Things haven't been easy for The Young and the Restless' Summer (Allison Lanier) and Kyle (Michael Mealor) since the couple decided to leave Italy and move back to Genoa City. Kyle was stunned to learn that his presumed-dead mom, Diane (Susan Walters), was very much alive, and that shocking news was followed by the death of Ashland Locke (Robert Newman), who'd been raising Kyle's son, Harrison, until news got out that the kid didn't belong to the mogul. Those events in and of themselves are quite a lot for a young couple to handle, but Skyle's biggest challenge may be the one on the horizon: the War of the Moms!
Summer's mother, Phyllis (Michelle Stafford), hasn't taken kindly to Diane's return from the dead, and she is doing everything in her power to keep Summer away from her rival and run Diane out of town. Show teasers reveal that Phyllis teams up with Nikki (Melody Thomas Scott) to hire a private investigator to dig up dirt on Diane, and that is just the start of what sounds like it will be one epic battle between Summer and Kyle's mothers. Will the young pair get caught in the crosshairs? Soap Central spoke with Allison Lanier to find out.
Soap Central: Hi Allison! How's your summer going so far? Have you done anything fun, or will you before the summer is over?
Allison Lanier: Yeah, I have done a few fun things. I'm still getting used to the L.A. lifestyle, so I'm just trying to just take full advantage of that. My partner and I have taken a couple of quick trips out of town -- we went to Ojai and we went to Santa Barbara. So, that's been really fun, getting to see the surrounding area of L.A. It's beautiful.
Soap Central: And if I'm not mistaken, your birthday is on August 4!
Lanier: Yes, that's right! It always sneaks up on me because I'm not a big birthday celebration planner type of person, so, I'm looking at the calendar right now, and I'm like, "Oh, yeah! That's almost here!" [Laughs] But it's funny -- my partner and I actually share a birthday, both August 4, and we never know what to do because we're both just not really birthday people. We're like, "We definitely should do something, since it's both of our big days!" [Laughs]
Soap Central: Yes, I would think that would be the perfect opportunity to have a big bash! But of course, that does come with a lot of stress and planning.
Lanier: Exactly, and we're both pretty low key.
Soap Central: Would you say that you fall pretty well into the character traits of your horoscope, which is a Leo?
Lanier: I think on the surface, it can probably seem like that. I'm not that into astrology, but I do know that I have a lot of Earth in my chart, so I think that sort of brings down the fiery Leo. I have a more grounding energy than maybe a typical Leo Leo would have.
Soap Central: How about the more general qualities? I did a quick Internet search, and some of the traits listed are theatrical, creative, confident. And I was thinking those probably are a lot like you, but I didn't want to presume!
Lanier: Oh, totally! But then, I kind of feel like a lot of actors might be Leos! That must be a thing. [Laughs]
Soap Central: You definitely fall into the creative category, as we've seen on Y&R. But also, I found out that you are a photographer. You have some really beautiful work on your website!
Lanier: Oh, my gosh! Thank you. It's still photography, and I made that website as a little blog for myself, just a place to put my still photos up that I typically do nothing with... I forget that it's on the Internet and people can actually see it! But I love still photography and taking pictures, so thank you so much.
Soap Central: When and how did you get interested in photography?
Lanier: Gosh, it's one of things where I think I've just always had a camera in my hands. When I was way younger, it was always a disposable camera, and then I got a video camera for my eleventh birthday, and I started making little docu-style movies with my friends. I had a group of friends that were obsessed with Dawson's Creek, and so, in turn, we were obsessed with filmmaking and making little films on our video cameras. So, that's when it started, and then I just got more and more into it as I turned 18 and started traveling a bit; I started seeing more beauty in the world, and it made me want to snap some pics, these little "slice of life" moments.
Soap Central: I know you're working quite a bit at Y&R, and I'm wondering if that whole new aspect of your life is influencing you in your other creative outlets at all?
Lanier: For photography stuff, L.A. is just such a different landscape, but a lot of what I'm inspired by is nature and flowers and things like that. So, I definitely have been going through rolls of film. But then also just being on the show has inspired me to start thinking more about writing, like writing for TV and film and developing ideas that I've had for a while. It's been inspiring to read tons of scripts. You kind of always do as an actor, but the rate at which it's coming in, I'm like, "Wow, these people are churning out stories. Maybe I have some stories that I want to tell." So, I've been doing a bit of that in my free time.
Soap Central: I'm happy to hear that you have some free time, because I know the drama is ramping up for Summer, with this big battle between Kyle and Summer's mothers. It looks like things are about to get really ugly, wouldn't you say?
Lanier: I feel like we're still on the climb, but yes, it's safe to assume that! I haven't seen the big blowout yet -- there have been little explosions here and there, and more of that is coming. But we're on the same page here of wait and see where this is all going with Diane and Phyllis.
Soap Central: There were some scenes not that long ago where Kyle admitted to Jack [Peter Bergman] that he thinks that his and Summer's relationship will suffer if Phyllis and Diane go to war. Do you think Summer would agree with him?
Lanier: Yes! If they truly are going to go head to head and battle it out, then yeah. Summer feels that that isn't good, and I think that's why Summer has had to be so stern with her mother. I know that's sometimes hard to see in a mother/daughter relationship, and I know that it may seem like Summer is siding with Diane, but that's not really what's going on in Summer's head; Summer is siding with her relationship with Kyle, because that is the most important thing to her. And she knows that her mom can be the instigator in these situations. So, she just wants to tamp that down for the sake of her marriage that is so important to her.
Soap Central: That makes sense, but I can see how Phyllis is not seeing that, at all!
Lanier: Yeah, I think Phyllis has her own wants and needs. Summer can try as she might, but I don't think she can actually control her mother.
Soap Central: Nobody can control Phyllis, as we've seen over the years, despite everyone's best efforts! Do you think this is something that could actually threaten Summer's bond with her mom?
Lanier: I think that Summer also values her relationship with her mom so much, and I don't think that bond will be easily broken. But I think we need to see what happens, if and when all of this stuff comes to the surface, as in, what crimes have actually been committed by all of the parties involved. Never say never!
Soap Central: I feel like working with Michelle Stafford must be a blast; she seems like she's really funny. Do you get that from her when you're working together?
Lanier: She is really funny, and she's really off the cuff. She's fun to work with, because she's very alive in every scene and in every moment. It's great as an actor to be able to play off of somebody like that; it makes for really interesting scenes, so, it's a lot of fun.
Soap Central: You hit it off with Michael Mealor right out of the gate; the last time I spoke with you, you mentioned that he took you under his wing when you first started, and he was a great scene partner. How has your working relationship changed or developed since then?
Lanier: We both have super similar styles, in terms of how we approach the work. We're both on the stage early and want to rehearse the scene together before it gets to be our turn, so that we're a bit more warmed up. So, we've gotten into a really good rhythm with all of that, and yeah, we're still having fun together. He's awesome.
Soap Central: The character of Mariah [Camryn Grimes] made a comment a few weeks ago to Kyle, telling him that she thinks he's had a positive effect on Summer, because Summer is a lot nicer now. Do you think Kyle has helped Summer become a nicer person?
Lanier: You know what, I'm sure it's a combo of Summer's own personal growth, just maturing and coming into her own a bit more, and then also, yeah, Kyle is more generous and patient, and he's a "nice" type of guy, so I definitely think that has probably rubbed off on her a bit. And I think just being in a long-term relationship in general provides a sense of stability and a place to grow into being a more self-assured and confident person, because you have that other person to bounce off of and support you.
Soap Central: And you can also blow off steam with that person in private, rather than taking it out on everyone else in town!
Lanier: Exactly! He's my backup, he's got my back, so maybe I don't have to be so tough all the time.
Soap Central: I should definitely ask about working with Susan Walters. You said before that you were really impressed with her, and now that you've done even more scenes together, how do you feel?
Lanier: Oh, yeah, I mean, Susan Walters is so great. She's such a sweet person. She brings a different kind of energy; she's really, really funny, and she's so genuine. I love Susan... and I love seeing her as Diane. She's getting these little moments, and Diane has had this veneer, this kind of pristine exterior, for so long, and now we're getting tiny moments where she might be cracking a little bit, and it's really fun to see Susan play that.
Soap Central: Has Summer come to a point where she actually trusts Diane, or is she still just giving her the benefit of the doubt because of Kyle?
Lanier: I think that no, Summer doesn't trust Diane. I think that she's just giving her the benefit of the doubt because of Kyle, and you know, Summer is pragmatic in the sense that Diane hasn't done anything, she is really trying; that's what she's seeing now. She's trying to give Diane a clean slate, but no, she doesn't think she is the angel that maybe Phyllis thinks she's been fooled into thinking. She's not there yet.
Soap Central: How does Summer feel about Phyllis and Nikki giving her such a hard time? They're really on Summer about being na´ve in her trusting of Diane and giving her the benefit of the doubt. Is that something that is bothering Summer, that these women -- these pillars of Genoa City society -- are not trusting her and thinking she's a bit na´ve?
Lanier: I definitely do think that that rubs Summer the wrong way. She doesn't like to be underestimated, and I think she's just like, "This is Kyle's mom. Give her a break. She's not doing anything right now, so just back off. Why does it affect you?!" That's where she's coming from in these moments, but they're trying to get her to come over to their side, and she's just like, "Let's let this play out!" But I don't know -- we'll see what they have up their sleeve.
Soap Central: There's been a lot of drama with Ashland lately, which must have an effect on Summer and Kyle, even though they're not directly involved with his "death."
Lanier: Yes, Ashland has fallen and hit his head, and is presumed to be dead or gone... there's definitely more coming with that stuff, and there are things that are coming down the pipeline that are potentially going to affect Harrison, and that's going to be a delicate situation for Summer and Kyle to handle. I'm interested to see how that plays out, as well, but as always, Harrison is both Kyle and Summer's top priority.
Soap Central: How has it been for you to play a mom and to be working with a child actor?
Lanier: He is so, so cute. He's great. I love kids, so it's been really fun. Honestly, we don't work together all that much, but I definitely have fun with it, and I love that step-parenting for Summer has really been the catalyst to her becoming a more mature person.
Soap Central: Do you feel like being a stepmom has made her think about being a mom herself? I know you don't control the writing, but do you think it seems that the maternal instinct comes naturally to Summer and parenthood might be something that she would consider?
Lanier: I definitely think that Summer and Kyle will probably want to have a baby of their own, but they're also so busy right now with Marchetti and their mothers and Harrison. And also, they're still living at the Jabot House! I know it's a big house, but is there a room for a nursery in there?! [Laughs]
Soap Central: It would be a full house, for sure! And speaking of Marchetti, have you done any research about Summer's position in the fashion world, or do you mostly rely on what the writers give you to connect to her on the career level?
Lanier: I have worked on sets in the past and have done work with brands and stuff. I used to do some modeling when I was younger, and I've also done some production stuff, so I've definitely been on sets and interacted with people that do have the title of Creative Director, so I get what her role is -- she's basically overseeing all things creative with the brand. It's sort of her vision, and she gets to be the one who approves all of the things that are outward facing of the brand. So, she would be the one conceiving campaign and photoshoot ideas. I sort of have an understanding of it, and that helps, for sure.
Soap Central: All the characters on Y&R have amazing, glamorous, fun jobs. Which Genoa City character's job would you most love to have in real life if you weren't acting?
Lanier: Honestly, you're right -- all these roles are so glamorous, and I think they'd all be so fun. But for me, I love the Tessa [Cait Fairbanks] storyline. I can't sing, but I have always had pop star ambitions -- or rather daydreams, I should say! [Laughs] In an alternate universe where I had a great singing voice, I'd love to be a musician. So, I'm going to say Tessa!
What do you think about our interview with Allison Lanier? How do you feel about her take on the character of Summer? Do you think Summer and Kyle are right to give Diane the benefit of the doubt? Do you think the couple's relationship will survive if Phyllis and Diane go to war? We want to hear from you -- and there are many ways you can share your thoughts.