The Young and the Restless' Lily has been released from jail, but she hasn't been released from Cupid's arrow. At least, that's what fans are hoping now that she has returned to Genoa City and is running Chancellor Communications alongside Billy Abbott (Jason Thompson). While nemeses at first, the media co-leads seem to have finally found their groove -- and most viewers feel that it's only a matter of time before they trade Excel sheets for bed sheets. But does Lily's portrayer, Christel Khalil, feel the same? And is Lily truly ready to give her heart to Billy, who carries more baggage than a busy bellhop? Soap Central spoke with the actress to find out!
Soap Central: It's so nice to be talking with you, Christel! Where are you at these days? I know you were in Canada, but you had plans to move back to the U.S. Were you finally able to make the big move?
Christel Khalil: Yeah, I moved back in July, so I've been back for a few months now, and it's been great! I'm happy I'm not in the cold weather anymore!
Soap Central: Oh, I'll bet! What else are you excited about when it comes to being back in Los Angeles?
Khalil: Well, my friends and family -- basically my whole life -- is here, so it's nice to be back to work, to see friends, and you know, living life the way I'm used to. So that's been nice.
Soap Central: Toronto is a lot different than L.A. for sure, but did you enjoy living there? I've heard it's pretty outdoorsy and athletic.
Khalil: Yeah, I love the people and I love the food. Those I think were the two standout things for me. Unfortunately, I didn't get to do too many outdoor activities -- I don't really snowboard or ski, and we were living downtown, so it's not like we were going hiking or anything. But yeah, the food, I really, really miss. The food there is incredible.
Soap Central: Do you mean Canadian dishes specifically or more the restaurant scene of Toronto?
Khalil: The restaurants! You don't really expect it, but Toronto is the most multicultural city in the world -- which you would never think because it's Canada, right? [Laughs] But it's so densely populated, and you have to be an amazing restaurant to survive. And then not only that, but the restaurants are actually ran and [the food is] cooked by the people that are from that region, so if you're going to an Italian spot, then it's very authentic, or if you are going to a Sri Lankan restaurant, then you have Sri Lankans that are cooking. So yeah, the food is just unreal.
Soap Central: Ah, that sounds amazing! Luckily there is a lot of great food in L.A., too. And of course, as you mentioned, you're back to work at Y&R, which must be so much fun!
Khalil: Oh, I'm really happy. I always wished that Lily could have some sort of career because she never did -- she was always just with Cane [Daniel Goddard] or with the kids, dealing with family stuff. And that was great, but it's nice to be able to play a different side to her. So, I'm really excited to be in this new storyline and have Lily be this powerful businesswoman. Working with Jason has been really great, and to have Lily and Amanda [Mishael Morgan] be friends now, when Lily and Hilary hated each other, that's been really fun. It's been really fun to play all these new aspects of Lily.
Soap Central: Lily has dabbled in a lot of careers over the years -- if you look at her character profile on Soap Central, there is a long list of all the things she's tried, from modeling to photography to teaching. Do you think she's finally found her niche as co-lead at Chancellor Communications?
Khalil: Yeah, I think so. This could probably be her career for a long time. I think she found her niche -- finally! [Laughs]
Soap Central: Have you noticed a lot of differences in her, now that she's been able to focus more on work rather than family issues?
Khalil: I think one of the biggest differences would probably be her confidence in herself. Before, we didn't really see Lily as this super confident woman, but I think that going to jail changed Lily. It made her harder.
Soap Central: As you said, Lily is now in a position of power. Can you think of a time from your own life that parallels this female empowerment storyline? Like, a time when you took the reins and took control?
Khalil: Yeah, I would say actually the move to Toronto was like that for me, because I had to rent my house out, and I had to find my son a new school, and I had to do a lot of moving parts by myself, which was really intense -- especially moving to a new country! So I would say that I felt really empowered by that, by making this huge shift in my life. I didn't really know what to expect, and I kind of trusted myself and just did it. So that was very empowering for me.
Soap Central: Around that same time or shortly before, you made the decision to go onto recurring status at Y&R, which I imagine must also have taken a lot of courage. Were you nervous to make that decision and step down?
Khalil: Yeah, absolutely. It's always scary when you're leaving a consistent paycheck! And also, Y&R has been my home and is my family, so yes, it was definitely very nerve wracking to step away from that and take this leap. But you know, I learned a lot, and I also realized how much I love being there and how much it is a part of me, and it feels so good to be back now. I think I have more gratitude for the job and for the show because of it, so I'm very thankful for that.
Soap Central: How did you know that it was time to return?
Khalil: That's a good question! [Laughs] You know, I think just through the experience and through the things that I'd been feeling, what I was going through, and I spent a lot of time with myself, which was really nice. I think I just kind of realized that this is something that I want to do as long as it's there. It makes me happy, it's a part of me, and I don't want to miss out on that. So that led to the decision to come back [to the States] and come back to the show.
Soap Central: I think the viewers are super happy to have Lily on this new path, and like you said, you're getting the chance to work with Jason Thompson a lot, which is a nice change of pace. How has it been to work with him? Are your guys' working styles pretty similar?
Khalil: Yeah, we are very similar people in that we like our job and we're both very easy going with it comes to being on set and how we work. So, we'll get together, we rehearse, we'll chat, we have fun, and then we just kind of get on set and do our thing, which is really, really nice. So, that makes it a very easy, peaceful work environment, which I love. And he's such a great guy. Plus, he's Canadian -- he's very, very nice! I'm used to the Canadian, so I like it!
Soap Central: Do you think that Lily and Billy are going to start mixing business and pleasure anytime soon?
Khalil: At first they really butted heads and then they kind of found an understanding with each other, realizing that they each have each other's weaknesses and strengths; where Lily is strong, Billy is weak -- and vice versa. So, I think that they've come to an understanding of really appreciating how they are and how they work together, and I think that will probably lead to some type of attraction, I'm sure! [Laughs]
Soap Central: How could it not happen? Billy is really cute -- even though he has tons and tons of baggage, which I think would be really hard for any woman to accept!
Khalil: Yeah, well, Lily has a lot of baggage, too! [Laughs]
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Soap Central: At the beginning of the year, Lily announced that she was ready to start dating again. Do you feel that she really is? Because you know, some people say that they're ready, but they're not fully ready, deep down inside.
Khalil: Oh, yeah, I think so. When she came back to Genoa City, there was a guy that she was dating, so yeah, I think Lily is definitely ready to start dating. She's really busy with work, but yeah, I think that's a possibility.
Soap Central: Obviously there's a little something, something brewing between Billy and Lily, but just in general, what kind of qualities in a man or a relationship do you think would be good for Lily right now, now that she's grown into a strong, independent woman?
Khalil: I think somebody that is honest and open. I'm sure she wants someone who is not anything like Cane! [Laughs] That relationship went sour, and the big thing between Lily and Cane was there was not a lot of trust between the two of them, so I think that would be a big thing for Lily.
Soap Central: Speaking of trust, Lily had a conversation with Amanda recently about what happened to Hilary, and Amanda seemed like she was okay with everything and what happened in the past, but do you think there is a possibility that Amanda really will end up having issues with it all?
Khalil: No, I think that Amanda is being genuine with Lily and I think that they'll probably develop a close friendship, I hope.
Soap Central: What's it's like to act with Mishael Morgan now that she's playing Amanda, which is just a completely different dynamic than the relationship that Hilary and Lily had?
Khalil: I love it! Mishael and I are close friends [in real life], and it was funny for us to try to play being angry and upset with each other. Now it's nice because we have some light-hearted, joking kind of scenes, which will be really fun for us to play, because that's just our dynamic anyway. So yeah, it's a nice change of pace for us.
Soap Central: Is there anyone else that you're working with a lot more often since your return that you're thrilled to be sharing more scenes with?
Khalil: Yeah, I have some scenes coming up with Sharon [Case, Sharon Newman], which is really great, given that Sharon and Drucilla [Victoria Rowell] were really close friends, and Sharon and Lily have both had cancer. So yeah, I have some scenes with her, and I'm happy to be working with Sharon. She's great.
Soap Central: I think it's so crazy how sometimes you can be on a show with people for years and years but hardly actually get to share scenes with them!
Khalil: Oh yeah, Josh [Morrow, Nicholas Newman] and I joke about that all the time! I think we've probably had like two scenes together in the past 18 years. [Laughs] And I finally had a scene with Victor [Eric Braeden] a few weeks ago. We had never had a scene where it was just he and I, and I've been on the show for almost 20 years, so yeah, it's really funny.
Soap Central: Halloween is right around the corner, and I love when the shows do fun scenes for that. It's kind of hard this year because of the safety protocols in place, but will we see Lily dressing up or doing anything spooky this year?
Khalil: Oh gosh, I have no idea! I don't think she's dressing up. I think because of COVID, there aren't any Halloween party scenes or anything like that.
Soap Central: Oh man, that's a bummer. What about you -- do you like Halloween?
Khalil: I used to really love Halloween. I mean, now I have my son, and I take him trick-or-treating, but now with COVID, I can't even take him trick-or-treating! So, I think this year, with everything, it's going to be a wash. And hopefully next year things will be semi-normal again. We'll see.
Soap Central: I feel so bad for all the kids out there, because that's just another fun thing that kids are missing out on because of all of this.
Khalil: I know! I usually dress up and take him, or take him and some friends. But he's at that age now, too, where he doesn't really need me to be with him. He likes to kind of go with his friends and do it, but this year will probably be like a drive by car situation.
Soap Central: He's old enough now to get that you're on TV and that you're a TV star, so what does he think of that and about you being back on Y&R?
Khalil: I don't think he really cares! [Laughs] I think it's more like, "Oh, mom, you have a job again." That kind of thing. But it's not like he's really watching the show or really into it or anything like that.
Soap Central: I try to remember what it was like to be his age, around ten years old, and I think it would have been so surreal to see my parents on TV!
Khalil: Nah -- he's a cool kid. He doesn't care! [Laughs]
Soap Central: I'm totally going to segue here, so forgive me, but I actually wanted to ask you about your background, because I don't think many people know that you're actually a first generation immigrant, as your father is from Pakistan. Do you honor your Pakistinian background in any way? Like, do you celebrate anything culturally or food-wise?
Khalil: Culturally, no. I don't really celebrate any of the holidays. Food-wise, I make curry! [Laughs] That's kind of my only thing -- I love making curry. It's one of my favorite foods because it's one that I grew up on. So that's kind of it for me with that.
Soap Central: Have you traveled to Pakistan, or do you plan to one day?
Khalil: I've never been, no. And it's tough with all of the civil unrest. It's really tough. And obviously, now with COVID, traveling in general is hard. So, I don't see myself going there in the foreseeable future, but who knows -- maybe.
Soap Central: The difficulty traveling right now must be particularly hard for you, because you've always expressed how much you love to explore other places!
Khalil: Yeah, traveling for me is huge. I love traveling, I love having new experiences and seeing new places, so yeah, this has been really tough, to not be able to go anywhere.
Soap Central: Once everything has settled, is there somewhere in the world that you would love to visit?
Khalil: Yes, there are so many places that I haven't been... I'd love to go to Italy, I'd love to go to Croatia. I mean, there are a ton of places I'd love to go to. So, we'll see what happens!
What do you think about our interview with Christel Khalil? How do you feel about the chemistry between Billy and Lily? Would you like to see the two get together romantically? What else would you like to see in Lily's life now that she's a stronger, more confident woman? We want to hear from you -- and there are many ways you can share your thoughts.