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Where Have All the Young Soap Stars Gone? Daytime Emmys Cut Category

Why the state of all soaps is to blame.

daytime emmy award winners for outstanding younger performer in a daytime drama eden mccoy, nicholas alexander chavez, victoria konefal, olivia rose keegan.Eden McCoy, Nicholas Alexander Chavez, Victoria Konefal, Olivia Rose Keegan.
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The National Academy of Television Arts & Sciences (NATAS) announced last week that it would no longer hand out awards in the category of Outstanding Younger Performer in a Drama Series. This Daytime Emmys statue had only been in play since 2020. Previously, two awards were handed out, one for Outstanding Younger Actor, and one for Outstanding Younger Actress. Both were inaugurated in 1985 and were originally designated for those under age 25.

Age Before Acting

The reason for the new category was twofold. One, the Academy was pretty entrenched in their nomination process, in that actresses over the age of 40 or so were slotted into Lead, while actresses in their 30s who’d also driven storylines that year were demoted into Supporting, to try to spread the love. This left no space for performers in their late teens and 20s, also technically leads, to shine. So the Academy created one.

At the start, awards went to those who played very, very angsty teens and young adults, like Michael E. Knight (Tad, All My Children), Kristoff St. John (Neil, The Young and the Restless), and Rick Hearst (Alan-Michael, Guiding Light), who announced his son’s birth when he picked up his golden angel in 1991, proving he wasn’t exactly a kid. Over on the women’s side, winners included Tracey Bregman (Lauren, Y&R), Martha Byrne (Lily, As the World Turns), Julianne Moore (Frannie, ATWT), and Anne Heche (Vicky/Marley, Another World).

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Down They Go

When the age to qualify was briefly lowered to 18 and under, there were still some incredibly deserving winners, including General Hospital’s Jonathan Jackson (Lucky) and Kimberly McCullough (Robin), Camryn Grimes (Cassie, Y&R), and Justin Gocke (Brandon, Santa Barbara). Even elementary schooler Ashley Peldon (Marah, GL) received a very well-deserved nomination.

Gone But Not Forgotten

This past year, after the disqualification of Victoria Grace (Wendy, Days of our Lives) on a technicality, Eden McCoy (Joss, GH) won the gold over two younger boys. And the Academy announced that would be that. They blamed it on the fewer number of shows on the air, and that is part of it.

But the other reason is that young children are no longer getting the kinds of storylines that won McCullough, Jackson, Grimes, and Gocke their awards. It’s not that the acting has gotten worse among the younger set, it’s that less is expected of them. And when that happens, we all lose. And not just at the Daytime Emmys.

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