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Tamara Braun On DAYS Return

“Well, it turns out that Ava Vitali is alive,” begins Tamara Braun when asked to recount how she came to reprise the role that landed her a Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress back in 2009. “Enter Tamara Braun!”

The actress, who previously played Ava in 2008 and from 2015-16, had heard from a dear friend that reports of Ava’s death by smothering had been greatly exaggerated. “I was surprised to get the call [from DAYS] — it’s always nice to get the call — but I did know that a while ago, DAYS had had this [story] with initials on the door. And my dear, sweet, wonderful neighbor, who is like my mom here in California, June, watches both shows, DAYS and GH [where Braun most recently played Kim from 2017-19], since I’ve been on, and she told me, ‘All these characters are coming back from the dead, and these initials are on the door, and they showed A.V. today! What if that’s Ava Vitali?’ And I said, ‘Well, that’s interesting, but the person playing Ava Vitali is a little busy right now,’ because I was on GENERAL HOSPITAL at the time. So, I had heard that from June, that all the people coming back from the dead matched the initials on the door.”

Braun reports that when Ava “died”, “Albert [Alaar, co-executive producer] called and let me know that Ava was being killed and I went, ‘No!’ and he goes, ‘Come on, no one’s ever dead on soaps.’ So, whether it was just a nice way of saying, ‘We’re killing your character,’ or he was really saying, ‘Dead doesn’t always mean really dead,’ I felt like, ‘It’s a soap, so in that sense, you never know!’ There is always a possibility that the bodies have been switched, possessions have occurred, spells have been cast [laughs].”

So, when the show did reach out to her earlier this year to gauge her interest in a comeback, Braun was game. “I’ve always really loved the energy there,” she enthuses. “I find that there’s just a lot of positivity and joy with the people that I worked with, so that’s always a plus and a motivating factor. And I love Ava Vitali! I loved her the most the first time around, because she was really fleshed out and interesting and wild, and we found many levels to her. If I’m honest, the last time, I think she was just bad, all bad, and it made it difficult to redeem [her]. But I loved Ava incarnation No. 1, for sure — and the opportunity to play with her with them knowing my feelings and me stressing what I loved [about] her the first time around and hoping that they could implement some of that was a factor, as well, in my wanting to come back.”

Getting camera-ready after sticking close to home for so many months was a prospect she relished less. “I had to groom!” she howls. “I had grays for days! And my grays were not for DAYS [laughs], so I had to go amend that situation! I had to do a fresh color to cover the grays and I took off about 3 inches [of length]. I really only put myself together maybe three times [over] six months during quarantine: twice to do EXTRA, when I did a couple of interviews as a correspondent; and on the night of the Emmys [in June, when she won Supporting Actress for her work on GH], I put a little mascara on, but that was really it. So dealing with the soap clothes and the heels? The heels really got me. The Spanx, I was like, ‘I love you and I hate you,’ but the heels! I realized that my back hadn’t been hurting me for all of quarantine, and after my first day back on DAYS OF OUR LIVES, I was like, my back was hurt- ing again and I was like, ‘It’s those damn heels!’ ”

Braun also had to adjust to the stringent new protocols DAYS had adopted for Covid safety reasons. “It was so odd; I’ve been pretty isolated for months, except for grocery shopping, so it was wild to be around that many people again, but I will tell you something: DAYS OF OUR LIVES is going above and beyond to keep people safe. I feel grateful to be over there, knowing how much they care and everything they’ve put into all the test- ing and all the cleaning.”

The best part of her return? Braun’s warm reunions with her past co-stars. “For me, DAYS OF OUR LIVES just has such a nice energy,” she smiles. “The people are great and it has always been a nice thing to walk into, it’s always felt good and welcoming. Seeing Stephen [Nichols, Steve] and Mary Beth [Evans, Kayla] again was just so great. The saddest part is that I’m a hugger, and we can’t hug! You see everybody and you get so excited and we all do that little pretend, pantomime hug sort of thing, so you know you would if you could! But I still felt the love and the welcoming and the happiness from both Stephen and Mary Beth and, quite frankly, all the people I’ve ever worked with. Getting to work with the two of them is always a draw because I love them as people. They are incredible human beings, and to get to work with good people who bring good energy and everybody works together — there’s nothing better.”

To the DAYS fans, Braun says, “I love you, and thank you! Honestly, it just means the world to me that people want to see my work and want to see Ava, it truly does. I love you guys!”