It has been a very challenging year for actress Eva LaRue (Celeste Rosales, The Young and the Restless; ex-Maria Santos, All My Children), who lost her ex-husband, John Callahan (ex-Edmund Grey, AMC), who is also the father of her daughter, Kaya, just weeks after the coronavirus quarantine began. She reveals to Soap Central that the soap opera community and the loving fans who are a part of it helped see her through the difficult time, and it's especially heartwarming to be swept up into the family atmosphere yet again with her recent Daytime Emmy nomination in the Outstanding Guest Performer category for her work on Y&R.
During our chat to celebrate LaRue's exciting Emmy news, we also asked the actress to expand on some of the shocking and hilarious things she revealed in her episode of Entertainment Weekly's week-long AMC reunion special -- like the fact that before she landed the part of Maria Santos, she auditioned for the role of -- wait for it -- Kendall Hart!
Soap Central: Congratulations on your Emmy nomination, Eva!
Eva LaRue: Oh, my God, I am so excited! Thank you.
Soap Central: It's been a few years since your last acting nomination -- 1997, I think it was, for AMC. Does it feel different this time around?
LaRue: Yeah, it has been since 1997, I think you're right. And then also I was nominated for music, for Outstanding [Original] Song, and that was probably 2004, I think. But each one feels unique. Each one is always a shock and a surprise. I don't think you get used to it. I don't, anyway! Each time, it was a brand-new, "What?! Woo-hoo!"
Soap Central: It would be pretty sad if you got to the point where it was like, "Oh, an Emmy nomination? Meh."
La Rue: Yeah like, "Uh... thanks?" [Laughs]
Soap Central: Who did you share your nomination news with first?
LaRue: My daughter, Kaya. And she was super excited. She decided that it should be partly her nomination because she has run lines with me so many times. [Laughs] She's my at-home scene partner and has played everybody from Jack Abbott [Peter Bergman] to Lola Rosales [Sasha Calle]. She's been everybody, so actually, she should get the nomination because she's so versatile!
Soap Central: Well, look at her parents! Both you and John, I mean, just fantastic, fantastic actors. Do you feel like she inherited both of your talent?
LaRue: Oh, my gosh, Kaya is a natural talent. She really is. She is a natural talent. When she was doing high school theater, she was killing it. But she absolutely hates to audition for things. It freaks her out, and she just doesn't have the stomach for it. So, it is an industry that she has no interest in, which I'm more than fine with. She's a really great writer, a really fantastic writer. When she was 16, she was published in Teen Vogue. She wrote an article about child marriage in the United States, and it was awesome, and she got retweeted by Chelsea Clinton, and that was really amazing. So that's her forte, her niche.
Soap Central: Well, maybe someday she'll write a fantastic film script, and you can be the star. It can be a family affair!
LaRue: Exactly! I can see that happening. That would be great.
Soap Central: I think people might be really shocked to know that you've actually never won a Daytime Emmy Award, because you are such a powerhouse actress. I mean, I figured that you must have won a gazillion of them for your work as Maria, because that's the only thing that makes sense in my head.
LaRue: Aw, thank you!
Soap Central: So, how much do you think about winning, or is the nomination enough for you?
LaRue: Well, it's so funny, I texted Michael Knight [Martin Gray, General Hospital; ex-Tad Martin, All My Children] and congratulated him on his nomination, and I said, "Did you ever think that you and I would ever be in the same category for anything?" [Laughs] But honestly, I think the world of him as an actor, and it's been so fun to watch him at General Hospital. I'm just happy to be [in the same category]. It was just extra chocolate frosting on the cake to be nominated, because I had so much fun last summer at The Young and the Restless and working with a bunch of old friends and old colleagues and new people that I befriended. It was just an amazing, fun place to work. It was a really great experience in every way, and the nomination was this beautiful extra bunch of chocolate frosting on top.
Soap Central: Did you hear from anyone from Y&R, or did you reach out to anyone from the show about your nominations?
LaRue: I did, and they did! Everybody was so kind. They were tweeting, and everybody was online. It was really, really sweet. Such a fun couple of days to hear from everybody. It's really been exciting. It's been a really tough couple of months with John passing, so this was a really bright spot. And it's interesting that it's back in daytime. I've been going down memory lane the last two months with everybody about John, and it really was this kind of beautiful crown on the top of reminiscing about all of my favorite daytime moments in my life.
Soap Central: I watched the EW special today, and I got really teary eyed, especially when you started talking about John and sharing memories of him. And I have to say, the fans are absolutely loving that All My Children is being talked about, John is being talked about, and the show is back front and center right now. So, what was it like for you to see some of those faces from AMC again?
LaRue: Well, the unfortunate thing about Zoom is that it really is best to keep it small; when there's too many face squares up there, you can become discombobulated. So, there was only the four of us [me; Kelly Ripa, ex-Hayley Vaughan; Mark Consuelos, ex-Mateo Santos; and Sydney Penny, ex-Julia Santos], and those are the people that I see the most and talk to the most, so while it was awesome obviously to be with them, I didn't get to see all the other people. They all did their own day and taped on their own day and had their own four person or five person Zoom call. So, I'm going to be tuning in every day to watch just like everybody else! I'm looking forward to seeing how all of those conversations went and to see all their conversations and hear all their memories. So, it'll really be equally fun for me to see all of those people again, as well. I didn't get to see everyone, which was the only bummer, because I really would have loved that. But we also got to do that Home and Family reunion a couple of years ago, and that was awesome, because everybody got together in person. That was super cool.
Soap Central: I have to say, it doesn't matter how many years go by, All My Children is just loved and always will be. We will never stop asking about a reboot!
LaRue: It's because we grew up with it! It's really part of who we are, and it's part of our culture, part of soap opera culture, for our generation. There were 15 shows on the air still when I started at All My Children, and I had grown up with All My Children. My mom watched the show from the time I was six, so I was an All My Children fan and a General Hospital fan and a Days of our Lives fan and Another World fan -- not that I didn't like the other shows, but those were just the shows that I watched growing up. I'd get all engrossed in one, and then I'd move on to another, but always All My Children, because that was my mom's show. And it really was part of our childhood memories. It was part of our TV culture growing up, and you can't just unhinge from that, I don't think. It's such a big part of our memories.
Soap Central: You revealed on the episode that you actually auditioned for the role of Kendall?!
LaRue: Yes! Isn't that funny?!
Soap Central: Had you told people that before, or was this the first time that you revealed that?
LaRue: I think I said it in an interview a zillion years ago, before social media, before Insta, before Twitter, before all of that. So, it was maybe in a few articles from over a decade and a half ago, so they probably just died with the article. [Laughs] So, that's probably why it sounds like new information. But also, a year before I auditioned for Kendall, I auditioned for the role of Gloria, which was played by Teresa Blake. I forgot to say part, just because the Kendall part is so funny because it is so obviously not right. [Laughs]
Soap Central: They must have really seen something in you, because they kept trying, Eva!
LaRue: They kept trying to fit me in somewhere, yeah!
Soap Central: But, yeah, the idea of you being Erica Kane's daughter? Sorry, but that really is hilarious.
LaRue: Yeah, the little Puerto Rican version! Erica had a Latin lover. [Laughs]
Soap Central: Obviously, it was very special for the daytime community to see you back on a soap opera, playing Celeste on The Young and the Restless. What did that mean to you, to have the opportunity to go on Y&R for this fun, guest-starring role?
LaRue: It was really, really fun. I just love the genre, and I respect the hell out of the genre because it is the hardest one. It's the hardest facet of the industry that there is, to me. Just straight up. I've often said that I would love to see who I think are the best actresses out there right now, the Meryl Streeps, the Cate Blanchetts, the Nicole Kidmans of the world, I would love to see them step into a soap opera for a full story arc of a month or two and a straight-up, hardcore 70-page-a-day storyline with all of the emotions and all of the drama and all of the roller coasters, and I'd like to see one of them pull it off better than what is happening right now. I mean, the bummer about soap operas is that they have an archaic look. We've come a long way in digital media, we've come a long way in media in general, and it has come so far, and we can do so much, so we're used to a certain visual aesthetic, and soap operas have not kept up with the times. Unfortunately, I think that is why they are starting to fall away, or they have been falling away. There is an antiquated look to the shows. But at the same time, there's also something about that antiquated look that is comforting. It is like a throwback, and it's something we grew up with, and there is something comforting about the way it looks, the way it is. But again, I'm afraid that's also part of why they're starting to fall away. But it's old school, and if any of these other actors, these big actors, came in and tried to make the acting look any different or any better or any more elevated than what it is, I don't think they could. I just don't think they could do better with what is given to them. In the amount of time they have been given, and the amount of time that they have to prep, and the amount of time that they have to shoot it. I don't think there is an actor on the planet who can do better than what's being done. I don't. Everyone is doing exemplary work with what they are given, which is no time, 70 pages of dialogue a day, and zilch time to prep it, and zilch time to shoot it.
Soap Central: That being said, if you had the opportunity to jump back into the soap opera arena, either as Celeste on Y&R or -- fingers crossed because you just never know what could happen -- Maria Santos, would you be open to it?
LaRue: Yeah! I would love to revisit either one. I would really love to see daytime become nighttime, in my heart of hearts. Kelly [Ripa] and I talk about this all of the time, and we have talked about collaborating on something, and I'm kind of hoping that that happens, but I would really love to see All My Children become a nighttime soap. I would like to see it transform into something that is more modern.
Soap Central: You and Kelly could make it happen! We are rooting for you!
LaRue: I really, really think that something like that could have legs.
Soap Central: All My Children has a reputation for being the least diva-like show behind the scenes, even though you had some of the biggest stars in the business on the show. Why do you think that is, when many of you guys could have thrown your weight around?
LaRue: Everyone was easy to work with, professional, and everybody took their job very seriously. Everybody really wanted to be good and wanted to do their storylines and their characters justice. I think there was just a really great work ethic there, and everybody wanted to help each other have the best scene that they could. So, everybody was really supportive of one another. I think also the storylines were evenly shared, so nobody got an opportunity to get a weird big head or anything. [Laughs] And we had arguably the most famous soap icon of all time on our show [Susan Lucci, Erica Kane], but she never ran that show, and by run that show, I mean like a lot of times on any show, it's the lead actor or actress that sets the tone for the rest of the production, and she was always nothing but gracious and affable and fun and funny and courteous and supportive. So, she just set the tone, and there was nothing but respect for her, too, by everybody. But she never threw that around.
Soap Central: Before I let you go, I'm wondering how you've been handling the quarantine and the stay-at-home orders? Has it been tough?
LaRue: Well, we've been busy because John died two weeks into the quarantine, so there's just been a lot. We've been under the weight of trying to figure out all of his stuff and start to go through all of his stuff and plan a memorial and all of the things. So, it's been a heavy couple of months. But we haven't felt bored, that's for sure, just because we've had so much to take care of and so much to get on top of. And then Kaya is graduating from high school this week, so we've been getting ready for that. It's all been a lot.
Soap Central: My heart goes out to you guys, because I really can't imagine what that's been like, and I really hope that you've felt the love from all of your fans, because we've all been thinking about you.
LaRue:I have, in a gorgeous way! I have to tell you, from the bottom of my heart, the fans have literally [saved us]. I heard from every soap star on shows that John wasn't even on! People that knew him or knew of him or had worked with him, I mean, from every single soap opera. People reached out to me, and it was really, really touching and really, really helpful for Kaya and I both. And the fans went crazy, and their love, and their support, and their stories, I mean, the stories they loved the most on the show and what things meant the most to them, it all was the most beautiful, helpful feeling. I really can't even put words to it. It was amazing.
Soap Central: As you know, the soap community is really small, like a family, and I'm really, really glad that you felt all that love. And we have our fingers crossed for you for Emmy night -- although, it is really hard because you're sharing a category with Michael, like you said, and Chrishell [Stause, ex-Amanda Dillon, AMC; Jordan Ridgeway, DAYS], too!
LaRue: I know! And I love them both so much! I don't know the other two personally, but good luck to them, as well! [Laughs] But Chrishell, I love her. She might be the sweetest girl on the planet. She's seriously the sweetest person. And Michael Knight is my dear friend that I adore, and I even said to him, "Hey, when you win this, which you more than likely will, can I babysit the trophy? I just want to babysit and have it for the weekend. I'll take care of it for the weekend, take a couple of pictures with it and then give it back." [Laughs]
What do you think about Eva LaRue receiving an Emmy nomination for her work as Y&R's Celeste? Do you think she'll take home the gold? What did you think about her episode of EW's AMC reunions? 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.