Getting To Know Jay Wilkison (Riley, OLTL)

Soap Opera Weekly: How did this role come about?
Jay Wilkison: Riley was only supposed to be on eight episodes. Frank Valentini (executive producer) seemed very encouraging after the first day. I think it was after the fourth or fifth day they offered me this contract and really made my year. It was really exciting. I’m very grateful and very lucky.Weekly: Did they tell you anything about the character or did they make it up as they went along?
Wilkison: I don’t think they even knew really. For some reason, they liked me and I think it just kind of went from there. I’m glad at the way it’s gone, slow and steady. And now more stories are coming along, which is nice.Weekly: Did you have a screen test?
Wilkison: No, I guess I was very lucky. My screen tests were my taping days. I’ve gotten to watch a couple of screen tests and I was like,”Thank goodness I did not have to do that.”Weekly: When did you find out that Daniel was Riley’s dad?
Wilkison: Frank actually mentioned it during a commercial break at the Emmys; he had told me and said, “Don’t tell anybody” of course. It was great. I was really excited at that point, because that means I had something else on the show. Then when I met Mark [Dobies], who plays Daniel, I was so excited because he was such a great guy and we hit it off so well.Weekly: Do they have a dressing room for you yet?
Wilkison: Yes, I’m in with Timothy Stickney (RJ). It’s cool, because we get along so well. We both like video games and we both went to the same acting school [the Academy of American Dramatic Arts]. He’s such a great person and he makes you feel relaxed just being around him.Weekly: Obviously music is a big part of Riley’s life. Do you have a musical background?
Wilkison: I actually have done a lot of musical stuff. Right before I started ONE LIFE TO LIVE, I did the national tour of Rent for a year. I’ve been singing for a while and I’d like to continue.Weekly: Do you play the guitar, too? Was that part of the audition?
Wilkison: I do play. I actually didn’t have to play in the audition, but they did ask my agent if I could play well enough to play for someone while they were singing, so it was part of it. So I’m glad I picked it up.Weekly: And now you get to sing on the show, too.
Wilkison: Yeah. Hopefully, they’ll be some more singing, which will be nice.Weekly: Was it fun doing Rent?
Wilkison: It was an amazing experience. I wouldn’t have traded it for the world.Weekly: Have you had any other soap experience?
Wilkison: I did a small under-five on ALL MY CHILDREN. I was “the guy in the bar.” I had like four or five lines. It was when Kelly Ripa‘s character (Hayley) thought she was her mom, something was going on like that. And I was just being asked questions by a private investigator.Weekly: Was moving to New York an adjustment from Nashville?
Wilkison: It was. But Nashville is such a cool town and it’s grown so much that it wasn’t necessarily a shock as it was a difference in pace. I’m a lot more relaxed in New York than I was when I first got up here [five years ago].Weekly: Are you and Shanelle Workman (Flash) friends in real life?
Wilkison: Oh, yeah, sure. Pretty much everybody on the show. And I’m good friends with Shanelle’s boyfriend Mark. I play golf a lot with J.P., John Paul (Lavoisier, Rex). And I have a big circle of friends outside the show, as well.Weekly: Do you have a girlfriend?
Wilkison: Not at the moment. I just live here with my dogs — two English bulldogs, Joe and Patch.

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