Bianca D'Ambrosio was just three years old when she and her twin sister, Chiara D'Ambrosio, were cast as Summer Newman on The Young and the Restless. At the time, she had no idea that the role would be the springboard to a career that includes countless roles with major stars, a recent Daytime Emmy Award nomination, over 400,000 followers on Instagram, and an impressive 12.8 million views on the Youtube channel that she shares with her sister.
In a new interview with Soap Central, the young actress opens up about the hard work she has put into forging a life in the entertainment industry, which all started when she joined actors like Michelle Stafford (Phyllis Summers) and Joshua Morrow (Nicholas Newman) in Genoa City. From the reveal that Disney cards were the key to nailing her audition to sharing the ingenious way the twins' mother made it possible for her babies to break down dramatic soap opera scenes, D'Ambrosio opens up about what it was really like to join a daytime drama when she was just a toddler.
But we didn't stop at Y&R! Bianca D'Ambrosio has a lot of irons in the fire at the moment, and we got the scoop on everything that the young actress has coming up in the months ahead. From applying to colleges with the hope of one day becoming a director, to finishing up a creepy horror film called Slapface that co-stars The Bay's and Days of our Lives' Mike Manning (ex-Charlie Dale), to appearing in an emotional period drama about abortion rights that stars big names like Elizabeth Banks and Sigourney Weaver, we cover it all in the interview below!
Editor's Note: To read our in-depth interview with Bianca's twin sister, Chiara D'Ambrosio, click here!
Soap Central: Let's start at the beginning, when you and Chiara were cast on The Young and the Restless as Summer Newman. You were only three, but do you remember anything about auditioning or starting on the show?
Bianca D'Ambrosio: I remember little glimpses of our audition, like we went into the audition with Michelle Stafford and Josh Morrow, who played Summer Newman's parents. We went in, and we played Disney playing cards, and I remember we played that for a little while, and Chiara randomly started dancing with Michelle. That's all I can remember from the audition, but I guess the producers loved it, and the next thing we knew, we got a call as we were walking to the car that we were Summer Newman!
Soap Central: Do you remember that moment, learning that you'd been cast?
D'Ambrosio: I don't, but my mom tells me all the time that she was crying, and she was so excited for us.
Soap Central: There's a notorious story about how Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen were cast on Full House because they were the only set of twins who didn't cry during their audition. Do you know why the casting department chose you and your sister over the other twins that were there to audition?
D'Ambrosio: I don't know for sure, but I can guess maybe it was because when we went in, we naturally started having a conversation with them, and we weren't scared. We just thought that they were new people that we were meeting, and they were kind of like my friends, you know? I was three and had no idea what was going on, but I was having fun! I was in my element playing Disney cards, so I guess they loved that I was comfortable with these new people.
Soap Central: Do you remember any of the storylines that you were involved in? Your sister said you have a great story about a Halloween episode!
D'Ambrosio: Yes, so, because we were twins, we would switch off our hours whenever we would play Summer, so, sometimes Chiara would have certain episodes and sometimes I would have certain episodes, and I vividly remember this Halloween episode where I was in this really cute costume with a tutu and everything, and they had me eat candy. And because there are different angles and a bunch of different takes, I had to eat this candy bar so many times -- which I was obviously happy about! But my sister wasn't happy, because it wasn't her turn to be chosen for the scene, and she didn't get any of the candy! [Laughs] I remember looking over at her, and she'd be like, giving me the look. I remember that vividly, and it was so funny.
Soap Central: That scene sounds like a lot of fun, but there is also a lot of drama on soap operas, with people yelling and just being in super crazy scenarios. Because you were so young, was there ever a time when you didn't realize that what was going on around you was fake?
D'Ambrosio: I don't ever remember thinking it was real, because right before we would go to film, especially if we had any lines in a scene, my mom would have us draw out the scene or she would draw it out, and we would color it in, just so we could kind of understand what was going on, we wouldn't be scared or anything. So, if we had a line and we had to say something, she would draw Michelle walking in, for example, and that would help us to know to say, "Hi, Mom," or whatever the line was. So, I was always prepared, and I never thought anything [scary] was going on. I was in my element, eating my candy or playing with my skirt! [Laughs] I was just chilling.
Soap Central: That was really smart of your mom to draw the scene out so you guys could understand.
D'Ambrosio: I don't know how she came up with that idea, but go, Mom! That was really smart, thinking back on it now.
Soap Central: You had the opportunity to work with some really great actors on Y&R, including Michelle, as you mentioned. Do you have any special memories that you can share?
D'Ambrosio: With Michelle, every time that we had a scene with her, she would come to our dressing room and walk with us to set, which made me feel more comfortable about going into a scene with her. I remember just having a really good time with Michelle. And of course, Josh, as well. They were both really nice and they would talk with us and help us feel more comfortable. If we needed more help with our lines or scenes, they were always ready to rehearse with us. I remember feeling extremely comfortable with what was going on with them.
Soap Central: Do you have any idea about the type of person that Summer Newman has become now?
D'Ambrosio: Yes, my mom still watches the show, and I watch it with her! I haven't been able to watch for a while, but when I last left off, Summer [Hunter King] and Kyle [Michael Mealor] had some drama about being married and Kyle's kid. [Laughs]
Soap Central: Summer is a big troublemaker now -- are you surprised that she turned out that way?
D'Ambrosio: I'm not surprised because Phyllis is such a unique character with a pretty strong personality, so, I'm not surprised that Summer grew up to be kind of like her! [Laughs]
Soap Central: How do you think starting your career at Y&R helped prepare you for your life as an actress?
D'Ambrosio: My first ever role was on The Young and the Restless, and I am still thankful for them to this day, because they helped me discover my passion for acting. Even at a very, very young age, I just remember thinking, "This is what I like to do. I want to keep doing it." So, Y&R helped me discover my love for acting, and it helped me be prepared to be on set, in terms of lines and chemistry. It's always a quick pace on soap operas, so, it also helped me adapt quickly to set changes and line changes, scene changes, scenes moving around, that kind of thing. So, I'm grateful to The Young and the Restless for preparing me for acting in the future.
Soap Central: Before you got that job, do you remember wanting to act? Or was it your parents' decision to put you into acting?
D'Ambrosio: My mom was stopped all the time with people telling her, "You should put the girls in acting because they always need twins," but she would always say, "No, no. They're too young." But by the time we were a little older, she thought we were old enough to handle it, so she thought, "Well, let's just try it. Let's do one audition and see how they do. If they like it, then we might continue, but if they don't, and it's too much, maybe we'll just stop here." Our first audition was The Young and the Restless and you know how that turned out! And we've been plugging away ever since.
Soap Central: Yes, you have been plugging away! As I mentioned to your sister, your guys' list of recent credits and upcoming projects is mind-boggling. Are you exhausted?
D'Ambrosio: I might be exhausted in the moment, but I am just so grateful for every opportunity, so, I work through the exhaustion sometimes!
Soap Central: Are you also applying to colleges right now like your sister is?
D'Ambrosio: Yes. I am knee deep in college prep work right now, and it's a little difficult, but I've still managed to juggle everything going on. On the inside, maybe I'm not fine, but on the outside, I seem perfectly fine! [Laughs] I just want to get through submitting for colleges, but I know that the wait is going to be way worse than actually submitting. I'm not looking forward to that part of it, but you've got to do what you've got to do.
Soap Central: Do you know what you'd like to study?
D'Ambrosio: Yes, I know I want to study film. I absolutely love acting, but my dream has been to be a director, so, when I go to college, I hope to study film and cinema, and maybe cinematography and editing and directing. That is what I want to do later on. I mean, I'd love to be an actress, but I'd like to do both roles.
Soap Central: I've heard that you recently wrapped production on the film Call Jane, which stars Elizabeth Banks as a woman who is seeking an abortion in the 1960s, before abortion was legal?
D'Ambrosio: Yes, Call Jane was filmed in May, so we wrapped production on that, and that was such an amazing experience, working with Elizabeth Banks, Sigourney Weaver, and Kate Mara. It was a really emotional movie, but everybody on set was super passionate about the cause of the film, and I think when the movie premieres, people are going to be able to see that on-screen.
Soap Central: You play Kate Mara's daughter, so I imagine you worked with her directly, but did you also work with Elizabeth and Sigourney?
D'Ambrosio: I got to work directly with Elizabeth; we had a lot of scenes together, and she was so fun on set. In between takes, she would tell us jokes. In the middle of a melancholy scene, she would tell us this really funny joke, and I was like, "Oh, my gosh, am I allowed to laugh right now?!" [Laughs] I did not have the chance to work directly with Sigourney, but I got to work with Chris Messina directly, and that was such an amazing experience.
Soap Central: What was it like to work with Kate Mara?
D'Ambrosio: She was so nice! She is such an amazing actress, and I have watched her work for years. Having the opportunity to play her daughter, I mean, I was stunned. I was stunned! And when I met her, she was super nice. She was excited to work, and I just had a great time. I will remember that whole experience forever.
Soap Central: The project is very timely, with everything going on right now with abortion rights. What can you say about the story and your role in the film?
D'Ambrosio: Call Jane is about a woman who is trying to get an abortion in the 1960s before Roe v. Wade, and she can't get an abortion, so her and a group of women help her get an abortion, and they help other women get abortions who need them, as well. My character is Kate Mara's daughter, and Kate Mara is the best friend of the lead, Joy [Banks], who is going to get the abortion. I play Elizabeth Banks's daughter's best friend, and my character is Elizabeth Banks's daughter's shoulder to cry on. So, that's my role in the movie.
Soap Central: Did you do a lot of emotional preparation for a role like that? It's a heavy subject!
D'Ambrosio: Yeah, I researched a lot about what was going on at that time, and I read the script multiple times so I could understand it. It was an emotional read, and it was an emotional topic, and I had to prepare mentally for that. But when I went on set, everyone was really welcoming and they all knew what the message of the project was, and they were all super passionate about making sure that it was done tastefully, which I really appreciate. And in terms of other things in the movie, getting into wardrobe really helped me get into my character, because it's in the 60s, and that helped me kind of piece together what I'd be doing during that time.
Soap Central: What was it like for you to transport back in time to the 1960s?
D'Ambrosio: I love fashion, so, before I went to the wardrobe fitting, I researched a lot of the fashion that I could be wearing, and when I showed up, it was pretty accurate, and I was so excited because I love fashion, and I love clothes, and I love playing dress-up. So, playing dress-up with clothes from the 60s was incredible! And I remember seeing so many of the old cars on set, and I was thinking, "Where do they get these?" They were actual cars from the 60s, and I don't know where they found those! It's a whole mystery to me.
Soap Central: To switch gears, I'd love to congratulate you on your Daytime Emmy nomination for your role as Frankie Sanders on The Bay! What did being nominated mean to you, especially because you shared a nomination with your sister, which must have been really special?
D'Ambrosio: Thank you so much! It was an incredible moment that I will never forget. I still watch our video when Chiara won [for her role as The Bay's Regan Sanders], just because we were just so genuinely happy for each other. To be nominated, that is such a special moment. And to have it with my sister made it even more memorable. I was just so stunned when I found out. I can't even describe how I was feeling. I did cry, though! It took me like 30 seconds to realize, "Oh, okay -- the waterworks are coming!" [Laughs] As an actress, you work hard all of your life and all of your acting career just to be in projects, and to be recognized for a project that I worked really hard on was a special moment.
Soap Central: What do you hope for next in your career, and what do you hope long-term as you move forward with studying directing?
D'Ambrosio: I see myself still acting. I took a writing class last year at UCLA for screenwriting, so I will be working on my screenwriting and maybe directing one of the scripts that I wrote. That's one of my goals for next year. I mean, definitely not before 2021 is over, because I did so much work this year! But hopefully next year, I'll be able to do that. And I'd like to continue acting and working on my education. That's my plan for the next year or two. And long-term, once I've graduated from college, I want to be directing and acting at the same time -- maybe acting in a project here and then going on to direct on a film or a television show there. That's just really what I want to do. And I don't know anything else except for what I want to do, so, I'm going to be working hard to get there.
Soap Central: I'm going to bring us full circle with the Halloween theme, from talking about a Halloween episode on Y&R to talking about your upcoming horror film, Slapface, which will be coming out on Shudder in January. Do you remember much from filming that?
D'Ambrosio: Yes! Chiara and I played Donna and Rose, who are mean bullies to the main character, who is at the same time, while being bullied, befriending a monster in the woods. I don't know if Chiara and I really helped the cause in any way, but it was very fun to play mean people, because it is so outside of who we are. And working in upstate New York with August Maturo, Mirabelle Lee, Mike Manning, who was also on The Bay, I will never forget that experience. It was such a fun horror film to shoot, and whenever I had the opportunity to watch the movie, I just remember all these amazing memories and I just smile, even when there's a really intense scene going on. I smile because I remember what was going on right before we filmed it! [Laughs]
Soap Central: I've always wondered what the mood is on a horror film set. Do you guys try to keep the mood as sinister and dark as possible, even when the cameras aren't rolling, or do you laugh and joke around in between scenes as usual?
D'Ambrosio: We were in the middle of the woods in this really small town, and there was barely any Internet, so it was a little spooky! I'll never forget, we were driving up to work at maybe 5:00 or so in the morning, and it was really dark out, in the middle of fall, and all of a sudden, we were in the middle of woods, about to park, and Mike Manning jumped out and scared us, and I went flying! I tell you, I was so scared, I flew out of my car! That was my first impression of life on the set, and I knew it was going to be super fun and everyone was going to be joking around, and that's exactly what happened!
For more details and to keep up to date on the latest news about Slapface, follow the film's Instagram page here. For more details and to keep up to date on the latest news about Call Jane, click here.
What do you think about our interview with Bianca D'Ambrosio? What are your thoughts about her memories of playing Y&R's Summer? What do you think about the casting and premise of her upcoming films, Call Jane and Slapface? We want to hear from you -- and there are many ways you can share your thoughts.