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Exclusive! Ashley Puzemis On Joining DAYS As Holly

Stepping onto the DAYS set to take on the role of Holly Jonas was a mixed blend of newness and familiarity for Ashley Puzemis. Although she knew relatively nothing about the soap — “My household mostly consisted of THE YOUNG AND THE RESTLESS and THE BOLD AND THE BEAUTIFUL, which my mom would watch,” she reveals — she had already had a gig at the show’s Burbank studios.

“I worked on a show called DANGER FORCE on Nickelodeon, and it films on the same lot that DAYS does,” says Puzemis. “So when I went to set for DAYS, I was familiar with how the dressing rooms would look, how the parking is, how security is, how to get into the lot… When I filmed that series, I didn’t know a few months later that I’d be booking a recurring role on a show just right around the corner.”

That familiarity turned out to be a blessing. “I wasn’t nervous my first day,” insists Puzemis. “I was like, I know what this looks like on the inside; I was just filming down the road here.’ It was after I actually filmed that the nerves started coming in. Then I was like, ‘That’s it? We’re done? Okay. I guess day two is the same, and now I’m nervous because I know I only get one take, it’s really fast-paced, and I don’t know the other actors.’ But by the end of the week, being around Carson [Boatman, Johnny], Raven [Bowens, Chanel] and Jamie [Martin Mann, Tate], who were the first three I filmed with, the nerves were kind of settling down.”

Puzemis, who landed the role after a self-tape audition and a few chemistry reads with the actors testing for Tate — none of which included Mann — learned she booked the gig on April 8. “I was very excited, and it was the day before my birthday,” she shares. “What an awesome birthday gift. So it was like an early celebration, and I started working the next week.”

Although she hopped on a call with DAYS’s casting director, Marnie Saitta, and Mann before that, Puzemis didn’t actually meet Mann in person until their first day on set. The two newcomers quickly bonded, both appreciating that they were going through the experience together. “Neither of us obviously knew any of the other actors or crew members,” notes Puzemis. “It was good to have somebody to be like, ‘Oh, my gosh, I’m learning.’ And he’d be like, ‘Me too.’ We were both doing it together.”

Puzemis’s initial DAYS scenes, however, were with Boatman. “Carson is so lovely … just so kind, warm and welcoming,” she praises. “He’s been so great to work with. It’s funny, because my character is smitten by him and charmed. Obviously, it’s like a little girl crush. It’s really easy to have that with him. Our chemistry is great.”

While Puzemis has nothing but rave reviews for her two aforementioned leading men, she notes that Arianne Zucker (Nicole) “has been my favorite person on set, just helping me and showing me the ropes. I love Ari. I think I actually became more confident on set when we finally started having scenes together. She was so inviting, and she’s an incredible actress. It’s not hard to just follow her and learn from her. I just want to study her all day. She also told me, ‘If you have any questions, if you need any help, come to me. If you want to run lines come knock on my door.’ It was awesome to know I had her there, especially since she’s playing my mom. It’s like we can build a relationship that is like a mother-daughter relationship. I feel like she always tells me, ‘You look like my daughter in real life. There’s little mannerisms you have.’ That’s a great reassurance to have that I’m in the right role.”

Zucker’s also filled Puzemis in on Nicole’s past. “It’s been fun for her to tell me about the show and her role specifically, because I’m basically a younger version of her,” points out Puzemis, who describes the suddenly grown-up Holly as “kind of a wild card. She’s young. She’s naive. She’s spunky. She’s outgoing and confident. She thinks she’s sexy. She’s also kindhearted. Her upbringing certainly wasn’t perfect in any means, but I think it was filled with a lot of love from Nicole and Eric and all the people around her. But she’s also Nicole’s daughter. You never know what to expect from her. She’s drawn to danger and excitement.”

Puzemis thinks there are some similarities between her and her new daytime alter ego. “When I was her age in high school, I was the same,” she admits. “I had confidence. I thought that if I wanted a boy, I was going to get a boy for whatever reason. I don’t know what gave me that confidence, but somehow I would have it. Holly is young, and when you’re young you think you know everything in the world, where in reality you don’t. I can relate a lot to her and the choices she makes on the show.”

As for her biggest challenges acclimating to daytime life so far, Puzemis cites “all the storylines that Holly has been given so far. We’ve filmed a lot within these short few months. It’s a lot of material, and some days we’re doing two or three episodes in one day. So that’s been a challenge, And, at first, I was a little intimidated that I was one of the new actresses, since everybody else has been on the show for years. But I’m comfortable with that now.”

And Puzemis is thoroughly loving her new job. “What I’m enjoying most is just learning from the actors, honestly,” she smiles. “When I do any scenes with Ari, I want soak up everything she does in her performance, because she’s incredible. Since I get to work with a lot of different actors, I’m learning from all of them: watching their experience on set and seeing how they shape their characters. I also like that everyone feels like family at DAYS. So I’m excited to go to work every day, see everyone and spend time with them.”