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ICYMI Elizabeth Hendrickson Interview

Y&R’s Elizabeth Hendrickson 
Looks Back On 15 Years 
In Genoa City

When Chloe Mitchell stormed Genoa City in 2008, portrayer Elizabeth Hendrickson was hoping the job would become much more substantial. “When I signed on, Chloe was created for just a specific storyline they were writing, so it was a short-term contract, maybe eight months,” recalls the actress. “I remember having this thought back then, ‘Well, you know, that’s what happened with ALL MY CHILDREN [where she played twin sisters Frankie and Maggie] and I stayed and it turned into something wonderful.’ So I did have in the back of my mind that [Y&R] could be more than just a few months, but my attitude was to see what it’s like to be back on a soap opera because it had been a few years.”

Although Y&R wasn’t her first soap, Hendrickson confesses, “I was incredibly nervous, but the minute I walked on the set, it was such a fun and welcoming environment that I started enjoying myself right away. I already felt confident in some ways but at the same time, I felt like I had a lot to prove. Still, I remember feeling so at home and that was in large part due to Jess [Walton, Jill], Christel [Khalil, Lily], Jeanne [Cooper, ex-Katherine] and Peter [Bergman, Jack]. I felt really taken care of.”

No matter how brief a tenure she was facing, Hendrickson decided to add her own pizzazz to Chloe, a professional model handler and stylist, hired to school Lily on modeling. “I learned through ALL MY CHILDREN that sometimes the writers need a little bit of inspiration,” she explains. “So, I would do things and make my own choices, like how my character walked. I felt she was more rough-and-tumble, so I didn’t want to wear high heels and I would request certain shoes because I wanted to feel like she was really grounded. I guess they liked some of the little things I sprinkled in because all of a sudden they started putting those in the scripts. Since Chloe didn’t come with a backstory, I decided to make her a very strong personality with a clear vision of what she wanted, [who] would act out if she didn’t get it. I made it that she had this chip on her shoulder but she still wanted friends and family because she never really had those before.”

Then-Head Writer Maria Arena Bell took notice and reshaped a character who would crave attention and respect: Kate Valentine, the daughter of longtime Chancellor maid, Esther. Kate spent most of her childhood off-camera in prestigious boarding schools paid for by the magnanimous Katherine, but Miss Valentine was continuously embarrassed over her lack of wealth and pedigree as compared to her classmates. That growing resentment was the inspiration to reinvent herself as Chloe Mitchell.

“Although it wasn’t the original plan, I immediately felt that Chloe was the right fit,” Hendrickson relays. “My agents were pushing me so hard to be the ingenue and the lead. I told them, ‘I’m not the lead, guys.’ I’m just not that sexy woman who comes on to seduce the men. That’s not me. I’m more like the scrappy, funny sister who shakes things up.”

Hendrickson felt more secure at work once she was connected to a core character. “When I was attached to a family, I knew I was there to stay,” she reflects. “Even better, I gained Kate Linder [Esther] as my mother. She was, of course, extremely ecstatic and so excited that they were telling the story of what her character had gone through years prior. Kate would tell me everything; she would give me the backstory, which was so helpful because it’s a lot easier when someone tells you what happened rather than you having to do your homework. Through the years, not only has she been an incredible co-star, but also a great friend. She cares so deeply about everyone on the show and she really does look at me like her own. I think it comes through in our work because there’s a mutual love for each other. Whenever we do get the opportunity to play that, it’s very easy and it also sometimes reminds me of the relationship I have with my own mother.”

Hendrickson was also overjoyed that Cooper became her on-air godmother, which meant sharing many scenes with the daytime legend. “What an incredible experience it was for me to be able to work with Jeanne,” Hendrickson shares. “It was the biggest privilege in the entire world to be called to her dressing room because she wasn’t just running lines with you, she was checking in with you. She was the pulse and the heart and the glue of our show. She especially cared about the young actors. She really wanted to make sure we were taken care of and that we were heard. She knew that we were the future of the show and she was very protective.”

Chloe would turn out to be quite the troublemaker, stalking Billy and coming in between Cane and Lily by claiming she was pregnant with his baby. For most actors, it’s fun to play bad but that wasn’t the case with Hendrickson. “At the time I really struggled with it,” she admits. “The first thing you’re not supposed to do is judge your character, and I had such a hard time with that. I really enjoyed working with Christel, Billy [Miller, ex-Billy] and Daniel [Goddard, ex-Cane] no matter how I felt about Chloe. I used to watch myself and decide what would work and what didn’t work, but then I learned that when you go against what’s meant to be played, it just doesn’t work. So I decided to lean into the crazy as much as I possibly could and then I felt that it benefited the show. Now, I really miss playing that Chloe.”

Hendrickson can point to two memorable occasions when Chloe significantly evolved and changed. “When she became a mother, she realized that she couldn’t be as careless because there were consequences. But I think another time she evolved was after the death of her child. She was still very young and naive, but it was hard for me to play all of that because I didn’t have a child of my own, so I didn’t know what that level of loss felt like. Now being a mother myself, you really grow daily and you realize what unconditional love is.”
At the time, Hendrickson didn’t know that her biggest story yet, the tragic death of Delia, was coming down the pike. “I wanted to take a couple months off and go to New York to a program for intensive theater training,” she recalls. “When I requested the time off, the answer was ‘No’ and I was so confused because no one told me that I had this massive storyline coming up. I auditioned [for the program] anyway and I didn’t get in! I really bombed at the audition, but then I got this incredible storyline. I probably learned more about acting with that storyline than I ever would have in the class I wanted to take.”

More meaty material would challenge Hendrickson when her character’s mental health took a big hit, and Chloe made several attempts to kill Adam, the man responsible for running over Delia, which landed her in a psychiatric hospital. Through it all, she got TLC from Kevin. “He was the man she was always seeking but was never able to find because she was looking in all the wrong places,” Hendrickson reasons. “Greg Rikaart [Kevin] has always been the best co-star that anyone could possibly have. He made it easy to play all of those things, and Kevin became the tried-and-true love of Chloe’s life. And I was now a part of the most incredible family.”

Which includes Kevin’s older brother, Michael, their mom, Gloria, and Michael’s wife, Lauren. “They were crazy, kooky and funny and clearly the family that Chloe was always meant to belong to,” asserts the actress. “When we come together to work, you better add 60 minutes to taping because we’re having too good of a time. I’m so lucky to have been part of two of the best families in daytime television: the Chancellors and the Fisher/Baldwins. It’s almost like being in the best drama and the best comedy.”

Hendrickson also appreciates the off-camera support she’s received through the years. “I learned early on from ALL MY CHILDREN that we really do owe everything to the fans,” she smiles. “They are so invested; sometimes they hate you, sometimes they love you, but they really stick by your side through thick and thin. Y&R has been on the air for 50 years and counting and I will never, ever take any of that for granted. I’m always so incredibly thankful for our fans. I’ve been in soaps for 20 years and besides my own business, I haven’t had another job. It’s not easy when people tell you that acting is not a way to survive and you can’t do it, but you know in your heart that you can. It’s the cheesiest thing, but follow your dreams because they do come true.”

Hendrickson’s two closest scene 
partners shared their good wishes.

Kate Linder (Esther): “How fortunate I am that when the show decided to bring my daughter back, they decided that Elizabeth would be the perfect person to play her. Boy, were they right. Happy 15th anniversary, Lizzie! I am so grateful for your talent and kindness. Looking forward to many more years together.”

Greg Rikaart (Kevin; Leo, DAYS): “Huge congrats to the lovely and amazing Elizabeth Hendrickson on 15 years as Chloe Mitchell or Fisher (I honestly don’t know what her last name is). Her longevity speaks to her immeasurable talent and the charisma that she brings to her role. Getting to play opposite Liz all these years is such a gift that I’m so grateful for as well as the off-camera friendship our work together helped usher. My gosh, being Liz’s scene partner is always so ridiculously fun and rewarding, and I really hope we are still playing together 15 years from now. Congrats again, Liz. I adore you!”

Just The Facts:

Birthday: July 3

Place Of Birth: New York City, but raised in Northport, NY

Relationship Status: Married to Rob Meder since June 29, 2019. Their daughter, Josephine, arrived on March 27, 2020.

Four & Score: As Chloe, she was nominated for the Outstanding Supporting Actress Daytime Emmy in 2012, 2014, 2015 and 2018.

Making It: She’s co-owner of Ellie and Sass, a successful multipurpose salon located in Venice, CA. “We’re so lucky that we’re not only thriving but we recently expanded.”

Otherwise Known As: 
ALL MY CHILDREN’s Frankie Stone (2001) and Maggie Stone (2002-05; 2007) and GH’s Margaux Dawson (2018-19).

The Play’s The Thing: She met Greg Rikaart (Kevin; Leo, DAYS) before joining Y&R. “I did a play and Greg was in it. Barbara Bloom, who was [Senior VP] of CBS Daytime at the time, was at the show, saw me perform and brought me in for a general meeting. And that’s how I got on Y&R.”

First Day In Genoa City: February 6, 2008

Free Agent: Now on recurring status with Y&R, Hendrickson plans to audition for other projects after the current writers’ strike is settled.