Interview

Quick Take With Melissa Claire Egan

Chelsea considering taking her own life is a huge turn for the character. How were you told? “Our head writer, Josh [Griffith], called me into his office a couple of months ago and told me that it gets really dark for Chelsea and that she really starts to spiral, then attempts suicide. He thought it was important I know, which I really appreciated, so that I could play the bigger and smaller things contributing to her depression that eventually lead up to her feeling so hopeless that she would contemplate taking her own life.”

What was your reaction? “I was shocked and saddened to hear what my character would go through, but I was also incredibly honored to tell this story because it’s important and relevant. So many people these days are struggling with depression, anxiety and mental health issues, and I’m proud that we’re shining a light on that. Josh wanted this to be a real story and not sensationalize such a sensitive subject.”

You should be commended for giving a restrained performance as we watched Chelsea slowly fall apart. “Thank you. I just wanted to make sure it was played responsibly and respectfully because depression affects so many people who are hurting and suffering. I wanted to make sure to not play it over-the- top, but more as a human being not in a good headspace. This is her journey and it needs to be believable every step of the way.”

Were there any measures taken to ensure credibility? “Yes, Dr. Dan Reidenberg has been so incredible as a consultant to the writers and to me. I have FaceTimed and texted with him many times, and he has provided such a plethora of information. It was fascinating and heartbreaking to talk to him because I wanted to get into the mindset of someone in so much pain and she just wants to escape it. Dr. Dan couldn’t have been more helpful to get me into that zone. I’ve learned that depression is an illness that you sometimes can’t see past and suicide can seem like your only option.”

Billy is the one who literally talks Chelsea off the ledge. What was it like working with Jason Thompson in these scenes? “Jason was an incredible scene partner. I remember it was a Friday night and we were the last scenes of the day, so we just focused on our work, did the best job we could possibly do and hoped that it would resonate with people. The scenes were very intense, but Steven Williford, our amazing director, went through a bunch of stuff with me a week before we shot it. We walked through that set and kind of marked where certain things would happen, and leading up to that shoot, we were in contact a lot.”

And Sharon comes to Chelsea’s aid. “Yes, Billy went to Sharon for help. She’s very knowledgeable about this stuff and Chelsea definitely needs help. You will be seeing Sharon really supporting Chelsea in her time of need.”

Are you looking forward to playing the next chapter of Chelsea’s story? “Yes, and I love that Chelsea doesn’t immediately bounce back. We’re definitely showing her recovery at a slow, responsible pace. She’ll be talking to her doctor for several episodes as she tries to rebuild her life. It’ll be a process, and I appreciate how our writers want to make this as realistic as possible. We are really hoping to help people.”

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