Fans of The Young and the Restless were thrilled to see Beth Maitland (Traci Abbott) be such an important part of the storylines that aired last year on the CBS soap opera. The writers gave the beloved actress a wealth of emotional, hard-hitting scenes, which ultimately led to Maitland earning her first Daytime Emmy nomination since winning in the Outstanding Supporting Actress category back in 1985. And guess what? The South Dakota native tells Soap Central that this year is filled with some pretty great storyline moments for Traci, as well.
Keep reading for a tease about what's ahead for the Abbott family, how Maitland feels about her Emmy nomination, what she thinks about the other nominees in her category, and the backstory behind an extremely special piece of jewelry she plans to wear during the Daytime Emmy ceremony on Sunday, May 5.
Soap Central: Hi, Beth! How are you?
Beth Maitland: As you can imagine, I'm doing great!
Soap Central: Oh, I'm sure. Congratulations on your nomination! How are you feeling about it?
Maitland: Well, I feel a little bit like I have the world by the tail. [Laughs] I have not been in this race for many years, and I have been a dedicated participant in the daytime world/universe, but I honestly never thought this day would come again, and I am so grateful, and I am so excited. I could not be more honored to be in a position to celebrate my peers, my coworkers, my medium -- everything! I'm just as high as a kite.
Soap Central: You had such spectacular story last year. So much happened for Traci and the entire Abbott family. Was it difficult for you to narrow down which scenes you were going to submit?
Maitland: Absolutely not. In fact, as the year went by, there were about three particular shows that I earmarked through the year just as something that I would want for my demo reel or to hang onto that I felt were particularly good. And those three episodes are the only ones that I used. One was early in the year, involving the Dina [Marla Adams] Alzheimer's storyline and the fallout from that. It was not so much about Dina, but more about how her illness affects the family and the impact it has in a very personal way to the caregivers and to those people around who feel left behind. Another episode was a standalone sort of thing that stuck out for me, where Traci dedicated a scholarship in the name of her departed daughter, Colleen [Tammin Sursok], and there was a particularly beautiful speech that was written for Traci for this dedication. And then there was a particularly fun series in the storyline about Jack [Peter Bergman] and Ashley [Eileen Davidson] and their turmoil in which the writers chose to bring in actors to play the Abbotts as young people, to look back at where we all began. That whole period, there was one particular episode that stuck out for me, too. So honestly, I didn't have to look very much, because it's not like I had a big, year-long, fabulous storyline. But it was that occasionally, and importantly, Traci got to be featured and participate. And that's what supporting actors do -- they go around propping everybody else's storylines up and making sure that everybody else gets to accomplish the intentions for their storylines. And I felt like this was the year of Traci supporting her siblings, her mother, her family. It was just fortuitous. It was a gift.
Soap Central: Have any of your costars reached out to you? Or have you reached out to any of them with congratulations?
Maitland: Yes, absolutely. The day that the nominations were announced, I was working. And that's also another gift from above, that on the day that peer excellence is celebrated, I was actually working as an actor, earning money doing what I love and what makes me feel complete! [Laughs] So I didn't have a lot of time to be checking my emails and my texts and social media. So, when the lunch break came, I sat down, and there was this just bank of text and congratulatory emails and stuff, and because I was working a pretty busy day, I couldn't really answer everything immediately -- and I still haven't been able to! I'm on my way home, and in the afternoon, I'll be able to sit down at my computer and my phone and thank everybody. But Peter Bergman, who has been a massive support to me -- he has been an advocate for me for decades -- was one of the first to check in. And Eileen Davidson checked in. And these are all people who are so special. I know that daytime continues to talk about every show being a family, even the whole community being a family. And we are! It's almost like combat duty -- we are in the trenches every day, together. And I feel like these people [are family]. It's why I love coming in every time and walking into the Abbott living room. It's almost like I do live there. I've been on the show 37 years on and off, and these people are my family. I spend so much time with them. We've been through marriages and children and divorces [laughs] and life experiences. We have grown up together. And I am so honored that so many of my co-stars reached out to me and are lifting me up. They're happy, too! There's a funny phrase, Kambra: "Who am I up against?" It's not that in daytime. It's, "Who am I celebrated with?" Because everybody works so hard, and everybody is talented, and everybody is dedicated, and every person brings it, every single day. So, this is the best of the best. It's a celebration, not a competition.
Soap Central: Are you familiar with the work of the actors that you're celebrating with?
Maitland: Absolutely, yes. One of the other great things about participating in the Emmys in general is that a lot of us participate in the judging; we're peer judges, and obviously, I don't judge myself, my own category, but we get to see bodies of work in the preliminary rounds and things like that. We often get to see what each other has submitted. And I'm not kidding -- it can't be a competition when you look at the other work; it's just who is the favorite, not who is the best, because everyone is so talented, and they have brought their A-game. Especially in my category, which is often considered to be one of the most competitive and one of the most difficult. It's because you're not being evaluated for your feature moment; you're being evaluated for how well you lift everybody else up. So, yes, the work is spectacular. Kassie [DePaiva, Eve Donovan, Days of our Lives], I mean, just everybody. And I feel like I'm babbling because I'm so excited and enthusiastic about getting to honor what we all do. And yes, all these women are fantastic. I actually saw so much more, a broader scale of work, because I think there were originally 19 women in the beginning of the race, and every tape is spectacular. Every collection of work is just beautiful.
Soap Central: You mentioned that you've been really busy at work this week. Did you have time to celebrate your nomination, or is that something that will have to come later?
Maitland: I haven't had time to yet, but my sweet sister sent me a gorgeous bouquet of long stemmed roses. I'm driving home, and they're my copilot! I have this gorgeous bouquet of flowers sitting next to me in my car. [Laughs] But really, it's all such a flurry. You have such a small amount of time to absorb all the information and be able to sit down and let it wash over you and realize where you are today. A few days ago, I was working hard and bringing my usual professionalism and A-game to work, and today, nothing has changed except somebody noticed, and my peers are saying, "Good for you."
Soap Central: It's exciting news, and as you said, you feel sort of buoyant and extremely happy. Does that make filming emotional or serious scenes a little bit more difficult?
Maitland: No! Honey, we're actors: we get to pretend! [Laughs] But really, I don't think so. What changes is you just sort of have to learn how to regulate your energy. But no, that's not hard to do at all. When I was in acting school, my favorite teacher of all time told us that the whole point of this is to figure out how you're feeling today and use that to inform what you have to act, what you have to perform. So, it's not difficult at all. I just changed gears and went back to work.
Soap Central: So many fans were thrilled to hear that you were coming back to the screen this week, and I'm sure they're going to be ecstatic to hear that you've been on set this week, meaning there's more Traci material to come. Is there anything you can tease about what you're currently working on? Without giving too much away, of course!
Maitland: Thank you, Kambra, for letting me be discreet! [Laughs] I can say that very soon, they will be seeing some familiar faces -- of a family nature -- that will bring them a lot of delight and will add so much to their understanding that fans' opinions are appreciated.
Soap Central: This is super early for me to be asking this, I know. But have you thought about what you might wear to the Emmy ceremony in May?
Maitland: Yes, I have. It's in my closet right now, ready and pressed! [Laughs] I have spent the last 37 years of my life feeling like every single party or Emmy ceremony that I've had to go to, I was never quite prepared. I was never feeling just right in what I was wearing. And it's all about -- my character, even -- it's a lot about being on television, being a plus-sized person. I'm the real one, I'm the girl next door, I'm the person that looks like everybody at the mall. I'm not a glamour girl, and I was never any kind of starlet type person, anyway, let alone character or actress. So that has been one of the stressful aspects of my entire career! [Laughs] It's not been the work, it's not been crying on cue, it's been, "What am I supposed to wear?!" So, this year, so many years later, because as I said, it's been a long time since I was in this arena, I decided I was going to get myself ready in advance, be casual, be myself, and take the pressure off so that all I have to do is celebrate. All I have to worry about is having fun and letting the evening take me away. So, I already have a very comfortable outfit underneath and a fabulous kimono to wear over the top of it. And I bought crazy platform shoes -- I'll have to practice walking in them -- but they're comfortable, and I'll be able to last all night, because that's a consideration at my age. Your feet can't hurt! And it's not about the designer. I've never been a body type that has designers making things for me to wear to the Emmys. So, I just said, "I'm going to take all the stress off. I'm going to be comfortable, I'm going to be myself." I've made the jewelry that I'm going to wear. I'm crafty like that, so I bought several pieces of jewelry and added to them and took things apart and made things new. So, it's all in there on a hanger, saying, "Your day is coming, young lady. Have a good time."
Soap Central: I love that attitude! And I love that you make jewelry, as well. How long have you been doing that?
Maitland: Oh, I have been sewing and making costumes since I was thirteen -- and as you can imagine, that's been some time now! [Laughs] I used to make costumes, and I made personal accessories. I've been doing this a long, long, long time. It's not that I make homemade jewelry, it's just more whatever I need. If we have to decorate, let's make something. If I have to dress my daughter for Halloween, let's make it. I'm just like that.
Soap Central: Have you included any lucky charms in the jewelry that you'll be wearing on Emmy night?
Maitland: Tracey Bregman [Lauren Fenmore] and I were the first actresses to win Emmys for The Young and the Restless many years ago, and that year, Tracey's beautiful mother, actress Suzanne Lloyd, bought Tracey and I each a gold Emmy about an inch and a half big, and she had our initials engraved on the bottom of the pedestals. She gave them to us on chains as a memento of our friendship -- Tracey and I have always been very close friends -- and of her celebration of our accomplishments. So, every year, I wear that, and that will be among my jewelry.
What do you think about Meth Maitland earning a Daytime Emmy nomination this year? Do you think she has a shot at taking home the gold? Which familiar family faces are you hoping she's referring to in her tease as to what's to come in Y&R's future? We want to hear from you -- and there are many ways you can share your thoughts.