It’s 7:30 on a Saturday morning, and like countless teens across America, Eden McCoy is being shuttled by a parent to an athletic event (in her case, a tournament for beach volleyball; she started playing indoors at the age of 11, made the switch to the outdoors as a 13-year-old, and currently ranks No. 6 in her age group in the state of California). Of course, it wouldn’t be quite accurate to describe her as a typical 14-year-old, because she’s also a working actress — and at precisely the appointed time, she calls in to Digest to do her first feature interview since taking over the role of Josslyn Jacks, Carly and Jax’s headstrong daughter, two years ago this month.
The only daughter of a California couple “not in the entertainment business whatsoever,” McCoy discovered her own yen for performing somewhat by accident.
“I was a really shy kid, according to my parents,” she explains. “My school was really keen on public speaking, and I never really wanted to perform or do any of that stuff, so my mom and dad signed me up for a theater camp. We put on a play at the end of the camp, and agencies came to scout for kids. An agent reached out to me, and I really liked the camp and wanted to keep performing, so my parents said, ‘Well, if you play sports and get good grades, I don’t see why not.’ So we signed with an agency and I started auditioning.”
She was 8 years old at the time (“that was a really long time ago”), and has been steadily accruing on camera experience ever since. “I started out with light stuff, like commercials, and then eventually it got to guest-starring on Nickelodeon and Disney shows, and then I auditioned for GENERAL HOSPITAL,” she summarizes.
While soaps weren’t especially on her radar (“I didn’t watch them, but I knew that they were about, you know, that crazy drama”), they were on her mom’s. “When I got the audition, she was super-excited because she loves the show and she’s such a fan,” chuckles McCoy. She nailed her tryout scene and a subsequent read for producers and quickly learned that the role of Joss was hers. “I remember getting picked up from school and my mom telling me when I got in the car, and I was ecstatic. It was crazy. I was, like, screaming and crying.”
She made her debut on the occasion of Sonny and Carly’s wedding in the hospital chapel. She recalls it as a nerves-filled day. “The entire production staff and cast were all under stress and everybody was super-anxious because it was this huge day. I was not familiar with the set and the people and what was going on; I had never actually met any of the cast when I came in.” On-screen mom Laura Wright (Carly) proved to be a calming influence. “Laura’s just beautiful and talented and kind and smart and she was really nurturing at first when I needed somebody, because I really had all of my scenes with her,” McCoy praises. As she eased her way into the show, “I would just have scenes with her of us eating lunch and little stuff, nothing dramatic yet, because, you know, I was 12. But she was just amazing. She treated me the way a mom probably would in that situation.”
Mother/daughter lunches gradually gave way to more intense material, and McCoy so impressed higher-ups with her handling of the emotional scenes surrounding Morgan’s death that this past summer, the show gave her a storyline of her own, the budding romance of Josslyn and Oscar. “It’s an honor!” she beams. “It’s insane to even think about.” She learned it was coming down the pike, she reports, “one day when I was working on set, and [Casting Director] Mark Teschner came down to the stage and pulled me aside and talked to me about hiring somebody for me. It was kind of a rumor that was going around, but I chose not to believe it because I didn’t want to get my hopes up until I had, you know, actual knowledge. He told me, ‘We’re looking for somebody for you.’ I was like, ‘Oh, like, a friend? Or, like, a boyfriend?’ He said, ‘A dude, yeah. We’re looking at some guys for you.’ I was just so excited because I had not had anybody my age on the show, ever, and it’s unique to be kind of the only teenaged storyline right now. I’ve been wanting that opportunity for so long, and it shows that they have faith in the character.”
And, of course, in the actress, who according to on-screen grandma Jacklyn Zeman (Bobbie), is so all-around “wonderful” that she merits comparison to another star who was likewise ensconced at GH at the age of 14. “She’s like a young Genie Francis [Laura],” says Zeman. “She’s so mature, she always comes in perfect — hits her mark, never forgets her lines. You can depend on her in a scene. She steps up. Working with her is a great joy.”
To hear McCoy tell it, the secret to her success at the show is no secret at all. “You just have to remind yourself that this is a job and it’s a privilege for you to be there, not the opposite. You have to just respect the fact that so many other people’s jobs rely on you and rely on your job and you have to be professional. I really don’t see any other way to put it — and I don’t know how you can be anything else.”
She may be super-professional, but she’s also human, a teenaged one at that, and she acknowledges that juggling work, school and sports isn’t always a piece of cake. “It’s very stressful,” she offers. “I mean, my school is really demanding. I love it, though — I love learning, I always have, and I don’t want to give up the real school experience. And I think it’s super-important to play a sport when you can in your free time. My sport, volleyball, is also really demanding and obviously, having a job in the business is really demanding because it’s a job, so all of those things together [can be stressful]. But they all serve me different purposes, and I would rather have all of them than just be bored at home, even if it’s stressful at times to kind of keep up at school.”
As for what her future holds, McCoy enthuses, “I want to go to college; my top choices would be USC or UCLA because I want to stay in-state to work if that’s something I’m still pursuing by the time college comes around, which is the plan. I definitely see acting as my career, and I want to keep doing it as long as possible.” The same goes for GH. “Absolutely!” she nods. “I would stay as long as they would want.”
Eden McCoy had Rio Mangini as a GH love interest for a whopping two shows before he was cast in another project, and the role of Oscar was swiftly recast with Garren Stitt. “Luckily, the old Oscar and I had only worked together for two days, so it wasn’t like having this huge relationship and then, bam, he’s gone!” McCoy muses. “It was good that it happened really early, but it was sad at first, obviously, because I loved the actor.” Happily, she forged an easy bond with his replacement. “Garren and I have done a lot more episodes and have talked about a lot more things, so now I’m comfortable with him completely, and being friends adds to our chemistry. It also makes it easier on set, beccause it’s an uncomfortable situation, having these awkward little sort of romantic moments that 17 people are watching! The switch was really weird, but it happened super-quickly and I didn’t really have much time to think about it at all. I just had to carry on with it.”
DID YOU KNOW?
• The actress’s first professional gig was a Wells Fargo commercial, “but my first really big commercial was for Valpak coupons. I remember because my dad took me to that shoot and he sat around, like, all day, and he hated it so much. He was like, ‘Why do you do this? What is the appeal here?’ It was really funny.”
• McCoy had a semi-traumatizing experience when she turned on the studio feed in her dressing room, only to witness on-screen brother Chad Duell (Michael) and Chloe Lanier (Nelle) shooting their first love scene. “I was like, ‘Oh, my God! Oh, no!’ It was bad [laughs]. It was super-weird to watch.”
Just The Facts
Birthday: June 10
Born And Bred: Los Angeles native McCoy grew up in Manhattan Beach, CA, but her family recently moved to a more urban neighborhood. “Instead of looking outside and seeing the beach, I look outside and see the city, but I love it. It’s really close to my school, and it’s, like, six minutes away from the [GH] studio.”
Watch List: “My mom and I are bingeing IT’S ALWAYS SUNNY IN PHILADELPHIA, which is one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen. I also watch GOSSIP GIRL and PRETTY LITTLE LIARS and 30 ROCK and I really like UNBREAKABLE KIMMY SCHMIDT.”
Household Duties: “Clean my room, clean my room, clean my room.”
The Life Aquatic: “I have a pet fish named Chip.”
Hitting The Books: Honors history and biology are the two classes she’s most looking forward to this year.
Tune Up: Her musical taste ranges from Frank Sinatra (“My dad and grandpa were really into him, and I find him relaxing”) to old-school rap. “N.W.A and The Notorious B.I.G., that was kind of my favorite era of hip-hop.”