Soap Opera Actors: Why Are You The Way That You Are?

My mom watches Young And The Restless. I remember doing homework at the kitchen table and listening to Victor and Nikki break up for the 500th time or something like that. It’s wild that now, all these years later, I’ll go downstairs to get a snack during work and there’s Mom watching the show still. Victor and Nikki are on their 800th breakup now, I think.

Soap operas fascinate me. They’re on the air for decades, with new episodes almost every single day, and the stories are so ridiculous, but people love them. Quality drama shows get axed after a season or two on primetime TV, but some evil twin coming back to life to marry the stepbrother you found out you had two weeks ago does numbers on daytime. Insane.

It's Crazy GIF.

They’ve got a cult following of sorts, but it’s an age group that overall isn’t exactly young anymore, so I can’t imagine that in twenty years, there will be many soaps on the air still. Also, the majority of the main actors are on the older side too…

Which brings me to the point of this post. What kind of fascinates me the most about soaps is that there are actors who essentially spend their whole career on that one show, just filming decades of episodes. The grind seems constant, but they stay. It seems so different from other non-soap actors who are constantly joining new projects and telling new stories. I imagine that all actors get into the biz because they love storytelling and playing a variety of characters, but some of these soap actors just seem to, like, stop wanting more after that early role. It goes against everything we seem to know about actors.

I think about all the primetime TV shows that have lost a beloved character late in the show because the actor/actress decided they wanted to do something different and couldn’t wait for the show to end. I feel like a bad person for thinking about it, but if some of these soap actors can play a role for 25 straight years, surely this other actor can stick around for this last and final season, right?

Disappointed Gif 0144 - PNGDir | PNG Image Directory

On the other hand, maybe acting is just a job like any other, and as long as you like your coworkers and make enough money and have a work/life balance, you’ll stay forever, so maybe soaps are just specially designed to be such good environments that people are willing to dedicate their entire career to it. If they’re happy, then good for them, I guess. Plus, it’s not like they don’t do any other acting. All of the main Young And The Restless cast do have many other credits, but usually for only one episode or in a movie no one’s heard of. Again, if they’re satisfied, then go for it, I guess.

Good For You GIF.

In the grand scheme of things, the mindsets of soap actors mean very little to me, but I do spend a lot of time pondering this every time I see my mom watching good ol’ Y&R, so now hopefully you get to think about it a bit too.

That’s all for now!

 

 

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2 thoughts on “Soap Opera Actors: Why Are You The Way That You Are?

  1. Yeah, acting pretty much is just another job. There’s short-term work, long-term positions, people leaving to go find some other position they’d enjoy more, etc. Some people are wildly successful, some become iconic in their industry, but most just try to make ends meet, and a job that lasts for decades is very helpful towards that end.

  2. I had this thought recently myself… Backstory: Growing up, my mother used to record all the CBS daytime soaps on VHS tape and then watch them at night while we ate dinner. So as a kid I had plenty of exposure to Young & the Restless, Bold & the Beautiful, As the World Turns, and Guiding Light… Occasionally, I have to take my clients to an agency that has CBS on the TV in the waiting room and I caught part of a recent Y&R episode, noticing that several of the actors that were on there 30 years ago are still there. And I had that same question… what keeps them from moving on to bigger and better projects? I think about actors like Julianne Moore and Meg Ryan and even David Hasselhoff who all got their start on soap operas… but they obviously moved on. Yet you’ve got the same guy playing Jack Abbott since 1987 while Victor and Nikki have been off and on since the 1970s! I don’t get it.

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