Television just hasn't felt the same without new episodes of The Young and the Restless, and the powers that be at the CBS soap opera must have known that fans would need a dose of Genoa City comfort as soon as fresh episodes hit the air, because they made sure to include longtime Y&R staple Kate Linder (Esther Valentine) in story this week. Official show teasers reveal that Esther will be helping Kevin (Greg Rikaart) prepare for the arrival of Chloe's (Elizabeth Hendrickson) baby this Thursday, but Soap Central caught up with Linder to get even more scoop on what's to come for Esther this week and beyond. Keep reading to get the actress' thoughts on what it's like to be back to work, the drama that's coming for the Chancellor family, and how the stay-at-home orders have affected her perspective on life and work.
Soap Central: Hi, Kate! Thank you so much for giving us some of your time! How does it feel to be back to work after such a long hiatus? A break that long is unusual in the soap industry!
Kate Linder: I am absolutely thrilled to be back at work! At this time, there are only three scripted shows taping in Los Angeles, and we are one of them. I am so very proud of our show. Everyone has worked extremely hard to make sure that we are all safe and that we continue to stay that way.
Soap Central: How did you refresh yourself on Esther's more recent history before you delved back into filming again? I'll admit, I had to read recaps from April! But maybe you just automatically remembered because she's in your blood.
Linder: I didn't need to refresh my memory. After playing Esther for over 38 years, I definitely knew what was going on in the storyline. You are right, Esther is definitely a part of me! However, I will say that I have so enjoyed seeing the classic episodes. It's been wonderful to relive all of these amazing stories and scenes.
Soap Central: That has been fun, but I know that fans are also happy to have new episodes back on the air -- and they are ecstatic that your character is in the first week of new content! How do you feel about the writers' decision to include Esther right off the bat?
Linder: I was also ecstatic when I found out that Esther would be included in the first week. There is definitely a lot going on in the Chancellor house right now. I'm thrilled that our amazing writers are letting us all know what that entails.
Soap Central: The week also has Esther helping Kevin prepare to be a father, which must be a special moment.
Linder: Esther loves Kevin as much as if he were her own son. I also adore Greg Rikaart. Anytime I get a chance to work with him is a bonus. These scenes are beautifully written and I'm excited for everyone to see them.
Soap Central: How do you feel about working with babies and children on set? And also, have you had the opportunity to meet Elizabeth Hendrickson's (Chloe Mitchell) baby yet -- or even just get a glimpse of her via a socially distanced visit?
Linder: It's always challenging to work with children. But Martie [Blair], who plays Bella, is just a doll, and I look forward to seeing her. Liz and I have FaceTimed so I've been able to see JoJo, but I'm so looking forward to the day that I can see her in person!
Soap Central: Esther always seems to be such a great grandma. Do you have any special memories of your own real-life grandmas that you could share? Like things you did together or lessons they taught you, that sort of thing?
Linder: My grandmother instilled amazing qualities into my mom -- to always be kind, generous, and thoughtful. My mother then passed those traits along to me. My grandmother and my mom watched The Young and the Restless from the very first day. Unfortunately, my grandmother passed away before I began working on the show. I know she would be very proud, and she would have really loved that my character is named Esther because that was her name, too!
Soap Central: Now that the show is back, what would you like to see for Esther? I know you can't dictate story, but just wishful thinking! Whether it's positively influencing Chloe as a mother or maybe a romance of her own -- whatever you'd love to see for the character!
Linder: Esther's romances and marriages have never worked out, but you never know -- she can still turn things around! I've also thought it would be interesting to have Esther involved in Chancellor Industries because I'm sure she could manage to get into a lot of trouble there. [Laughs]
Soap Central: You've signed on to play a role in the film Shriver. I'm not sure if it has started filming yet, but is there anything you can tell us about the role and working with the major stars that are attached to the project?
Linder: I'm so excited to play the college president in the film Shriver, opposite Kate Hudson, Michael Shannon, and Don Johnson. We had to stop shooting when COVID-19 hit. Fortunately, we just have a little more filming to do, so hopefully the film will be out next year. Esther always is my primary focus, but it's always fun to play a role that is entirely different from her.
Soap Central: Speaking of COVID, a lot of people have described the last few months as a sort of reset. Has the stay-at-home time changed your perspective on anything or changed the importance of any elements in your life?
Linder: I've been posting one-minute messages every Sunday on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook. [When I posted my 19th], it hit me that we had been doing stay-at-home for five months! This definitely has been life-changing for everyone on many levels. When you are alone, the isolation is even more pronounced. The Sunday messages have helped me look at the positive and remember that this, one day, will be a distant memory. I have so enjoyed all the wonderful comments I have received and so look forward to reading them every week. It just emphasizes that we are indeed all in this together and the only way for this truly to be over is to remain vigilant together.
Soap Central: Is there anything else that you'd like to add that I didn't ask you about?
Linder: Please keep checking my website, KateLinder.com, and my social media for news about some upcoming events. We'll be announcing the first one later this month!
UPDATE (August 17, 2020): Since our chat with Kate, that event that she teased has been officially announced: the first-ever Kate Linder & Friends OpportuniTea Online for March of Dimes Canada's Conductive Education Program. The event takes place on October 4 at 3pm ET/12pm PT and will feature appearances by Linder, co-host Christian LeBlanc (Michael Baldwin), and Y&R castmates Tracey Bregman (Lauren Fenmore), Sharon Case (Sharon Newman), Mark Grossman (Adam Newman), Elizabeth Hendrickson (Chloe Mitchell), Bryton James (Devon Hamilton), Beth Maitland (Traci Abbott), Brytni Sarpy (Elena Dawson), and Michelle Stafford (Phyllis Summers).
Donate for the chance to ask your favorite star a question or bid on exclusive auction items. Conductive Education designed for kids and adults with neurological motor disorders like cerebral palsy or multiple sclerosis. For more information visit www.marchofdimes.ca/TeaOnline
What do you think about our interview with Kate Linder? Could you see Esther causing trouble at Chancellor Industries? What about romance -- do you think it's time for the writers to give Esther a successful relationship, or would you rather see her focus on her family and various career opportunities? We want to hear from you -- and there are many ways you can share your thoughts.