You mentioned that you auditioned for Ciara seven times, which seems a little excessive to me. Was there any point in which you became frustrated with the process?
No. I knew that sometimes projects take a very long time to cast. Especially when they’re looking for the right person in roles of importance. So, I try not to be frustrated. I got a little anxious especially when I tested for the project twice. I’m not sure if you’re familiar with that process because I wasn’t at first. I was like, test? What? This isn’t school! (laughs)
So, a test is when you go on set and you audition with the actors in the show on the actual set. That’s kind of a last round type of a situation. It’s serious business. Usually when you test, you find out 48 hours later. So, I tested and after four days they tell me that they still can’t decide, and I had to test again! So, you get all these nerves from testing and it was my first one ever. I was terrified. But I did it and it felt like such a relief. And they’re like, ‘you’ve got to do it again! They still can’t decide.’ That was nerve-racking. It made me anxious but not frustrated. It kept me on my toes.
I’m assuming one of those tests was with Kristian Alfonso.
Absolutely, both of them. She was a huge influence in who was going to be cast as Ciara. She had to have chemistry with whoever it was. Ultimately it was the team’s decision, but she was a big part of that team.
About working with Kristian, is there anything that you’ve learned from her or other actors who have been on the show for 30+ years? What’s the most important thing that they’ve taught you?
Absolutely. I learn from them every day. I’m like a sponge – I like to soak it all up. I’m in an environment surrounded by incredibly talented people. These people have been playing the same characters every day of their lives for 30 years and over. And the fact that they can still bring a breath of fresh air to the storyline is amazing. They’re so talented. Their work ethic never fails. They’re so exceptional. Even still after all these years, they come in every day on time, they know their stuff. It’s amazing to be around such talent.
About the character of Ciara, she went through a lot before you took over the role. Did you find it difficult to play some of the beats of the storylines that occurred or worry about having any chemistry issues in relationships that were already established?
Yeah, definitely. And that’s what I tried to focus my attention on when I first joined the show and started playing the character. I made sure I got all the relationships down. I had to know, and it’s a lot. There’s all the brothers and cousins, three times removed! I needed to know everything. And sometimes I still find out I get new family members. They’re like, ‘yeah, your cousin so and so.’ I’m like, what?! Ok fine. I’ve got all the cousins in the world. I can barely keep track of my own cousin. (laughs)
It was hard, but Kristian actually helped a lot with that. We sat down in her dressing room and she gave me a rundown. She was like, ‘OK this is what happened in her life. This is who she loves, this is who she hates, these are the experiences that she’s had.’ It was great because I have to know what happened, but I also didn’t want to watch Vivian’s scenes because I didn’t want to accidentally take anything from her. I didn’t want to take any of Ciara’s mannerisms because I wanted the character to be fresh and authentic to myself. They hired me for a reason and it’s because they saw something in me that they liked in Ciara. So, I wanted to start from scratch but also maintain those relationships that she’s already established in Salem.
As we talked about before, Ciara is the daughter of the legendary Bo and Hope. Are there any traits that you think Ciara possesses from both of her parents?
Totally! I must say that’s another thing that I tried to focus on because I knew that the relationship she had with Bo was of great importance to the fans. They valued it so much and I wanted Bo to be the core of her, especially when she first joined. I wanted her to have that kick ass, bad ass mentality. That independent, strong, beautiful, powerful woman who knows her worth. And that is something that both of her parents taught her. She’s definitely stubborn like her mom. But she gathers her strength from both sides.
Like you said she did come back to town kind of like hell on wheels, but she’s since calmed down a lot.
Yeah, thank God! (laughs)
There was a time where she was yelling at everyone!
Yeah, she was a lot! I may have taken it a little overboard with the anger. But she’s a lot better now. I like her now. She still has that strength but less bratty. I love her character development. I think she’s just turning into a woman. When I joined the show, she was an immature young lady. And now she’s blossoming into the woman that she has the potential to be.
A lot of viewers tend to view women on soaps in two ways. They’re either the heroine or they are the vixen or the troublemaker. Ciara kind of falls in the middle somewhere.
I know, and I love that about her!
Do you have a preference of what she should be going forward?
I don’t want her to be the damsel in distress. She never has been. Even though she was put in a situation where she had to be saved, she didn’t have a choice. She was lying in bed in a cabin filled with fire with two wooden planks strapped on her leg with duct tape and a broken bloody leg underneath. No food. Poor girl probably hasn’t gone to the bathroom. Can we talk about that? She never went to the bathroom! She had a sponge bath, sure. But how did she go to the bathroom?!
You know what, we suspend a lot of rational thinking because we’re soap fans. We just kind of went with it.
Yeah, that’s something that I had to let go of when I joined the show. Rationality. But yeah, I totally wanted her to be an edgy character. I still do, and I think she is. I think that when she has an opportunity to save someone, she will. And that’s also something that is at the core of Ciara’s personality. She loves her family and she is so loyal to those that are loyal to her and she’d do anything for them. So, I want her to get in a scene where she needs to get a little rowdy and save someone. That would be pretty cool.
Speaking of family, let’s talk about Ciara and Claire. They have spent a lot of time going at each other’s throats since she came back in town. Is that something that will be ongoing or are they finally going to have a ceasefire?
They’ve had so many ceasefires at this point. They’ve had so many ups and downs. I’m sure we can compile all the times where they’ve been like, ‘yeah we can be friends again let’s hug it out.’ But it doesn’t seem to end because they have a lot of history and they have a lot of animosity between each other. I don’t think they’ve forgiven each other at the core yet. So, they need to work on that. They need to work on their forgiveness towards each other because they are family. And I personally would never treat my family that way. She’s my niece. I would never treat my nieces that way. You don’t punch them in the face! They just have to work out a couple things in their relationship. But once they do that, I can’t wait for them to be friends again. Olivia [Rose Keegan] and I are such great friends and it would be nice to implement that into the show.
As far as Ciara and Tripp’s relationship is concerned, it seems like it started and then stopped, and it started again, and it stopped again. What exactly is the trepidation with Ciara trusting Tripp?
Well, Tripp is the first person that Ciara has trusted in a romantic way in a very long time since Theo broke her heart. She’s been through a lot with Chase and Wyatt and with Theo. So, she hasn’t had a chance to open up to anyone. Tripp holds a very special place in Ciara’s heart because he is the first person that she’s opened up to. And they have been in very intimate situations and moments together. But there’s also been a lot of risks and a lot of things that caused problems, like him kissing and almost sleeping with Claire and Ciara walking in on it. But I think that there’s a lot of love there. They are very good together and there is chemistry between them. So, we can expect things to blossom still because they’re not done yet. They have unfinished business. They have to still forgive each other fully. They need to talk about things. Tripp and Ciara aren’t going away for a while.
That kind of leads into my next question. It feels as though Ciara tends to push herself to taking things to another level with Tripp before she’s actually comfortable in doing so. What would you say her motivation is behind that? Is she trying to prove something to herself or something to him?
Yeah, she’s a little lost in her feelings right now. She doesn’t really know what’s going on and I think that she’s trying to push herself to heal before she actually ready because she just wants to heal already. She’s tired of hurting. She’s tired of feeling like she’s in a bad place so she just wants to emerge from it and be happy. And I think she’s forcing it a little bit. She needs to take it slow.
There are times where she’s said that Tripp sees her as broken, but she doesn’t believe that Ben sees her the same way. What’s the reason behind that? Does it go back to the time they spent together in the cabin?
Yes, and it’s because Ben is also broken. With two broken souls, they know the lowest of the low. Now obviously Ben has been to a darker place than Ciara has, but she’s been through a lot. They’ve both seen very dark things and they bonded over that. They bonded over not seeing each other as monsters and not judging each other for their hardships and the bad things that they did in life. So, they bonded a lot over that.
Well that leads us into the main event…
Dun dun dun. Drum roll, please! (laughs)