Jordi Vilasuso (Rey, Y&R) reflects on the gig that launched his soap career

First Audition: “I had just moved right after high school to Los Angeles to pursue a TV and film career, so I knew that getting the role [of Tony] would mean relocating to New York City. I really felt like it wasn’t this obsession that I sometimes have with other parts. I was really kind of like, ‘Well, if I don’t get it I still win because I’m really starting to like L.A.’ When you don’t make things too precious and you have perspective on it, it kind of makes it more objective. I was more relaxed and like, ‘Whatever happens, it’s all good. I can’t lose.’ But then I got it, and I was like, ‘Okay, I’m moving to the big city.’ ”

First Day: “I remember walking into this huge hall to rehearse because they didn’t rehearse on set. They used chairs to represent the furniture on set and we’d work things out with the director. The second thing I remember for my first day is that I was going to shoot two guns at the same time. I was fired up because I had never shot a gun before. Even though the guns shot blanks, there was a lot of safety to be considered. I don’t know if any of it really got through to me because I was so excited. When we shot it, I was jump- ing through the air, shooting two Glocks.”

First Friend: “George Alvarez, who played Tony’s brother, Ray, took me under his wing and took care of me. He played a priest, so I always called him Father Brother. His job before getting steady work in television was as a bartender at Studio 54 and he knew the right people. When I went out with [him] it was like a fun, crazy adventure.”

First Mentor: “Saundra Santiago [ex- Carmen]. She was so lovely to me. She had done MIAMI VICE, and was on THE SOPRANOS at that time, which I was watching. She’d always tell me, ‘Don’t be afraid to take risks or land on your face, just go for it.’ ”

First Love Interest: “Reva’s daughter, Marah, who was played by Laura Bell Bundy at first. Laura was always super-positive, very spiritual, which I was very into as well. We were both the same age, just about to turn 20, and we shared a lot of the same interests. I learned a lot from her.”

First Screen Kiss: “That was with Laura. It was the first time I had ever done something like that and I don’t know if she had kissed anyone [on camera] either. We were both like, ‘How do we do this? I guess we just do it like we would for real.’ I remember minding my tongue because I had to be as professional as possible. Nobody gives you the instructions of how to kiss even at that age. You just kind of figure it out.”

First Recast: “Laura left and then Lindsey McKeon came in. Lindsey was a different animal. She had already done a lot of TV out in L.A. She brought a different energy. She was super-cool, too, and very professional.”



First On-Screen Rival: “That would’ve been Sam, played by Wes Ramsey [Peter, GH], who is an amazing, talented actor. He went to Juilliard and lived in an apartment with a bunch of kids who were still in the program, so Wes introduced me to what it was like to be a student in New York. It was very cool. I’ve brought him down to Miami to meet my folks. He always wanted me to come to the Kentucky Derby, but I never made it. Maybe one day!”



First Fan Event: “I don’t really remember my very first one. They used to fly me to Sears all over the Midwest and put me in the women’s lingerie department with a stack of headshots that I would sign for two to three hours. I do remember the first one with the greatest number of attendees was in Pittsburgh. There was a long line outside of Sears. It was as if *NSYNC had shown up but it was all for Tony. I had to be escorted by security out of Sears because there was, I kid you not, a gang of cheerleaders who were screaming my name. It was something I had never experienced before.”

First Scolding: “At 19, I was going out a lot and enjoying the fruits of New York. One of our directors, Brian Mertes, pulled me aside one day and he gave me a very good piece of advice. ‘Know your sh*t and always come very prepared, otherwise you’re not gonna last.’ He gave it to me because he saw that I was starting to veer off course. As a young man, you need a kick in the ass sometimes. Thank God, I really took that to heart.”

First Emmy: “When I heard my name [called as Outstanding Younger Actor in 2003], I said a bunch of expletives and danced onstage. I did, to my dismay, forget to thank my manager, Marjorie Morhaim, which she still holds over my head. I apologize to her whenever I see her. In the back of my mind I knew that it was going to be my last year. When I started working on GUIDING LIGHT, my manager told me, ‘You’re gonna do three years on the show and you’re gonna win an Emmy.’ And that’s what ended up happening.”