It's been ten years since McKenzie Westmore ended her run on daytime, first as Passions' Sheridan Crane and then as All My Children's Riley Sinclair. But when you speak with the actress about her time on soap operas, her memories are so clear, it's almost as if she hung up her hat in the genre just yesterday. Part of that may be because she recently reentered the soap arena, playing reporter Caroline Allen on The Bay, but most of it stems from the fact that she just loves the medium and can't help but light up when asked about her experiences in Harmony and Pine Valley.
Take crying scenes, for example. When Soap Central asked the actress about her process for getting to an emotional place, she freely opened up about a super shocking secret that's rarely mentioned by stars of the genre -- despite the fact that, as she claims, it's a trick widely used by some of the biggest names in the industry.
But little-known soap hacks aren't the only exciting things McKenzie revealed during our recent chat. The actress also opened up about what viewers can expect from her new character on The Bay; which revolutionary products are available at her makeup company, Westmore Beauty; and what it was like taking over for Tori Spelling as host of the uplifting makeover series The Look: All Stars.
Soap Central: Before we get into your recent projects, I have to say your Instagram page is giving some serious inspiration to hit the gym! You are looking fabulous, especially in the Love Always swimsuit photoshoot you recently did.
McKenzie Westmore: You're so sweet, thank you! First of all, I was so excited and honored to do that campaign with Emily Simpson, who's on The Real Housewives of Orange County. She has become a very good friend of mine, and then I got to know Gina [Kirschenheite], who is also very sweet. Emily reached out to me and asked if I would mind doing this campaign, and the proceeds would go toward Hearts of Gold, which helps women and children in shelters. She said we would all throw on some bathing suits and wear some gorgeous jewelry, so I said, "Sure, I'll come down and do that, why not?" [Laughs] But it's so funny, ever since I posted those photos, I've been getting so many responses like, "Okay, what do I need to do at the gym?" And my Instagram page has sort of turned into a lifestyle page, and all of a sudden, I'm getting promoted on all of these gym sites.
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Soap Central: That's pretty funny. But also fabulous for you because maybe it opens some new doors or exposes you to new fans who didn't know you before.
Westmore: It's very true! It has opened up some doors, and ironically, I think that's partially how I got the show The Look, which I start filming this week. I know I hit a bunch of different things [they were looking for], but part of that was social media. And even when it comes to auditioning, I'm finding out through my agents that one thing they're asked is, "How many followers does she have?" [Laughs]
Soap Central: Can you tell me a little about The Look and how you became a part of the show?
Westmore: So, The Look is in its second season. Last season, it aired on the CW with Tori Spelling hosting, but due to some scheduling conflicts that worked out in my favor, I'll be hosting this season -- and we're set to do several seasons, actually. But for now, it's just five episodes, and it's all about makeovers in hair, beauty, makeup, fashion, skin, everything from head to toe. It's all positive makeovers, and I'm going to be the brand ambassador for my company Westmore Beauty, so that will be showcased on the show. The challenges are things like couples that lost everything in the Malibu fires and literally have one suitcase to their name, and we're going to make them over and give them the things they need to start their life over. So, that's one example of a challenge. And then I think Emily Simpson is going to be one of our guest judges, and we're doing one that is hot babes in hot cars, basically how to match your look to your new car [laughs].
Soap Central: Oh, my gosh, you are the perfect person for this. Do you feel like this was just meant to happen?
Westmore: You know what? I really do! This is a show that is meant to be, because it's definitely my wheelhouse. And that's why they said I hit every single point that they were looking for: the fact that I came off of Face Off [the SyFy reality makeup series that I hosted for thirteen seasons], the fact that I have a makeup family, the fact that I have my own cosmetics line, the fact that I have a cosmetic line that we can put in the show and endorse and use. It was like so serendipitous. It was like all the stars aligning.
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SO EXCITED to announce I'll be hosting the hit makeover show @thelookallstars !! If you loved Face Off, you'll love the transformations you'll see on The Look All Stars (minus the monsters 😂) If you love Fashion, Makeup, Hairstyles: seeing some incredible makeover challenges as well as easy to do at home "how to tricks" to makeover your own appearance from some of the biggest heavy hitters in the beauty industry, then You Will Love This! More info to come on air date 😍 #thelookallstars #makeover #makeovers #hosting #producing #beauty #fashion #hairstyles #glamsquad #westmorebeauty #lifestyle #lifestyleblogger #cosmetics #makeup #makeuptutorial #transformation #joinme #excited #announcement ❤️ Thank you @cmroth_1 & @robcohentv for making all of this happen! You both Rock!!! ❤️
Soap Central: You landed a role on The Bay earlier this fall, so will you be able to continue on as sexy reporter Caroline even though you've booked The Look?
Westmore: Yes, for sure! I will definitely continue on with The Bay. That was the fun part about doing this season: it was really just the setup to Caroline Allen, and then we'll find out much more about who Caroline Allen is, because she's actually tied in to one of the main families. So, I can give you that little tidbit about what's coming.
Soap Central: What has it been like for you to be on The Bay, acting alongside so many big names in the daytime industry?
Westmore: I'm not going to lie: it was slightly intimidating to have one of my first scenes with A. Martinez [ex-Cruz Castillo, Santa Barbara; ex-Roy DiLucca, General Hospital; ex-Ray Montez, One Life to Live; ex-Ramon Montgomery, The Bold and the Beautiful; ex-Eduardo Hernandez, Days of our Lives]. I was like, "Whaaaaat?!" [Laughs] And even Vivica Fox [ex-Stephanie Simmons, The Young and the Restless]. I didn't get to work with her, but just having her there on set was great. She was a guest judge on Face Off, so I had met her once before, and we had a great time. And I have to say, [creators] Gregori Martin and Kristos Andrews, they are such a powerhouse team. I felt so honored, and, if anything, I felt intimidated getting in there with Gregori, even though he and I have been friends forever. He wanted me to join The Bay when they first started, but I had Face Off. So here we are, like eight years later, and I finally got to do it. But even that was slightly intimidating, because they're such a well-oiled machine. I can't say enough good things about Gregori. He is such a sweetheart. He makes it so easy and makes you feel so welcome and so loved. He made the whole job and process so amazing.
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Amazing night for the premiere of "The Bay!" Be sure to catch season 4 on Amazon Prime Video December 27th!! So incredibly proud & honored to be part of this family! Thank you @gregorijmartin for allowing me to join! ❤️ Its so beautifully shot and everyone involved did such stellar jobs! So freaking proud! More fun to come!😍 #bingethebay #thebaytheseries #soapopera #amazonprimevideo #daytime #television #happy #family #love #joy #picoftheday #igers
Soap Central: After the disappointing cancellation of Face Off, did you seriously start looking into returning to soap operas, considering that's where you got your start?
Westmore: I did, actually, because I really wanted to go back to the medium of soap opera. And even The Bay, there's a little bit of a funny story behind that. I was on vacation in Palm Springs, and I saw a casting call for a show. I didn't know what it was at first, and it said something about bathing suit models, and I thought, "Well, I think I can pull this off." So, I looked at it a bit closer and thought, "Oh, my God, this is The Bay! I have Gregori's cell. I'm just going to text him." So, I texted the number. I attached a bunch of bathing suit photos. But then I thought, "Oh, my God. What if that isn't Gregori?!? It's been eight years since we messaged. What if he changed his cell, and I just texted some random stranger bathing suit photos?!" [Laughs] Long story short, thank God it was him, and he called me back immediately and said, "Let's make this happen. I'm working on a script right now, and if you have time to come in, I'm going to rewrite everything right now." And he literally spent the next couple of nights rewriting the script to put my character in. It ended up not being the bathing suit one; it ended up being a reporter, and he said, "I am completely changing the character, the script. I'm giving you a name, I'm putting her as part of a family, and we are going to build this out." So, he went to writing immediately.
Soap Central: I have to ask because there have been some recent rumblings that All My Children could be rebooted...
Westmore: Oh, my God, really?!?
Soap Central: Well, we're not getting our hopes up too high, but an ABC executive recently said there may be some conversations happening. So, in light of that, I'm wondering how you'd feel about reprising the role of Dr. Riley Sinclair?
Westmore: I would do that in a heartbeat! If that is something that could actually come to fruition, I would love it. Dr. Riley Sinclair was never killed; she was sent to jail, so I would do it in a heartbeat.
Soap Central: There's a connection a bit like for The Look there, as well. All My Children has a long history telling cosmetic-based storylines with Fusion and Enchanted, and they once partnered with Revlon. So, I feel like you could work Westmore Beauty in there pretty naturally, as well.
Westmore: Yes! And, in fact, one of the soap operas, I think it was The Bold and the Beautiful... they actually teamed up with my partner at Westmore Beauty once upon a time. So, if there is some sort of connection there, and I feel like there could be, that would be amazing to do with All My Children.
Soap Central: When you look back to your early soap days or see footage from your time on Passions or AMC, what do you think?
Westmore: I think my look has definitely changed -- I would love to go back on a soap and not have a pixie cut! [Laughs] I feel like I spent all my soap years with crazy short hair. But I really loved doing All My Children, getting to work with Cameron Mathison [ex-Ryan Lavery] and Aiden Turner [ex-Aidan Devane], so many great people. Passions was also fun, and I have definitely been looking to go back to the soap world.
Soap Central: Was it difficult for you to jump back into soap work following all your years hosting on a reality TV show?
Westmore: No, actually. I thought the same thing. I was a little nervous the first day, and then, all of a sudden, everything came back. It was like riding a bike.
Soap Central: What is your process for tackling emotional scenes that require you to dig deep inside yourself and bring something amazing?
Westmore: I was trained in two schools of thought in acting. The first was more of pulling up and imagining if someone in your life were to die, and I just couldn't do that. I didn't want to put that into the universe. And then Howard Fine actually taught me a different approach, and he's the reason I feel like I landed my role on Passions. He really trained well for thinking of somebody who has already passed in your life or thinking of a sad moment in your life and going from there. And that was always more my process. On the soaps, though, there were days when you were doing 100 pages a day, and it's just day after day after day, and there's no time, and I always felt bad [when the scenes took too long]. I'm so cognitive of the crew, and I want to get them home, so there were days where I was just like, "Forget it. Put the peppermint in my eyes and make me cry!"
Soap Central: Wait, is that really a trick?
Westmore: Yes, there's really a little thing they can use to blow peppermint into your eyes. Not chunks of it -- although one time I did have a little piece that did come through the thing into my eye -- but really, it's just supposed to be this scent of peppermint that would make your eyes water. It worked like a charm! I loved that stuff.
Soap Central: I am not even kidding you: I have been doing interviews with soap opera actors for over twelve years now, and not a single one of them has confessed to using this trick!
Westmore: Are you serious?!? I guess nobody wants to admit it! [Laughs] I'm an open book; I'll tell you anything! Really, it was a trick that many people used. I saw so many actors on set at Passions using that, because the job is difficult. You can't expect the body to just cry when you're doing eight episodes a week. Most days, you had 50 pages, but I remember one day we had 99 pages. So, when you're doing that many pages, you've got long days, maybe everything is great in your life and you're happy, there is just no way you can make yourself actually cry so much. Some days, it just won't work. So, they had this thing they would keep in the makeup bag, and it was for everybody. Everybody used it, instead of carrying onions in your pocket so you smelled bad! [Laughs] It was this little contraption they came up with that was a little stick with a blow tube on it, and they would call it blow, so everybody laughed about that. It was like, "Can I get some blow?" [Laughs] Not that kind! But if you ever heard anyone on set saying, "Can I have some blow?" that's what they meant.
Soap Central: Speaking of makeup bags, I'd love it if you could share which beauty products you recommend from Westmore Beauty to help readers get rid of the winter doldrums and get ready for spring?
Westmore: I would say the number one thing is the Body Coverage Perfector. We've done great clinical studies, and it's now scientifically proven that it is waterproof, sweat proof, transfer resistant, and lasts over 72 hours. And it's a body coverage product that will give you a glow and give you a tan. When it's applied over clean, dry, exfoliated, oil-free skin, it will give unbelievable coverage, unbelievable color, look natural and will last day after day, whether you get in the shower or the pool. We also just launched another product called Bronze Now Glow Later that hasn't even hit the market yet, it's on pre-order. You can go to QVC.com to find it, and that's another one that, for the face, when you put it on, immediately, you get a bronzed glow. But every day that you use it over the course of three days, you'll see self-tinting. Because of the way we formulate it in two different tubes, you'll never get that orange look, it has no smell, and it won't streak. The ingredients in self tanners, the DHA, will actually break down bronzers, and this has never been done before, that we've separated it into two tubes, and now you get that immediate bronzed look, but as the days go on, you'll get a self-tint to your skin to where you won't need to wear makeup. And that literally is your vacation in a bottle!
Soap Central: Is there anything else you'd like to add before I let you go?
Westmore: Just that I would love for people to check out QVC.com and WestmoreBeauty.com to see all of the great, innovative technology in makeup that has come out and will be coming. Definitely keep an eye on my social media accounts: Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter. I try to hit up on all of those, and I'm very diligent about answering people's questions, whether they're soap opera related or Face Off related or The Look related and certainly for anybody who purchases Westmore Beauty products, I make myself available to answer any and all questions that they might have, because I don't want anybody to ever feel in the dark. Especially with products that are new technology, there can be a little bit of a learning curve. And I know, myself, and as any woman, when you get something in the mail, you want to be put it on right away. But with Body Coverage Perfector, that's definitely one you've got to read the instructions on. So that's why I make myself available to any woman or man that has questions on any products. Other than that, keep an eye out for The Look: All Stars. It looks like it will air this summer, either on the CW or Bravo, so stay tuned. Other than that, I'm really hoping that what you told me about All My Children does happen, because I would jump on that in a heartbeat. That would be amazing. In the meantime, just keep looking out for The Bay, because that's still moving and grooving, too.
What do you think about our interview with McKenzie Westmore? Did you know soap stars sometimes use peppermint to help them in crying scenes? What do you think of The Bay's Caroline Allen? Will you tune in to see Westmore on The Look: All Stars? We want to hear from you -- and there are many ways you can share your thoughts.