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Natalie Morales On Her Y&R Gig

For Natalie Morales, one of the hosts of THE TALK, getting asked to play an investigative reporter on Y&R was “a symbiotic fit”. “Soaps are huge for us because our audience are fans from Y&R and BOLD AND BEAUTIFUL, so we build from their lead-ins,” she explains. “Soap actors come on our show all of the time, so it was kind of a natural opportunity for us to cross-promote. Y&R approached us and asked, ‘Would you guys be interested in having Natalie come over and do something?’ ”

A thrilled Morales immediately agreed to appear in multiple episodes. “I was floored,” she admits. “I mean, I never thought I would get a chance to be on Y&R, yet here I am! And it’s not just a cameo; I actually have a story arc, which is an incredible honor for me.”

Morales never knew that much about the American soap genre. “Growing up in Panama and Brazil, I was a telenovela girl, so for us, that was must-see TV,” she recalls. “When I got home from school, we didn’t have the ability to record things back then, but I did watch the Luke and Laura wedding [on GH], because that was the event of that year. I never really tuned into the U.S. soaps, and now because they’re our lead-in to THE TALK, I find myself watching them a little bit more.”

As far as who Morales will be playing, “I love this character that they’ve created for me,” she enthuses. “She’s an investigative reporter named Talia Morgan, so she’s not that far of a stretch from what I’ve done in my career. It’s a real fascinating storyline because I’m not [just] in one episode, so I get to build with other characters. Phyllis and Nikki have sort of roped Talia into doing a report on Diane Jenkins and where was she for all of those years after staging her death? What was she really doing when she said she was living in Los Angeles? So I love being part of a plot.”

Her first day at Y&R was a bit shaky.  “Of  course, the night before, I could barely sleep because I was trying to remember my lines,” Morales chuckles. “I didn’t have anybody to really rehearse with and when you don’t have the natural cadence or the beat of a conversation, it’s hard to know when to speak. On my first day, I went to Y&R after I was done at THE TALK and thank goodness our PR person, Andrea, was with me. When we got there, she asked, ‘Do you want to rehearse some lines together?’ So before I went on set, I was able to practice a little bit with her.”

Morales quickly learned the effort that  goes into producing a daily series. “It makes me appreciate the soap world that much more because of what they do on set day in and day out,” she marvels. “They are so prepared and so good at what they do. It’s unbelievable.”

A sentiment that hit home when she saw the amount of dialogue. “When they gave me the first script, which is like 60 pages, I looked at all of the scenes and I was like, ‘This is one day? How are we going to get through all of this?!’ ” she muses. “Those actors work really hard and I give them so much credit for what they do. They call it ‘soap opera brain’ because of the way they’re able to memorize lines so quickly. They look at a page, they get it down and they do it. And here I am struggling a little with that because I’m used to live shots on television, but it’s very different because I’m saying things the way I would naturally say them. In this instance, you have to act, you have to hit your mark, you’ve got to make sure the blocking is right and then say the words that have to make sense and go, according to the script. It’s a lot to think about!”

Some words of comfort from Susan Walters (Diane) helped. “I did a scene last week with Susan and she told me she was so nervous on her first day back, especially working with Peter Bergman [Jack] because he’s got a photographic memory,” Morales shares. “I was like, ‘Oh, good, so I’m not alone with this panic.’ ”

Morales was thankful for the support given by Melody Thomas Scott (Nikki) and Michelle Stafford (Phyllis). “They could not have been sweeter,” she praises. “Melody and Michelle were like, ‘Let’s go over our lines a couple of times,’ which was really nice because they do one rehearsal and one take, so they were going out of their way to help me feel at ease. And I mean, these are soap superstars, so I really am in awe watching them work. They’re so hilarious and their characters are so devious. Even though I’m there to play this character, I am distracted by how well they play off of each other. They’re so fabulous at it. And everyone has been so kind. There were a couple of times where I blanked a little bit and was like, ‘Oh, I’m so sorry.’ But they’d just say, ‘You’re doing great. Don’t worry.’ ”

Morales says she would be happy to come back for future encores. “Listen, Genoa City has a lot of interesting characters with really good stories and subplots,” she notes. “If Y&R wants Talia to do a little more digging, I’m always happy to come back. There are a lot of skeletons in those closets and some aren’t hidden very well.”