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Dana Sparks On Her New Y&R Role

PASSIONS alum Dana Sparks (ex-Grace/Faith) is back on daytime, playing Chelsea’s specialist, Dr. Lena Cavett, on Y&R. “It’s really wonderful,” enthuses the actress. “I reconnected with an agent who I had been with a while back and he said, ‘Let’s work together again!’ I signed with him and this Y&R role was the first thing he sent me out on and here we are. It’s not only awesome to be back on soaps, but also to be on CBS and their number one daytime show.”

Sparks found that not auditioning in person due to Covid restrictions was a challenge. “First, they sent me sides and honestly, it was a pretty good chunk of sides,” she chuckles. “Since the character is a doctor, there was medical speech to learn, but my mindset was, ‘I really want this one,’ so I really committed to it. Auditioning is already a different skill from acting, especially with auditioning by tape. You have to light yourself, do your own hair and makeup, and choose your own wardrobe. Also, you’re not getting any immediate feedback from the casting director and I have to say that I do miss that because when you read for something, they’ll tell you if it’s not what they’re looking for and give you something else to try. It’s nice to have that back and forth in the room but obviously, you can’t do that now, so the trick for me was to lay nice colors out and give a full palette.” Which led to success. “I guess I did an all right job because they booked me from the tape I submitted,” she smiles.

Sparks describes Dr. Cavett as “direct but kind. I play her as doing the best she can to help the situation, whether it’s being honest or encouraging. She’s very grounded and in a very understanding, compassionate way.’

Although Chelsea is immobile and unable to speak due to her stroke, Sparks reports that portrayer Melissa Claire Egan still fueled the scenes for her. “Initially, I was nervous about it, to be honest, because I was the only one who had these speeches,” Sparks explains. “After the first day, I told Missy that she helped me so much because I felt like we really connected. She shows so much emotion with even her eyes and that made me want to be really clear when we were communicating. The set goes away and the cameras go away because you’re focused on this one person who is relating back wonderfully. I have to say that the first day was really delightful.”

Sparks was equally impressed with Mark Grossman (Adam). “He’s fantastic,” she raves. “Mark has got an intensity that’s hard to explain but is really wonderful. I don’t know his work all that well but even the first time we rehearsed, he was like — boom! — right there, and I was like, ‘Dang, he’s a lot!’ which was great! The more that he gives, the more there is to work with.”

Aside from her new soap gig, Sparks recently wrapped two TV projects. “I’ve got a Lifetime film coming out that was first called A DEADLY BRIDENAPPING but I think they’ve changed the title to A BRIDE’S NIGHTMARE and I play the [mother of the bride]!” she enthuses. “I also did a series in Serbia, so I was in Belgrade for five weeks. It’s called KALJAVE GUME but the English version is MUD ON THE TIRES. It’s about a woman in Serbia who leaves her very domineering husband and visits her family in New York. She ends up falling for this guy who lives in Louisiana and I play his ex-wife, Jessie-Mae, a totally over-the-top, outrageous, backwoods, angry woman. It’s so much fun using a Southern accent because they just caress every word. There are no wasted syllables.”

For now, Dr. Cavett is a recurring role but Sparks says she would stick around for a longer stay. “There’s nothing else to say to that than, ‘Yes, I’m in!’ ” she declares. “I’d be happy for a very long run there. They’d have to kick me out the door.”