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Kim Coles On Joining DAYS

Kim Coles admits she had to think twice when the call came to audition for the role of Nurse Whitley on DAYS. “I immediately went into fear because I’ve heard stories about working on soap operas,” she recalls. “That the schedule is grueling, that you have to learn a lot of lines, and I was like, ‘Oh, God, I don’t wanna work that hard [laughs].’ ”

But Coles, a sitcom alum who has spent the majority of her career eliciting laughs, wanted to expand her horizons. “I don’t fancy myself a dramatic actress, but something in me said, ‘Take this on, this is gonna be a really cool challenge,’ and why couldn’t I do it?” she explains. “It was different than anything I’d ever done before. I have not done a lot of drama, so I was really intrigued by and challenged by the depths of where we were going to be going.”

Her alter ego, Nurse Whitley, has certainly provided Coles with the opportunity to explore something new. “I usually play sweet, loving, good people,” she muses. “I’m not saying she’s not good but she’s complex. I don’t think I’ve ever played anybody this complex before. Nothing I’ve ever done involved kidnapping a whole man, and I didn’t know that going in. I just knew that this was someone who had experienced some loss and had a psychological break of some kind and was going to act out this break in a very particular way.”

Wacky stories weren’t unfamiliar to the actress, who came in armed with some Salem knowledge. “When I was young, DAYS OF OUR LIVES was my show,” she shares. “So, imagine my joy of meeting Deidre Hall [Marlena]. She and I were in the makeup room together and I looked over and I go, ‘Oh, my God, that is Dr. Marlena Evans.’ And because there were still Covid regulations, they had these partitions up. So she turns to me and says, ‘Hey, Jackée [Harry, Paulina].’ Now, I had on the wig where I looked like Paulina, and she didn’t really get a good look at me. I said, ‘Oh, no, I’m Nurse Whitley.’ She was like, ‘Oh, my goodness.’ She came over to me and said, ‘Welcome. Have such a good time. By the way, I’m Deidre Hall and I play Dr. Marlena Evans.’ I can’t even give you an analogy of what that’s like, like, ‘You’re introducing yourself to me? I know exactly who you are. You’re gorgeous and amazing!’ For her to be so gracious and so lovely and introduce herself to me? I mean, every time I see an hourglass, how can I not think of DAYS OF OUR LIVES?”

Coles also had a familiar face in Harry. “So that’s the other piece of it,” she relays. “They don’t tell you everything up front. I knew that I was going to be playing this nurse stealing someone’s husband, and then I find out it’s Jackée. So Jackée and I know each other, we have the same friends, we’ve hung out together, and in fact, we were in development to do our own show at one point. So I was like, ‘We finally get to work and play together.’ When she saw me on set, we had a great laugh, like, ‘You bitch — she’s gonna take my man.’ It felt really great to be able to spend time with her. I felt like I was one of the family. Once I locked in those pieces, I was like, ‘Okay, great. I belong here.’ ”

Before that, though, Coles admits to having some first-day jitters. “I was very nervous because it’s brand-new and I didn’t know the rhythm of it. It’s a very different rhythm than a sitcom. I talked to a couple of friends who had done soap operas. I went to Jackée’s room and I said, ‘What do I need to do?’ She was like, ‘Girl, good luck. It’s hard and you’re just gonna have to memorize your lines, and we have someone on set that can help you.’ So there’s someone named Maria [O’Brien], this amazing woman who is one part acting coach, one part, ‘Let’s run lines,’ one part mama energy, ‘You’re gonna be just fine.’ So every day, I would go to her room, and slowly but surely, by the end of the first week, I was like, ‘Okay, got it.’ But it takes a minute and training wheels off, you jump in.”
Coles also had help from new co-star James Reynolds (Abe). “I want to do a quick shout-out to Jim Reynolds, who was the most lovely, wonderful partner to play with,” she praises. “I mean, he could not have been more lovely, and actually showed me the ropes, too. Jim gave me permission to make it my own. I wanna give him the biggest hug; he’s the best.”

With her story currently ramping up, Coles reports that her family will be tuning in. “My mother is 93 and I know that you can keep your mind young by reading and staying aware,” she notes “So my brother and I bought her a TV that streams. As long as she’s watching it, then I am complete.”