Jennifer Gareis Is Thrilled That She Can Go Home Again To B&B
Despite having over two decades of soap experience, Jennifer Gareis admits she had a few butterflies when she recently returned to B&B as a contract player. “The last few times I was here, it was just for a few episodes,” she explains. “I was feeling nervous. I thought, ‘Wait, how do I do this again?’ because I was feeling like I might be rusty. But after about the third day of being back and working with John [McCook, Eric] and all the regulars, I felt like I never left. I got back into the rhythm of it. It felt very natural and everything just felt really good.”
Gareis says that the timing of her move back to the front burner couldn’t have been better. “Until now, working just a few days here and there was perfect,” she relays. “I honestly was not interested in going back to work because taking care of the kids and volunteering at school was my full-time job. My friends have been asking me for the past couple of years, ‘When are you going back to work? When are you going to start auditioning again?’ and I kept saying, ‘One more year,’ but I just couldn’t pull myself away from them. These are such wonderful ages for parents and finally, Sophia went to kindergarten.”
In the months leading up to the official invite, Gareis admits she was hoping her visits would turn into something more permanent. “The last time I was back [for Hope and Liam’s second wedding in September], they added the flashback of Donna remembering her days with Eric and I thought, ‘Uh-oh. Something is going on,’ ” she grins. “So I was wishful thinking, but I was not counting my chickens before they hatched.”
Maybe that’s because Gareis, who relocated to Los Angeles from Lancaster, PA, after college, never thought she would make Tinseltown her home. “Geez, when I came out here, it was like a temporary situation,” she recalls. “I actually had rental furniture, I had a rent-a–car, an apartment for rent, I was not really expecting to stay. In fact, I called the apartment manager to say that I was going to go back to New York, so go ahead and rent out my apartment next month, and then the very next day, [Y&R Co-Creator] Bill Bell gave me my job on YOUNG AND RESTLESS and it was like, ‘Well, okay, I take it back, it looks like I’ll be staying for at least a few years now. Oh, boy, now I’ve got to make some friends.’ I didn’t know anybody, not one person, but Sharon Case [Sharon, Y&R] and Heather Tom [ex-Victoria; Katie, B&B] were so amazing to me when I first started. They just brought me in and made me feel so comfortable. I had immediate friends on that show, it was great.”
She still counts the duo as pals today, and she and Case have formed lasting bonds with Tamara Clatterbuck (ex-Alice, Y&R) and Lauren Woodland (ex-Brittany, Y&R). “I guess we’ve all gone through so many different changes in the last two decades together, yet we’ve put everything else aside and just stayed true friends,” she reflects. “All the highs and lows and ups and downs of fame and fortune and whatever, we don’t judge each other on any of that, which is what true friends do, they don’t judge. We’re friends to the core, we love each other unconditionally, through thick and thin, and that’s so special, especially with girls in L.A. I feel like sometimes girls can be very competitive and I’m just not that type at all, and it’s the same for the other girls. I think I’m really lucky to have been on two Bell shows because they really hand-pick their group, especially my experience with Brad [Bell, executive producer/head writer] in the more recent years at B&B. If you’re not down-to-earth and chill, cool and professional, you’re just not going to stay.”
Plus, Gareis says she’s never let her chosen profession define her. “I’ve done acting for a lot of years, even before L.A.,” she notes. “I did commercials and modeling and a little bit of acting in New York, but it’s not who I am. It happens to be what I do for a living. During the time I took a break to raise the kids, every once in a while, somebody was like, ‘Aren’t you from…’ ‘Yeah, that was me,’ and I actually forgot that I did it for a living because it’s not the core of who I am. I like doing it, but then I come home and I don’t do it.”
However, should Sophia or Gavin choose that path, Gareis is fine with it. “I’m a firm believer that my kids should be who they want to be and do what they want to do, so if they expressed an interest, I guess I would have to let them do it,” she shrugs. “But, I would insist they still get their education, just like my parents insisted. My parents said to me, ‘Get your degree, graduate from college and then you can do anything you want.’ When I finished my MBA, it took me four years to do it because I was working on B&B at the time, but I still did it.”
And maintained a positive outlook on life in the process. “My dad always used to say to me, ‘What’s your five-year goal?’ and I would say to him, ‘I want to be happy.’ He’d say, ‘What does that mean?’ and I said, ‘I don’t know, Dad, just to be happy,’ ” she shares. “Now, it’s not just me. I want to be happy myself, but my own little family to be happy, as well. I want my kids to be fulfilled and happy and loved unconditionally — that’s really it. Being back on the show makes me feel really good. I don’t want to go anywhere else. It fulfills me. I feel so blessed that I have two happy, healthy kids, a wonderful husband and now, a career again. Check back with me in another five years!”
Just The Facts
Birthday: August 1
Hails From: Lancaster, PA
Middle name: Lynn
Family Circle: Wed businessman Bobby Ghassemieh on March 7, 2010. Son Gavin is 8 and daughter Sophia is 6.
Like Mother, Like Daughter: “Sometimes I look at Sophia and I think I’m looking at a picture of myself from when I was six.”
CB-Yes: Before joining B&B in 2006, Gareis played Y&R’s Grace.
Stripped Down: Gareis got in shape for her B&B comeback. “Of course, Donna would make her first appearance back in lingerie. Thank goodness somebody clued me into the fact that I was going to be in lingerie, so I worked out, did my hair, had my pedicure/manicure/spray tan and ate really clean and healthy for about a week before I did that, and that really made a difference.”
BOLD Thoughts: “I love my Logan girls. Alley [Mills, Pam] could always find the comedy, even in the heaviest of scenes. And of course, there’s Eric [John McCook]. Even as Jennifer, whenever I think of the relationship between Donna and Eric, it brings tears to my eyes because they were just so in love. They really were.”
Did You Know?
• She played Arnold Schwarzenegger’s virtual girlfriend in the 2000 film The 6th Day.
• Was an accounting major at Franklin & Marshall College.
• Held the titles of Miss New York and Miss Hawaiian Tropic.
• As a sophomore, she placed fifth in the 100 butterfly, eighth in the 200 freestyle relay and also placed eighth in the 100 butterfly as a junior at the NCAA Swimming Championships.
Ex Marks The Spot
n Gareis and businessman Bobby Ghassemieh celebrated eight years of marriage in May, thanks to one of her ex boyfriends. “We actually met through Dax Griffin [ex-Shane, B&B; ex-Tim, SUNSET BEACH et al],” Gareis reports. “Dax and I had been broken up a few years and we were still friends and hanging out, totally platonic, and then his friend Bobby went out, totally platonic, with one of his exes, and we all would go out together and just have a really good time. And then all of a sudden, I was like, ‘Oh, crap, I like Bobby. What am I going to do?’ Now, mind you, years had passed since Dax and I were together and Dax was coming to me for advice about his girlfriends; we were totally beyond anything. So I basically was like, ‘Dax, can I go out with Bobby? Can I go out with your friend? Is this okay?’ and he gave us his blessing. Isn’t that weird [laughs]? But when Dax comes into town, we’ll all still hang out. It’s chill. He’s not jealous and I’m not jealous, even in the slightest, so it works.”