"I knew it was a story that needed to be told."
When a rapidly-aged Fenmore Baldwin returned to Genoa City last year, actor Max Ehrich was given the opportunity to sink his teeth into a front-burner storyline right from the headlines as he became infatuated with Summer Newman (Hunter King) and partnered with her in bullying Jamie (Daniel Polo) online. Not that Ehrich couldn’t handle the pressure. At just 22, the practicing Buddhist studied Shakespeare at the London Academy of Dramatic Arts and has appeared in "Ugly Betty," "Parenthood" and the Lifetime movie "The Pregnancy Pact." Nominated for his first Daytime Emmy for the role, Ehrich shares with Soaps.com his thoughts on his Emmy reel, his plans for the big night, and what is down the road for Fen and his family.
Soaps.com: Congratulations on your Emmy nomination.
Ehrich: Thank you.
Soaps.com: How did you find out you were nominated?
Ehrich: I got a call really, really early that morning. I was filming that day and so when I was woken up, at first I thought it was a dream. Then I saw that someone was calling me and it was a bit frustrating because I am from the East Coast, so a lot of friends and family will call me not thinking it is two hours ahead there. So I saw a friend called and I was really pissed off because I had a really long day ahead. And then I saw all of these notifications from Twitter of all this stuff. So I listened to a voicemail and found out that I was nominated. It was like four shots of espresso - it just gave me a jolt of overjoy and excitement. It’s so crazy because that is when it felt the most real, those first four minutes. And then it just kind of felt surreal.
Soaps.com: Who did you call first after finding out?
Ehrich: My mom. And then my dad. It was really awesome. Definitely my family was the first and then my friends, a lot of whom I went to school with at the Professional Performing Arts School in New York. A lot of it feels like a dream in a sense. Ever since I moved out here and I get to do what I love to do for a living, it is kind of enough already. So to get this kind of recognition and a nomination, it is just not something I ever really thought would happen. It is just a weird phenomenon to me. It’s amazing for me because it is recognition from your fellow artists. It is nice to get feedback and stuff on Twitter and from fans and everything, but to get that respect from my peers means the world to me.
Soaps.com: Is it tough going up against a co-star (Bryton James as Devon Winters)?
Ehrich: I don’t really see it as a competition at all. It feels like we’ve won just by being nominated. I have seen everyone else’s reel and I am such a huge fan now of Chandler Massey’s (Will, "DOOL") work which I saw for the first time in his reel, and even Bryton’s work from our show, and I would be thrilled for them if they won. And if I won I would want to bring everyone up with me. I don’t think there is a winner or loser in these sorts of things.
Soaps.com: How did you decide on the reel you submitted?
Ehrich: I chose this reel because it was a particular episode where I felt really out of control. It was when Fen kind of took a turn for the dark side, when his emotions for Summer surfaced to such an extreme that he kind of lost it. And I found that I lost myself in that day. I remember that specific day and those specific scenes. I didn’t watch many episodes to compare it to because it was a feeling that I got when I filmed it that I just knew it was a really special episode for me. Whether it was my best work, I have no idea. To me it felt the most – it was something I had never done before, being that dark and out of control, so it was definitely a learning experience for me. That is why I chose it.
Soaps.com: There really was a wide range of emotions in the reel.
Ehrich: Thanks. And in comparison with the other reels, everyone is such a bold character that it is so hard to compare anyone because everyone in their own right has such a great take on their character.
Soaps.com: Did you feel a certain responsibility to get the cyber-bullying story right considering its prominence in the media?
Ehrich: I think for me it definitely lit a fire. I have personally experienced bullying and I have many friends who have experienced bullying as well, and it touches home to such an extreme that I knew doing a storyline related to it was exciting. I knew it was something that was going to be moving to the audience. I knew it was a story that needed to be told. I hope that it has helped spread awareness of the epidemic. It is really out of control right now because everyone is trying to find a reason to isolate everyone else. For me in particular, I have always been an artist and have always been a creative person and have always thought outside the box and am always rooting for the underdog. To be on the opposite end in this particular storyline was interesting, but I definitely feel like I could draw from my experience. And I was just happy they trusted a few young actors with a really important storyline. On such a culture-driven show to have such a big storyline, it was thrilling that they trusted me to go to that depth.