Interview

ICYMI Y&R's Judith Chapman (Gloria) On Her Return

Judith Chapman was dining out with friends when she received the invitation to reprise the role of Y&R’s Gloria. “Greg Salmon from the casting department called me and said, ‘Hey, how are you? What are you doing? Are you healthy?’ ” the actress recalls. “We were having this little chit chat when I said, ‘Greg, why are you calling me?’ He then said that Josh [Griffith, co-executive producer/head writer] wanted to bring Gloria back if I was available. I said, ‘Hold on a second,’ then I came back on and said, ‘Oh, my dance card is empty [laughs].’ I told him to tell Josh that I would be honored and thrilled to come back.”

The actress, who began playing Gloria in 2005, but hadn’t been in Genoa City since 2018, didn’t allow herself to get too fired up about the offer. “Believe it not, I wasn’t at all excited,” she admits. “Listen, in my half century of working in the entertainment business, I have been down this road too many times, where something you’re hired for can just suddenly vanish. When that happens you can’t dwell on it, so that’s why I have other things to fill my life. This time, my concern was with Covid, and what if they had to pull the plug on the show again? My thought was that I will get excited when I’m actually on set. Until then, I stayed very low-key because we’re still living on a ticking time bomb and anything can happen.”

According to Chapman, it wasn’t difficult to keep a lid on her upcoming encore. “I was told, ‘Don’t even share this with anyone on the cast,’ so I didn’t tell anyone except the two friends I was having lunch with and they were sworn to secrecy,” she notes. “Oh, I did tell my mother because she needed some good news, but she’s at an age where she wouldn’t remember anyway. Other than those three, I kept it completely under wraps. It was an easy secret to keep.”

Though two years had passed since she was last on Y&R, Chapman was camera-ready. In 2019, Chapman appeared on DAYS as a recast of John’s past lover, Diana, who turned out to be mom to Leo, played by her Y&R son, Greg Rikaart [Kevin]. “I had done DAYS years ago [as Anjelica] and it was great to be back,” Chapman smiles. “It was a short-term role and great fun. I adored working with Drake [Hogestyn, John], and to be reunited with Greg on another soap opera as mother and son was fantastic. So, it’s delightful, indeed, that we have come full circle and back home in Genoa City.”

Chapman was also poised to be involved with two other projects. “I had found this wild play, Noose Women, by a young playwright named Lewis Lauder and got his permission to write my own adaptation, so for five months, I sat down and reworked the whole thing,” she explains. “David Lago [ex-Raul, Y&R] would be in it and he was even living in my guesthouse. We were in the first week of rehearsals when the lockdown came. Also, I had been cast in a new Will Smith feature, King Richard, that I was supposed to start filming on March 23 and that got closed down. I don’t know what will happen with the play or the movie.”

When Chapman shared the cover of Digest heralding her Y&R return on social media, there was an outpouring of cheers and support from fans. “I heard from about 800 people,” she marvels. “It warmed my heart that Gloria is still remembered and loved. It was so endearing and truly touching. I’m very grateful.”

Chapman then reported for duty at the CBS studio, and was taken aback by the reality of the new way of production. “My first thought was, ‘My God, this is my first time out among large amounts of people,’ and seeing all of the safety measures was so new and overwhelming to take in,” she confesses. Thankfully, she felt instantly at ease when “trying on wardrobe, sitting in the makeup chair and getting my hair styled again. It was all pretty special, but the thing I most missed about this job is the people.”

Which included reuniting on set with Rikaart, Christian J. LeBlanc (Michael), Tracey E. Bregman (Lauren) and Elizabeth Hendrickson (Chloe). “The minute we looked at each other and opened our mouths, the chemistry between us was instantly there again,” Chapman enthuses. “It was as if we just picked up where we had left off. After my first day, I left thinking, ‘Oh, my God, was I over-the-top?’ But as I got into my car, we all got a group text from Peter Bergman [Jack] saying that he left the studio earlier with a smile on his face because of how wonderful it was to see our work again. That was so generous and lovely of him.”

So, what kind of Gloria will we see this time around? “There will always be those elements of Gloria, which means she hasn’t really evolved or grown,” her portrayer chuckles. “She’s still trying to hustle a buck and make a name for herself on top of finding new ways to express herself.”

Without a doubt, coming back to Genoa City has been an uplifting experience for the actress. “Fifteen years ago when I started on this show, I said, ‘This is where I’ll end my career,’ ” she reflects. “Of course, I would go off and do my theater and other projects, but I knew Y&R would one day be my swan song. Hopefully, that won’t be for a good, long time.”

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