Interview: Days of our Lives star Camila Banus Knows Who She Is, and What She Wants

Camila Banus
DAYS OF OUR LIVES -- Season: 51 -- Pictured: Camila Banus as Gabi Hernandez -- (Photo by: Chris Haston/NBC)
Photo Credit: NBC.com

Yeah, you mentioned that your fans have, have spoken to you about that, and, and as a personal of color myself, I always tell, like, my non-POC friends how … they don’t really understand how important it is when you see someone who looks like you on TV if you always have, you know? Um, so to see someone who you can identify that, um, whether it’s because she looks like you, or she talks like you, or she believes in the same things as do or values family the same way. I think that’s one of the things that makes representation so important-

Yeah.

For not only the actors but for the fans, too.

When I was growing up, I was very inspired by actors. And honestly, I would have to tell you, it was mostly by male actors because those are the characters that I gravitated and that I wanted. The strong characters that were the main leads in all these movies that I wanted to be in. So, my inspiration were all these male leads. But had I had a girl that looked like – in a show that I watched, or movie that I watched – wow. That, to me, would have been like, “That dream is much more achievable than I can ever imagine. Look, a girl that looks like me is doing it.”

So, to me that, you know, I’ve had girls come up to me and say like, “I identify and I see myself in you when I see you on the show.” And to me, it’s a possibility that somebody like me could do something like this. And that’s what makes me excited for my life and honestly, it’s just so rewarding to have anybody say that to me.

So it’s been a pretty wild ride for your character since she showed up in Salem, you know. Um, how do you feel about Gabi’s trajectory from then to now, and what has been your favorite thing about a past story?

Okay. So, I think Gabi’s been a really interesting character. For a really long time at the beginning of her existence on the show, she was there for a lot of people in Salem. You know, she listened to a lot of people, she opened her heart for a lot of people, and got to know everybody’s circumstances, and situations, and gossip, and, you know, everything that was going on in town.

But it never really was about her life. You know, she never even stopped to really think about her time. You know, she was always focused on other people, and things like that, and so, I think within the last five years, Gabi has taken it upon herself to … and I mean the writers … took it upon her life to, kind of take control of her life. Kind of take a stand and say, “Hey, wait. Hold on I’m kind of living for other people and doing things for other people, and why aren’t people doing things for me? Why am I not doing things for myself?”

And it takes a really big moment, and it takes a really big thing in her, in your life for you to look at yourself and really realize that you’re not doing the most you can for yourself. You’re not giving yourself that kind of love. You know, you know, I think going to prison for the first time was a really big deal for her.

And the trajectory of, of just the ups and downs of her learning, as a person, that life’s not going to be all sunshine and rainbows, you know? And then you’re going to get kicked and it’s going to be tough, and you’re going to need a frickin’ helmet sometimes because that’s how life this. But if you have a sturdy enough helmet, you can try to like, you know, chug along and get through it. And if you even have a support system, it’s even better, so.

You know, she’s trying the best that she can, and then she’s trying to be the best example of the best mom and the best woman for her daughter. And so I think that her growth has been monumental. It’s been amazing to see the developmental years of this person’s life, and then also dealing with life being thrown at them though developmental years. So it’s been amazing.

I think one of the, one of the most dense, like proudest moments or scenes that I could say for Gabi was, I think, like, her relationship with Nick. It’s a really important thing for her. I think it really was one of the, like was, it was the first, like, adult relationship that she had. Coming out of just being pregnant was with, with Will, and kind of it being more of an adolescent relationship, kind of like high school relationship.

She saw in him, things that she wanted but then, of course, saw things in him that she didn’t, and so I think she did a lot of growing during that time in her life. She has to, basically, put her big-girl pants on, and fight for her life, fight for her daughter’s life, when it needed to come to that. And it takes a lot. It takes a lot to take someone’s life, even if it’s something that you must do. It’s, even if it’s something that you’re doing to protect your life. And so, that was a really big deal for her and very big deal for me. You know, working with Blake was amazing. And the scenes were just great for me.

One of the things we like to talk about on our podcast, ’cause we obviously love your character.

Ah, thank you.

Is the Gabi before prison, and the Gabi after.

[Laughs]

[Laughs] And that’s after, you know, for instance, she’s one of the few characters in town who actually has to pay for anything that you’ve done, you know? She rebuilds her life. And even though she did that she constantly has her quote-unquote mistakes thrown in her face. Tt’s nice to see how you play it differently every time. Whether it’s Julie throwing Nick in Gabi’s face, or something out, each time your reaction is a little bit different.

Thank you! And I want to mention something about Susan Seaforth Hayes. She has been somebody that I feel – I don’t know if she knows this, I don’t know if she realizes this – but she’s is such an inspiration to me as an actor, because she encompasses what I’m talking about. I have a huge problem with Hollywood thinking that stillness is acting. I mean, sure, yeah, there are some amazing themes that come from stillness. There are some moments that requires all this stillness, and for you to do something with your face, but I just so sick of Hollywood saying that good acting stillness.

Photo Credit: NBC.com

And you take a woman like Susan Seaforth Hayes and she’s got the stillness. There’s moments in that there’s this intenseness [sic], but she’s not still. There’s something going on every single moment. And I love that from her. I learn from her, and I live from that because, ’cause there’s different types of acting. There’s different types of people in this world so I have super inspired by her.

When you first learned Gabi would be seeking revenge on those who hurt her, what was your first impression about the villainous turn?

I thought it was perfect. I think even from before the second time that she gets sent to prison, there’s already is a turn in her. There’s already a, “that’s it.” No, there’s no going back. The nice Gabi is dead. That Gabi that everyone knew got buried in that prison, and she’s never coming back. And whatever happens from then on, is just going to be worse if you continue to egg her on. You know, when I read that, I said to myself, “well hot damn. All right. This is what I’ve been waiting for, for a while,” you know, “this is the meat of it.” This is what I wanted, what I had been asking for, so for me it was super exciting and I haven’t looked back one second.

[Laughs] You know it’s funny. There was someone who brought up a point that Abby and Ben are sort of creations of their own – this is going to get me in trouble – but it’s like they both had something to do with each other’s mental illness.

Right.

… And it’s like the people that have come in contact with them are their own victims – in a sense their own creations. And so it’s kind of like, the quote-unquote bad Gabi is the creation of Abby’s actions.

Right. Right. And ultimately, Abby’s jealousy. You know, if we take this back, which honestly, [my] personal, Camila opinion, you know, when I’m reading these stories and when I’m putting them together, I’m thinking that the [dissociative identity disorder] started way back when.

Photo Credit: NBC.com

When she faked her death and she got back, and she started saying that the minute that she left town, what did Chad do? He started to be with me. He started to fall in love with me, he started to, basically, lust for me. And that was such a huge problem for her because it’s like, “oh wow the minute that they find out that I’m dead, you’re just going to, like, move on with my best friend?” And that created in her head, what maybe she was thinking was missing from their relationship; what maybe she thought he wants to need to get, that he couldn’t get with her.

And, you know, that’s just something that we’ve discussed. Stuff that we, basically, thought about, but everybody’s got their own interpretation.

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