INTERVIEW: Y&R alum Justin Gaston on his inspiring new film and beautiful life with Melissa Ordway

Posted Monday, June 12, 2023 5:33:30 AM
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Family is number one for The Young and the Restless' Justin Gaston (ex-Chance Chancellor) but will it be the same for the actor/musician's alter ego in his new Pure Flix film, God's Country Song?

If you don't envy the family life that The Young and the Restless alum Justin Gaston (ex-Chance Chancellor) has with his wife, Melissa Ordway (Abby Newman), and their two daughters, seven-year-old Olivia and five-year-old Sophie, then you clearly haven't checked out the couple's Instagram pages. From splashy trips to Disneyland to sweet snuggles on the couch, it's clear that the family enjoys lots and lots of quality time together -- and it's also clear that Gaston and Ordway have a fun, flirty, deep connection, even after eleven years of marriage.

"I feel so fortunate to have found Melissa. And it's something that I always said early on, our relationship always felt easy. It just felt natural and normal and right," Gaston tells Soap Central. "We honestly don't really fight, luckily, and we just laugh a lot together."

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While Gaston has definitely come to understand how important family is, the same can't be said for his alter ego, Noah Bryan, in the actor's new film, God's Country Song. Premiering on Pure Flix on Friday, June 16, the movie follows Noah, who is on his way to becoming a big country music star -- until his past catches up to him. One night after playing at a successful honky-tonk, Noah receives shocking news that he has a four-year-old son with a woman he barely remembers, who recently died. Noah reluctantly agrees to meet the boy, but will he do the right thing and return to his family's farm to raise his son? Or will his dreams and his rocky relationship with his family prevent him from stepping up?

Soap Central caught up with Gaston to chat about the heartfelt film (trailer below) as well as his beautiful life with Ordway and their two girls. We also talked about whether or not the actor is open to returning to Y&R and got the details on his brand-new song, "The One."

Soap Central: Congratulations on your role in God's Country Song. It sounds like such a heartfelt film with a really positive message. I actually cried a little when I watched the trailer, to be honest with you.

Justin Gaston: Aw, well, thank you.

Soap Central: I did just have a baby six weeks ago, though, so I may be a little hormonal...

Gaston: Well, that will make you emotional, for sure. I cry all the time now! [Laughs]

Soap Central: Oh, do you?

Gaston: Yeah, just randomly.

Soap Central: I get it now. Children bring a totally different perspective to your life. They tug on your heartstrings. Is that what attracted you to starring in God's Country Song?

Gaston: Yeah. I mean, first and foremost, before I even read the script, I saw the breakdown and saw that Noah was a musician, and that is always really exciting for me, when a character plays music, because I get to sort of infuse that; it's who I am, and it helps me create a character a little more easily. But yeah, I think just the themes of the movie, like, God and family and faith and second chances -- those are the things that really attracted me to this role.

Soap Central: How would you describe your character, Noah?

Gaston: Noah is similar [to me] in a lot of ways. He grew up in the South, leaves home early to pursue his dream of being a country music artist. He's just about there, he's just about to go on this big tour, and he finds out that he has a son, so he's sort of at this crossroad in his life. He has a strange relationship with his father and kind of hits rock bottom and has to decide, "Am I going to keep living this way? Am I going to keep living selfishly and pursue dreams? Or do I do what's right and do I step up and become a father to his child and reconcile my relationships with my father and with God?"

Soap Central: I feel like that's something a lot of people can relate to -- not exactly that situation, but just the idea of juggling your own personal endeavors and dreams with family obligations. Is that something you've ever had to do before?

Gaston: Yeah. When you take a movie or do anything, especially in the entertainment industry, your job a lot of times involves leaving and not being present, which under the best circumstances puts a strain on any relationship. So, yeah, I think I can relate. It's hard to be away from Melissa and the girls, and like you said, you just had a child, and every moment, especially at that age, is so precious. If you leave for two weeks, they're a different person! [Laughs] They're taller, they've learned something new -- you just miss out. So, in the same way that Noah, you know, Noah missed out on a lot of his family life; he left, and he lost time with his mom and his dad and his brother, and so, when you do that, it puts this gravity on your career. Sometimes it can be unhealthy, like, "I've given up all this stuff, so it's gotta work out, no matter what, no matter how toxic it is. It's gotta work out because I've invested all of this, and I don't want to lose all that," when sometimes, it's not the right answer and you need to step back and reevaluate life and find out what's important. I think that's where Noah finds himself. He's kind of in this position where he's almost gotta prove himself to his dad and prove to himself that it wasn't all for nothing. And that can be a hard thing to do. All he really knows is the entertainment industry, and similarly, I left home at 17 and went to New York and then L.A. and Nashville, and there's this pressure to succeed and do all these things. But success is so relative, and I think you find out as you get older, as you have children and you're married, you're like, "Well, a career is great and it's fun, and it's important, but at the end of the day, my wife and my children are the most important."

Soap Central: You talked about going from New York to L.A. to Nashville, all of these places. What was your journey to your career as it is now? Did you have a lot of struggles along the way?

Gaston: Yeah, I mean, I think if anyone said that they didn't, they'd either be lying or be the luckiest person in the world! [Laughs] I went to New York when I was a few months shy of being 18, right after I graduated high school, and that was a huge culture shock, coming from Louisiana. I was just modeling, and I had the opportunity to sign with an agency there, so I was just kind of like, "Yeah, let's see where this leads," because the opportunity presented itself. So, I went there, and I had a really rough time. I had no money to my name, I think I ate maybe once a day, I couldn't get a job, and I think the entire time I was there, I booked maybe one job -- it was Seventeen magazine, I wanna say, and magazines pay like a hundred bucks, and that probably went to my model's apartment! I probably never saw a penny of that. So, I went back to Louisiana, thinking, "I'm done." And the woman who had scouted me lived in L.A. and she said, "Come try it out here. I think you'll like it. It's a little more slower paced." So, I went out there, and I kind of always wanted to do music -- I saw modeling as an opportunity to get into the city. So, I modeled for a while and was able to make a little bit of money, and that led me into doing Nashville Star and led to some other opportunities, because from there, I got an acting agent. So, you kind of trip into one thing that leads to the next, at least for me. I was pursuing music, but it kind of tripped me into acting, and then acting maybe has a musical element to it, so I got to do a record. And some seasons are great, and you work quite a bit, and then I've gone months and months without working. So, going back to what I was saying before, you've really got to ground yourself and kind of know who you are outside of your work. And fortunately for me, I met Melissa when I was 22. We did a movie called Escapee together, and so, I met her really young, and we had kids a couple of years later, so I've really been able to ground myself in family, which was really helpful for me.

Soap Central: Did that add a different kind of pressure to you, though, because now you've got dependents to take care of? It stresses me out now that I'm a parent!

Gaston: Yeah, I think so. We've been so fortunate that Melissa has been on The Young and the Restless; that has been such a blessing for our family, and she loves it over there. But there's always pressure -- there's a social pressure to working, there's a financial pressure to working, all of which I think this character, Noah, experiences, as well. But yeah, there's always the pressure of balancing work and the stress of that but also being present for your children. I'm responsible for the well-being and emotional well-being of this new person, so it's kind of balancing all of those things, and that can be stressful. But, you know, the main thing is to just enjoy it because it flies by. And everyone says it, everyone told me, and it's so cliché, but if you close your eyes, they're grown. It's sad. Just enjoy every moment that you can.

Soap Central: It seems like you guys do enjoy every moment. I follow Melissa on Instagram, and from her photos, it seems like you guys are having so much fun all the time with your daughters. Truly, you guys live a beautiful life.

Gaston: Oh, thank you.

Soap Central: Is that life that we see something that you've built purposefully and intentionally, or do you feel like a lot of luck played into that?

Gaston: I feel so fortunate to have found Melissa. And it's something that I always said early on, our relationship always felt easy. It just felt natural and normal and right. We honestly don't really fight, luckily, and we just laugh a lot together. She thinks I'm funny, and I think she's extremely funny. And it's funny because I'll say something, and if I said that to nine people, they'd be like, "That's really weird." But she thinks it's funny! So, we just get each other, and I think that's where it starts, with the two of us. But you know, being a parent can be hard, and there are challenging moments, and you get frustrated, but I think it's about being intentional about playing with your children, because they just want to play! [Laughs] And we do play a lot. We go out and play soccer or tennis or just go out and do things. Olivia got a Nintendo, so if it's a rainy day, we'll play that. It's just being playful and being around.

Soap Central: I think that kids who have actors as parents are pretty fortunate, because you guys really know how to play make believe and can really jump in with all the energy. Not everyone can do that well!

Gaston: Oh, my gosh, yeah. We do a lot of that. We do a lot of dance parties. A lot of things I never saw my parents do. And I feel very fortunate to have the parents I do, but I don't remember my parents dancing like this and being as silly as we are! [Laughs] But yeah, I guess it's kind of in the nature of what we do.

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Soap Central: I know that you really loved working with Melissa when you appeared on The Young and Restless. Do you guys hope to work together or plan to work together again in the future?

Gaston: Oh, man, I think we would both love that. We had such a great time. It's not every day that you get to get married again to your actual wife on TV! So, yeah, I love working with her. It's comfortable, which is super helpful for me as an actor. Especially stepping onto a soap opera, because it's such a well-oiled machine, and everyone has been doing it day in and day out, so when you're the one who kind of steps onto the moving train, you're like, "Oh, my gosh, here we go!" [Laughs] I think my first scenes were with Jordi [Vilasuso, ex-Rey Rosales], and I love Jordi, he's great. But I remember being kind of nervous, you know, those first scene nerves, and then my second scenes were with Melissa, and I was like, "Oh, thank God!" Because I immediately felt comfortable, and it helped me push into what I think was, like, two weeks of work or something like that. I felt like after that point, after doing my scenes with her, I was like, "Okay, I can do this." [Laughs]

Soap Central: I would be nervous to go on a soap, as well, because as you said, many of the actors have been on the show for years and years, they already have their relationships formed, and you're the new guy, which can be hard.

Gaston: Yeah, and luckily, I knew everyone, but at the same time, I really only knew them socially, and then you're kind of stepping in to work with them. And also, you're stepping into an existing character, so you're kind of playing catch-up, and a lot had gone on with Chance at that point. He had just been shot and things like that, and you want to serve the character and serve the audience, so you're like, "Okay, I've got to hit it! I've got to make contact!"

Soap Central: The fans enjoyed you on the show, and a lot have wanted you to come back. Would you consider appearing again on a soap opera in the future, whether The Young and the Restless or any of the remaining soap operas? I know you also appeared on Days of our Lives as Ben Rogers.

Gaston: Yeah, I would love it! I love soaps. Like I said, it's been such a big part of our lives for the last ten years. It's a small community, and you come to know most people and love most people, so, yes, I would love to be a part of any of them, to be honest. It's a really fun place to work, and a lot of creative storylines [are told], and from what I've seen, most of the people seem to really love what they do and be really passionate about it, so, to answer your question, yeah!

Soap Central: Do you ever help Melissa with her lines or help her prepare for scenes?

Gaston: No, not really. She's kind of got a system down. It's kind of amazing. I think a lot of actors take for granted what soap actors do, because they're learning so much material at such a high rate. It's such a quick turnover. On a show or a movie, you're filming maybe a couple of pages a day, and they're shooting a hundred pages a day, so there's so much dialogue and a lot of people don't really understand unless they step onto a soap set and try it for themselves. But she's really incredible and has been doing it for so long; she's really gotten to a place where she can learn material really quickly. It's pretty amazing what she does.

Soap Central: Soap operas are great fun but not exactly kid-friendly all the time. But the film that you're doing now seems to be very family-friendly, so, have your girls been able to watch it yet, and if so, what did they think?

Gaston: They got to come see a premiere we did in Arkansas a few weeks ago, and they really enjoyed... it kind of seemed to inspire Olivia. She said, "I wanna do that!" But we're sort of hesitant. We want to make sure that it's something they really want to do and that it's their decision, if they want to get into acting, because it's not for the faint of heart, and I would never want them to be like, "Why did you make me do that!" [Laughs] But I think they really enjoyed the movie, and I think they'll get to see it again. We're doing a red-carpet premiere in Nashville [before the movie premieres on Pure Flix], and I think they'll be able to see it again there. I'm going to play some music, and Coffey Anderson, who plays Colt Young, he's like the big country artist in the movie, he's going to play a few songs, so it should be fun.

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Soap Central: As you are a singer/songwriter, is any of the music in the film yours, by chance?

Gaston: It's not this time. There are a few songwriters, but Melissa [Sheridan] and Andy [Sheridan] did the majority of the songs that I sang. I did get to sing all of my own songs in this one, which was really fun. But I do have a song coming out in the next couple of weeks called "The One." So, I'm excited about that. In the film, I did sing, but I didn't write any of the music in this one. But it's really good; Melissa and Andy did a great job.

Soap Central: Is there anything you can say about "The One," in terms of what inspired you to write the song and where fans can find it when it's released?

Gaston: It'll be on Spotify and iTunes and all of that. Oddly, I was just sort of in a place where I was thinking about this movie, and I had all this press coming up, and I was like, as a singer/songwriter, you're always kind of writing, and honestly, it sort of stemmed from this movie. I was thinking about me being a father and sort of the correlations to Noah and how, when you're younger, you can make mistakes and it affects you, but there comes a time, like I am now, being married and being a father, my mistakes aren't just my mistakes anymore; they affect my kids, and they affect my marriage and things like that. So, that sort of spawned it, and then I went to my friend, Ben Schofield, who is a great producer. We actually grew up in Louisiana together, and he is a great songwriter and he had an idea, as well, and it sort of turned into this song about God and him being the one, the only true one that could save me.

Soap Central: That sounds really beautiful. I look forward to hearing it. Is there anything else that you would like to add before I have to let you go?

Gaston: Yeah, just that I hope that everyone watches God's Country Song on Pure Flix on June 16th. I hope they enjoy it, and I hope it inspires people, and I hope that it's something, kind of like you said, that families can watch together, which is always something that Melissa and I are always looking for.

What do you think about our interview with Justin Gaston? How do you feel about the way he describes his family life and relationships with his wife and daughters? What are your thoughts on the premise of Gaston's new film, God's Country Song? We want to hear from you -- and there are many ways you can share your thoughts.

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