Deep Soap: Fearless Predictions Part 1

(Getty Images)

(Getty Images)

It is time for the annual ritual of predicting who will win the Daytime Emmys. Judging on a single episode is ridiculous. Eliminating the separate round of voting for nominees and winners effectively disenfranchised a good portion of the voters. The pre-nominations by show took some terrific actors who are apparently not popular with their co-workers out of the running. So the Emmys really recognize excellence in selecting an episode that will win votes rather than a body of work. Many of daytime’s best actors are terrible at picking out their reels (Katherine Kelly Lang, I’m looking at you.) Most of the, “what the hell was the Academy smoking?” winners managed to pick their best performances. I have watched every submission reel that is available online in my attempts to judge these performances. Thanks to the Goldderby forums for compiling them. Today, I’m tackling the supporting and younger categories. Friday, I’ll take on lead actors, along with writing and directing.


Bradford Anderson (Spinelli, General Hospital) Spinelli seeks Jason’ and Diane’s advice about dating Maxie.

The other actors who vote are likely to be impressed by Anderson’s ability to handle Spinelli speak. As the only actor with a comedic reel, Anderson stands out. However, the scenes are fluff. Anderson’s most impressive work is when he shows the real person Spinelli is underneath all the slang. That does not happen in this episode. It’s a shame Spinelli’s powerful argument with Maxie happened in 2009. If Anderson is nominated next year, he could be a contender.
Jeff Branson (Shayne, Guiding Light)Shayne learns Reva has cancer and attempts suicide.

A wheelchair, cancer, and a suicide attempt: this reel packs ten pounds of Emmy bait into a five pound bag. Seriously, this is the strongest reel in this category. Branson is powerful without going over the top. The dialogue is solid. Though voters are only supposed to judge the acting, production matters. Shayne driving onto the railroad tracks to kill himself is an effective use of location shooting. Giving the award to Branson would also be the perfect way to pay tribute to GL. But I fear the show’s lame duck status could hurt Branson’s chances.

Van Hansis (Luke, As The World Turns) Luke and Noah break up.

The first seven minutes of this reel are boring. Luke and Noah speak awkwardly about Noah moving out. Then Luke discusses his feelings with a friend. Yawn. Hansis finally comes to life when he yells at Noah about his lack of physical affection. It’s very meta for those who have followed their story. If the characters weren’t gay, these scenes would be utterly unremarkable. Hansis has been passed over in prior years. This year, I don’t think he has the material to win unless voters want to make a statement about gay rights.

Vincent Irizarry (David, All My Children) In the aftermath of Babe’s death, David contemplates suicide.

Irizarry is a great actor. David is a great character. But this clip does not showcase him effectively. It manages to include two soap cliches: throwing glassware and screaming, “Nooooo!” at the top of one’s lungs. Even from the grave, Babe manages to drag everyone around her down.

Jacob Young (JR, All My Children) J.R. and Babe exchange wedding vows before she dies.

I was moved by these scenes despite my hatred of Babe. Young wisely gave a restrained, understated performance as he said goodbye to the woman he loved. The scenes could easily have veered into maudlin Love Story territory with cheesy lines like, “What’s inside of me is you.” But Young’s controlled work made the scenes realistic and powerful.

My Favorite: Jeff Branson

My Pick To Win: Jacob Young


Tamara Braun (Ava, Days of Our Lives) Ava holds Steve, Kayla, Hope and Bo hostage.

Braun got a lot of attention for playing wishy washy bisexual Reese on AMC. It’s weird that she was nominated for a short term role on DOOL as a one-dimensional psycho. She does a pretty good job of acting crazy, but compared to such memorable soap psychos as Y&R’s Sheila Carter, GL’s Annie Dutton or even her competitor Melissa Claire Egan’s Annie, she falls short.

Melissa Claire Egan (Annie, All My Children) After her miscarriage, Annie confesses to Ryan.

This was a great reel. Egan gets to show two sides of Annie as she makes a heartfelt, guiltridden confession to Ryan about the desperate attempts she made to hold onto him then switches into full on crazy as she hallucinates a conversation with her dead brother Richie. Egan manages to make Annie sympathetic even as she admits to committing one despicable act after another. She has come a long way from her debut on the show as a sweet but boring single Mom.

Alicia Minshew (Kendall, All My Children) April 14, 2008 – Kendall tells Zach she slept with Aidan.

Kendall was the leading lady on AMC in 2008. Minshew put herself in the wrong category. The first three minutes of the episode are Kendall having flashbacks. On one hand, this fills in unfamiliar viewers on the storyline. On the other, it kills the momentum of the scenes. Minshew does a good job of conveying Kendall’s anxiety about telling Zach she was unfaithful, but once she does, all of the energy drains out of the conversation.
Julie Pinson (Janet, As The World Turns) October 16, 2008 Janet learns that Jack almost slept with Carly. She confronts Carly.

Pinson’s reel contains similar material to Minshew’s, but the execution is much better. Helped by believable dialogue, Pinson gives Janice a wide spectrum of emotions in her scenes with Jack, from shock to anger to hurt. In her confrontation with Carly, Pinson wisely plays Janice’s insecurity rather than simple anger. She has a solid shot at the Emmy.
Bree Williamson (Jessica, One Life To Live) Jessica tells off Natalie at Nash’s funeral.

This is the perfect Emmy reel. Williamson gets to deliver a meaty, well written, dramatic monologue about her husband’s untimely death to a crowd at a funeral then accuses Natalie and Jared of killing him. While she would not make my list of the five best supporting actresses in daytime, Williamson is brilliant in this episode, never allowing herself to go over the top. She quite simply has bigger and better material than the other actresses do.

My favorite: Bree Williamson

My pick to win: Bree Williamson


Blake Berris (Nick, Days of Our Lives) Nick confesses to Trent’s murder.

Berris does a great job of transitioning Nick from likable geek to crazed killer, in what was a far fetched plot twist. I am not sure if viewers who are unfamiliar with the character will appreciate his range. He manages to keep Nick sympathetic and human even while he’s menacing Melanie, but I’m not sure that’s enough to win an Emmy, especially since the Academy hates DOOL.

Darin Brooks (Max, Days of Our Lives) Max confronts his long-lost father Trent.

There are many emotions that a man might feel upon meeting the father who abandoned him as a child. Brooks chose to portray Max as nothing but angry, without any wistfulness or cursiosity. Granted, Trent was evil, but it makes for a monotonous reel. Cornelius Smith does much more with similar scenes.
EJ Bonilla (Rafe, Guiding Light) Rafe decides to plead guilty and go to prison.

Bonilla is the mystery nominee this year. While his mother Natalia (Jessica Leccia) displays a multitude of emotions as she tries to help Rafe, Bonilla is deadpan. He’s similarly emotionless when Buzz advises him to man up, then tells Natalia he’ll accept a plea bargain that will send him for prison for two years as if he had decided what he wanted to eat for lunch.
Bryton James (Devon, The Young & The Restless) Devon tries to keep Ana out of foster care.

Bryton of the ever changing last names has pulled off an Emmy upset before. He does a solid job with after-school special style scenes about his attempts to keep his annoying little sister out of foster care. Bryton’s reel includes both tender scenes with Ana and angry scenes with a social worker and a police officer, which gives him the most range of any of the submissions in this category.

Cornelius Smith Jr. (Frankie, All My Children) Frankie has a conversation with his father for the first time.

I had forgotten how interesting Frankie was when he first came to AMC. Smith does a great job of playing Frankie’s mixture of joy, confusion, and anger about the return of his presumed dead father, Jesse. He holds his own with Darnell Williams, no easy feat. Smith deserves this nomination and a much better storyline than the one he currently has.

My Favorite: Cornelius Smith Jr. — to my shock.

My Pick To Win: Bryton James


Julie Marie Berman (Lulu, General Hospital) Lulu tells catatonic Laura that she killed Logan.

Berman was lucky to have what amounted to a pure monologue as a showcase. Her speech about how much she hated being on the run and how guilty she felt about Logan’s death allowed her to display the vulnerabilty that Lulu often lacks. This is a strong reel. (Liberty, As The World Turns)

Meredith Hagner I cannot find this episode. If you happen to have the October 22, 2008 episode in your possession, share your thoughts in the comments. Hagner is a good actress, so I assume she does a good job with these angry mother-daughter scenes.
Rachel Melvin (Chelsea, Days of Our Lives) After surgery, Chelsea has a heart-to-heart with Hope about Zach.

These were very touching scenes. I was impressed with how realistic and subtle Melvin was when she told Hope that she believed her infertility was karmic justice for Zach’s death. It is not easy playing scenes while lying in a hospital bed. A lot of actors would overcompensate for their lack of mobility by overemoting. Melvin may just be the first DOOL actor since the 1980s to win an Emmy.
Emily O’Brien (Jana, The Young & The Restless) Jana comforts a dying Sabrina.

O’Brien is a good actress, but she was on the backburner last year, and did not have much to submit. I am surprised that she got nominated for sitting by Sabrina’s bedside. She seemed appropriately sad and brave for her dying friend, but there was nothing special here.

Kristen Storms (Maxie, General Hospital) Maxie confronts Felicia then has a total meltdown about Georgie’s death.

Only parts of this episode were available on-line, but Storms was great in everything that I saw. She was cool and collected as she informed her mother that her efforts to find Georgie’s killer were too little too late. Then she had a epic soap tantrum, destroying multiple dishes at the diner, before Spinelli intervened. Storms managed to keep the diner scene from veering into ridiculous melodrama, which could not have been easy.

My Favorite: Kristen Storms overall for the year– but Rachel Melvin and Julie Berman’s reels were equally strong.

My Pick To Win: Julie Berman

The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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