Crystal Chappell Says Goodbye to Otalia
BY Michael Fairman
June 19 2009 12:00 AM ET
One thing is crystal-clear -- no other actress on daytime right now can generate a buzz quite like Crystal Chappell. In news that rocked the soap world on June 11, Chappell announced to TV Guide magazine that she was returning to the role that started her career on the soaps -- Dr. Carly Manning on Days of our Lives . While many celebrated that one of Days ' legendary heroines was headed back to Salem (Chappell played Carly for three years from 1990 to 1993), at the same time, the mourning process began. This announcement signaled the end of the line for Guiding Light 's Otalia, 2009's super couple of the soaps.
Since 1999, Chappell has played Olivia Spencer for all she's worth and then some, delivering one unforgettable performance after another. When the GL powers that be agreed to write a long arc love story between two women and put it on the air, they entrusted it in the capable hands of Chappell, along with her new on-screen acting partner, Jessica Leccia (Natalia). Over the past several months, daytime, mainstream, gay, and straight fans alike have connected with the unique relationship, played with all the twists and turns of two people finding love and acceptance with each other. Otalia's popularity has grown so much that at this point, it's a worldwide phenomenon.
In this exclusive interview for Advocate.com, Chappell sets the record straight on her decision to take the Days gig, her efforts to keep Otalia on the air any way she could, what this means for the end of Guiding Light , and the importance of Otalia's love story.
With husband Michael Sabatino (who played Carly's husband Lawrence Alamain on Days ) and her two kids in tow, Chappell makes the move back to California -- a fresh start and a chance to revisit a primo role -- one that, at one point, had Carly buried alive.
Advocate.com:This is great news that you are coming back to Days as Carly. Was it an easy decision?Crystal Chappell: It was. I was looking for a job, and it was one of those things that happened. I was in L.A., and I was driving by NBC to go to another meeting, and I thought, Gary Tomlin [co-executive producer of Days ] is there , and I wanted to say hi. I went about my day and found out that same day that he called my contact information so he could talk to me. I am trying to listen to the signals in my life, and I thought it would be very interesting to go back and play this part after 16 years of being away. I am really happy to be going back, but it's taking me a few days to get to this place. The day the news came out last Friday, I told my cast mates and they were unbelievably supportive and lovely, but I think the thing that dawned at me at that moment was, this was going to be the end of the character of Olivia. I kind of went through this little wallow over the weekend and went, Oh my God! This is so sad for me!
Gay fans have been so invested in Otalia's story. We had such high hopes for it. Now that fans see it's the end of the line for Otalia, in some ways it's been so devastatingâ€¦ and obviously devastating for you. Absolutely! We all have known since April 1st that our show was canceled, and we have all known there was an end date. We all had hopes that the show would continue. I know Jessica Leccia, Ellen Wheeler [executive producer], and Jill Lorie Hurst [co-head writer] all wanted the story line and the show to continue. But as far as I know, as of right now, we all finish taping August 7th. I would love for the show to continue, but unfortunately, or fortunately, I have to work. It became a practical decision, and I don't know about Guiding Light being picked up.
People felt that if Otalia can't save the show, then the show is not being saved! Obviously, we talked many times that it is an extremely important story, especially Jessica and myself. I can only look at it and go, I feel really privileged that I got to play it and be a part of it, and enjoy the time I have left with it. But, it will forever be my favorite experience and favorite story. It's due in part to the fans and how they have been, and how positive they have been.