The Young and the Restless' Morgan Obenreder (ex-Crystal Porter) only has a few years of professional acting experience under her belt, but she's already played a slew of incredibly shocking and soapy storylines. Daytime fans know her from Y&R's recent sex trafficking storyline, where she played out the horrifying and yet hopeful arc of an enslaved girl finally finding freedom and her family. And now she's the star of the upcoming Lifetime film Nanny Killer.
Premiering Sunday, April 29, the eerie drama tells the story of hardworking student Kate, who takes a well-paying summer job as nanny at a winery to offset tuition expenses. The job gets off to a rocky start, however, when she realizes something is "off" with the children she cares for, and their mischievous pranks lead to deadly consequences.
Obenreder: I love it. There's something about kids that makes everything feel a little bit more real. They have better access to their imaginations than we do as adults, so it's much easier for them to slip in and believe whatever is going on. And also, it keeps the set so light. They're just there to have fun, so we're all there to have fun. It makes for a better, more playful environment.
Soap Central: The kids you worked with are probably old enough to tell the difference between reality and the film, right?
Obenreder: Yeah, totally. They've been acting for a long time. They're young, but it seems like a lot of kids who are ten or eleven actually started when they were around five. They somehow get it, and I think it's actually more fun for them in that way. Especially when the kids are supposed to be bad -- it's like they get to break the rules that they've always wanted to!
Soap Central: Have you ever had a babysitting or nanny job in real life?
Obenreder: Yes. Especially when I first moved to L.A. That's kind of one of the many survival jobs that actors have. It's funny, though, because I was never as good as my character is in the movie! I am so much more lenient and not nearly as strict as Kate is in the movie.
Soap Central: It sounds like maybe she had the right instincts, being strict. I mean, if these kids are really as horrible as they sound, then she was probably in the right!
Obenreder: Exactly! And there's one other character, and I don't want to give any spoilers away, but there's one other character in the film that definitely doesn't make life any easier for her. It's like the kids, the bad seeds, have an accomplice. So, it's like she's almost on her own.
Soap Central: I've heard from a lot of people that working for Lifetime is really a dream come true, so has that been your experience as well?
Obenreder: Yes, it was such a great experience. I feel so lucky, because this was actually my second Lifetime film, and the entire cast and crew on both films has been so wonderful. It's really amazing what kind of traction these films get. There are just so many people out there that love them, and it's really cool. I don't know any other venue where films are seen by quite that many people who are not in a theater. I'm from Western Pennsylvania, and I know a lot of people in my hometown who have loved Lifetime movies forever. I feel like it's a little homage to everyone at home when I do them.
Soap Central: You're so right; Lifetime films have a huge and very passionate fanbase, just like soap operas!
Soap Central: Have you found that your Y&R fans have followed you since you left the show?
Obenreder: I have noticed that there are a lot of crossover fans from the Lifetime movie that I previously did and Y&R, so I think it could be the same thing with this one. But I love that! It's so cool because it's really nice to talk to the same people and know that they're enjoying my journey like that and that they're kind of coming along with me. It's a family feeling, sort of, and I'm so grateful to those people who are tuning in and enjoying what I'm working on.
Soap Central: When you first started acting, did you ever imagine that you'd be playing these roles? I mean, you go from being part of a sex trafficking storyline on Y&R to being a nanny who watches killer kids for this film!
Obenreder: Oh, my gosh! [Laughs] I guess I could never have imagined that I'd be put in all these different situations, but I guess it's also the dream. It's these situations that hopefully, especially in Y&R's case, you would never, ever find yourself in in real life. And what I just love about it is that it connects you to so many people who have experiences like this. Maybe not killer children -- but you never know! It's all really, really fun, and it makes me so excited because who knows what's coming and what kind of stories are out there that somehow will be given to me. You just never know what situations you'll be put in on film. And that's the exciting part.
Soap Central: Do you have a dream situation you'd like to play at some point in the future?
Obenreder: Oh, my gosh, it's so funny, and I wish I had a bigger, better answer, but I'm such a hopeless romantic; I would kill to do something like Pride and Prejudice, playing Elizabeth Bennett. A strong woman, but also just super romantic. And I love period pieces. That's my dream. I love costumes and stuff.
Soap Central: Have you kept in touch with anyone from Y&R?
Obenreder: Cait [Fairbanks, Tessa Porter] and I got along well, so we've kept in touch. It also feels a bit like the people who were newer [connected]. So, I've kept in touch with Ryan [Ashton, Zack Stinnett] and Daniel Hall [ex-Scott Grainger] through messaging and stuff. And I could not be more excited for Y&R's Emmy nominations. It's so incredible. With Cait, I'm like, "Oh, my gosh, it's my television sister! And she's nominated for an Emmy!" It's just incredible. And I mean, everyone on that show is the nicest, and they're so welcoming to anyone who is new. And I feel so lucky, because there was one scene where I got to give the speech to basically everyone on the show, because everyone was there, and that gave me such a great opportunity to talk to the veterans of the show. I would expect more ego, and there's just none.
Soap Central: What kind of reaction did you get from your friends and other people when they realized what kind of storyline you were playing on Y&R? I mean, the sex trafficking material is not easy or common stuff.
Obenreder: I feel lucky to have been a part of that storyline in particular because it gave me the opportunity to have discussions about the [really tough topic]. I spoke with my friends about it a lot, because it's just something that people really don't talk about on a day-to-day basis. The facts and figures that are out there about girls who go through these types of things are really terrifying and horrible -- especially because this is also happening in the US. There's this documentary on Netflix called I Am Jane Doe, and if anyone hasn't seen it, I highly recommend it, just to be more aware about this horrible human trafficking situation. But it was crazy to talk about it with my friends and especially my family. I mean, my grandparents have been watching The Young and the Restless since way before I was even born, and I said, "So, I'm going to be on The Young and the Restless, which is so exciting. However, I'm going through this horrible thing and will be dressed in a very different way [than you're used to seeing]." But I think that people were more responsive to the family situation, of Crystal finding her sister and getting out of it, so it was more of a hopeful, excited response once it started airing.
Soap Central: Did you know from the beginning that the role was going to be somewhat short-term?
Obenreder: It's so unknown when you actually sign on. It could go for a week, it could go for a month, it could go for years. You really just have no idea. And I know that they were going through changes with the writers around the time that I showed up, and I was so grateful that I got to do some of [now executive producer and head writer] Mal Young's writing, saying some of his words that he so brilliantly worked on. But you just never know. Even now, it's always a possibility that I could come back. Or I could be done. You really have no idea. The only people that seem to know for sure are those who have the two-year contracts, and they know they're on the show for an x-amount of time. But it sure does keep your emails exciting!
Soap Central: Would you be open to returning to Y&R? Or even to another daytime drama?
Obenreder: Oh, my God, absolutely. Yes. It was such a great time, and it's such a unique experience. There's nothing that shoots like that, with the fast pace. It's almost like doing a play, in a way. And I loved that way of working and being on your feet. So, I would love, love, love to go back to Y&R if they want me!
Soap Central: Is there anything else about Nanny Killer you'd like to add?
Obenreder: It's definitely a fun ride, so I hope people enjoy it. And what's kind of cool about it is that it explores the good and bad in everybody, and nothing is really black or white. So, I really enjoyed that aspect of it, and I hope people respond to that, too.
What did you think about our interview with Morgan Obenreder? What do you think about the premise of Nanny Killer? Would you like to see Crystal Porter back in Genoa City? We want to hear from you -- and there are many ways you can share your thoughts.