INTERVIEW

Catching Up With Darcy Rose Byrnes

If you’ve ever caught the YouTube video of a very young Darcy Rose Byrnes singing “The Wizard And I” from her all-time favorite musical, Wicked, she respectfully requests that you disregard that it’s Elphaba’s song. “I’m meant to be Glinda,” declares the actress. “In November of 1998, Stephen Schwartz met with Gregory Maguire to talk about turning his book into a musical. I was born in November of 1998, so I believe I was born to play Glinda. I grew up on Wicked, I’ve seen it probably 11 or 12 times and was recognized by an Elphaba on stage just because I’d seen it so often. I’ve read the book, and have far too much Wicked-related fashion and toys, some of which I made. Also, Kristen Chenoweth [a former Glinda] follows me on Instagram. I just mentioned that because I started crying when I found out [laughs]. So, every role I’ve ever done feels like practice for that character.”

At the age of 4, Byrnes was cast in her first TV job as Ashley’s daughter, Abby (now played by Melissa Ordway). “Working on a soap was such good training for shooting with four cameras, and really prepped me for the rest of my career,” she attests. “The people I worked with from every department on Y&R were masters of their craft, so it was a really strong foundation for me. I always say working on that show was the best education I ever got. I really did learn from the best. Some of my first scenes were with Eric Braeden [Victor], and Don [Diamont, ex-Brad; Bill, B&B], so it just didn’t get better than that. And learning from Eileen Davidson [Ashley] was such a gift. She was so much fun and working with her felt easy.”

It was during her Y&R gig that Byrnes experienced a life-affirming encounter. “I was 5, and performing on stage in The Wizard of Oz,” she recounts. “One of the other kids in the performance had her mom and grandma in the audience. The grandma had Alzheimer’s and even though she didn’t recognize her granddaughter, the mother brought her to the show anyway. I walked on stage and the grandmother starts yelling, ‘That’s Abby! That’s Victor’s daughter!’ and she continued to talk about the whole storyline that was currently airing. Unknown to the mom, the home where the grandmother lived put Y&R on every day, not sure if she was actually watching or not. She was. And then after the play ended, she recognized her granddaughter for the first time in a year. For a few hours, my work on Y&R gave that family back their grandma, and their mom. I still tear up when I think about it.”

Byrnes departed daytime in 2008 when Abby was hyperaged to a teenager, but it turned out her career was just warming up as she proceeded to amass appearances in prime-time TV (both guest-star and contract roles) and feature film. “I also started doing a lot of voice-overs,” she notes. “I was Princess Amber on SOFIA THE FIRST, Ikki on THE LEGEND OF KORRA and Maricela on SPIRIT RIDING FREE. There was a time, while I was on DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES, that I was also doing a play on weekends and voice-overs for two shows.”

Currently, Byrnes is part of an ensemble cast on BIG SHOT, a series on Disney+. “I play Harper, who’s first introduced as a student journalist trying to get the big scoop on Marvyn Korn, played by John Stamos [ex-Blackie, GH],” she explains. “Marvyn is a basketball coach who is kicked back to his old position because of an incident of throwing a chair at someone’s head, so he finds himself coaching at an all-girls high school. As the season progresses, I befriend one of the girls on the team, Mouse, played by Tisha Custodio, and that friendship grows — spoiler alert — into a love story.”

Byrnes praises the cast and crew as “Incredible. Everybody is so creative and ready to play. There’s just no complaining, especially when you’re working with awesome people like Yvette Nicole Brown [ex-Lois, Y&R], Jessalyn Gilsig and Kathleen Rose Perkins. Everyone brings their talent and positivity. We even shot most of the first season in 2020 during the pandemic!”

Byrnes was already a prolific songwriter before joining BIG SHOT and she’s proud that many of her songs are featured on the show and performed by many of the characters. That opportunity was born during a conversation with Stamos. “While I was talking with him and Dean Lorey, one of the co-creators of the show, John asked about the future of Mouse and Harper because that’s when it was still up in the air,” she recounts. “Dean said, ‘I want them to play ukes together,’ because Tisha and I made it a habit of playing ukuleles in our trailer. I said, ‘I think Mouse should write a song for my character.’ Dean laughed and thought that was hilarious. So, I started singing a song that I had already written and John jokingly, I think it was jokingly, tried to buy the song on the spot. Dean asked, ‘You really want to buy her song?’ and John said, ‘Yes, for you.’ That exchange stuck in my head and I was thinking, ‘Oh, okay. This is a possibility.’ I went home and wrote ‘Everything To Me,’ that Tisha’s character, Mouse, ‘writes’ for Harper.”

From there, Byrnes’s skills were in demand. “Songs from the Beth Macbeth musical, ‘Fight For The Crown’, ‘The Dagger Song’ and ‘Double, Double’, the witch’s song, were written by me,” she smiles. “This is the first time I’ve composed songs for other people to sing, which is a new skill entirely and something that I ended up really enjoying. It’s all about listening closely to how someone likes to sing and writing specifically for their range and what styles they like. It was a really fun process for me.”

Through music, Byrnes established a meaningful relationship with Stamos. “He’s such a great human being and co-star in general and working with him has been so much fun,” she enthuses. “He’s got a brilliant, creative mind. When we were shooting some music scenes, he was talking to me in between takes and complimenting my music in detail. He’s a gifted musician in his own right and he knows what he’s talking about, so those compliments from him are very meaningful. It’s a pleasure being on the show with him.”

As her career continues to soar — BIG SHOT has already been picked up for a second season — Byrnes still keeps an eye on the original prize. “I don’t know when it’ll happen, but it’ll happen,” she vows. “I will be Glinda!”

The Rainbow Connection

Byrnes is thrilled that she has the distinction of writing a love song for the same-sex couple that she and Tisha Custodio portray. “ ‘Everything to Me’ is the first queer love song on Disney+ and ends with the first queer kiss,” she marvels. “That song and kiss aired June 4th. It was a great [Gay] Pride month! HIGH SCHOOL MUSICAL: THE MUSICAL: THE SERIES had a queer kiss [between Carlos and Seb] and also a song, but the week after us!” Byrnes credits her co-star for helping their on-screen relationship feel authentic. “Tisha and I got along so quickly that the ‘Marper’ romance was a breeze,” she points out. “It’s treated so normally — as it should be — that it wasn’t until we were filming ‘Everything to Me’ [the song that the episode is named after] that it washed over me how important the moment was. It was like magic was hanging in the air and everyone was holding their breath as to not disturb it. People stayed late to watch because, ‘I have to see this happen.’ We knew it was special. I wrote a love song I’m very proud of. The fact that it’s groundbreaking as well is a shockingly wonderful added honor.”

Just The Facts:

Birthday: November 4, 1998

Birthplace: Burbank, CA

Just Me: Brynes is an only child. “I have a 40-something-year-old parrot named Mr. GreenBurd, who I grew up with. So, I kind of feel like I do have a sibling.”

Here And There: She has dual citizenship in the U.S. and Ireland. “I even speak a little Gaeilge as well. There’s an Irish soap opera filmed in Galway called ROS NA RÚN that’d be fun to do!”

Top Highlights Of Her Career: “Making Eddie Murphy laugh and getting to work with Felicity Huffman [ex-Lynette] on DESPERATE HOUSEWIVES.”

Music Maker: “I play piano, guitar, a variety of ukes [ukuleles], bass, flute, tenor guitar, mandolin, auto harp, Bodhrán [drum], harp, tin whistle, a bit of accordion, and violin and fiddle.”

In Step: “Since I was 5, I’ve taken lessons for ballet, tap, jazz, hip hop, belly dance, lyrical, swing, blues, Lindy Hop, the shag and Carolina shag, and a little Irish step. I’m also a competitive ballroom and Latin dancer.”

Jesus, Take The Wheel: “I still don’t drive! I’ve got my permit but never ended up getting my license.”

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