INTERVIEW: Jordi Vilasuso says his Emmy nomination is "the cherry on top" of his time at The Young and the Restless

Posted Monday, May 09, 2022 3:16:36 AM

Celebrating an Emmy nomination has been the most beautiful way to end his chapter at The Young and the Restless, says Supporting Actor contender Jordi Vilasuso (Rey Rosales).

Fans of The Young and the Restless are still reeling from the sudden death of beloved character Rey Rosales, who passed away after a car accident last month. The devastating story brought daytime veteran Jordi Vilasuso's three-year run on the CBS soap opera to a close, but thankfully, he and his fans can now begin to wipe away their tears and start celebrating, because he's just received a Daytime Emmy nomination in the Outstanding Supporting Actor category for his work on the show.

Soap Central caught up with Vilasuso the day after the nominations were announced to get his reaction to the exciting news, and, like usual, he was very candid about the thoughts and feelings going on in his heart and mind. He also opened up about how he plans to champion the genre of daytime if -- fingers crossed -- he ends up taking home the gold during the Emmy ceremony on June 24.

Soap Central: Congratulations, Jordi! How are you feeling?

Jordi Vilasuso: Thank you! I'm feeling really good. I've been answering a lot of calls that are congratulatory and responding to fans who have been so kind. Really, ever since I left the show, the fans have just been super supportive and have really given me a lot to be grateful for. So, I'm just very grateful. Very grateful.

Soap Central: How did you find out that you'd been nominated, and how did you react to that news?

Vilasuso: I felt like I had a good tape, but Peter Bergman [Jack Abbott] called me about two weeks ago out of the blue -- he called me from his dressing room, and we had this really nice conversation; he was very gracious and was telling me how sorry he was that he hadn't had the chance to say goodbye. And Peter and I had never really worked together -- we never shared a storyline -- but Peter is really just a gentleman; the leadership here is just fantastic, and he's such a gentleman. And then he went on to tell me, "You know, I saw your tape, and you should be very, very proud of that."

Soap Central: Wow! That's quite a compliment, especially coming from THE Peter Bergman.

Vilasuso: I know! He was judging the Supporting Actor category, and with him telling me that, I thought, "Maybe I actually have a shot." So, when that happened, it was one of those things I couldn't stop thinking about -- it kept lingering in my head, like, "Oh, [a nomination] could really happen!" And I was really kind of distraught over that, because it should be, "If it happens, it happens." But I had a hard time letting it go! It was kind of messing with me, because ultimately, for me, being nominated would have been the cherry on the cake like, I wanted to leave the show with that, because it would have felt really good. I didn't share with anybody in my house that I was even thinking about this, and needless to say, my wife could sense that something was off. We had a couple riffs, and she was like, "What's been wrong with you the past couple of weeks?" I knew the night before that they were going to announce the Emmys the next morning, but I still didn't tell my wife; I didn't tell anybody. I was like, "This is going to be my thing that I'm dealing with." I had to take a sleeping pill the night before the announcements, because I just couldn't go to sleep. So, the next day, I knew the announcement was going to happen around 11:00, and then 11:20 came around, and I was like, "Okay, it didn't happen." So, I was moving on, but then, [our show publicist] Matty Kane -- the man -- called me up at 11:23, telling me that I had been nominated.

Soap Central: That must have been a good feeling!

Vilasuso: It felt like a weight had been lifted, and it was the happiness and just being grateful for being acknowledged and having a nomination. And then, finally, telling Kaity, my wife, "Yeah, this is what was going on," and she was like, "How could you not tell me?!" And I said, "Listen, I didn't want it to create an air in the house! I didn't want to throw this weight on you with everything else -- I wanted to carry this." She understood, ultimately, and yeah, it's been great. It's been beautiful. It's been exactly how I wanted to leave the show, and I'm grateful that I have something that I'm really proud of and that other people think is worthy of a nomination.

Soap Central: Obviously you shared the news with your wife first, but who else did you reach out to with the "I've been nominated!" excitement?

Vilasuso: So, my wife, my team -- my manager and my agents -- and my parents. I haven't been nominated in 20 years. It was Guiding Light, 2003, I think, when I won for Younger Performer [for the role of Tony Santos]. When I was on Guiding Light back in New York, the Emmys were such a big deal; they were at Carnegie Hall when I won, and my parents, they came -- they bought tickets, they wanted to be there for the event. So, I called my parents, and they were over the moon. They were so happy -- so happy for me -- and it was really lovely.

Soap Central: Have you been in contact with anyone from Y&R or any of the other nominees to share congratulations?

Vilasuso: Yes, I've been in contact with Melissa Ordway [Abby Newman], Mishael Morgan [Amanda Sinclair], wishing them congratulations. Bryton [James, Devon Hamilton], of course, Jason Thompson [Billy Abbott], all the nominees have reached out and been so beautiful and just very kind. Matty Kane, too, and my producers. Patti Denney, who is my main person that I work with in the makeup department. It's just been so lovely. [Our co-executive producer and head writer] Josh Griffith reached out and congratulated me, and it was really nice.

Soap Central: You mentioned that your reel totally impressed Peter Bergman, so now we must know what was on it!

Vilasuso: Right after Rey and Sharon [Sharon Case] got married, Adam [Mark Grossman] came poking around their marriage, and it was a great story that I really enjoyed. The reel started with when I finally called out Sharon on her behavior with this "emotional friend," Adam, who she was trying to help out; I finally called her out because I could see where it was headed, and I was drawing a line in the sand, saying, "This is not allowed anymore." And then we cut to when I confronted her about the picture of Adam kissing her in a public place, at my sister's restaurant. And then we cut to the confrontation between Adam and Rey in his apartment, where I confronted him, and then we cut to Faith [Reylynn Caster] being in the hospital, and Faith knowing that I wasn't at home and why that was happening. I got to work with a bunch of talented actors: Sharon, of course; Mark Grossman; and Reylynn, who took over for Aly Lind in the role of Faith.

Soap Central: Was it difficult for you to narrow down which scenes to use?

Vilasuso: I was on the fence because it was a really long tape, and I've judged these things before, so, I was like, "Man, who is going to sit through 15 minutes of this?!" [Laughs] But I really wanted to tell the whole story and show all the different shades of Rey, who ultimately is a man who has [a big heart] but who will not tolerate bad behavior from anyone, and I like that I was given that opportunity to finally let that part of Rey come out. Rey has always been a really nice, chivalrous guy, and I know that there was part of him that really wanted to [stand his ground], and it hardly ever came out, but the fact that it did come out, and I could share that on-screen, was something that I was proud of. It was nice to be able to show all of the different colors of who he was.

Soap Central: Do you remember filming any of the scenes that you put on the reel?

Vilasuso: Oh, yeah! In particular, the first scene of confronting Sharon, because it was the first time we had such a confrontation. And I remember after I filmed that, my director, Owen Renfroe and some producers, Vivian Gundaker, specifically had reached out and said that the work was fantastic and that I should really watch it and be proud of it. And also, filming it, I was so there and in the moment that I don't remember how it happened; like, I wasn't thinking about it. It just released. It was just there. And I've had that at times, and I think actors can relate, because it's like, "Yes, that's ultimately what you want." You want that kind of experience, and that's when I was like, "Okay, maybe I have something here that not only am I proud of, but that maybe others will acknowledge, as well."

Soap Central: Getting the nomination is the exciting part; however, you also get to go to the Emmy ceremony in June, which is back in person! What are you most looking forward to about attending the event?

Vilasuso: Oh, man, I am so happy that we're actually going to be able to be there! We're going to make it a night! We were just talking about it recently; we haven't been to the Emmys in a really long time. We've been to some afterparties, but we haven't been to the Emmys since I was on Days of our Lives [as Dario Hernandez]. But this one, this one just feels much better. It feels great, and I think it's going to be extra celebratory for so many reasons. The pandemic seems to be done, and people are going back to some normalcy, and I just really want to celebrate it and enjoy the experience. I want to enjoy [being with my wife out at an event], and I want to see all of my other friends that are nominated and celebrate them. I had Eric Martsolf [Brady Black, DAYS] reach out to me yesterday, which was really cool, and I congratulated him. I also had Greg Vaughan [Eric Brady, DAYS] reach out to me yesterday, which was really beautiful, as well. And funny enough, I had seen his tape with Ari [Zucker, Nicole Walker, DAYS], and I was like, "Man, I don't know all of what you submitted, but your work is so beautiful." Greg and I have become very friendly, and Eric and I, as well. So, I'm looking forward to all of these actors that I've known for years and just having a ball, just having a really good time.

Soap Central: Speaking of these other talented people, how do you feel about the other performers in your category?

Vilasuso: Oh, come on! I mean, I've got a lot of love for Bryton, and I am so proud of him. There's James Patrick Stuart [Valentin Cassdine, General Hospital], and he's been in this game for a long time and is such a powerhouse; he's just a really talented guy. Jeff Kober [Cyrus Renault, GH], I saw part of his work because I was judging Lead Actress, and I was like, "Okay, this guy is super legit, as well." And then Aaron [Spears, Justin Barber, The Bold and the Beautiful], whenever I would see Aaron at the studio, he was such a supporter of mine, and I of his, of each other's work, that it's like, he's a homie; I am so happy for him. I haven't seen Aaron in a long time, but whenever I did, he always had this huge smile on his face, and he always had such good energy. So, yeah, I'm looking forward to all of it. The fact that we're all nominated together is something to be celebrated, and I hope I get to celebrate with these guys and wish them congrats. I reached out to Bryton and some of my other cast members, but hopefully at some of the pre-Emmy stuff, we'll all be able to hang and share a drink and share a celebratory cheers about it all.

Soap Central: Are you the type to prepare an acceptance speech so you're ready just in case?

Vilasuso: So, I hadn't before -- when I was a kid, I didn't prepare one. The tape is online somewhere, and for me, I was 21, and I was just like, "I'm going to enjoy this on my terms." And unfortunately, there's one person in my life who I didn't thank, and that was my manager at the time. She kind of hung it over my head for a while, saying, "You never thanked me!" [Laughs] So, she is definitely going to be in there. We don't work together anymore, but I will definitely thank her if I win. I have a good list of people that I want to thank, but other than that, I'd probably just let it rip.

Soap Central: That's a good plan -- just make sure not to forget to thank anyone this time!

Vilasuso: Exactly! There are some things I want to say if I do win, though. I don't know if they've been said before, but specific to this genre and the actors who work in this genre, I know how hard we work, and I want the industry to really recognize that and to not put us in a box because we're on some "daytime show." I feel like there's this perception of what it is to be a daytime actor that's like, "Oh, you're a soap actor." And I've never liked that term. You're an actor, you're an artist, you're a creative person, you're a storyteller, and it shouldn't be put in a box. So, if there's one thing I would say if I did get the opportunity, I would probably say that, just don't put us in a box. Because it's not true.

Soap Central: Did you celebrate your nomination after the announcement, or do you plan to celebrate soon?

Vilasuso: I'm celebrating tonight! My sister-in-law's boyfriend, who is my dear friend, Blake Richardson, he sent me a bottle of tequila, so, we're going to crack that bottle open tonight, a bottle of Don Julio, and I'm going to enjoy it. We're going to have a ball. And also, my kids are so happy for me. I have a little video that I think we're going to put on Instagram, it's a video where I told them the news, and I told them in front of the Emmy, because I don't think my five-year-old really grasped what it is, and she clearly didn't from the video. So, it will be a nice little button to add to the whole thing.

What do you think about Jordi Vilasuso being nominated for a Daytime Emmy this year? What did you think about his work as Rey? Do you think the actor will take home the gold during this year's Emmy race? We want to hear from you -- and there are many ways you can share your thoughts.

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