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ICYMI Nicholas Chavez and Tabyana Ali Interview

Soap Opera Digest: Let’s go back to the beginning of your association. What do you remember about your first meeting and first impressions of one another?

Nicholas Chavez: I was terrified of Tabyana.

Tabyana Ali: Yeah, right. I remember Nick being so charming and very welcoming. He came to my dressing room and he’s like, “Hey, I’m Nick, what’s going on? How are you? Are you having a good time being here? How are you feeling?” He got very comfortable. He sat down in a chair and we started talking and I was like, “Oh, he’s nice.” But apparently, I scared him.

Digest: Yeah, what gives, Nick?

Chavez: Pretty girls are scary, what do you want me to say? They can be very intimidating at times. I was just doing my best to look like I was comfortable in that situation. That’s why I sat in the chair.

Digest: Nick, you had obviously started to build the Trina/Spencer relationship with Tabyana’s predecessor, Sydney Mikayla. Were you nervous at all about continuing the relationship with a recast, or did you feel confident that it would work?

Chavez: Well, I felt confident in [Casting Director] Mark Teschner’s ability to make an amazing choice, which is exactly what he did. I knew that there would be something there, but I didn’t know what my way in would be because I hadn’t met her yet. I feel like if you can’t find at least one thing to love about any person you meet, then you probably have to evaluate yourself. And I could find many things that I loved about Tabyana that made finding my way into our romantic relationship on screen a breeze.

Digest: Once you started spending more time together, what were the first things that jumped out to you about Nick, Tabyana?

Ali: First of all, his work ethic and his ability to be attuned to detail. I admire that a lot. I say this often, but how focused he is — when he’s in his mode, he’s really in his mode — and I really appreciate that about him. And Nick has a very good fashion sense — it’s like cool boy. I used to think it was like posh boy, but now, as I’ve gotten to know Nick, it’s really cool boy, laid-back, leather jacket, jeans. And the Canadian suit — I’ve learned what that means. He has a cute Canadian suit.

Chavez: She means the Canadian tuxedo, which is where you’re wearing all-jean everything, so you’ve got the jean jacket with the jean pants. Ideally, you’d have some jean socks on — no, I’m just kidding.

Ali: He wore something really cute yesterday and I was like, “Oh, that’s nice. I like that little black shirt, black pants, a little button-down.”

Chavez: My thing about Tabyana is that she has incredible taste in music, and I know this because any time I’m playing a song, Tabyana is like, “What is this? Send this to me!” So we must have similar taste [laughs].

Digest: A few months ago, Spencer and Trina had their long-awaited first kiss. I know you worked on those scenes in advance to ensure that it was properly magical.

Chavez: We had several rehearsals in Burbank, in Tabyana’s mom’s friend’s hotel room. Only Tabyana knows why we were there! I just sort of, like, showed up and was along for the ride. I was like, “This is weird, but okay!”

Ali: I was surprised you even said yes!

Chavez: The primary reason that I wanted to rehearse wasn’t even for the kiss, actually, it was for how the kiss was contextualized, because it was coming on the heels of Trina learning [that Curtis might be her biological father and Portia had kept it a secret]. I was like, “Okay, we’re not going from A to B, we’re going all the way from A to Z! How do we make the emotional gymnastics of that work? How do we make this feel plausible to the audience?” We really wanted to work through the beats and talk through what we were feeling in each moment. I asked her, “What would help you in terms of feeling like you could open up to me?” The emotional beats were most important, and I just sort of trusted that whatever physical intimacy resulted from that would be the natural response from all the work we’d done prior 
to it.

Ali: Yeah, I was so glad that Nick wanted to break the script down in that way. It really helped me a lot going into it because like he said, it was a question of, “How do we swing from the moment that Trina was just in with Portia to this moment where we’re being intimate, and not make it seem like we’re being intimate because of what just happened with her parents?” We wanted to make it more like, “We’re in this together and we’re sharing this moment. We’re healing together.”

Digest: Well, I think you’d be hard-pressed to find a “Sprina” fan who thinks you didn’t nail it! So, in true soap fashion, they went from formally agreeing that they’re a couple to nearly being offed by a deranged Victor. Did you enjoy your foray into action-adventure?

Ali: I loved it. Honestly, it threw a curveball at me, but it was so fun being able to go through this adventure that neither Spencer nor Trina saw coming. We were just coming out of this fun, exciting night at the Nurses’ Ball, we solidified our relationship, and then, boom! All of a sudden, he’s abducted and I’ve followed him! In hindsight, when you zoom out, it is kind of a, “Whoa! That is off-the-wall!”

Chavez: I love a good action movie and that’s exactly what this felt like. It was incredible to delve into something that felt really high stakes, truly life and death. I mean, it doesn’t get more high stakes than ensuring that half of the planet doesn’t die, right? It was cool and a lot of fun.

Digest: I want to hear about your experience working with your tiniest Haunted Star co-star, baby Ace.

Ali: Nick has spent more time with baby Ace than I have, but the times that I’ve gotten to be around him, I just love him. He’s so cute. I love babies in general, but he is such a good baby. I will say, I realized how weak I am, though! I thought I was strong but he has really put me to a challenge! I wish I could work more with him.

Chavez: I don’t think you can win when you’re working with a baby, and there’s two big problems that I have with him. Number one, he’s a complete scene-stealer — I’m holding him [but] no one is focusing on anything I’m saying, they’re just looking at the cute baby! And the second thing I’ve noticed is that the baby will just flirt with Tabyana in front of me, as if I’m not even there! [Ali giggles.] Which is so crazy. He gives her the eyes and everything. I’m like, “Oh, my God!”

Ali: He can’t help it! He’s just so adorable.

Digest: We’ve also got to talk about that moment — the one where The Haunted Star blew up and Spencer miraculously survived and Trina performed the most amazing flying leap into his arms.

Chavez: That is my favorite “Sprina” scene. Spencer is walking toward Trina and Trina breaks out into a full sprint toward him, jumps into his arms and they kiss. I’ve always wanted to do that moment, you know what I mean? As an actor, you grow up seeing that moment happen on TV and in movies and I finally got to be the bruised guy who has risen from the ashes of an explosion and the love of his life runs and jumps into his arms! That was super-fun for me.

Ali: I really loved that scene, too. It was just so fulfilling.

Digest: Did you do any warm-ups to get ready for that sprint, Tabyana?

Ali: I did a couple of jumps and held a baby and that was about it! Maybe I should have done more. But Genie [Francis, Laura] was right there with me and right before we started rolling, she was, like, whispering in my ear. She was like, “Right now, you are so [messed] up. This is a [messed-up] situation. You don’t know where he is. This is hurt, this is pain. This is painful for you. Now go out there!” I was like, “Yes, ma’am!” And that really helped.

Chavez: I love Genie with all my heart. I’m going to have to tell her thank you for that! That’s awesome.

Digest: Well, happily, they made it back to Port Charles, and now they are navigating being a new couple in a town where being a couple is very challenging! How would you describe what this new reality looks like for them?

Chavez: I don’t think that any character in Port Charles has time to process anything — but if they did, they would certainly be helping each other with that [laughs]! Both Spencer and Trina have taken some blows recently but they’re both made of strong stuff, so I think that they’re going to be able to support each other to the end, through thick and thin. They will absolutely be able to roll with the punches together.

Ali: Period.

Digest: Spencer and Trina haven’t really gone on a proper date yet. What do you think their ideal date would look like?

Ali: Probably a day at a museum or an art gallery — not Ava’s. Love Ava’s art gallery, but somewhere new, somewhere different. Maybe a stroll in the park.

Chavez: I say get them out of the country, honestly. Spencer has the resources! I think the Greek islands would be really cool.

Ali (under her breath): Huh, I just said an art gallery!

Chavez (laughing): Well, that’s what I would opt for — a vacation to Greece.

Digest: I’m guessing they wouldn’t travel by boat.

Ali: No, I don’t think they look at boats the same way.

Chavez: I think boats are going to be a sore subject for a while.

Digest: In closing, what would each of you like to say to the “Sprina” fans?

Chavez: Why don’t you take this one, Tabyana. I feel like you’re going to say exactly what I want to say, but you’re going to say it better.

Ali: I would just say we love you, we appreciate you, thank you for all of your support and thank you for not only being fans, but turning into family.

Chavez: I co-sign all of that. Every single word.