Y&R viewers were recently introduced to River’s rebellious teenage daughter, Eden, who, it turns out, is Michael’s long-lost little sister. However, ZOEY 101 fans will also recognize her portrayer, Erin Sanders, as quirky Quinn from the popular Nickelodeon show. Digest caught up with Sanders, who chatted about working on ZOEY and how a box of cookies — seriously! — got her career going.
Soap Opera Digest: Hello, Erin! Welcome to Y&R.
Erin Sanders: Thanks!
Digest: How’s it been going?
Sanders: Good. I’m having a lot of fun, but it’s harder than I thought it would be. It moves so quickly.
Digest: Have any of your co-stars been helping you get adjusted?
Sanders: Tracey [E. Bregman, Lauren] and Christian [J. LeBlanc, Michael] have been. I’ve been interacting with them the most since our characters are in a storyline together.
Digest: Did you know anything about Eden when you auditioned for the role?
Sanders: No. The audition sides had nothing about my character. Even when I started work, I was in the background for the first few episodes, so I really knew nothing about who she was. I just knew she was related to River in some way.
Digest: Did you expect the role to be so dramatic? You’ve had to cry so much on-screen.
Sanders: I definitely wasn’t expecting that. The audition sides were light and fun. I had no idea that this was all in store for me. I’m pleased, though, because I love this sort of thing.
Digest: How did you react when you learned that Michael Gross (River) is your TV dad? Did you watch him on FAMILY TIES?
Sanders: I did. I was excited! He’s a great actor and I’m having such a good time with him.Digest: ZOEY 101 had much more comedy in it. Was it hard switching from that to something so dramatic?
Sanders: I actually made the switch early on because I originally was a dramatic actress. I’d only done adult dramas and this was the first comedy I’d ever done. But I had such a wonderful time on ZOEY. We were a family and it was a great learning experience. But it was the same sort of material every day and it’s nice to get into something with a little more meat to it.
Digest: On ZOEY, were you surprised that it ended when it did?
Sanders: Not really because we’d planned from the beginning to do only four seasons. Everything was wrapped up in a nice way. I think it was time to move on. But it was still so, so sad.
Digest: ZOEY seems to air about 10 times a day.
Sanders: Really? I had no idea it aired that often. That’s really cool! Towards the end of the series I got more fans of my character because she was a little less weird and they made her look and act a little more pleasant. It grew fans as it progressed. I think the quality of the show got better as it went on, which usually doesn’t happen. We were all such good friends. We all still keep in touch.
Digest: Let’s talk about some of the other shows you’ve been on. How was 8 SIMPLE RULES?
Sanders: Oh, my God, that was so much fun. All of my scenes were with James Garner [Jim], which was exciting. Unfortunately, John Ritter had passed on by that point, so I never got to work with him. I was always such a fan of his.
Digest: How about AMERICAN DREAMS?
Sanders: I was on one of the earliest episodes of that, so the show was brand-new and didn’t really have a following yet. But one of the leads, Sarah Ramos [Patty], I went to acting class with her for years, so it was funny to come on the set and see her. I was like, “Oh, you’re here!”
Digest: What led to you doing a soap?
Sanders: Honestly, I’d never thought of doing a soap before, but I go out for everything and it was kind of a surprise. I only did one callback, which was also a surprise to me. I’m lucky it’s turned into what it has.
Digest: On Y&R, did it help to have another kid there in Kevin Schmidt [Noah]?
Sanders: Yes, he’s a great guy.
Digest: And he was a child star, too.
Sanders: Exactly. But prior to ZOEY, I was used to being the only kid on set. But it is nice to have Kevin there, to have someone in my age bracket.
Digest: Since you began acting when you were so young, did you miss out on going to regular school?
Sanders: Yes, I was homeschooled all throughout high school. It’s funny because [Eden] never went to a regular school, either. It was a weird coincidence. Also, she’s a math whiz and was taught by her dad and in my real life, my dad’s a math genius. And she’s good at French and I’m taking French, too.
Digest: That is weird. How did you get into acting at such a young age?
Sanders: Believe it or not, it’s from Girl Scouts [laughs].
Sanders: I’m actually still in Girl Scouts — I have been for at least 10 or 11 years — but when I was 9, I was selling Girl Scout cookies and I knocked on this one guy’s door and I went on my whole spiel about the cookies. He said he thought I spoke really well and had a friend who worked at an agency and thought I should get into acting. So he gave my mom his friend’s card and we met with him and that’s how I got into it.
Digest: That’s crazy! I was also a Girl Scout, but never had an encounter like that.
Sanders: I know! Its one of those stories you hear about where you’re like, “No, that would never happen.”
Digest: Did the guy even buy some cookies?
Sanders: Yes! I think he actually bought a few boxes [laughs].