INTERVIEW: Lauralee Bell on family traditions and her future at The Young and the Restless

Posted Friday, March 29, 2019 11:57:32 AM

The Young and the Restless star Lauralee Bell (Christine Blair) opens up about carrying on the Bell family legacy and what's ahead for her Genoa City alter ego.

They say the apple doesn't fall far from the tree, and that is certainly the case for the Bell family. Not long after William J. Bell and Lee Phillip Bell co-created The Young and the Restless and The Bold and the Beautiful, the couple's son, Bradley Bell, jumped in as a producer at B&B, and their daughter, Lauralee Bell, took on the role of Christine Blair at Y&R. Bradley eventually took the reins as head writer and executive producer of B&B, while Lauralee has forged ahead with projects like writing, directing, and producing the Emmy Award-winning series mI promise and executive producing the Lifetime Movie Network film Nightmare Tenant.

Soap Central recently spoke with Lauralee about her work as an executive producer, and she opened up about her future plans in the entertainment industry as well as the important ways in which she hopes to carry on her parents' legacy. She also gives some inside scoop on what's ahead for Y&R's Christine and answers a very important question: would she ever take the reins at Y&R and become the show's executive producer? Keep reading her recent Soap Central interview to find out.

Soap Central: You recently executive produced Lifetime's Nightmare Tenant, and considering there is a little bit of a legacy element that features in the film, I wanted to ask whether or not you're big into family traditions?

Lauralee Bell: I don't know about traditions, but I certainly want to be the kind of people my parents are and were. Both of my parents worked very hard but still kept a great sense of humor. My dad tried to do well in terms of when he was at work, he was one hundred percent committed to his work, and then when he would switch to family time, he was one hundred percent committed to that. And my mom is so giving and so attentive. She did a live talk show in Chicago for over thirty years, and people would come up to her constantly and say, "Miss Lee, I watch you every day!" And she wouldn't just say, "Oh that's so nice. Thank you." She would spend a few minutes and connect with everyone. She is so gracious. And I try to do that, too. [When I put out the trailer for Nightmare Tenant], the fans were so kind, and you can't take that for granted. People are giving up their time to support you and make an effort to switch their day to watch something that you're asking them to watch. It isn't just a, "gee, thanks." It's really, really nice of them, because life is so busy. If I'm not technically a family member, that's a huge request to ask of someone. So, it's not so much tradition in terms of I bring out the potholders on Christmas; it's more that I want to carry on their traditions if I'm creating something new. I'm hoping to move forward a couple of projects, and I want fans to see in something that I put out there the same [qualities my parents had], the character-driven qualities of shows that my father created, a touch of him, and the quality and sincerity of my mother. Things like that.

Soap Central: Those are the best things to carry on, and I would assume those are the things you'd rather pass on to your own children.

Bell: I mean, I will still pull out the needlepoint ornaments, I'm not gonna lie! I was a big needlepointer when I was a kid. So, certain traditions come out like that. My poor kids, I'm like, "I made that, I made that." They're like, "We're teenagers. We don't care!" [Laughs] But maybe when they're a little older, then they will.

Soap Central: You were featured heavily in the court scenes that recently played out on The Young and the Restless. There were so many veterans on the screen at once, so what is that like for you, to be center stage and perform in front of all of them?

Bell: [Laughs] Listen, our cast is close, and I have to say I've had to do court cases many times, but never did I feel the support of everyone as much as I did with this trial. Fortunately and unfortunately, I did have the heavy dialogue. I hear when it's coming, because they say, "Just so you know, it's going to be an intense trial," and half of me gets super pumped and half of me gets super scared. Even though I've done it before, I think, "Can I do it again?" You walk into that set every day, and you know that everyone just wants to make a good show and then get home to their families. So, it's all on you! You know if you get that dialogue out, people are heading home. If you aren't, then [they have to stay], so it's a lot of crazy pressure. But if you stop to think about that element, then forget it. I really had to key in and study, and I think not just for me or for the trial, people forget the element of just how much homework we have at home, how much time we have to spend studying. And when you're working every day and working on the questions for each day, and you know in two days you have this three-page closing argument, it's [a lot]. I mean, I get nervous thinking about it now that's it's over! But I have to say, everyone was so supportive. They were applauding afterward, and not just for me, for each person that was up on the stand. We all sort of realized we were entering a bonding story for a couple of weeks, and suddenly you become close with the judge, and the bailiff is your new best friend, and you look forward to seeing the jury every day. It's really sweet. And the minute we're not taping, we're joking with them. But on the first day, as they arrived in their seats, I said, "Hi, how are you? You guys are my lifeline. When I'm going to be panicking, I'm mostly staring over at you. So nice to meet you, and thank you already!" It's a big deal. I would assume some of that comes through on camera, just how much work it is, but it's been fun, and I think it turned out well. There was a good pace, and I think the writing was great. But I'm happy it's over, at least in terms of the heavy dialogue!

Soap Central: Did it add any pressure to know that you were working alongside a real-life attorney in Lauren Woodland (Brittany Hodges)?

Bell: Oh, that was so great! Christian [LeBlanc, Michael Baldwin] and I were constantly going over to her and saying, "Tell us more stories!" or, "Is this really how it would be?" It added a really fun element. We've also been doing court cases for years, and we've never had a third attorney, so I loved that element. However, we were joking all the time that I was sitting all by myself always. It was my side of this huge courtroom and every actor was on the other side! They're having fun, they're having snacks, they're joking on their phones between takes, and I had my briefcase to talk to. [Laughs] But having Lauren there was great. I hope that happens again in the future. It's also fun to see everyone's different styles, too. All three of us questioned differently. I think that's how it is in real life, and I just loved that element.

Soap Central: The fans have been pretty disappointed that we haven't seen much of Christine outside of this trial and in the last year. So, can you tease whether or not we'll be seeing more of her now that there's a new head writer in charge and Paul [Doug Davidson] is back?

Bell: Doug and I were just talking about that! We're really hoping for that. The one hard thing about the trial was that you only saw my character as the tough D.A. I was hoping that we could have a scene where I'm at the GCAC bar, sweating it out after the day or going into the ladies' room at the courthouse and just crying for a second. Because she's doing her job, but she also has to put on this act of being this super tough girl all the time. Everyone has their breaking point, and I would have loved to have seen that. We saw a little thing with Billy [Jason Thompson], where she at least had a human factor and explained why she's doing this, that she's doing this for the people who aren't around anymore, to give them a voice. But, yes, to answer your question, it is my hope that now that Doug is around more that we will have the scenes that we used to have back at home -- or talking about anything but business! I can't give you an answer, though, because I don't know. We have a couple of weeks where we work together, and then it's spring break, and I'm taking a week off to be with family. But we'll know very soon, and we are rooting for it!

Soap Central: You've seen a lot of different people come in and take control of the show. Is it ever hard for you to see other people coming in and putting their spin on your parents' legacy?

Bell: I think it's sad that sometimes people don't understand how good they have it until people are gone. So many times have I had sweet comments from people who say, "Boy, we miss your dad." It was just his birthday, so I got a lot of sweet comments. But life evolves, and shows evolve, and the times evolve. So, I understand people wanting to put their spin on it. The only thing I would question is, if it's not broken, then don't try and fix it. I think the formula for Y&R is set, as long as no one tries to make the storylines too far-fetched. The Victor Newmans and the Nikki Newmans are there. You put them in a room, magic happens. So, you don't really have to try very hard in terms of coming up with something that is out of the realm of reality. When it comes down to it, it's about families and getting through. Everyone's got their stuff, and you just keep that element. We've got the incredible, loyal viewers, and we've got the incredible actors, so I just say, as long as we keep with the formula, we're good. Josh [Griffith] and Tony [Morina], who are in charge now, understand that completely. They see the magic that the actors bring to it, and they're very good at [what they do]. They know. So, if I've ever been excited about Y&R again since my father, it is right now.

Soap Central: You've got executive producing experience behind you, and your brother is in that position at B&B, so I have to ask -- have you ever considered taking the reins at Y&R?

Bell: [Laughs] Wow. You know, people have certainly whispered that in my ear. But I don't know. Everyone at Y&R is my super close friend, so I don't know how that translates to then getting notes from me. So, I don't know. People say, "Well, you would sit with your father, and you would hear what he would say." And I get that. But we have very qualified people who are doing it now, and I'm excited to see what they'll do. I would never say never, but I'm happy showing up to work, doing the best job I can and trusting that we are in good hands.

Soap Central: I actually hadn't thought of that element, being that you are so close to everyone at Y&R, and how it might be strange to suddenly jump in as their new boss. That is hard in any career situation, whether it's a soap opera or not.

Bell: People would never understand, but when my dad would give me a note, I would take it so hard. I finally grew up a little bit and understood, well, if I'm going to get a note, I might as well get it from him because he knows exactly what he wants. He would not be shy about telling me, "You've got to give it more," or, "You've got to do this, you've got to do that." But when I was younger, I felt like he was disappointed in me, and it was the worst feeling. So, when you're super close with people, it's sometimes received on a different level, and it's really tricky. I had to grow up and know that my request was to be treated like everybody else, so I had to get the notes like everyone else. And that was the only way I was going to learn. So, yeah, I don't know how that would work. For now, I'm happy where I'm at. But we'll see.

Soap Central: In celebration of your recent Lifetime Movie Network film and the fun titles that the network always gives its films, if Lifetime were making a movie based on your life, what do you think it would be called?

Bell: I don't know what the word would be, but I feel like people have this persona of me that I'm not. I mean, every day, if I'm not working, I'm in carpool line or trying to find snacks at the grocery store that my kids will be excited about, and then I'm going to visit my mom, then I come home to try and write, then I'm making sure my husband is taken care of. I'm doing everything that everyone else is doing, but I sometimes feel like people have this persona in mind, like, "Oh, she's a Bell," or, "Oh, she's an actress." I mean, I never worry about, "Oh, I'm being misunderstood." I can't worry about that, because I'm so involved with my kids' lives, and when you have teenagers, it's all-encompassing, and you're just trying to guide them the best you can every single day. And we have three dogs, one of them is an old guy, and I spend a lot of time lifting up his hind legs so he can walk. So, I never worry about what people think. But I am [living life like everyone else], so I think the title of the film would be something like, Just Like the Rest of Us or something like that. [Laughs]

Soap Central: You do have a lot going on, and I'm sure fans will enjoy hearing that you're doing a lot of "normal" stuff, too.

Bell: Well, it's not that I'm saying that it's a lot. It's just that it's what every other woman is doing. I'm still trying to come up with great concepts and pushing them out there and taking meetings. Just because I have some history in the business doesn't mean things get sold any easier. I'm hustling and doing my best every day to be heard and to try and get another credit, another line on my résumé. It's what we all do.

What do you think about our interview with Lauralee Bell? What do you hope is in the future for Christine? Could you see the actress taking over as executive producer of Y&R at some point in the future? We want to hear from you -- so drop your comments in the Comments section below, tweet about it on Twitter, share it on Facebook, or chat about it on our Message Boards.

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