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Hayley Erin On Her Return To Y&R

Hayley Erin, who began her soap career playing Abby from 2018-10, and went on to win a Daytime Emmy for her run as GH’s Kiki (2015-18, 2019), will be back in Genoa City beginning this October in a new role: Newman Media employee Claire Grace. “It’s like the greatest surprise ever,” says Erin of her return trip to Y&R. “Especially in the middle of the [writers’ and actors’] strikes! Like, how did I get so lucky?”

The actress was in Ireland, where she now resides with her husband, actor Adam Fergus, and their two-year-old daughters, Maude and Juno, when she learned of the opportunity. She explains, “Basically, during Covid, we picked up and moved overseas — accidentally, kind of. My husband was doing a show in Norway and he’s Irish, so we were going to just spend eight months in Ireland so I could get to know his family and friends really well. But while we were over there, I got pregnant with twins, and once we had the girls, it was kind of like, ‘Well, what are we going to do, move back with newborns?’ Circumstances just kept us there and I fell in love with the place and I was so happy to be there with my little babies and my husband, so it just kind of made sense [to stay].”

While her parents were in Ireland for a visit, Erin reports, “I got an email from my manager asking if I would be interested in a role on Y&R. I was like, ‘Heck, yeah!’ I wound up reading for the role of Claire, then I found out on a Friday that I had gotten the role and by the following Sunday, I was on an airplane! I started that Thursday, so it was all a very quick turnaround. It was great that my parents were there because we had a couple of extra hands!”

Even though her original Y&R role isn’t available, as Melissa Ordway has played Abby since 2013, Erin never said never when it came to the idea of rejoining the cast. “I love the rules, or lack of rules, in the soap opera universe,” she grins. “I had never expected to come back, and I didn’t think it would happen, but I had hoped! I always thought, ‘Maybe they’d let me.’ And I’m really happy that the soap opera universe is so fluid and these kinds of things can happen.”

Not only is she playing a different person, but Erin herself has undergone enormous changes since she was last on the show. “I was a kid,” she points out. “I was 14 when I started and 15 when I left. I was there for my freshman and sophomore years of high school. That was half my lifetime ago! And what’s so amazing about my relationship with the soap world is that it always seems to come around for me in times of change and growth in my life. The first time I was on the show, I was so young and I’d really only done comedy before, so walking into Y&R was really intimidating to me and challenging in so many ways. I wasn’t prepared for the emotional nature of the material. When I went to GENERAL HOSPITAL, I was a young woman and I felt able to enter that situation with a bit more maturity and professionalism, and I was excited to take on the challenge of the material. And now, coming back to Y&R in this new phase of my life, I’m so excited to really use the life experience that I’ve garnered in the last 15 years to create a really dynamic and interesting character. I’m not gonna lie: I think I might have manifested this role for myself, because I think I’ve matured and grown as a person and I feel ready to meet the challenge of stepping back into this world.”

It’s been a soft landing for Erin, not only because she already knows the physical lay of the land at the Y&R studio, but because she has good friends who work there, including former GH co-stars Brytni Sarpy (Elena; ex-Valerie, GH) and Michelle Stafford (Phyllis; ex-Nina, GH), and one of her real-life besties, Camryn Grimes (Mariah). “She was the first person I told when I got the email [about the gig],” Erin says. “I was like, ‘Oh, my God, how much fun would this be?’ It’s so cool because she came out and visited me when I was pregnant and was at my baby shower, and now she’s pregnant! She had texted me to say, ‘Hey, I’m about to send out my baby shower invites. I know you won’t be able to make it, but I wanted to still send you the invite just in case,’ and I was like, ‘I’m so, so sad to miss it,’ and then literally, within a week, this happened! I was like, ‘Wow, I’m actually going to get to be there!’ I’m very grateful. I feel so fortunate that in the midst of all these strikes, I’m one of the few people to actually gain employment, and I get to work on a show where I have close friends welcoming me back into this family.”

Erin is equally thrilled with her new character. “What I love about Claire is that she is a fantastic businesswoman, which is something so different than what I’ve gotten to play before,” she enthuses. “She’s smart and driven — and a lot more put together than I am! My dad saw a picture of me as Claire and said, ‘That really doesn’t look like you!’ I said, ‘Well, that’s because I look professional — not a band T-shirt in sight [laughs]!’ ”