Unlike Maggie, Olivia caught on with the fans and Chappell was signed to a long-term contract shortly after she started. “I was really resistant to the idea of playing a bad girl. It was difficult because I would start to internalize it, take it a little too personally,” she says. But she got over that mental block and had a good initial run on the show — Olivia slept with a few Spauldings and even got a brother, Sam. And then … nothing. Though she’s now on her third contract with GL, Chappell has not had a truly substantial storyline for several years and that, principally, was the reason she famously asked to be released from her deal in the fall of 2005.This, in a nutshell, is Chappell’s side of the story: She came very, very close to not re-signing with the show last year. “I like the character and I love the cast and the crew, and it does feel like home for me. I knew that I could make it work if I went into it not having any expectations of ever having a story; I had to be content with being a supporting player. I thought I could do that and I am doing it.” At the end of protracted negotiations, Chappell and the show agreed to a two-year contract that keeps her on-screen through September 2007; GL also agreed to cluster her shows so she doesn’t have to spend more time in the air than on the ground.
And then, four weeks after she re-signed with GL, OLTL’s executive producer, Frank Valentini, called her to see if she would be interested in taking over the role of Paige, which was on the verge of getting super-juicy. “I had been really, really hungry for a big story and [when Valentini called], I thought, ‘They’re not using me [at GL] — let me see if I can make this work.’ There had been all these budget cuts and uncertainty, and I figured it would save the show money. I thought I would put the idea out there and see what happened.”So, what happened? “I talked to Ellen [Wheeler, GL’s EP] and I’m sure she was shocked, but she said she would think about it and then she came back a couple of days later and said, ‘I can’t lose you. We love you and value you and want you here.’ I was disappointed in many ways because I was excited about telling a story [at OLTL]; it had been awhile since I’d had a good run. But at the same time, [GL] wanted me and that’s a nice thing to hear, as opposed to ‘Go away.’ ” Looking back, Chappell has no idea exactly why Wheeler wanted her. “I really don’t,” she laughs. “I’ve often been perplexed as to why they even wanted to re-sign me, not just for this contract, but for the last one, as well. Because I haven’t been used much. But I guess in whatever capacity they’re using me, they feel good about it. I don’t know. I really can’t speak for them.”Since then, she still hasn’t gotten a storyline (despite being nominated for her third Emmy as Olivia). Still, she says she’s not bitter about GL’s decision and sounds like she means it. “I can’t live [in bitterness]. I want to be a professional and go in and do my job. I have a great time at work. There isn’t anybody in the cast who I don’t enjoy hanging out with. I like the crew. They make me laugh; I make them laugh. So, what’s the point in being bitter? It didn’t work out, the timing was wrong and that’s just that. We’re all grown-ups.
“But a year from now, in September, I don’t know what’s going to happen,” Chappell concludes. “I’m excited about all kinds of possibilities. But that’s then. Until then, I’ll just enjoy this ride.”This article originally appearred in the July 4, 2006 issue of Soap Opera Digest.