Her time on soap operas has been brief, but actress Denice Duff has probably had more fun in the genre than almost anybody else. First, she had the pleasure of playing terribly horrible mother Amanda Browning on The Young and the Restless, where she found herself in the boxing ring with Genoa City powerhouses Katherine Chancellor (Jeanne Cooper) and Jill Abbott (Jess Walton). Then she had the deliciously scary opportunity of stepping into the role of Days of our Lives' Wendy Taylor, a midwife who was brutally murdered at the hands of the Necktie Killer - a.k.a. Ben Weston (Robert Scott Wilson).
It's been such a wild ride, Soap Central couldn't wait to get the scoop from Duff on just how wild, and, fortunately, the actress delivered. She shares stories that will make you gasp and laugh, and she also opens up about her natural beauty line, In Your Face, which she recently launched to much fanfare and celebrity support.
Soap Central: Congratulations on the launch and success of your skincare line, In Your Face! You've been into natural beauty products for a long time, so what finally inspired you to take the leap and start this venture?
Denice Duff: When I saw my three-year-old daughter on the couch with her 96-year-old great-great grandmother -- yes, five generations! -- sharing avocados and carrots sticks, I was inspired to do my share to keep women from resisting the honor of aging while embracing all the magic of Mother Nature. As an actress, I felt the first-hand stigma of what approaching 50 might mean, and I felt driven to reverse that by being pro-age by providing healthy tips and tools on my social media outlets. I wanted to show women that you don't have to compromise health for effective beauty solutions. Also, as a professional photographer, I saw firsthand that even though real beauty shines from within, my clients needed to feel confident about how they looked before even getting in front of my lens. I think modern beauty has a focus more on clean healthy skin. There is a demand from health-conscious consumers for non-toxic ingredients and transparency to know what those ingredients are. I think women are embracing their natural skin more than covering it up these days.
Soap Central: Which of your products are you most excited about and why?
Duff: The Cream that started it all because it has a total of 19 ingredients that are pronounceable, plant-based, botanically infused oils, enzymes, and antioxidants. Zero synthetics, fillers, or preservatives, no added fragrances, parabens, silicones, or petroleums. You are getting all the good stuff and none of the bad!
Soap Central: You've had some rave reviews from big names like actress Jenna Elfman, designer Rebecca Minkoff, and Kevin Spirtas [ex-Craig Wesley, DAYS]. What does it mean to you to have support from such well-known people?
Duff: Oh, my gosh! I have to say the joy I feel when any client, from celebrity to absolute strangers, reaches out to me with unsolicited praise for my products, I literally melt. I even get teary eyed -- once a soap actress, always a soap actress! [Laughs] But seriously, I do! And it's a very different kind of pride than when someone tells me my work as an actress made them happy. I will be honest and say it's harder accepting praise for my work as an actress and therefore more fulfilling accepting praise for a "product I have created." It's a bit comparable to the joy I get when someone compliments my child's work -- way more fulfilling than when they compliment me. All that to say, the celebrity praise of In Your Face Skincare never gets old!
Soap Central: Have you had any surprises or learned any tough lessons in the process of starting and growing your business?
Duff: I've learned that skin care is a very emotional subject for women and social media is a hotbed for praise and complaints. As an actress, you learn to thicken your skin being in the public eye; people's comments will be about fictional characters you play, and it's part of the make-believe world. But being the CEO of a skincare line, you need to be in communication all the time. And I am constantly amazed that some of the most loyal return customers started off by writing some nasty comment on Facebook, but I took the time to address their comment or question like, "Why did you pay Jenna to say that? Doesn't she have enough money?" I'll answer honestly and say, "I understand it might look that way, but as a new company, we couldn't even afford to pay her commercial rate, and therefore, we were grateful she was gifted a jar by a friend and has since been a loyal paying customer." Or when someone said, "They all claim the same thing, you don't have to pay that much, it's a scam!" To which I said, "It's true there are cheaper face creams, but they are cheaper because their ingredients are not active and effective botanicals." Literally, just by hearing and answering their questions and concerns, eight times out of ten they purchase and become loyal customers. It's crazy!
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Thank you @parishelena for this photoshoot.This is me. A gypsy soul. Casual. Happy. And proud of the photographer #parishelena #silverlakepoolandinn #inyourfaceskincare #womenentreprenuers #whysay"women"beforeentrepreneurs? #organicfacecream #skincareover40 #70sdecor #motherdaughterphotoshoot
Soap Central: I read that your grandma was an early influence for you, as she loved natural remedies like using lemon juice for acne and olive oil as a makeup remover. What is your number one favorite natural remedy?
Duff: I'd have to say garlic! Unfortunately, it's too pungent to add to skin care, so I make sure to add raw chopped garlic to at least one meal a day. I know it's contributed to my lack of doctor visits, resilient skin, and a house that smells like a delicious home!
Soap Central: To segue over to your soap past, it was just about five years ago that you became one of the Necktie Killer's victims on Days of our Lives -- eek! What do you remember about that experience, which we imagine must have been thrilling and crazy -- but also so much fun!
Duff: So, I played Wendy the midwife, and I was a shoo-in for the role because I, myself, had a natural home birth with a midwife, and I'm also a Certified Nurse Assistant for my first responder volunteer work. Doing this role on DAYS took all my experience to ten-times heights because my character had to deliver a premature baby while having a gun pointed at me the entire time. Talk about dramatic writing! Those high stakes actually made my "acting" job easy! [Laughs]
Soap Central: What was it like working with -- and dying at the hands of -- Robert Scott Wilson, who is still caught up in a lot of trouble as Ben Weston today!
Duff: The only dying I am doing now is laughing because my husband is from Massachusetts, and so is Robert, so my memory of working with him was talking passionately about the New England Patriots in the makeup room. You see, when you're the new girl, you want to connect with your cast in some way, and if I ever detect a Boston accent, I've literally hit the "Bonding Jackpot!" But it didn't stop his character from sparing my life...ugh! [Laughs]
Soap Central: Your Y&R character, Amanda Browning, was a bit of a bad egg and was easily manipulated by horrible men, like the man who molested her daughter, Mackenzie. However, she is also connected to the Chancellor family and her daughter, who has made some recent return appearances -- which means Amanda could always return, as well. Would you be open to reprising the role?
Duff: I would return in a heartbeat. First of all, the cast and crew of Y&R are some of the dearest people I've ever had the luxury of working with. I still remain friends with many through social media and, of course, Michelle Stafford [Phyllis Summers], who is my daughter's godmother and one of my dearest friends.
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Today is my birthday. My gift is these two stellar women who I love and admire to the core. They inspire me so effing much and I couldn't be more honored to be hanging in the Caribbean celebrating LIFE with them!!!!🌴🎉🎂💕🚀 #Aruba #nancycartwright #michellestafford #skinnation #healthylifestyle #reallylivinglife #over40 #styleover40 #islandlife #fitstagram #beauty #greatskin #matureskin #deniceduff #happybirthday #bestriends
Soap Central: If Amanda came back to Genoa City, do you think it would be more fun if she was the same old troublemaker or would you rather see her "rehabilitated"?
Duff: That's a very good question! And I think after all this time, we want to know there's been some soul-searching and some responsibility taken on her part -- and accountability, as well. But to tell the story of the human condition, you need to include frailty and regret. You need to see someone fighting for a second -- and third -- chance. I'm a huge fan of the Broadway Musical Dear Evan Hansen and the Tony Award-winning performance of the mom character brought me to tears. She reminded me of Amanda in her broken, desperate, and single mom struggles with a teenager. Amanda has a huge heart, and to be given another chance would bring out something creatively magical and endearing in her relationship with Mac, for sure.
Soap Central: You got to work with some legendary people on Y&R, like Jess Walton (Jill Abbott) and the late Jeanne Cooper (Katherine Chancellor), who is always a favorite. Did you learn anything from them or have any fun behind-the-scenes memories you can share?
Duff: Jess seems quickly to become like a sister to everyone on set. She just exudes this friendly confidence. She was a big part of my very last shooting day for my storyline. And I'll never forget her saying with tears in her eyes as we hugged after the director said, "Cut," "They'll find a way to get you back. You're good." And Jeanne Cooper, the Queen. Truly, such a consummate professional. She made it all look so easy. All the dialogue, so very much dialogue, and she breezes through it as though she wrote it -- and after all those decades, I guess you can say she did! [Laughs] But one memorable time was a scene where she was tied up, and I was with her, and she was pissed at my character, and she had to spit at me. Well, literally seconds before the scene, she was smiling at me with an enthusiastic smirk of a boxer ready to enter the ring. On "action," the scene played out with her bitter focus as she mustered up a vehement, tight-lipped spit right at my face. The scene then played out in silence as Amanda wears her humiliation.... and "Cut!" to which Jeanne quickly yells for makeup to, "Wipe that girl's pretty face off. Hurry!" and we laughed!
Soap Central: Is there anything else that you'd like to add that I didn't ask you about?
Duff: When I had my home birth, both Y&R's Michelle Stafford and Days of our Lives star Kevin Spirtas were there, supporting that miraculous event: the birth of my daughter, Paris. Kevin and I met while filming a vampire series in Romania called Subspecies. So, when I launched my first product, Kevin became my first male client and has been obsessed with it ever since and has helped me promote that even men need to take some self-care time with their skin.
For more information on Duff's skincare line, check out Soap Central's article all about In Your Face here.
What do you think about our interview with Denice Duff? Would you like to see her return as Y&R's Amanda Browning? What are your thoughts on her skincare line, In Your Face? We want to hear from you -- and there are many ways you can share your thoughts.