Exclusive Interview With Crystal Chappell! image

Crystal Chappell (CBS)

Crystal Chappell (CBS)

Today I had the pleasure of speaking with Outstanding Lead Actress Emmy Nominee Crystal Chappell (Olivia) from Guiding Light. Read all about what she had to say concerning her character, her family life and the Find Your Light campaign.

Shannon: First of all, congratulations on this year's Emmy Nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress!

Crystal: Thanks! I am pretty excited about it. It is my first nomination in the lead category, so it is a big deal for me. I am really enjoying it.

Shannon: I am so excited for you. I am a huge fan of Guiding Light and a huge fan of yours as well!

Crystal: Thanks a lot!

Shannon: What's the energy like on the set of GL right now, because you guys as a team received a total of 17 nominations?

Crystal: Yes. It is really good. I am just so proud of the show. We all work so hard when we're there and want to do well. It is a really nice group of people there and everyone is so down to earth. There are no crazy egos, it's just so nice, particularly the crew because they work so very hard. The actors do as well, but I think that we have the easiest part in all of this. It takes a big effort to produce and write. The extras are on the floor all day. We come out and we do a set here and there, have time to study and all that. They are on there all day long. I am always so impressed with that. Whenever I start to feel tired at the end of the day and I've had a split shift, or sitting in my dressing room, or hanging out with friends talking, then I go on the set and realize that these people have been here all day�on their feet! You know, it's a different kind of work, but I am just so impressed with the whole thing. Guiding Light has a lot of great, great, great parts to it and it is a great show. I am glad that it is getting recognized.

Shannon: You and the team at GL do an amazing job every day of delivering a wonderful show. In fact, GL celebrated its 70th anniversary recently. Now, I've gotta tell you that I loved the anniversary show! You guys did an outstanding job with that!

Crystal: Thank you!

Shannon: What was it like traveling back in time like that and exposing the fans to the rich history of Guiding Light?

Crystal: You know, that was one of the most fun days. First of all it is always fun to do period work (putting on costumes etc), even though they weren't comfortable! We were in the corsets, and the girdles, and all that stuff. The clothes were terrific and everyone just worked seamlessly. The hair and makeup I thought were just really great. There's a style to the work and I think that people just kind of jumped in and had fun with that. Everyone got a little part in it and it was really cool. It went by so fast! Usually on days like that you're way past your out time, but it was almost too easy how it all came together. With all of the costume changes and all the special effects, it really was an easy show to make. I believe that we all felt really proud of it at the end of the day when we all walked away.

Shannon: You all should be very proud of that show! I remember one scene during the episode where you and Kim Zimmer were in between spots on the radio show and she made a comment to you about your ability to pretty much cry at the drop of a hat.

Crystal: Yes!

Shannon: I'm not sure if it was written to reflect on your ability as an actress to pour on the tears, but I couldn't help but chuckle to myself when I heard that. Anyone that has seen your portrayal of Olivia knows that you can make her cry in heart wrenching ways. I'm sure a lot of viewers want to know how you are able to do that so well?

Crystal: It was definitely written that way. It's like anything else. The more you do something, the easier it gets for you. It's like a muscle and it's trained to do certain things. You know, my seven-year-old son can do it. He's a very good little actor! Laughter�..

Shannon: Laughter�.

Crystal: What they basically teach you in acting class is to think about something really sad. You think of something that puts you in that emotional state. If the circumstances around the certain script don't do it for you, then you think of something different. It's a technique called "substitution".

Shannon: There's the inside secret to how you do it folks! Laughter�.

Crystal: Laughter�. That's really what it is. You know, certain songs make you cry. I can watch the same parts in movies that make me cry. Even certain commercials make you cry. You keep that all in your bag of tricks and if you need it, hopefully you will have it.

Shannon: How would you describe your character (Olivia)?

Crystal: Oh�I just think that she is a wonderfully, complicated mess of a person! It's what makes her an interesting character for me. As much as I love heroic parts, it's hard to play the good girl all the time. It's hard to find things to make a character interesting when they are so good. But when they are messed up, anything is possible! She's made some strides and grown a bit. She takes two steps forward and one step back. That's what it's like for most people and that's what I really like about Olivia. Of course, it's a soap opera and things happen all of the time. Laughter�..

Shannon: Laughter�.. Yes they do. Olivia has been busy since she arrived in Springfield. She definitely always has something going on!

Crystal: Absolutely!

Shannon: Does Olivia feel that Buzz is the man that is finally going to make her happy?

Crystal: I think that she has reached a level or place in her life where she is ready to accept that kind of normalcy (for lack of a better word). She sees him as being a really solid person to lean on and wants to make it work, but then her past comes back and bites her in the heel. She's got these unresolved issues with Jeffrey and that's the complication right now. She has resolved what has happened to her to a certain point, but it is not completely resolved yet. That's the problem. That's where we are.

Shannon: This year you guys launched the Find Your Light Community Outreach Initiative around the 70th anniversary. How has that been going so far?

Crystal: It has been great! I will be taking part in another one on the 28th of April in New York for Broadway Cares. I have to say, it's a really fun thing to do. I've done small volunteerism locally, helping to raise money for my son's school, but nothing on this scale. It's been a wonderful experience to get out there and do the work ourselves and at the same time get other people to see how easy it is.

Shannon: Has there been a good fan turnout at these events?

Crystal: Yes! In fact, there are so many people calling, wanting to join in, but we just don't have the space for all of them.

Shannon: Wow, that's awesome!

Crystal: Yeah, it really is! It says a lot about people in general, but in particular our audience. I'm really proud. It is really a great thing to do.

Shannon: It is a great thing, and you guys are doing what you wanted to do, and that is to pull people together to do good things�. It's just great to see! Now, you joined Guiding Light in 1999?

Crystal: Yep.

Shannon: Which one of your co-stars have you grown the closest with over the years?

Crystal: You know, people have come and gone, so relationships change over eight years. But, I have to say that I am close to the whole group of them. I love Kim, Ron and Robert. These are people that I would sit down to have dinner with and would feel very comfortable with. Beth Ehlers and I have gotten to be really good friends; our kids play together. Laura Wright and her family came out and spent the weekend with us here. You just sort of stay in touch and text message. Laughter�. We're all busy people, but these are people that I will continue to stay in touch with no matter where they go or where I go.

Shannon: Many daytime fans that read this may remember you from when you played Carly on Days of Our Lives (I think that�s when you were buried alive) right?

Crystal: Yep. Laughter�..

Shannon: I remember watching that. I loved it! Laughter�. You also played Maggie on One Life to Live. Which of those co-stars do you keep in touch with?

Crystal: Hillary Smith and I are good friends. I just went back there recently to say "hi" to people. You know, the stage managers, the hair people, the makeup people and the producers. I see the cast, like Kamar. I know Michael Easton from DOOL. It's a very small community; that's partly what I like about it. You run into people, you catch up with a 15-minute conversation and then you see them again at an event. It's a lot of fun.

Shannon: How do you like to spend your time off of work?

Crystal: Well, I have two little boys. I basically just do mom things. I make sure there are groceries, that they have socks and whatever. There's always some event going on. There's pajama day at my 3 1/2 year olds school and they need chocolate chips; I'm always at Wal-Mart! Laughter�..

Shannon: Laughter�. The glamorous life�right?

Crystal: Laughter�. You know it! They need their mom right now. One is 7 and the other is 3 1/2. Jake (my oldest boy) had his first t-ball game on Friday, so I flew in (got in around 4:30), and the game was at 5:30. Michael, my husband is coaching it. We are very normal people. We also have a construction company. Michael is a general contractor.

Shannon: Wow!

Crystal: Yeah, it is a very different life. We have the contracting business�.we are parents�.then I fly to New York and I am an actress!

Shannon: Now, Michael has acted on several shows as well. Didn't he play on DOOL and Passions?

Crystal: He's been on a lot of shows. He's been on those plus, Sunset Beach, All My Children and The Bold and the Beautiful.

Shannon: Goodness! You guys are busy! Laughter�

Crystal: Laughter�. It's been good! You're really fortunate when you can act for a living.

Shannon: You live in Los Angeles?

Crystal: I live on the central coast, north of Santa Barbara.

Shannon: So, you have to fly to New York to work at Guiding Light. Is that an every week thing?

Crystal: Yes. I fly usually twice a week, but that is my reading time. That's when I study my lines.

Shannon: That works out perfectly then doesn�t it?

Crystal: It actually does. I could never get any kind of work done here. Laughter�.

Shannon: What is the one thing that you could tell your fans about yourself that they probably would never guess?

Crystal: You do this for so long, you kind of start to feel like everyone knows everything about you. I don't know what people's perception is, but I'm much thinner in person! Laughter�..

Shannon: Laughter�.

Crystal: I would like to squeeze that into an interview! Laughter�.

Shannon: Laughter�.I will be sure and include that! That's hilarious!

Crystal: Really, I am just like everyone else. I wake up every morning and I have bags under my eyes because you know, somebody wet the bed and I have to change the sheets. It's not a glamorous thing! I've got circles under my eyes right now because that's exactly what I did last night! Laughter�.

Shannon: Laughter�.

Crystal: I take my kids to school and try to go grocery shopping in between time to pick them up. I have a very, very normal life��other than the whole flying to New York thing.

Shannon: Are there any charitable organizations that you support that your fans could help out with?

Crystal: Right now my efforts are with the show and just getting people to volunteer. I think that's the thing. I started volunteering at my son's school, just to help teach math. It's just the small things that count. Being involved, especially with your children's education. I think that is so important in their growth! Any little act is worth doing because it does make a difference.

Shannon: Summertime is coming up right around the corner. Do you have a big family vacation planned for this year?

Crystal: We do. It's actually in our town. The whole family is going to come here (of course they are not staying with us because it is about 50 people) Laughter�.

Shannon: Laughter�.

Crystal: It's just a nice week at the beach. We might do Disneyland one day. My sons are actually coming to New York next week while they are on spring break. They're gonna get out of California for a little while.

Shannon: That'll be nice.

Crystal: Yeah. They were both born there and I love New York. I want them to be a part of it.

Shannon: That's great. Is there anything else that you would like to say to your fans out there?

Crystal: I've always been so grateful for everyone's support. I don't know that they always know that the actors read what they write. We hear what you say and we go online to check things out. It makes a difference. I like to hear what people have to say and I am always grateful when people are honest. Most of them are just truly supportive and I can tell you that all of my fellow cast members are grateful for that.

Crystal and I talked a bit more about her roots in the Carolinas (where I am from) and the upcoming Emmy Awards Ceremony. As many of you know, will be covering the big event this year, so keep visiting the site as the days draw near. Thanks to Crystal again for taking the time out of her busy schedule to speak with me. All of us at wish her continued happiness and success! Click here to visit Crystal's biography which has a link to her personal website.

Shannon Burrell
Soap Journalist