Exclusive Interview: Laura Kai Chen on Trask’s Secrets and Days Cast
Days of our Lives actress teases new revelations and a possible love interest.
Laura Kai Chen has been recurring as Melinda Trask on Days of our Lives since 2013. During those six years, Melinda has mostly been portrayed in the power role of D.A. and mayoral candidate. However, with the recent introduction of her sister Haley Chen (Thia Megia), viewers are finally getting some backstory on the formidable attorney. Soaps.com recently spoke with Chen about her life on and offscreen, as well as what we can expect from Melinda in the near future.
Trask was brought to Salem to prosecute Sami Brady (Alison Sweeny) for the murder of Detective Joe Bernardi (Anthony Tyler Quinn) in 2013. Expecting to film roughly 20 episodes for the storyline, Chen had no idea she’d still be playing the role six years later. “This really has been a wonderful surprise,” she enthused.
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With no shortage of Salemites to prosecute over the years, Chen admitted Trask’s tough on crime stance often gives her a bad rap. While she defended Trask as just doing her job, she also had some thoughts on the former D.A.’s often icy demeanor, which extends to her sister.
Believing certain circumstances prevent Melinda from freely expressing her inner emotions, Chen mused, “I think she has put up certain boundaries, as we all do in our lives. She’s super smart. She’s worked so hard to get to where she is now, and I think she has tried to do her best in her relationship with Haley and in her other interpersonal relationships. I think she has had to make a lot of sacrifices in her life and we’ll sort of leave it at that. I think she’s made some sacrifices in order to get to where she is.”
Even though Chen couldn’t give any specifics, she did hint that the coming months could offer more revelations about Melinda and the undocumented sister she has tried to distance herself from.
Adding a family member definitely gives dimension to the character of Melinda Trask, as would some romance. Chen admitted she’s open to a romantic pairing and joked that Melinda would be too, recalling how much she loved playing the flirtation between her character and Stefan DiMera (Tyler Christopher). But as that connection seems to have been dropped, Chen offered Justin Kiriakis (Wally Kurth) as another option.
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“She’s always had a little bit of a love/hate relationship historically with Justin Kiriakis, who, on one hand, they go head to head in the courtroom, but there’s always sort of like a fun edge to it,” she opined. “So, who knows? Anything could happen.”
Not only has Kurth made an impression on Chen in their fictional lives, but he made an impact on her on a personal level as well. Calling the entire cast kind, welcoming and collaborative, she singled out an interaction with Kurth during one week where she had to learn a lot of legalese for several courtroom scenes. “I had just started on the show,” she recounted. “I was nervous and Wally looked at me in the middle of that week as we were shooting these eight episodes, and he said to me, ‘Remember, if you can do this, you can do anything.’ I just thought that was really kind and also… he’s right [laughs].”
As for the actress’ time away from the Days set, Chen has another project coming out that she wasn’t at liberty to discuss just yet, but she noted she’s always busy working on TV and movies projects. She also gave a nod to her love of cooking, baking and entertaining, as well as hiking with her husband, actor Manu Narayan (who appeared as a doctor on The Bold and the Beautiful in 2014), and their two rescue dogs.
As Narayan has performed in several Broadway shows over the past year, Chen enjoys a bi-coastal lifestyle, splitting her time between New York City and Los Angeles. “We’re so lucky,” Chen expressed. “We’re getting to live our dreams of working in TV and working in films and working on Broadway, for him, so it’s been absolutely like a dream come true.”
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Not only is she grateful for her life as a working actor, but also for the Days of our Lives fans, many of whom have shared with her their history of watching the soap with their sisters, mothers, and grandmothers. “I’m just really appreciative of the opportunity to get to be a part of it,” Chen said. “I just want to say thank you to the fans that watch.”
And she wants them to keep watching, as she teased, “Melinda has a complicated past and I think it’s fair to say she has a complicated relationship with Haley, but there’s a heart in there. There is a heart in there.”