Y&R’s Melissa Ordway and Jason Canela Appreciate Each Other’s Work Ethic — and Scare Tactics
Soap Opera Digest: Jason, when you were brought on, how much did you know about what was planned for Arturo?
Jason Canela: I knew as much as they told me, and in the beginning, that wasn’t much. As I started to get the scripts and read through them, I could tell where they were going with it and it was always a curveball. They’re still throwing curveballs at me.
Digest: How did you like playing your cougar/boy toy scenes with Melody Thomas Scott (Nikki)?
Canela: It was a lot of fun. She was great and very helpful. She did her best to make me feel comfortable. I started working with her from the beginning, so I was just trying to be very cautious. I didn’t want to cross a certain line and do something that I shouldn’t. She did everything she could to make me feel comfortable. It was a lot of fun being Melody’s boy toy.
Digest: When did you learn that Arturo and Abby were getting together?
Melissa Ordway: I kind of figured it out. I had just gotten back from my maternity leave and there was a scene where Abby bumps into Arturo in the coffeehouse. I was like, “Oh, okay, we’re gonna date!”
Canela: That’s exactly what she told me.
Ordway: It wasn’t even written and no one had told me. Here’s a new guy on the show who Abby isn’t related to, so it just made sense.
Digest: What was your reaction when
you found out?
Ordway: I was excited because Abby’s had a lot of unlucky romances. Plus, Jason’s awesome to work with. When I got to know him I thought, “Okay, we’re gonna have a good time!”
Canela: The first place my mind went to was, “I cannot believe I was just with Nikki and now they’re putting me with her stepdaughter.” And then I realized it is a soap opera and it makes sense in that world. But I was just as excited. Right off the bat, the energy was so good between us.
Digest: Obviously, you had pretty positive first impressions of each other.
Canela: How could somebody not have a great reaction to this woman? She’s incredible!
Ordway: He really does have the best energy. When people first come on, they don’t always understand what we do and how fast we go, but Jason is always so prepared and just wonderful to work with. Getting to work with someone like him is just a treat for me. I feel like he only makes me better by challenging me to do the best I can do. And he’s already one of the most popular people on set. Everybody loves him.
Canela: Melissa brings this ability to just react to anything. When I say something to her in character, her reaction I can tell is not something that’s preconceived, it’s not something that she thought about how she was going to react to the situation, it’s more like the energy that I’m giving her, she’s giving it back. I know we’re saying energy a lot, but it really does play a huge factor in what we do. And considering how much we do it, it’s important to be able to have somebody who you mesh with.
Digest: What do you like about your characters’ romance?
Ordway: I love the different backgrounds they come from. Arturo was not born with a silver spoon in his mouth like Abby. But they have their similarities, like their love for family.
Canela: Hispanics, we’re very touchy-touchy. We’re that couple in the theater who are holding each other and kissing while we’re buying popcorn. I think Abby and Arturo have this playfulness because Melissa and I are goofing around a lot of the time and playing jokes with each other. There’s this real connection that we have that’s really cool to watch in scenes.
Ordway: I also love how there’s been a slow build to their relationship. They weren’t just like, “Hi, I’m Abby,” “Hi, I’m Arturo,” “We’re in love and we’re gonna get married.” I feel like they’re actually building something and it’s moving slower than Abby’s other relationships. And he’s not a sex trafficker and owns prostitutes like her ex-boyfriend … so that’s a plus!
Digest: What’s it like when you run lines together?
Ordway: We’re very serious!
Canela: So serious [chuckles].
Ordway: Actually, we’re very lighthearted and we’re usually like, “So, what did you do this weekend?”
Canela: Sometimes we’ll even forget to run lines and it’s time to shoot.
Ordway: But he’s always very prepared, so it’s fine. We just like to mostly hang out.
Digest: How are you together on set?
Ordway: Oh, my gosh. This guy, he has me terrified. I can’t open any door around the set because he has scared me so many times. He pops out from every corner. I’ll try to get him back, but he’ll still scare me. He scares me nonstop. I’m constantly petrified.
Canela: There are bathrooms that link our two soundstages and a lot of times to get to our dressing rooms we’ll need to cross to the other soundstage through the bathrooms. So, we both go through the doors, cross though the bathrooms and find each other on the other side when we exit through the other door. Most of the time I speed my way through, so I can I scare her when she comes out. I swear, eight out of 10 times I scare her.
Ordway: I know he’s going to be there but he still somehow scares me!
Canela: One of the last times, I waited to hold the door for this guy in the bathroom and Melissa scared him. This guy jumped! He had no idea what he was in for.
Ordway: I felt so bad! I was like, “I’m so sorry!”
Canela: I am extremely dedicated to scaring her. Even if I have to stay put under the staircase for a few minutes, I’ll wait.
Ordway: I asked my husband [Justin Gaston] to help me think of how to scare Jason, and he said, “Uh, you’re just really bad at that.”
Canela: Justin actually told me that she can’t go to the bathroom at home because she’s afraid I might pop out!
Digest: What was a memorable goof that happened on set?
Canela: You know what was really funny? Fourth of July!
Ordway: Oh, that was hilarious! On the Fourth of July, Arturo and Abby were doing it for the first time — but we were dying laughing.
Canela: It was so crazy because there was so much direction that was being given; from being gentle to giving a little bit more, to being a little of this to being a little of that.
Ordway: They wanted me to “seductively” watch him take his pants off, but I couldn’t look him in the eye. I just wanted to start laughing because his pants kept getting caught.
Canela: My legs are not the thinnest and these freaking skinny jeans would not get past my calves. Thanks to our editors, they took that part out.
Digest: Melissa, you told me you love to dance.
Ordway: Yes, but I’m a horrible dancer.
Digest: What if Y&R wanted Abby and Arturo to do a sexy salsa?
Ordway: I’d be game, for sure. I’d probably have to take some lessons, but I would love to do that.
Digest: Jason, do you think you could teach Melissa some moves?
Canela: I’m telling you, this girl can dance. She says that she can’t, but then when she loosens up and she’s out there having a good time, she can dance.
Ordway: No, not really.
Canela: If Y&R decided to give us a scene to dance salsa, I know we would kill it!
Digest: So, Jason, I take it you have met her husband?
Canela: Not only did I meet Justin, but I met her two little gorgeous angels that are so freaking precious. They’re incredible.
Ordway: Justin’s a huge Jason fan. He’s said to me, “I love that guy. He’s so awesome.”And his girlfriend is so sweet. She’s drop-dead gorgeous and they make the most beautiful couple. I got to meet her at the Alzheimer’s walk. And it’s the first time I’ve ever scared Jason! I’ve marked that day down in my calendar as a very important day in our relationship!
Canela: We were doing the Walk to End Alzheimer’s at the L.A. Zoo and it was the end of the walk. I had gone through the whole day safely and it happened in the most unexpected way. I’m about to exit the zoo and she came out of nowhere. It was the most simple way to scare someone, but it was effective.
Ordway: I had been working on that all day. It was so great. One of the best days of my life! I love his girlfriend even more because she saw me about to scare him and she didn’t ruin it!
Digest: What would you like to see happen between your characters in 2019?
Canela: We’re having such a great time and I think the writers have done such a good job of letting the relationship evolve and grow. Granted, I’m sure there’s going to be little bumps along the way, but it would be awesome to see them be able to pull through whatever it is that comes their way and continue to build on what they’ve already started building.
Ordway: I hope that their relationship continues to grow and that Abby and Arturo get more serious, because I like the direction that they’re going in. I love working with Jason, so I want our characters to stay together. I hope that “Abturo” stays strong in 2019!