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Quick Take With Naomi Matsuda (Li, BOLD AND BEAUTIFUL)

It seems that every time the spotlight for Li is waning, she comes roaring back in new story. We didn’t think we would see any more of the good doctor after Finn “died” and then we find out that she’s the one keeping him alive. Next, we thought Li was killed in that car accident but she returned to battle Sheila. Now, we’re meeting her estranged family, which opens up a new can of worms. What does it mean to you that Executive Producer/Head Writer Bradley Bell keeps finding new chapters for your character? “It gives me goosebumps all over — even right now. It’s the most incredible honor. Oh, my goodness, I’m so grateful to continue this journey with the B&B family and Brad continuing to write for Li. The fact that Li and was named after his real mother [B&B Co-Creator Lee Phillip Bell], I feel I have some big shoes to fill. I’m so thankful and did not expect any of it. I just really thought it was going to be three days when I first came on the show and now, we’re two years later. I feel very fortunate.”

On soaps, it’s a very good thing when a character acquires family members. What was your reaction when you learned that Li would be gaining a sister and a niece? “I cried happy tears. My experience with B&B has just been incredible. It’s a dream come true. I have no other words.”

And not to mention flattering! It’s a clear indication the show is further investing in your character. “I truly feel like the luckiest person in the world.”

Did you know in advance that Li’s relationships with her family members were so fractured and tense? “All I remember is being told, ‘You’re getting a sister and a niece,’ and that was it. I was so happy and thankful and then I got the script and I was like, ‘Oh, this goes even deeper.’ A lot of Asian families will understand why Li is doing what she’s doing. Penelope is an embarrassment to the family, to our parents. The word ‘disgrace’ is used a lot in the Asian cultures.”

What was it like meeting Lisa Yamada, who plays your niece, Luna, for the first time? “She’s a doll and so sweet. I’m like, ‘How am I supposed to scream at her?’ She’s so cute and little. We’ve only had one scene together so far and it was not a very nice one. The whole time I’m screaming at her so after the take, I was like, ‘Are you okay? I’m sorry.’ She’s very professional and a great actress.”

How do you like working with your soap sister, Romy Park, who plays Poppy? “Oh, it was lovely meeting her, too. It was great. We are both huge animal lovers and we live in the same neighborhood. She’s awesome.”

Li is downright mean to Poppy and Luna. Is it hard for you to embody that or do you enjoy acting out those kind of emotions? “It happens so easily for me. It is super-fun to play that and say hurtful things and know that I’m just pretending. This is my job and I’m a storyteller. If I’m supposed to just tear someone’s head off, I would do it.”

Jacqueline MacInnes Wood (Steffy) is back from maternity leave and Steffy is reunited with her family. How is Li feeling at the moment about that? “Li is, of course, over the moon that Steffy and the kids are back so that Finn is not alone. Li doesn’t ever like Finn being upset or sad or anything going wrong in his life. She wants to make sure Finn’s life is perfect, so she wants Sheila gone.”

Does Li feel better that Steffy has come back much more emboldened? “Yes, yes, yes, yes, yes, yes! Absolutely, because Li feels safer that her son has another strong woman who will protect him, too.”

When Li speaks of wanting Finn to get rid of Sheila once and for all, what do you think that means to her? Would anything short of Sheila being dead or behind bars satisfy Li? “I think it would satisfy Li if Sheila was dead. Li knows that Sheila’s been behind bars many times before and she is always released. So I think for Li to really feel 100 percent safe, Sheila needs to be dead.”