INTERVIEW: The Young and the Restless' Jason Thompson on his Emmy win, super cute acceptance speech, and why it was important for him to acknowledge Black Lives Matter

Posted Tuesday, June 30, 2020 11:38:35 AM

The Young and the Restless' Jason Thompson (Billy Abbott) opens up about growing as an actor during his Emmy-winning scenes, the cool reason he chose to have his kids in his acceptance speech, and the ways in which he and fans can fight against racial injustice.

This year's Daytime Emmy Awards ended up being incredibly special for The Young and the Restless' Jason Thompson (Billy Abbott). After nearly 15 years in the genre, he won his very first Emmy award -- in the Lead Actor category, no less! He also had the rare opportunity to include his wife, Paloma, and their kids, four-year-old Bowie Banjo and two-and-a-half-year-old Rome Coco, in his prerecorded acceptance speech (which he tells Soap Central he did not think about redoing, despite his kids adorably stealing the spotlight). Plus, during the national broadcast of the ceremony, he was able to address the Black Lives Matter movement, a cause he says is very close to his heart. His whole Emmy experience was beautiful from start to finish, which he details in a new interview below.

Soap Central: Congratulations on your Emmy win, Jason!

Jason Thompson: Thank you very much! I appreciate it.

Soap Central: The fans are so excited for you, so how are you feeling about this very exciting moment?

Thompson: It's great! It feels nice, but it feels different than I ever expected it could potentially feel like, which is always a good lesson! [Laughs] But it was a fun and obviously very memorable night -- one that I will never forget. It's an honor to be acknowledged by your peers, which is really, really important to me. So, it feels good.

Soap Central: What was the experience like on your end, being that you were at home and found out about your win on television?

Thompson: We got together on a Young and the Restless Zoom, a bunch of producers and people from the production team and actors and everything, so we had a live feed from the East Coast. That means I was able to at least watch it live and not hear about it from a Twitter post or something like that! So that was a little more connected. But we ordered some food and kind of just took a little bit of a load off and did that, and it was pretty normal, like a regular night, eating dinner. But out of the corner of my eye, I watched as much as I could of what was going on. I was very, very excited to see Bryton [James, Devon Hamilton, Y&R] win, so that was great, and then when I sat down to watch my category, it all happened pretty quickly. It was just kind of like, "Whoa, what's going on?!" But it was great. Like I said, I'm never going to forget it.

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Emmy In a unique and somewhat unpredictable time, Emmy night was right on cue. I've been able to connect with most of my family and a lot of dear friends and colleagues. To enjoy in the moment and say thank you. The truth is, it feels like an accumulation of 15 years and a million moments shared with so many people. People that gave me opportunities to prove myself. People that kept me float in shallow days. Advice, shared experiences and support. Teachers and peers that gave me the space to make mistakes, to grow. People that pushed me to be better, to go deeper. Ones that helped me understand that developing as a person first is always most important thing. The lis t is too long, but in short, once again. My extended family at @youngandrestlesscbs Our producers and our production team. Our writers, directors, PR, wardrobe, hair and makeup, crew and cast. The @daytimeemmys and community. The Bell family, @cbstv and @sonypictures for allowing us to bring the show to you, the FANS!! The INCREDIBLE FANS. We will be back soon to earn another day of your support. It is all for you and because of you. My family and my extraordinary friends, thank you from the bottom of my heart for everything. The privilege I have in this life is not lost on me. I haven't always understood it or acknowledged it enough. But it's glaringly obvious these days and I'm incredibly grateful that it is. Equal opportunity free from sexism, racism and discrimination is a human right. Everyone deserves the chance at a life well lived with respect and dignity. We can trust in our fellow human. We can be better. Lastly to the incredible woman I am honored to be married to. It's by no means a coincidence my world opened up when you came into it. There's nothing I could ever say to express what you and our beautiful family mean to me, so I will forever try to show you. Now as I check off the dream on my list, I write it back down again. Back to work, to earn my spot. I love you @paloma Bowie and Rome Coco. I Love you all. xJ

A post shared by Jason Thompson (@myjasonthompson) on

Soap Central: People absolutely loved your kids in your acceptance speech. I feel like they will have no problem being on-camera in the future! What was that like for you to film with them, and did you think about redoing it because they were talking over you?

Thompson: You know what, I did one without them, and then I did one with them, and I sent them both to Matt, our publicist. I had [some time] to think about it, and the next day, I texted him back ,and I said, "You know what, can I just use the one with the family?" I just feel like if it did happen, it would be more memorable for me and us and our family if it happens in this way, so that was kind of my thought process. And no, we only did it one time. I didn't think about redoing it. To be honest, right now, everything is so up in the air, and the fact that it was even happening in this way, it somewhat allowed me to break the rules a little bit and kind of allowed life to be present, and I think that's what it felt like in that moment.

Soap Central: It was a good choice because, like I said, people seemed to love it. And it gave the show some levity, which I think helps when we're all in this weird time.

Thompson: Yeah, to be honest, it was difficult because you don't know what's going to happen... but I thought there was a little more energy with them in there.

Soap Central: I know you only had a short amount of time, but you managed to also include a powerful message about the Black Lives Matter movement, which was a recurring theme of the evening. How important was it for you to use this platform to speak out about that?

Thompson: I think it's very important, and what has become glaringly important to me is how much I personally have to learn, also. I think it really becomes a personal responsibility that we have to kind of align ourselves in the way that I believe and the way that my family believes and my wife and our friends. And what we think is really, really important for our country and our planet going forward is equality for all. So, when you get an opportunity to speak to more people than maybe just who's in front of you at the time, I felt like it was important to at least say something. We had a short amount of time on there, but it felt really important for me to use some of those precious seconds to make a little bit of a stand and inform people where my beliefs are and where my family stands.

Soap Central: How would you further encourage our readers -- and daytime in general, really -- to help make a difference moving forward?

Thompson: What I've learned the most in the last months -- and don't get me wrong, it's been a short amount of time in the grand scheme of things -- but they talk about acting and how listening is the most important thing, and I think that's what really has become very, very clear to me, is the amount of listening that we need to do instead of commenting and trying to get our thoughts out there or get our opinions out there before we really have time to take stock of those feelings and try to have a better understanding about what's really out there. What we might see is not necessarily the truth for many, many Americans. There is a vast population in this country that is not necessarily treated equally, and when we start to kind of unpack it a little bit, it becomes something that you could spend a lot of time doing, and I think we have to spend more time... doing that in the future. We don't do a great job of educating our children about the real history of America, and I think it's upon us, as parents especially, because it starts with the next generation. We need to do a better job of really understanding this culture that we have right now and the country as a whole -- and that includes Canada and the planet in the way; if we don't have respect for our people, we're not going to have respect for our planet, and if we don't have our planet, we're doomed. So, to me, it's just a lot about trying to listen and trying to do what you can when you can to learn a little bit more about other people's plight in the world.

Soap Central: To bring it back around to the Emmys, the material that you had last year that led to this win was tough -- really tough. Did you learn anything about yourself or your acting through filming those scenes?

Thompson: Yeah, I think I did. There is so much that goes into it, and you're part of the industry and talk to enough people to know the inside of what we do -- we ask a lot of a lot of people. We ask the writers to write it and get it done on time and the production company to get it to a place where we can film it on the day, and the actors and everybody. There's a lot that goes into it, so I'm just grateful for the opportunity. There's a lot of thought that goes into story and who gets the opportunity to have it and how it works in the grand scheme of the show and everything, so when the opportunity comes up to do something different, and they believe in the story, it's a work in progress to a certain extent, so I definitely feel it's my duty to be as prepared as possible and to be as open as possible. That, to me, is where I learn the most; it's when I'm pushed and allowed to make mistakes and kind of fly by the seat of my pants to a certain extent. That's what I learned again with this storyline -- and I try to learn as much as possible, but this storyline definitely did that for me. I tried to push it a little bit, I tried to get a little uncomfortable with myself and maybe do things that I might not have done a couple of years ago because I wanted to play it a little bit more safe or whatever. But what I realize now is that [it's best to] just kind of lean into the moment and be prepared for it, and I try not to judge where it goes. And that's what I did more in this storyline than I have in the past. I tried to be a little more open to where it might lead me than having more control over it.

Soap Central: Well, you can definitely feel proud! And with that in mind, will you be putting your Emmy in a very prominent place where you can see it every day?

Thompson: [Laughs] I don't know yet. I haven't even touched the thing yet. Over my 14 years, close to 15 years, in this genre, I have never touched an Emmy.

Soap Central: Really?

Thompson: I have done publicity with them, I have stood beside them many times, I've been part of casts that have won, but I have never personally held one or touched one. I just felt like if I was ever going to do that, it would have to be one that I earned. So, yeah, it's going to be interesting to hold for the first time.

Soap Central: So, do you guys not have them yet?

Thompson: No, we don't... so I don't know yet where I'm going to put it! I haven't thought that far ahead yet. But it will be interesting to see. I mean, obviously, I'll bring it up to Canada and show my family and everybody and pass it around, but I don't know where she's going to lay.

Soap Central: The Emmy broadcast spotlighted a lot of memorable Emmy moments. Do you have any that you'd like to share?

Thompson: One that comes to the top of my head very, very quickly was the night that Doug Davidson [Paul Williams, Y&R] won. I was nominated alongside him for another storyline on General Hospital that I had [as Patrick Drake] that really pushed me and I feel made me a more conscious actor and a better actor, and again, that goes back to material and things like that that you are just happy to get. But watching Doug up there and hearing him speak about the long road to that moment, I think it was 32 years or something like that he said, and I was floored by that. I'd gotten to know Doug a little bit within that time through Rick Springfield [ex-Noah Drake, GH] and stuff like that, and his exuberance for the job and his dedication to the job, if you know him, he lives and breathes it. So, it was really amazing to see someone like that, who's been in the business for a while, to have that moment. And it never really left me. So that was probably one of those memories that I always go back to, because it was honest, and you could tell how much it meant to him. And especially getting to know him more these past couple of years, Y&R is his family, and I know that moment meant a lot to him. That's probably one of my most memorable Emmy moments.

For more on Thompson's Lead Actor Emmy win, including his buzzed-about acceptance speech video, check out Soap Central's complete recap of the Daytime Emmy Awards.

What do you think about Jason Thompson winning this year's Outstanding Lead Actor Emmy award? What were your thoughts on his family-filled acceptance speech and the Black Lives Matter message that he included? 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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