GH has tapped Daytime Emmy-winner Kate Mansi, known to soap fans for her runs as DAYS’s Abigail (2011-16, 2018-20), to assume the role of Kristina. She will make her on-air debut this week, succeeding fellow Daytime Emmy-winner Lexi Ainsworth, who aired for the final time on April 27.
After Digest broke the news of the recast, Ainsworth addressed her fans in an Instagram video, saying, “Hey guys, I wanted to come on here and speak to my GENERAL HOSPITAL fans and let you guys know that after 10 transformative years, both personally and for my character, that I will be leaving GENERAL HOSPITAL and I was looking forward to this upcoming storyline because it was inspired by a personal experience of mine, but I am currently working on writing my own story from my point of view which has been, thus far, cathartic and hopefully inspiring to other women. So, I look forward to sharing that with you guys when it is completed.
“While [GH] has remained a top priority,” she continued, “I have been interested in pursuing new career opportunities that align with my evolving interests and goals, and I’m confident that this mutually beneficial decision will lead to new endeavors where I will continue to grow and expand my talents beyond the industry. But I do want to take a second to address the fans and express my deepest appreciation to you guys who have supported me over the years. Your loyalty has been a constant inspiration and I am forever grateful. The show would not be what it is without you guys.”
Several of Ainsworth’s current and former colleagues sent her their well-wishes in response. “I can’t wait to see your journey unfold !! #onward,” posted Laura Wright (Carly). Wrote Kelly Monaco (Sam), “I have no words….I love you soo much. You deserve the world and so much more. Forever my Daytime sister and REAL-time friend and family.” “That’s my girl!” said Nancy Lee Grahn (Alexis). “Love you Lex!” offered Brytni Sarpy (ex-Valerie; Elena, Y&R). “So excited to see where your talents bring you next… #newbeginnings.” Ashley Jones (ex-Parker; Bridget, B&B) echoed, “Proud of you, my friend. Will always remember times there with you. Go little (big) rockstar.”
Ainsworth has also been in touch with her on-screen family, including Grahn, Monaco and Maurice Benard (Sonny), offline. “It’s definitely bittersweet and hard to say good-bye to this chapter in my life because it was such a significant part of my life,” she tells Digest. “I was 16 when I started and my family on the show is like my second family because I basically grew up on the show. It will be sad not to have the opportunity to work with them on the show anymore, but I know that I will continue to have relationships with those people, and hopefully we can work together down the line.”
While she has no plans to give up acting, Ainsworth does intend to focus more of her time on the production company she began last year. “I had a lot of downtime, which caused this need to create an outlet for me to funnel my creative energy into,” she explains. “As a storyteller, I feel like it was only natural for me to go expand my talents into other parts of the industry, and I’m looking forward to continuing to do that. I have produced two films so far, and two are in production. I’m at a place in my life where I want to take control over my career and this is the way that I see myself doing that.”
Ainsworth would also be open to another daytime opportunity. “I actually did audition for Y&R last year when they were recasting Summer,” she shares. “But that was for more of, like, a blonde bombshell, which I am not [laughs]. But a lot of people who I loved to work with on GH are on other soaps, like on Y&R, there’s Brytni [Sarpy] and Jason [Thompson, Billy; ex-Patrick, GH] and Elizabeth Hendrickson [Chloe; ex-Margaux, GH], who I would love to work with again.”
Reflecting on her years in Port Charles, Ainsworth says, “When I think back on my whole history on the show, it really comes down to the writers and the storylines that they provided, like the domestic violence stoyline and Kristina coming out as sexually fluid. I’m so lucky that the writers entrusted me with the storylines because those stories are so important; they’re the type of stories that I want to share, that I want to write and produce.”
Ainsworth says that she was “overwhelmed in the best way” by the outpouring of support she’s received since her departure was announced. “I’ve been getting [messages] on my Instagram and fans reaching out to me, and to see how many people have supported me throughout my career and are a fan of my portrayal of Kristina, it means a lot to me. I think that daytime is a really special medium in that we get to engage with the fans; the fans are an active participant in the show and I’ve met many of them over the years, and we have this history that you don’t have with other shows. It’s been really special to develop these relationships and that rapport with my fans.”