Daytime Emmy winner Hayley Erin returns to The Young and the Restless as a brand-new character, Claire Grace. The actress previously appeared on the show as Abby Newman from 2008-2010, before the character was aged to an adult.
The TV Watercooler had the opportunity to chat with Hayley about what it’s been like returning to set and reuniting with her former co-stars, and what she could tease about playing Nikki Newman’s (Melody Thomas Scott) new assistant!
Welcome back! Who were you the most excited to see or catch up with you got back on that set?
I was definitely most excited to see Camryn Grimes (Mariah), who is a very dear friend of mine! I had been missing her very much. It’s very exciting to be on the same show [together] after all these years.
I actually have a few friends from [my time on General Hospital]. It was great to catch up with Brytni Sarpy (Elena; ex-Valerie, GH) and Jason Thompson (Billy; ex-Patrick, GH). There were a lot of familiar faces, and it was really exciting to see everyone else who I worked with [on Y&R] so many years ago – I’m an adult now!
What must have it been like for Eric Braeden (Victor) to see you after all these years? He played your dad for a couple of years and now you’ve come back as a grown woman with a family of your own.
He didn’t skip a beat! He was so funny. It was great to finally see each other after so long. We made a passing joke about the fact that I’d been there so long ago, but then it was like business as usual.
What can you share about Claire Grace? I hear she’s going to be Nikki’s assistant at Newman Media.
Claire is a driven, hard-working perfectionist. She is really good at her job and has a lot to offer Newman Media.
Are you bringing any of your own personal traits to this character?
I think that’s what I love about playing Claire so much is that she’s actually so different from me. When I played Kiki [on General Hospital], I felt like she needed up feeling a lot like me. [Kiki] was a lot more easygoing, and I’m a very laid-back kind of person.
Whereas Claire is super professional. Not to say that I’m not driven or have a strong work ethic, but I’d say I’m driven by different goals in my own life.
What has it been like working closely with Melody Thomas Scott (Nikki)?
We’re working really closely together, and I couldn’t ask for a more fun scene partner. I’ve enjoyed getting to know her and working alongside her. She is so professional and has had so many great pointers for me.
I feel like I really landed on my feet here. I’m really enjoying my time.
There has been a lot of drama at Newman Media. Is Claire new to the organization? Does she have any allegiances to other Newman Media executives? What can you tease?
Claire’s walking in as a fresh new face. She is going to form her own opinions about things and will definitely have an opinion. It’ll all be in real-time, so she’s not walking in with any predetermined allegiances.
So, no secret agenda then?
Not that I know of!
It’s really common at Days of our Lives and General Hospital for actors to come back to the show as a new character, but I don’t think it’s been done as much on The Young and the Restless. I believe the last time this happened was when Andrea Evans appeared as Tawny from The Bold and the Beautiful instead of Patty back in 2010. Will there be an in-joke with Claire and Abby, who is now played by Melissa Ordway?
Totally! On one of my first days there, we were in a large group scene together and she was hilarious. She was like, “I’m just going to keep looking and you and say, ‘You’re really familiar!”
So, that’s our little meta-joke. We’ll see if anyone picks up on it!
I feel so fortunate [coming back to Y&R]. Returning as a new character is such an interesting thing. I want to find a list and see who else has done it because I’m sure it’s incredible company to be in! I’m so grateful. It’s such a cool concept. Where else do you get to do that?
Did you ever think Y&R would call you back?
I had hoped! I mean, I didn’t know how realistic it was. It’s such an iconic show and I always hoped there would be a chance that I could return. Melissa has been on the show for 10 years, so I didn’t think it would ever be as Abby. I knew it would have to be a new character, but I wasn’t holding my breath. So, I’m just blown away by the opportunity.
It’s been 13 years since you were last there. Have things changed or are does it feel the same?
It’s so interesting. I think a lot has stayed the same. The building itself is just like a vault of memories for me, which is crazy because I didn’t realize how much I actually remembered, but when I walked in, it was like everything just came flooding right back to me!
But at the same time too, there are a lot of new faces. I was so young when I was on the show before. I didn’t really get involved in much of the show’s politics, and I didn’t really know much of what was going on.
I’m definitely meeting more people this time around. I do think that things have changed everywhere [production-wise] a little bit with COVID. So I’m sure there was a bit of a shift in things, so I’m not really walking into exactly the same thing, but at the same time, it’s been really nostalgic.
And you get to come back during the big 50th anniversary year!
Just in time!
What can you share about your time over at General Hospital as Kiki (2015-2019)? You picked up a Daytime Emmy!
Loads of memories! [My time on General Hospital] was such a formative time in my life. I think I started on that show as one person and I left as a completely different person. I grew so much in those years, not just as a person, but as an actor. I have so many fond memories with so many of the cast members and many of them are still my best friends today. It’s hard to just pick one!
I really did enjoy doing the Nurses’ Ball! I was so afraid of those performances. I never wanted to sing and dance in front of other people. I’m not a triple threat – just putting it out there! I’m a single threat. No one needs to worry about me! [Laughs]. But it ended up being a challenge that I really enjoyed.
Robert Palmer Watkins (ex-Dillon, GH) was one of my best friends [there], so the fact that we got to go up on stage and sing these songs and do these dance numbers, it’s just the kind of opportunity that doesn’t really ever present itself. So, I was forced out of my comfort zone, and I think I grew a little bit.
It was a gruesome death for Kiki! A lot of fans will be happy to see you back on Y&R. You had relocated to South Dublin and started a family there.
Yes, it’s amazing. I love it. It kind of happened by chance. I didn’t really mean to leave L.A. I had lived in L.A. my whole life. I was born and raised here. My husband is Irish and went over for a few months during COVID, but then I got pregnant with twins and we had them over there. So, it was not really in the cards to pick up and move back here. While we were there, I just completely fell in love with the place!
I feel very fortunate now. I have two homes, which is a little bit stressful! I have to blenders, two TVs, two of everything and they’re all across the world from each other! So, that can be a little stressful sometimes. But I’m very fortunate and they are two very different places, so I feel like I kind of appreciate different things in different worlds!
Hayley Erin’s first episode as Claire Grace on The Young and the Restless airs Friday, September 29 in Canada and Monday, October 2 in the U.S.
The Young and the Restless airs weekdays on Global and CBS. Canadians can catch up with episodes on demand, the Global TV app, STACKTV, and at GlobalTV.com. Stream The Young and the Restless with AppleTV.