The Young and the Restless’ Melissa Claire Egan spoke with TVSource Magazine executive editor Omar White-Nobles a few weeks ago to discuss her character’s pregnancy, complications in Chelsea’s romantic life, joining social media and her upcoming wedding.
In 2011, Egan joined the cast of The Young and the Restless as Chelsea Lawson, a bad girl and con-woman hired by Victor Newman to break up his daughter’s marriage to Billy Abbott. After coming to regret her behavior and realizing her child with Billy would have a better life with him and Victoria, she relinquished her parental rights shortly after giving birth. It was that act of selflessness that began Chelsea’s metamorphosis from bad girl to the compassionate, ever growing yet flawed woman she is now.
No longer content with her criminal ways, Chelsea opted to go legitimate and in the process, fell in love with fellow Genoa City outcast Adam Newman (Michael Muhney). But like most things in soaps, nothing good lasts forever. After Chelsea miscarried her and Adam’s child (thanks to Summer), her marriage collapsed the further Adam pulled away from her, and closer to his ex-Sharon, whose life was in shambles. Fed up with Adam’s actions, she finally called off their marriage, but she didn’t leave alone – she’s pregnant again with Adam’s baby!
Chelsea’s determined to keep the truth about her child’s paternity secret, even going as far as to claim Dylan (Steve Burton) is the father! Needless to say, Chelsea’s entire scheme could blow up in her face if the wrong person learned the truth.
TVSource: Let’s start with Chelsea’s character build: She came in as this free-spirited con, running a game with Billy and Victoria – how would you assess how your character has grown from the time she first came on to the woman that she is now?
Egan: Well she’s certainly evolved a lot; I mean she’s done a complete 180 as far as her intentions are. When I started, like you said, she was kind of a con artist, and manipulative, and doing things for money, and you know – completely, kind of not a very good person. But since then, she’s fallen in love, she’s gotten married – she’s gotten divorced! –and experienced life, its highs and lows and ups and downs and learned about family she didn’t know she had. She’s gotten closer to certain members of her family and gained friendships. I don’t think Chelsea was someone who had girlfriends before when she was on the road and cons don’t really have good relationships. So she’s just a better person; a better human being. She’s kind of lived life a little bit and definitely become more of a genuine, well-rounded person.
TVSource: Did giving up her baby with Billy sort of put Chelsea on the path to wanting to be a better person?
Egan: Well, I think she knew she wasn’t capable of taking care of him at that point in time. And I think that when she lost her baby, when she was married to Adam that definitely put things in perspective for her, because it meant that she was finally ready to live life and start her life and start this new life with him – and then she lost that baby. And that was very devastating to her. But I think the whole—every step of the way, I think she’s grown to become a better person.
You know, when she gave them (Billy and Victoria) the baby, and kept guaranteeing them she wouldn’t try to take the baby back, I think really, every step of the way; she’s become a better person. And I think that falling in love makes you become a good person, because other people’s feelings become important to you.
TVSource: Now how did you feel when you and Michael saw that Chelsea and Adam were going to break up because of Adam’s…issues? You know Adam’s a very complicated soul (Laughs).
Egan: You know in this genre – in the soap world – it’s sad because I love them as a couple and I think they’re great together and I love Michael’s and my scenes, but as an actor, you’re also thrilled when anything bad is happening, because Yes! There’s more meat. So, Michael and I both –even though we obviously love Adam and Chelsea together, we were actually kind of, ‘Oh, cool, we break up?’ –because you know, we could always get back together; you never know. And being able to have fighting scenes, which we really love doing, and all those scenes where we’re so angry at each other. It gave us so much more meat; so much more to do and utilize. You know, how long can you be happy for? It just gets kind of boring. Like I was saying, in real life, all you want is to be happy, but on a soap? All you want is to be sad.
Egan: You just want bad things to happen to you in this fake world, because it’s just more to act and perform and feel and show, and so we were actually pretty excited about it – ‘Oh, that’ll be interesting,’ — and like I said, I love our fight scenes, and Michael is so good, too, so it’s really fun to show them getting nasty with each other; it’s always a fun thing to do.
TVSource: Yes! And after the breakup, Chelsea got to make out with Dylan, who is insanely hot, so –that’s always a good thing.
Egan: Exactly. I mean, talk about a good rebound! I mean (Laughs), not too shabby! So yeah, she’s been having some fun, and she and Dylan have created a really nice friendship and really enjoy each other’s time, so yeah – a little hot, steamy one night stand always helps mend a broken heart (Laughs).
TVSource: You and Steve Burton have really great chemistry, by the way; I really like your scenes together.
Egan: Oh, thank you! I do too! It’s been so awesome working with Steve and getting to know him. I love how they’re writing our characters too. It’s been really great.
TVSource: Now…I love Chloe and Chelsea’s friendship, but…
Egan: Oh, yeah, so do I!
TVSource: Chloe seems to be kind of a bad influence on Chelsea, like, Chelsea’s trying to grow, and Chloe’s like, ‘No, be bad. Do this, do that…’ What’s up with that?
Egan: Yeah, I think Chloe’s like the devil on her shoulder; you know the angel/devil thing? Chloe’s kind of the one, like the really fun, spunky one poking, ‘do this, do this, do this’ – but not with bad intentions, I think. Like I said, Chloe’s like the devil on her one shoulder helping her to –like not have a conscience and do these things. You know, there’s still a con artist side to Chelsea, and Chloe is trying to help her. I mean, she is in a bit of a predicament right now, so Chloe’s kind of like just telling her –you know, how to handle the situation, but on a maybe more of an evil side, like with bad things to do. But like I said, it’s all good intentions, and they have a great friendship, and Chloe’s a great friend to her. And I love how they write them very funny, very spunky together – I love it.
TVSource: Has being friends with Elizabeth [Hendrickson] outside of work helped your work chemistry? Your friendship onscreen?
Egan: Yeah, sure, absolutely! I don’t know Liz before, like on All My Children, she was there before me, so I didn’t know her as well, but we get along great. She’s super awesome and really fun. So yeah, it’s great having known somebody beforehand. It definitely helps. But the way they write the characters is really—it’s a well-written girls’ friendship, so I don’t think it has to always be – you know — girls can be friends, too. You don’t always have to be cat-fighting over a guy, or pulling each other’s hair (laughs) or always competing. I like that they show that they’re really good friends to each other and they care about each other, and they’re there for each other and have each other’s backs. That’s what real female relationships are about, so I love that they write them that way. And yes, it definitely helps that we get [along] outside of work too; she’s super awesome, so that’s really fun.
TVSource: How painful was it for Chelsea to not only come to the realization that Adam was in love with Sharon, but accept it?
Egan: Well, of course it was devastating; just because it kind of proved Chelsea right in all of her fears. She had always felt a little insecure about Adam and Sharon’s history – and their past relationship obviously, was very big and very intense. I think she— it was like her greatest fear come true. Like, ‘I was right all along.’ You want to be proven wrong, and then in turn, she felt like she was proven right –she was right to have her fears and her insecurities. So it was devastating. Because things were almost so great with her and Adam and they were almost to that place with that perfect happiness, and then it just kind of fell apart.
TVSource: A few months removed from the breakup, does Chelsea hate Sharon? How does she look at her now?
Egan: I don’t think she hates Sharon. I think she’s just been hurt by this whole situation – hurt by Sharon, hurt by Adam – and I think she always felt threatened by their history. History is a really strong thing to have with someone, and you can’t change that. And they just had so much heavy, deep history. And I think Chelsea was really threatened by that, and felt a lot of anger and hurt toward Sharon. And felt maybe Sharon was very weak to like need Adam while Chelsea was married to him. Like ‘Ok, go find your own support system.’ But I don’t think she hates her at all; I think that for a while there, her life was falling apart, she felt, because of Sharon. There’s a lot of anger and resentment, for sure.
TVSource: When it comes to Adam, Chelsea’s sort of holding the trump card, but I like that she’s not thinking of it that way. This baby could change a lot for her – in a good way and in a bad way. Why is Chelsea so adamant about keeping the baby from Adam? And why is she so afraid of telling him the truth?
Egan: Why does she want to keep Adam from knowing about the baby? I think she really fears—obviously she’s madly in love with Adam, but all she’s ever heard on the other side is people saying how conniving he is, how manipulative he is, really ‘take no prisoners’ – all these things she’s heard about Adam, and she was always defending him. But now they’re getting a divorce, and things didn’t work out – she’s starting to see that side. She saw that he can be cold, that he can be dismissive. She fears that if he finds out that this is his baby, and he finds out that she didn’t tell him right away –’cause right now he doesn’t know – he could take the baby. I think now Chelsea sees, ‘Oh, Adam isn’t all rainbows and roses.’ He does actually have a bad, nasty, mean side that she never saw before.
And now Chelsea’s just really scared that she’s seen this other side that she’s been hearing so much about – the manipulative, Newman side to Adam, and she’s scared he’ll take the baby. One line she said to Chloe was, ‘I just want it to be an amicable shared-custody kind of thing that you have with Billy and Delia. This would be war.’ And I think it probably wouldn’t be, but I think she’s really convinced herself of that – ‘If Adam finds out the baby is his – he’s gonna take the baby. He’s got money, he’s got power and he’s gonna take this baby from me and I can’t let that happen.’ So that’s why she has these fears about him finding out.
TVSource: There was a scene recently when Victoria overheard Chelsea talking about her pregnancy to Adam. Is Chelsea going to address that with Victoria, or is she going to act like it didn’t happen?
Egan: As of now, she doesn’t know that Victoria heard her. So we don’t know. Will Victoria use it against her? Will she use it for her? Will she try to help Chelsea? Will Chelsea ever find out? We’ll have to wait and see. But you’ll find out probably in a little over a month or so, I think.
But I think Chelsea’s a little concerned about it. This was her little secret with Chloe; no one else knows it. So she doesn’t want someone like Victoria, who she doesn’t know if she can trust, knowing she has this secret. So there’s definitely a concern, But like I said, she could use this against her or could use it to help her; Victoria doesn’t like Adam either! So there are a lot of different elements there. So stay tuned to see!
TVSource: I like that answer!
TVSource: You’re very active on social media. How important was it for you to create that open relationship with your fans, and introduce them to not only Melissa the actor, but Melissa the person?
Egan: Right! You know, it’s funny, I was largely new to Twitter. I started like, fifteen months ago. So I never did it when I was on All My Children. A lot of my cast mates did. Chrishell Stause (ex-Amanda, AMC) is one of my best friends, and she loves Twitter, but I was like, ‘Aaah, I don’t know…’
They used to call me ‘No-Twit Miss’ – that was like, my Twitter hashtag, because I was like, ‘this is not my thing.’ Then when I joined Y&R, I joined Twitter. And I love it! I’m so glad I did; I was definitely a little late to the game. But I’m really glad I did for this show. I’d never read message boards before; I still never do. I haven’t since I started All My Children in 2006; cause it can be dangerous, it can be evil (laughs). So I never really knew how the fans felt. Well, I mean I knew how they felt on those boards where they rip you apart, but so Twitter’s just been great to hear what they think, what they like, what they don’t like, when they have questions about ‘what nail polish are you wearing?’ I can tell them now (laughs). Or when someone says, ‘I just graduated from UNC,’ I can say, ‘Go heels! Good for you, that’s amazing’. You really get to know them, and like you said, they get to know you better. I’m glad that I kind of bit the bullet and just did it. Sometimes I’m more active on it, and sometimes I’m not, if I go away for a weekend, I don’t even open my Twitter. But it’s a great thing; it’s cool to have direct access to the fans and vice versa.
TVSource: How are preparations going for your wedding?
Egan: Great! We’re going to do it next summer in Santa Barbara, so that gives us time to kind of take our time and enjoy it. The extra time just makes it more relaxing. But we’re doing it next July, and we’re really excited.
TVSource: Are you worried you might turn into a Bridezilla?
Egan: (Laughs) I don’t think I will. I’ve been saying to people I’ve been married nine times before on daytime television, so I’ve worn every kind of dress, every kind of hairstyle, every kind of wedding shoe, every kind of wedding makeup; so I already feel like I’ve been a bride a dozen times. So I don’t think I’;; be a Bridezilla; I’m hoping I’ll be easygoing. I think we’ll just hopefully throw a great party for our family and friends. Three of my best girlfriends are throwing us an engagement party at the end of the month, which is sweet. Roaring 20’s style, ’cause I love to dress up. So that should be fun. So yeah, I don’t think I’ll be a Bridezilla, but we’ll see. Ask my fiancé in a year (Laughs).
TVSource: The Emmy nominations are going to be coming out soon…
TVSource: If you happen to be nominated – and I hope you do, because you did some great work last year—do you know what scenes you may submit?
Egan: Thank you. Well, we already did submit – because it goes in rounds—you submit a scene, and then you submit a whole episode. So I submitted an episode where Adam and I are fighting –like I said, I really love those scenes –I did the episode where I find out he’s been hiding Sharon in the guesthouse and that he’s been covering for her with the fire. I just really liked that show; it was really well-written. So that’s what I submitted; so we’ll see.
TVSource: That’s a great episode; I think you’re going to pull it out. I think you will.
Egan: Aw, you’re sweet. You never know; everyone in there is great, so I’ll be happy for whoever.
TVSource: What about your Emmy dress? Have you started shopping for that, or no?
Egan: No, I have not. I’ve been kind of in my wedding-planning mode. I usually do that like a month before. I haven’t even started on it. I guess it’s coming up on May, so I’ll probably think about it next month.
Additional editing by Mandy Treccia and Angela Rynan Durrell