Just 15 years old when The Young and the Restless cast her as Victoria Newman in 1990, the future Emmy winner — six times over! — couldn’t have guessed what adventures daytime held in store. “It has been a wonderful place to grow up and to develop and make lifelong friends,” the actress told Soap Opera Digest in 2022, adding with a laugh, “I spent more time with a lot of these people than I have with my husband!” Since 2007, Tom, who also played Kelly Cramer on One Life to Live, has brought to life Katie Logan on The Bold and the Beautiful.
By the time a 19-year-old Alfonso landed the role of Days of our Lives’ Hope, she was already an accomplished figure skater (she’d earned a gold medal at the Junior Olympics) and model (she’d even appeared on the cover of Vogue). But she was shaking in her boots when she screen-tested. “I was already a huge fan of Days of our Lives, because I would watch it when I would come home from school,” she told Soap Opera Digest in 2019, so “being in [the Horton house] set, I was a nervous wreck!”
Legend has it that it was only after missing out on a chance to appear on the NBC sitcom Webster in 1985 that the future Daytime Emmy winner, at the time just 7 years old, was cast as Anna and Robert’s daughter, Robin, on General Hospital. McCullough has played the part off and on ever since while also, in recent years, making a name for herself as an in-demand TV director.
Three years after making her debut as The Young and the Restless’ gap-toothed darling, Cassie Newman, the then-10-year-old became the youngest-ever Daytime Emmy winner. And for a while there, we thought that she was going to manage to avoid having her character SORAS’d. But then the show killed off Cassie in 2007 (!!!) and, seven years later, rehired her by-then-grownup portrayer to tackle the new role of her outta-nowhere twin, Mariah Copeland.
Having already done Broadway’s Annie, Byrne was a very young “old pro” in 1985, when As the World Turns initially passed on the 15-year-old to play Lucinda’s daughter, Lily, in favor of Lucy Deakins — who wound up beating her out for the lead in The Boy Who Could Fly, too. “I said, ‘You know what? I’m done with this business,’” she told Soap Opera Digest in 2020. “’I want to get braces. I want to have a normal life.’ And I got a phone call… saying, ‘We wanna give you the job of Lily’” — which she held off and on for nearly two decades!
Today, her name is synonymous with that of Jennifer, the Days of our Lives heroine she’s played off and on since 1985. But a year earlier, when the actress was just 17, she got her big break in soaps when she was cast as airhead Jade on Santa Barbara. Not that she remembers it as a terrific experience. After the show debuted to depressing ratings, “they started killing everybody,” she told Soap Opera Digest in 1988. “There was so much pressure and so much tension, I hated going to work.” Which, after less than a year, she didn’t have to — Jade was sent on a date from which she simply never returned!
When at 14 years old, the future daytime icon was picked to replace Stacey Baldwin as General Hospital’s Laura, she had no idea just how much her life had just changed. But despite the parts of her childhood that her blossoming career took from her, “I don’t regret a bit of what I’ve done,” she told Orange Coast magazine as far back as 1982. “What I have is a curiosity of what it would be like to be ’normal,’ to be a kid, because I gave that up.”
Twenty-three when he first appeared on The Young and the Restless as Paul, this Emmy-winning fan favorite wasn’t exactly a kid. But when you think of how far he’s come — in terms of decades, in terms of growth, in terms of accolades — we suspect you’ll agree that he grew up before our eyes as much as anyone else on this list. Certainly, his character did! “The transition from this bad guy out for himself,” he recalled for Soap Opera Digest in 2020, “started with April pressuring Paul to take responsibility” for daughter Heather. The rest, as they say, is history.
When One Life to Live decided to transform Jessica from a cute moppet into a real character in 1990, Torpey was the 9-year-old assigned to the task. She played the part for the next 12 years, ushering Viki’s daughter into teenage and ultimately adult storylines. Now, Torpey is a married mother of two with an enviable list of video-game voice roles to her credit. (Star Wars: The Old Republic, anyone? Everyone? Thought so, we did.)
Stone Cold was just getting warmed up in 1988: That was the year that the 18-year-old landed his first soap role, that of Days of our Lives’ Harris, a high-schooler who accepted a bet to see whether he could get former hooker Eve into the sack. Three years later, he joined General Hospital as Jason, the preppy-turned-Mob muscle that he played off and on until 2021.
In the decades that followed after General Hospital cast Shriner as baby-faced older man Scotty Baldwin opposite Genie Francis (Laura), a lot, as things tend to, changed. He switched shows (over and over), roles (except when he starred on Port Charles), coasts, co-stars, hairdos. But one thing has remained constant: his need for speed. In a 1979 interview with Soap Opera Digest, he shared his enthusiasm for riding his motorcycle down the freeway; now, of course, his love of his Vespa is the stuff of legend.
At the tender age of 14, Khalil really was young and restless when The Young and the Restless hired her to play the pivotal role of Lily in 2002. She left three years later, saying, “I don’t have a mortgage to pay, so it’s the right time to be unemployed and really go after my dream, which is to be a movie star.” She returned in 2006, replacing her replacement, Davetta Sherwood, and is now the real-life mother of a 10-year-old.
“I was voted Best Newcomer and fired in the same week,” Diamont told Soap Opera Digest about his daytime debut as Carlo Forenza on Days of Our Lives. But, undaunted, the actor — now Bill Spencer on The Bold and the Beautiful — went on to land the looong-running role of pool boy-turned-ladies’ man Brad Carlton on The Young and the Restless. “If I wasn’t delivering and they weren’t getting a good fan response,” he chuckled, “I may have drowned in the pool at 22 instead of drowning in the frozen lake 23 years later.”
Dropping out of college isn’t a smart move for everyone, but it sure paid off for Metcalfe, who left NYU to play Miguel Lopez-Fitzgerald from the beginning of NBC’s Passions in 1999. After five years of madness on the supernatural soap, the actor took primetime by storm, going from ABC’s Desperate Housewives to TNT’s Dallas reboot to Hallmark Channel’s Chesapeake Shores. “I didn’t have a clue what I was doing” in the early days of Passions, Metcalfe admitted to Grumpy Magazine in 2019, “but I had the time of my life.”
Although she was just 16 when Days of our Lives cast her as human hurricane Sami Brady, Sweeney was already an old pro who’d been doing commercials and such for more than a decade. “Discipline and work ethic [were] always instilled in me as a kid,” she told Closer in 2018. “I was really lucky to have rock-solid parents who helped me through the industry and didn’t pressure me to do it. It was my choice.” And, it turned out, a hell of a smart one!
Three years after the future Emmy winner auditioned to play Stone Cates on General Hospital, the ABC soap dropped the former Tyler Baker into the role that would launch his career, that of Nikolas Cassadine. “I often wonder what my life would [have] been like if [casting director] Mark Teschner hadn’t seen beyond the fragile inexperience clearly on display during our first meeting,” Christopher said in a 2017 Facebook post. “Fortunately for me… he did.” The actor later originated the role of Stefan DiMera on Days of Our Lives.
The daughter of The Young and the Restless’ creators, the late William J. and Lee Phillip Bell, made her first appearance as fresh-faced Jabot model Cricket in 1983 — when she was just 13 years old. It wasn’t until the actress was a bit older that she was put on contract — and “the Bug,” as Phyllis called her, began using her real first name, Christine.
Michael E. Knight
Two years out of college in 1982, Knight was tasked with transforming the adopted son of All My Children’s Ruth and Joe Martin from merely mischievous into “Tad the Cad.” Needless to say, he nailed it — and was still rocking the role when ABC cancelled the show. How’d he pull off the feat? By bringing the funny, he said in 2022. “They let me do a lot of sitcom takes” to cut the melodrama. Since 2019, the three-time Emmy winner has been hanging from the newest branch of Laura Collins’ family tree as Martin Gray on General Hospital.
The two-time Daytime Emmy winner was 17 when he joined the cast of The Young and the Restless as Devon. But he’d actually been in showbiz even longer than that, appearing in commercials and magazine ads since he was 2 and starring on the ABC sitcom Family Matters since he was 4. Co-star Darius McCrary, who later joined Y&R as Devon’s uncle, Malcolm, “was like the brother I never had,” he told Soap Opera Digest in 2018, “and he really looked out for me on set.” At Y&R, the late Kristoff St. John (Neil) filled that role. He “helped me think that I could be just as good as everybody else,” James recalled. “He really made me feel like an equal.”
Even before General Hospital recognized the future five-time Young Artist Award winner’s star quality and cast her as Molly at age 11, she knew that the path she wanted to stroll was the Walk of Fame. She was beyond intent about becoming an actress. “I bugged my parents about it so often that they finally looked into it for me,” she jokes on her website. “I think they were shocked when my manager signed me!” Shocked maybe… but proud for sure!
At 19, the future soap stud was “crushed,” he said in 2020, when after a rigorous series of auditions to play stripper Dylan Shaw on The Bold and the Beautiful, he didn’t get the part. But more than a quarter of a century later, he’s come to view the disappointment as “the greatest failure” ever, since it led directly to his being cast in the role for which he’ll always be known — that of Nicholas Newman on The Young and the Restless.