Anyone who looks at the complete list of this year's Daytime Emmy nominations can't help but notice a series called After Forever. The digital drama was listed numerous times, in categories both in front of and behind the camera. But that's no surprise, considering the name attached to the series: former Days of our Lives star Kevin Spirtas (ex-Dr. Craig Wesley), who not only co-created, co-executive produced, and co-wrote the drama with Michael Slade, but who also starred in the series.
In light of After Forever's multiple nominations, Soap Central spoke with Spirtas about the buzzed-over drama, which follows the romance between a 50-ish New York City couple, Brian (Spirtas) and Jason (Mitchell Anderson). He opened up about how it feels to be recognized by the Academy, where digital dramas go from here, and which of his former DAYS costars he's looking forward to seeing during the Emmy ceremony in May.
Soap Central: Congratulations on your Daytime Emmy nominations! How do you feel about your show, After Forever, receiving eight Daytime Emmy nominations, including a nomination for Outstanding Digital Daytime Drama?
Kevin Spirtas: Well I can honestly say my co-creator/co-writer/co-producer Michael Slade and I are still flying out over the moon somewhere! [Laughs] It's a really wonderful honor that not only have the people who have seen the show but also the Academy has recognized what we set out to do and create. Michael and I are very pleased, thrilled, and excited. I called Michael the other day, because I was making my bed, and the cat was running around, and I had a million things in my mind, and all of a sudden, it sort of hit me like, "Oh!" That picture in your head of the life that you want to have happen is happening right now! You strive and you work hard and take meetings and you go on auditions and you say, "Oh, let's the two of us come up with something together, and we agree on certain content that isn't out there, and then we find a way to collaborate on this story," [and this happens]. And it's exciting. It really is exciting. Michael has been nominated for Emmys before in the writing department, and I've been nominated once for an Emmy, and we received the Indie Series Award and the [International Academy of Web Television] Award, and now the Emmy nominations -- this is the top of the cake.
Soap Central: And you also got nominated in the Lead Actor category for digital dramas, which must feel like the cherry on top!
Spirtas: That's the cherry on top of the whipped cream on top of the cake!
Soap Central: How did you find out that you'd been nominated?
Spirtas: I was in the middle of a phone meeting, and the cell phone started to blow up with texts and emails, and I thought, "Wait, wait, wait: what is going on?!" So that's how I found out. It wasn't by messenger, it wasn't by a deed being handed to me, it was just, "The phone is blowing up!" [Laughs]
Soap Central: Because you were in a meeting, did you have to keep your composure and not react, or were you able to let out your excitement?
Spirtas: I was on a conference call meeting, so I said, "Guys, hold on here." So, I did keep my composure, but I was a little distracted, so I said, "Hold on one second," and we were kind of wrapping up the meeting, anyway, so I could tell them what was going on.
Soap Central: Which scenes did you submit for the actor category?
Spirtas: There were a couple of scenes. One that I submitted for my character, Brian, was the toast at the end of episode one. There's a toast to Jason [Mitchell Anderson], where Brian professes his love and says, "I can't imagine living without you; you're my soul mate." So there's this heartfelt love that happens there, and then... there is a scene where he is walking down the street with his "work wife," Brenda, who is played by Erin Cherry, who is also an Emmy nominee now in the Supporting Actress category, and we are walking, and I have a meltdown about how I was lied to by this guy I started to date, and I was let down, and it's kind of a "woe is me" frustration over how no one is going to fill Jason's shoes. And then the other scene that I know we put in was at the end of episode eight, the scene where Jason is dying, and Brian is comforting him as he's saying goodbye.
Soap Central: You were able to put in quite a bit and show a nice range and story/character progression, which I'm sure helped with your nomination.
Spirtas: Yeah, that was a real blessing to receive from the Academy. When you made it to a certain level of nomination, you were allotted 15 minutes. Although, my reel certainly didn't take that long! I think sometimes less is more, and they want to see something that's moving and touching and resonates. And that's why in all of the nominees that we submitted, Michael Slade and I and Allison Vanore, our other producer, we really took the time to create within the reel a sense of heart and what it's like to be in those situations. We didn't labor, but we really went over each scene with a fine-tooth comb and really selected scenes that would resonate [with the viewers].
Soap Central: You're up against Mitchell Anderson, from your own show, in the same category. Does that influence the competitiveness you feel?
Spirtas: This is going to sound really, really hokey, but everyone always says it's the nomination that is the big deal, and it really is. How do you have a better performance or a better show? We are in company with some really great contenders from all the dramas, all the actors and actresses, so we salute them all. If we don't win or receive the statue or the trophy, it does not mean that we have lost, if that makes sense. We were all thrilled about receiving eight nominations, like, "Oh, my God, we are in the room!" The nomination is the win. That being said, I remember the day when Michael Slade and I were finishing up a couple of scripts, and I said, "Who do we want to try and get to play Jason?" I had a couple of people in mind, and I knew from myself as an actor that I really wanted to have someone who I could have an immediate connection with, and I started talking about Mitchell. He was out of the business, but I thought maybe he would come back and do this role. We were daydreaming, but I said, "Well, I'm going to call him." And I called up Mitchell, and I asked him to do this, and he graciously said yes. We were so honored by that, and if I were to win a Best Actor Award for a Digital Drama Series this year for my performance in After Forever, I would share it with Mitchell Anderson. I could not have played any better than I played with Mitchell, who I've known for at least 30 years. He's out of the business, he's in Atlanta with an incredible restaurant that he owns, and he took the time out to do this series. So, I think it's an honor to have that competition and to have him right alongside me. It would be nice if one of us wins, but I'd be sharing it with him already if they call my name. He is so good in his role, so great. And also, there are people who get to have multiple nominations over many years, over decades sometimes, and that's an acknowledgement of what they're doing is in the right direction. And gratefully I have the opportunity to do interviews like this one, because this is what I'd say on stage [if I won], so thank you for giving me the possibility of thanking Mitchell and Michael Slade and all the people who collaborated on this!
Soap Central: Days of our Lives received so many Daytime Emmy nominations this year, and many stars from the show will likely be in attendance. Is there anyone you're particularly excited to see or reunite with at the awards?
Spirtas: Well there's Martha Madison [Belle Black]. I've always been a huge fan of hers. And also, Eric Martsolf [Brady Black] and Thaao Penghlis [Andre DiMera]. Thaao and I both studied with Milton Katselas at the Beverly Hills Playhouse long before we ever crossed paths at DAYS. He's so talented! And I'm also thrilled for Jon Lindstrom [Kevin Collins/Ryan Chamberlain] from General Hospital. He's a friend of mine from many, many years ago, and I'm very proud of what he's done on General Hospital.
Soap Central: You recently hosted the Indie Series Awards, where After Forever took home the trophy for best Ensemble Drama. You hosted alongside your DAYS friends Eric Martsolf and Patrika Darbo [ex-Nancy Wesley, DAYS]. What was that experience like?
Spirtas: Well, our hosting requirements were opening the show, and that's all we really did. [Laughs] But, that being said, I had a great time with them. There was a camaraderie between which one of us was going to be the host and why we all three thought we deserved to be the host of the Indie Series Awards, and it was a little "I'm better than you," and "I hosted it better one year, so they should have me back" kind of funny bickering. Patrika is always fun, and Eric is so great.
Soap Central: Are you in regular contact with either of them?
Spirtas: More so with Patrika because we've stayed friends throughout the years, and we also have a group of mutual friends that we see at different parties.
Soap Central: It's a small world, the daytime community!
Spirtas: And I must say, I'm very excited about something that's happening this year in the small world of daytime. All of the digital award nominations and wins in the past were announced at the Creative Arts Emmy Awards two nights prior, but this year, they're saving the Best Digital Drama Series award for the actual Daytime Emmy ceremony on Sunday. The thing that is really extraordinary is that it's very clear that there's a blurring of the lines between digital content and network content; they're coming together on a certain level, and there will be a day very soon where it won't be about network shows and Internet shows. It's going to be about content, and I think that's a really wonderful statement that the Academy is making.
Soap Central: I don't think you're wrong. People are definitely changing the way that they consume content, and I know quite a few people who watch the network soaps digitally.
Spirtas: Yes, it's about content, and it's an honor to be thrown into that mix. We're not up against The Young and the Restless or Days of our Lives or General Hospital or The Bold and the Beautiful at this time. However, I think there will be a day when it will be content versus content. Or rather content included with content.
Soap Central: I know this is normally a question asked of women, but men are giving me great answers to this question, too, so I'm going with it: have you thought about what you might wear to the Daytime Emmys yet?
Spirtas: [Laughs] Well I was making a joke about it, and I said, "Thank God I'm not a person who has to worry about wearing two different dresses!" But there are people who present now in dresses -- both male and female -- and I'm all for it. I have two tuxedos that I will wear on the different nights.
Soap Central: Will you bring or wear a lucky charm?
Spirtas: That's a good question, but no. I feel like I have lucky charms around me at all times, or talismans or mantras. Truth be told, the win has already happened -- the votes have been cast already, so the lucky charm effect would have had to have happened months ago! You know what I mean? But I think being there with my co-creator and co-collaborator Michael Slade on this, we are so excited. And we have Jennifer Pepperman, who is up for Best Director, and we have Mitchell coming to both ceremonies, and some producers who will be there, as well, and there's Erin Cherry and Cady Huffman [Lisa], both up for Supporting Actress, they will both be there, and Anita Gillette, and, though they're not nominated for an award, Finn Douglas, who plays Riley, and Jameson Stern [Paul], are both coming out to attend. So, I think our lucky charm effect is the family of After Forever.
For more information on After Forever, check out Soap Central's in-depth interview with Spirtas about the creation and casting of the digital drama here.
What do you think about out interview with Kevin Spirtas? Do you think After Forever has a chance of winning at this year's Daytime Emmy Awards? We want to hear from you -- and there are many ways you can share your thoughts.