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ICYMI Cady McClain Interview

“It’s so wild,” begins Cady McClain (Jennifer) of the path that led to her new Salem adventure. “This totally came out of the blue. I was delightfully surprised.”

McClain was tapped in late summer to temporarily replace Melissa Reeves, who opted not to return to the show as Jennifer when DAYS resumed production in September. “I live 15 minutes away from the studio,” McClain notes. “Jon [Lindstrom, Kevin/Ryan, GH, her husband] and I don’t have kids, but we do have our little dogs, Jon is working on GH, so we already know how protocol and shooting on a set with Covid works, and how to run our lives, so it was really easy to say yes. Obviously, the show is wonderful and the character is iconic.”

After years of shifting her focus to directing, and months in quarantine, McClain had some thoughts after agreeing to the gig. “I haven’t been focusing on acting in particular so it was a big, kind of like, ‘Oh, act? In television? Oh, my God — I’ve got Covid cookie butt! Wait a minute, just give me a minute while I pick my face off the floor.’ I hadn’t done my roots in six months,” she muses. “So it was getting your hair done outside on a patio with a mask on. It’s been a trip.”

Though she’s not a new face to daytime, having played the super-popular Dixie on ALL MY CHILDREN and Rosanna on AS THE WORLD TURNS, DAYS was new to her. “The show is, of course, lovely, and the people are wonderful and so kind,” she raves. “I love that the focus is all about family and family relationships. I feel blessed that I’ve been given this opportunity to come and entertain people during a time where everyone is just so stressed out. I know I’m a familiar face to the ALL MY CHILDREN and WORLD TURNS fans, so I’m stepping in to be a combination of a familiar face on a show that’s full of love and family and caring for one another, and I’m grateful. It’s something that I can give, it’s a skill that I have, to act and entertain, so I’m really grateful that it can be of use.”

The set wasn’t completely unfamiliar to McClain — she shadowed one of its directors last year — so, she happily reports, “At least I had a vague idea of which hallway to walk down and how the set was laid out a little bit. I remember my first day — this is going to sound really corny — but it was honestly one of the best days of my life. Because it was all so unexpected. Sometimes the business is really tough, and I have thought that I might not act again, so to be treated with such value and warmth and kindness and support by the production team was just so unexpected. I got to work with Deidre [Hall, Marlena] and Drake [Hogestyn, John] and Matt [Ashford, Jack], and oh, my God, I laughed when I got on set. I laughed so hard. They were just so funny and so great and so warm and so kind. It was just one of the best days. I can’t speak for anyone else, but I’m so grateful to be back at work, to have some sense of normalcy. This is what we used to do all the time and I don’t take it for granted at all. What a blessing to work. What a blessing to be on set. What a blessing to be working with people that are fun to work with. I’ll never forget it. It was fantastic.”

McClain did extensive prep work to take on the role of the Horton heroine, who first debuted in 1985. “I watched everything I could get my hands on,” she shares. “I was reading character histories for every character, all the Wiki everything. It’s a huge show and you gotta know the families. Missy has been on the show since she was a kid and I wanted to see what she had done and how she had developed it, and Jack and Jennifer and what their relationship was, which was wild! And I’m sure I don’t know everything. At a certain point, your brain is spinning: ‘What happened!? He faked his death? What?’ I had to really think about, ‘How am I going to do this?’ I decided that I can’t pretend or try to act and be Missy because she’s her own magical, beautiful, creative self, who brought the character of Jennifer to life over a long period of time, and if I tried to be like her, it would feel weird and inauthentic and wouldn’t work somehow. So I just studied the character of Jennifer, and I thought, ‘I can bring myself to Jennifer and put my spin on that,’ so that’s what I’ve been trying to do.”

She hopes the fans will welcome her, even though she knows she’s taking over a role that means a lot to them. “I have been hated before so it wouldn’t be the first time,” she laughs. “I get it. I understand. Listen, how would I feel if somebody was going to be stepping in and doing Dixie with Dixie and Tad? Even just from a fan’s point of view, I would be like, ‘What? She’s who?’ But I felt that there’s some sort of extenuating circumstances here and those extenuating circumstances are what they are and I hope that the fans will feel that at least Jack and Jennifer are there for them to enjoy in some capacity. And during this difficult time, I hope that that will be like a soothing balm. It may be a different face, but we’re here for you.”