think that sometimes you want to do something in your life, and life presents itself, and you go, “This is the time for me to do something,” and that is how it kind of all worked out.  This is not to be taken at all that I did not want to work on the show because of the new EP, Jill Farren Phelps, and head writer, Josh Griffith.  I am a big fan of Josh’s and he was on the show before, and it was great.  I think that my sister getting sick, and the contract coming up a few months after made me realize that there is a time in an actor’s career that sometimes you think, “If I don’t jump off the cliff right now, I may never do it.”  I don’t look at the job at Y&R as being stuck, I don’t, but there were so many things that I desire to do as an actor, and so many goals that I had, that I just thought maybe now is the time to jump.  And that is mainly it.  It all sort of came together at one time, and I was like, “You know what?  Let’s just jump off, now!”   And so, I did!

MICHAEL:

Photo Credit: Ray Kachatorian

In your lifetime, you have been thrown so many things to deal with, and to overcome, and so many obstacles, and the fights you have had to fight.  So, when I saw your new web series, The Stafford Project, it made me smile, because knowing you as I do, there was a realism to the ridiculousness of the real life situations that happened to you.  I thought it was well done!  You were playing a version of yourself within these real-life moments that happened to you!

MICHELLE:

The whole situation was so intense and so insane trying to have a kid, and the doctor’s appointments and the surgeries, which I had documented and filmed in my real life.  It was so crazy, and every time I turned around it was so oppressive. Then when Natalia was born new things occurred, and I thought this was also nuts, being a single working mom to this kid, and going out and dating.  Then I talked to my friend Paige, who is one of the producers on the Stafford Project, and I said to her, “Let me pitch this to you!”  I said, “I really want to write a comedy web series in the vain of The Larry Sanders Show, where he is trying to keep it all together with the crazies around him.  I want it to be that she is just trying to keep it together, and every time she jumps off, she meets a crazy.”  Paige thought it was awesome, and wanted to get her writing partner in on it, Paige Long.  We just jumped in, and Paige and Paige’s comedy is just awesome!  I did the scenarios and I have very specific lines I wanted to use.  So I said, “These lines have to be in it, and it has to go like this…”  That is why all three of us are writers on the series. (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

And then … who knew?  Your daughter, Natalia was a scene-stealer!

MICHELLE:

Well, I did of course! (Laughs)  She was so professional.  She did not whine, or bitch, or do anything.  In the second episode of The Stafford Project, Natalia is totally improving with me.  I am like, “Geez, look at this kid!”  I have an actress on my hands.  If she wants to go down that path, I am going to have her originate it; I am not going to push it.  But if she says to me, “Hey, I want to do this acting thing,” I just feel if your child excels, or is gifted in an area, you should cultivate that.   I do see an actress in my kid … and it is tormenting to say! (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

Courtesy/TheStaffordProject

In the first episode of The Stafford Project, I loved when the reality show producer popped up in the backseat of the car with the “mulatto” line,  while “Michelle” is trying to explain about her surrogate, who was actually mixed-race or bi-racial!

MICHELLE:

Did you not almost die? (Laughs) You know all those comments that he made are comments that were truly said to me like, “Well, your kid is going to be mulatto!” I said, “Well no, it’s my egg.”  And they would go, “Oh no, well he or she will still be black!”… and other various racial comments.  And as the show continues on, the third episode is a flashback episode of what I went through, and it’s pretty cool.  As we go along, we enter more into her job and the shenanigans at the show she works at.  It’s Michelle Stafford, and she is on a soap, but we never mention the name of the show. It’s not Y&R. And, the character she plays is named “Francis”.  I make it very clear we not goofing on soap operas; we are goofing on actors, which is completely fine! (Laughs).  So we are goofing on actors, and the human condition.  There is a surprise guest in episode four, and the person is awesome and amazing, and people are totally going to dig it.  We have shot four episodes thus far, and we are going to keep doing them until people say, “Please stop doing it!” (Laughs)  I think we are going to release them every three weeks, and you are talking to the main producer here! (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

Do you think it’s hard in Hollywood for a soap actress to be considered for primetime or motion pictures roles?  Is there still the stigma?

MICHELLE:

I think it’s very hard for a soap opera actress to be many times viewed as a serious actor. There is just an idea out there … there just is!  It’s wrong, but you have to break through it like with anything, and be funny, and that is one thing I know I am.

MICHAEL:

Photo Credit: Kathy Hutchins

Would you love to have a sitcom?  Remember, when Judith Light went from doing Karen Wolek and her stunning courtroom confession on One Life to Live to becoming Angela Bowers on Who’s The Boss?

MICHELLE:

Well, yeah you could make a lot of money! (Laughs)  I loved Judith on One Life to Live.

MICHAEL:

Your new website is also very clever, and has great branding to it, especially the tag line, “Doing it as a single chick”!

MICHELLE:

I came up with that hash tag on instagram and people started using it like crazy.   People would say, “I’m doing it as a single chick too,” and others would say, “I am married and I am doing it as a single chick!” (Laughs)  Listen, I found there is such a large group of women who are on the web who are working their asses off.  They are either single mothers, or married and handling the entire household and working, and the ones who are still single are out there still dating.  It’s a lot to juggle, man.  Back in the day, just taking care of the kids in the house was your only job, and that was a huge job in itself.  That is a lot of hats to wear, but my take on it is: I am doing the same thing, but I am just making it funny.  And, the blogs will be funny on the website, and it will be a portal into my life at how I am being a hot bitch in my forties getting my groove on, and taking care of my kid, and being a mom at the same time.

MICHAEL:

The blog piece you wrote on men on your website, that actually men get a bad rap, I thought was terrific. We all hate on guys a lot, and they don’t deserve it … well, not all the time!

MICHELLE:

I wanted it to be very gay friendly, too.  That can apply to my boys too, and it can apply to a lesbian too… it is all of us out there.  The guys do get shit on.  Sometimes I read these blogs, and they are so linear, and it is just for a mom who is married with a husband and has everything taken care of for her.  And I think, “Wow, you are not even writing for a chick who is single, and who works and who is trying to live her life, and you are not writing for a woman who is celebrating how hot she is!” (Laughs)  I love making women feel like they are important.  I love making people feel important.  It is a tough gig out there in life.  Everybody is just trying to do the best job they can.  I really want to give to people, and make them feel validated, and make them laugh.  I am really excited about the site.

MICHAEL:

Photo Credit: Kathy Hutchins

Alison Sweeney (Sami) of Days of our Lives has been extremely successful building her brand from first: her soap career, to hosting Biggest Loser, to her website, to all her other projects.  What do you think of how she cultivated her audience, and how she speaks to women?

MICHELLE:

Alison is a smart girl, and an ambitious gal, and she got it.  I also think she had something to say.  I think she understood, and that would attract women who had a problem with their weight too, and that is a huge thing. The blog I have on my website on weight, that is the most asked question; “How do I keep my body in such good shape?”  It’s an interesting thing that body image is so on the forefront of women’s minds.

MICHAEL:

You also talk about dating experiences in The Stafford Project, and on your website.  How is dating going for you now that Natalia is a three-year old?

MICHELLE:

I was dating this guy recently and he started spending the night, and I was really like, “Oh, my God, I am a filthy whore!” (Laughs)  I was like, “You can’t be here when my daughter’s here!  You cannot be here!”  So my mom takes my daughter every Friday.  So I suppose whoever wants to have sex with me, it’s only going to happen on Friday or Saturday when my mom has Natalia! (Laughs)  But it’s going to be really good; it’s going to be a Mardi Gras! (Laughs)  It is very legitimate question you ask.   I think I am better about it now! (Laughs)

Courtesy/CBS

MICHAEL:

As a wrap-up to your time on The Young and the Restless, let’s take a look at some of the key relationships you have had on the show.  You and Sharon Case (Sharon) have this long standing rivalry as Sharon and Phyllis.   How do you feel that relationship played out on-air?

MICHELLE:

I wish that we had more of it.  I liked it.  I think it worked.  It was really great with Sharon Case and me, because we really understand the viewpoints of our characters. When we did the scenes both of us actors knew how we felt going on into the scene and about each other.  So there is never any fear of  “I don’t want to be mean to you” because some actor will pull back with those emotions.  She and I never did that.  I am not Phyllis, you know?  I am OK screaming at you, because I am just playing a role.  I don’t mean anything by it.  Sometimes actors will back off of each other, and Sharon and I never did that to one another, and I think that showed.  It was very real to people that these two women had such jealousy of each other, and there was so much emotion born from the death of a child, and the husband leaving.  It was such a great real story.  I loved Sharon and Phyllis’ relationship.  It was vicious and very real.

MICHAEL:

How did you feel when they told you that they were going to SORAS your on-screen daughter, Summer, to 18?  And, how Hunter King (Summer) has done in the role? She has done an amazing job over the last few months!  She has an Emmy reel for next year, for sure.

MICHELLE:

Photo Credit: Kathy Hutchins

Well, they aged Summer before Hunter, and they kept aging her.  And, so we had a baby, then we had a two-year-old, then we had a five-year-old, then we had an 8-year-old, and then an 18-year-old, and Hunter.  Hunter is great, and such a little doll, and I love her.  She has a great career ahead of her.  I miss my little Hunter.  I cannot say enough nice things about her.

MICHAEL:

At the end of your run on Y&R, Phyllis was once again paired with Jack (Peter Bergman).  What were your thoughts on this duo getting back together?

MICHELLE:

Peter Bergman and I had worked together off and on so many times, and so I was like, “What can we do new with this?”  I was like we have been together more years than anyone else, or probably equal with Nick, and I wanted to find something new in it, and probably would have had I stayed on.  Of course, I love Peter Bergman.  He is a lovely and beautiful human being.

MICHAEL:

I think we all loved you most with Joshua Morrow (Nick Newman)!

MICHELLE:

I know.  It was just clearly what these two actors had in a scene together, and it was so interesting to see.  We just had so much chemistry, and they weren’t really telling sexual type of stories on Y&R then.  They were never doing things where people were just ripping off each other’s clothes.  We started writing every scene like that! (Laughs)  It was very dynamic, and I loved working with Josh.  Josh and I literally just had to say the words and it really, really worked.  It was a huge spike in ratings, too.  I am really proud of that time on Y&R.  I think it was really great.

Photo Credit: Kathy Hutchins

MICHAEL:

Jeff Branson (Ronan) and you also had some serious chemistry going on.  What did you think of Ronan and Phyllis?  And how ultimately, Jeff was written-off the show?

MICHELLE:

I thought their relationship was really interesting, but when they ended it, I guess they had him come back on, and he was totally in love with Phyllis.  I was not sure about that, but Jeff was great.  I am never a fan when they write a man totally heartbroken over a woman; I am just not a personal fan of seeing a man be like that.  I like to see men be strong.  I don’t like seeing them be desperate, and Jeff played it great.  He is a great actor, and he was let-go when Jill and Josh came in.  I said, “Jeff, you are great.  Just go do your gig and go be a star,” and he is working a lot.

MICHAEL:

Christian LeBlanc (Michael, Y&R) is your buddy.  Is it weird that he is there at Y&R, and you’re not?

MICHELLE:

I know he is sad, because it was first losing Jeanne Cooper (Katherine Chancellor) and now me … two main actors on the show.  Listen, Christian and I will always know each other, and know each other when we are 108!

MICHAEL:

Photo Credit: Kathy Hutchins

 … And you will always hijack each others interview? (Laughs)

MICHELLE:

Yes, and I will always be funnier, and he will always remind me he has three Emmys and I have two.  (Laughs)

MICHAEL:

What is the last word you would like to say to your fans?

MICHELLE:

I hope they watch The Stafford Project like 25 times each, and backwards.  If we get 50, 000 to 100,000 hits in the first week that is great, and means it’s successful.  If they are sad about Phyllis not being around, just watch The Stafford Project.

 

 

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Cathy Reese
Guest
Cathy Reese

I watched The Stafford Project this eve and loved it. Its going to do well I think.

David J.
Guest
David J.

I watched The Stafford Project last night and thought it was wonderful.

mollie
Guest
mollie

OMG…the “mulatto” comments! lol. Viewers could tell this was ripped right from Michelle Stafford’s own experiences. What some people will say! I love that Michelle sees the humor in the ridiculous, and that she shares it so sublimely 🙂

My only other comment is that I think an episode release every three weeks is much to slow…not only because I would like to see episodes more frequently, but I think the series will lose forward momentum with viewers. Just too slow a pace for interested viewers. Just my opinion.

Love it, though.

Beacon
Guest
Beacon

Nice shout out to Delia on Ryan’s Hope! I can actually see that character may have influenced Stafford’s early Phyllis who was desperate for the security of Danny by having his son, just as Delia was desperate for the security of Pat (and had an adversary in Kate Mulgrew’s Mary who was disgusted by her, just as Cricket was disgusted by Phyllis.)

SZima
Guest
SZima

I haven’t watched Project yet, but I will.

I just have a comment…that top picture of Michelle is SO wierd to me…very un-Phyllis like. Never in a million years would Phyllis be caught in a princess dress like that!

Teresa Ungerer
Guest
Teresa Ungerer

She’s Michelle Stafford, not Phyllis

Mad/hatter
Guest
Mad/hatter

Thank you so much for letting Michelle clear it up once and for all that she and Sharon Case enjoyed working together and do not hate each other I was so sick of that story being told. I think she has a flair for comedy so good luck. The show is so different now that I think she was right to move on.

Robin
Guest
Robin

OMG what cave am I living in? If not for you, Michael, and this interview I’d be wondering how long Phyllis was going to be gone lol. Great interview!!! Happy for her and wish her continued success. SO SAD for us Y & R fans. Show will not the same without her!!!!! I’m going to start my mourning process now.
Thank God I have cookies in my cupboard 🙂

Jacqueline
Guest
Jacqueline

I wished they did not get rid of Phyllis. I loved her on the show and gonna miss her. I hope she comes back and get Sharon.

cheryl
Guest
cheryl

i hope that phylis comes back and sets things right with the sharon thing,i wish you success on your new adventure, but you will be so missed on my favorite soap..i have watched this show from the beginning, love it.

Lafaux
Guest
Lafaux

I smiled all the way through! Great job! I can’t wait to see more.

Sharol
Guest
Sharol

I watched the Stafford Project and I completely loved it. It was so very funny, which really fits Michelle well. She is such a great actress and I’m sad that she left Y&R but I am loving seeing her in this project of hers. Keep up the great work and I look forward to a lot more!

Megan
Guest
Megan

Michelle Stafford’s future is just beginning. I look forward to
Her star becoming bigger and brighter everyday.

O
Guest
O

I watched The Stafford Project It was funny and I wished Michelle would had stayed on Y&R ,Phylliss would had kicked ass and loved itwhen she battled Sharon and Christine Blair> I can’t wait until she does a primetime sitcom do 2 & a half men she would be funny with Ashton Kutcher and Jon Cyrer or Mike and Molly

Teresa Ungerer
Guest
Teresa Ungerer

Oh yes! Great idea

O
Guest
O

I would love to see Michelle team up with Colleen Zenk (Barbara) and Kim Zimmer (Reva) the 3 of them could do a sitcom together

Michelle
Guest
Michelle

Not everybody liked Phyllis with Nick.

Jackie
Guest
Jackie

Loved Nick and Phyllis together, show will not be the same without Phyllis. I wish Michelle well and will be tuning in on her show

janice layton
Guest
janice layton

She left because of Scientology. She refused to work with Michael (Murphy), because he came to his senses years ago and left the cult. She is doing a web series now, with all Scientology members. Talk about mind control.

k/kay
Guest
k/kay

I heard that to but he is never on could not figure out how that could be who knows. You have any idea how much money you put into this thing I call it a Pyramid cult. Lol

michael
Guest
michael

Scientology is her belief, who are we to judge. She is missed on Y&R – she’s an amazing actress, but I love that she’s got balls and isn’t afraid of doing what she wants. I didn’t want to like the stafford project because i was upset that she left Y&R – ha! how egotistical is that!? but i love it, she and the show is hilarious. and incredibly well produced

Darling
Guest
Darling

Michelle what can I say, I hate to see you leave the Y&R but if that’s your wish, I wish you the best of luck. May you prosper in all you do; God bless you and your beautiful, little girl.

Thelma
Guest
Thelma

I love Michelle on Y&R . Hope she return if only to get Sharon lie straight. I pray your success in whatever you want to do . I know that you would be good at it.

jamie
Guest
jamie

Does anyone know if Michelle is married in real life?

Red Rivers
Guest
Red Rivers

So Phelps fired Jeff Branson too. This witch just loves to kick actors out on the street. She’s a witch.

General Hospital

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

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

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

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

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

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Interviews

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

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

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

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

 

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

Photo: AP

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

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

Photo: Hustory.com

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

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

Is that what inspired you originally to do your project?

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

Photo: Getty

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

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

Courtesy/CBS

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

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

Courtesy/CBS

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

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

Photo: JPI

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

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

Photo: JPI

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

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

Photo: MMorganIG

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

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

Photo:JPI

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

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

Photo:JPI

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

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

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

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

Photo: JPI

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

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

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

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

Photo: JPI

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

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

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

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

Photo: JPI

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

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

Photo: JPI

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

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

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

MISHAEL:  Oh my gosh, yes.

Photo:JPI

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

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

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

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

Photo:JPI

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

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

Photo: JPI

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

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

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

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

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

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

Photo: ABC, NBC, CBS

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

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

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

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

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

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