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Images: Paul Skipper/JPI, Priscilla Grant/Courtesy of the Everett Collection

A decade ago today, Salem got a whole lot feistier.

You know the way the saying goes: If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again. And that’s just what Days of Our Lives did with Gabi Hernandez. Though the NBC sudser initially passed over Camila Banus for the role, the powers that be quickly realized their mistake and recast with the actress who should have been playing the character all along. Now, 10 years after Banus’ October 4 debut, it’s hard to remember — and downright impossible to believe — that there had ever been another Gabi.

Mind you, the fact that the role was made for Banus — only the vixen’s curve-hugging wardrobe is a more perfect fit — doesn’t mean that the job is a walk in the park. “The way that daytime people work is just exhausting,” Banus recently told Soaps.com exclusively. “We are cranking out so much content at such a small price, and that makes us all work so much harder” than actors in primetime and movies.

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That frenetic pace is one of the reasons that Banus decided to take a break from the show. “I wanted a different speed of life,” she explained. But having gotten some time off, she’s now just “happy and grateful I have a home at Days of Our Lives that is not only the show but the amazing people that make it happen.”

As for what’s next for Gabi, her portrayer is up for anything. She does have a particular hope for her alter ego, however. She wants Gabi to start “feeling a little bit less angsty all the time. She’s got this heaviness on her shoulders,” she noted, “and I just hope she maybe finds a circumstance that can lighten up her life a little — or a lot. Not too much, then it gets boring.”

More: Kristian Alfonso’s heartfelt tribute

At this point, it would be hard for a storyline to really shock Banus. But there is one twist for which she admits she’s not even remotely prepared: the SORAS-ing of Arianna. If Gabi’s daughter ever walked into the room as a teenager, Banus would have to get demanding, she joked, because “I am not ready for that. I don’t think I ever will be ready for that.

“If that day ever comes,” she continued, “everybody else’s child gets to be aged, too.”

You can watch the actress’ interview in full above. And while you’re here, by all means, check out the below photo gallery, a collection of 10 of her most memorable moments as Gabi — one for each year that’s she’s been with the show.