How does this nomination feel? “It’s just marvelous. I am just thrilled to pieces! Sally [Sussman, former Y&R head writer], who I adore, called me and told me because she had heard from her husband [Executive Producer Anthony Morina], ‘Guess who was nominated for an Emmy? Marla!’ I feel so fortunate. It’s just the greatest thrill. The nomination is the winning part for me, and my kids are flying in [for Emmy night], which means everything to me.” What does it mean to you to be recognized for your work in bringing the story of Dina’s Alzheimer’s to a close? “I just feel so much warmth to have this opportunity to play a dying woman, and yet, she is dying into life again. I feel captured by the love and support I get from people all around the world. I feel very, very lucky. I tear up thinking of the privilege it is to play this iconic character.” So, the nomination is just a little icing on the cake? “A little?! I am smothered in vanilla icing! I am smothered in love! I am 82 years old. I am a great-grandmother! I’ve been in the suds since I was on THE SECRET STORM on CBS in the early ’60s. I just feel like the luckiest old broad on the planet. Who is 82 and still has a career? I’m forever grateful.” Who would you be sure to thank if you were called upon to give an acceptance speech? “The caregivers [of those with Alzheimer’s], they are the heroines and the heroes. My heart goes out to all of them, and that would be part of my acceptance speech, to thank them.” Where would you put the Emmy if you won? “Oh, it would be all over the place, and I’d take it to bed with me!"
Congratulations! How did you find out you were nominated? “It was so funny. I was completely sleep-deprived because I was up from 3 to 5 a.m. and I had not gone back to sleep so it’s one of those, ‘I’m exhausted. I have two shows today. Lord help me remember lines and get through the day.’ So Galen [Gering, Rafe] and I were in scenes in the morning and were first up and we came off set and our stage manager, Lucy, stopped us and she said, ‘Tamara, you have a wardrobe change and you’re nominated for an Emmy.’ And Galen and I looked at each other, high-fived, and I ran downstairs to change, and checked really quick to see who else was nominated and I started yelling when I saw that Briana Henry [Jordan, GH], who’s a dear friend of mine, was nominated, so then I immediately called her and started screaming. I was very surprised, but very excited and grateful.” You won your first Emmy as Ava in 2009. What does it mean to you to come back and be nominated for the same role? “It means everything. I love Ava and I love being at DAYS OF OUR LIVES; it’s such a great group of people and it’s such a caring work environment. She’s just a very multifaceted character and the fact that it was the first time I won, it’s just a really beautiful homecoming to be back at DAYS and to be acknowledged like this. It means the world to me.” You also won an Emmy as GH’s Kim. Does it ever get old? “Oh, hell no! How can it get old? It’s absolutely such a joy. It is an honor. It’s just so exciting and it feels so good to be recognized by my peers. I love what I do. I love acting. So to be recognized and acknowledged for that, I don’t know how that can ever get old, and if it does, it’s time for me to get out.
Congratulations! “Thank you. It was a big surprise and I’m just really grateful that it fell my way in terms of a nomination this year. I was stunned and so grateful and really thrilled.” What did you submit? “Probably the strongest piece was the Alexis intervention and reading the letter I’d written to her. The other [scenes], I kind of can’t remember [laughs]! But I think that was made all the stronger by Nancy’s [Grahn] reaction to it, that sort of stoic, stony, ‘You’re all full of crap, where’s my next drink?’ reaction. It went through Diane like a knife.” What would winning mean to you? “It’s been such a dismal, depressed past 15 months that the fact that anyone is watching anything these days and not pulling an Alexis, if you know what I mean — that is incredibly gratifying, and because I’m in a group of ladies that are absolutely stellar, winning would be just a wonderful recognition from peers that I admire so much.” Will you miss anything about the in-person ceremony? “I will miss all of it. It’s fun, and anyone who tells you that it’s labor, that it’s work — they’re lying! Next year, when we are back on the red carpet, it is going to be quadruply exciting because in the last 15 months, we’ve missed those opportunities to put on makeup, do our hair, put on a lovely gown and celebrate.” This year will mark your 15th anniversary as Diane; it’s pretty nifty to mark it with an Emmy nod! “Oh, there is nobody more blessed than I am. It’s just that simple. Nobody in this industry, in this town and in daytime, right now, is more blessed than I am.”
How did you get the good news and how did you celebrate? “I actually got the news from my husband [Kris Bowers], who rushed into our bedroom first thing, shouting that I had gotten nominated. He was so proud of me, and it was the most perfect way to find out. As far as celebrating, my husband, my in-laws, my family and friends were all so sweet and sent me a bunch of bouquets of flowers. Also, luckily my one-year anniversary trip was around the corner, so we decided to tag on my nomination celebration to that, where we were able to escape to one of our favorite places, Big Sur, for a couple of days.” What does it mean to you to get your first nomination? “I’m so grateful for the recognition, and I’m actually still letting it sink in. I feel like I’ve been putting so much heart into the show since I started, and really wanted to honor Jordan as a character. It’s also not lost on me the significance of my nomination, being a woman of color in this genre.” What was on your reel, and did you get anyone’s input on what to submit? “A lot of the scenes in my reel involved my storyline with Cyrus, TJ’s kidnapping, as well as the demise of Jordan’s relationship with Curtis. I spent weeks trying to figure out what felt like my strongest performances, and got some insight from my husband and my dear friends Katelyn MacMullen and Tamara Braun, who I was also so excited to see nominated in my same category!” Where would you keep the Emmy if you won? “Next to my husband’s [for Outstanding Music Direction and Composition in 2017], on a bookshelf in our piano room.”
Your first Emmy nomination! How does it feel? “I am so honored. I am so excited, especially considering the pandemic and the way we came back and got through it. Everyone worked so hard, and it was such great material.” What did you submit? “I submitted scenes when Sally was with Katie and found out she was dying; when Flo found out Sally was lying and she admitted it; and the kidnapping and the breakup with Wyatt.” Darin [Brooks] is nominated, too. Did you reach out to him? “I immediately texted him and if I could have jumped through my text, I would have. I couldn’t have done this without him. He’s an amazing scene partner.” What was Chad’s [Duell, Michael, GH, and her fiancé] reaction to your nod? “I was at Y&R and I FaceTimed him, and he was so happy. He’s been through this before so he can help me because I’m new to the Emmy nomination club.” How about your Y&R co-stars? “Everyone was so warm and gracious. I had just finished my scenes when I got the news and was in the [dressing] room. I was just so excited, I said out loud, ‘I’m sorry for anyone who’s next door but I am so happy!’ ” And your family’s reaction? “My mom screamed and immediately posted on Facebook. My dad was like, ‘I can’t find you online,’ and I’m like, ‘Dad, you don’t need to. I’m telling you. I got nominated.’ He was so funny. It was a terrific morning. I’m definitely living the dream.”
Photo credit: COURTESY OF BELL-PHILLIP TELEVISION PRODUCTIONS INC