Viewers of The Young and the Restless were used to seeing Camryn Grimes make brief visits to Genoa City as an astral image of her beloved character Cassie Newman, who died in 2005. However, during one of her returns it became clear that ‘Cassie’ wasn’t showing up as a spirit or a figment of someone’s imagination.
Camryn Grimes Talks Mariah Copeland’s Creation
Y&R invited Grimes back to the show to play the mysterious Mariah Copeland, who turned out to be Cassie’s stolen at birth twin. The actress recently chatted with Soap Hub about her 25 years in Genoa City. Here, in the final installment of a three-part interview, Grimes chats about coming back to Y&R as Mariah, working with Greg Rikaart (Kevin Fisher), and her pairing with Cait Fairbanks’s Tessa Porter and their love story.
Soap Hub: When did you realize that ‘Cassie’s’ return was more than just appearing as a ghost or spirit?
Camryn Grimes: When I got the call in 2013 [to do some shows], I was shocked because it was four to six episodes. I was like…that’s a lot. But I’m dead? I automatically said yes. That story kept continuing and developing. Later, I asked is something happening here?
Soap Hub: When did you say that Cassie wasn’t a vision; you were playing a look alike – Mariah?
Camryn Grimes: Pilot season was starting up and I asked should I be looking for other jobs? [The show] was like, ‘No, no, no…’I said you have to tell me what’s going on. It developed as it went. I’m so grateful that they saw something and wanted to keep me on. I think they were like we’re going to figure it out as we go. I was getting information as it came. It wasn’t going to be Cassie [I was playing]. She was going to be someone new. It was like here’s the plan and this is how it’s going to go.
Soap Hub: Do you know how this all came about?
Camryn Grimes: I heard that a CBS Daytime executive had seen me in [the movie] Magic Mike and said, ‘We should get her back on the show.’ I think that’s how it started. If there’s a different story, [Laughs] somebody, tell me!
Soap Hub: How did you feel about playing Mariah, Cassie’s twin?
Camryn Grimes: To be perfectly honest, I was super-scared. I was pushing for [me to reprise] Cassie even as ridiculous and unbelievable as that would be as she died on camera. Thankfully, they didn’t listen to me! I felt that that’s what everybody wanted. When I learned I’d be playing a new character I felt it could all go horribly wrong. The viewers loved Cassie — not me. What if people didn’t like this new character? I was scared. I was very insecure and uncertain.
Soap Hub: Mariah’s persona leans into comedy. The show gave you some fun stuff to do with Greg Rikaart (Kevin).
Camryn Grimes: I’d never done comedy before. I thought it was a wonderful process for both me and the writers to ask who is this person? They played me with a lot of different people. Who did Mariah gel with? Who are her friends? I think these are questions the writers were asking. As Cassie, I had worked mostly with Josh and Sharon. Being Mariah allowed me to work with other people. Eventually, the writers and I found this new character.
Soap Hub: You and Greg got to play some funny scenes when they talked about how their lovemaking wasn’t so great.
Camryn Grimes: (Laughs) I must be the only person in soap opera history to ever have a bad lay. You wouldn’t have the Mariah she is today without Greg. Working with him was a crash course in comedy and in rhythm. I owe so much to Greg for perfecting technique and him propping me up. It was an uncertain time for Mariah. Having that time with Greg was instrumental in how Mariah developed and who she became. Greg helped me feel more comfortable. A lot of Mariah is just me. Yes, I’m part Cassie but I’m also Mariah. I’m actually more Mariah than I am Cassie but they don’t exist without one another.
Soap Hub: Other soaps had introduced same-sex couples and Y&R did that with your character and Cait Fairbanks (Tessa Porter). What was your response to the #Teriah pairing?
Camryn Grimes: I was never phased when I heard about this direction for Mariah. I was just excited. It never crossed my mind to be worried. I was born in Los Angeles. I grew up on a soap opera and was practically raised by gay men. There was never any hesitation on my or Cait’s part. We just felt excitement to play this epic love story. We decided to keep our hearts and minds open and make sure we were as authentic. At the end of the day, Mariah and Tessa are a story about love. We were like, ‘Let’s form a bond and fall in love with each other.’
Soap Hub: There’s a lot of viewer response to this story — from people not wanting to see it to some viewers not wanting the characters to have any conflict at all. Thoughts?
Camryn Grimes: I want anyone, who has any negativity to this storyline, that Bill Bell told stories that represented society. That’s what he did. He told stories about [all walks of life]. He wanted people to see themselves in the show and in the characters and stories. There’s no doubt in my mind that if he were alive and still writing this is something he would have written. He wanted people of all backgrounds in his stories. He wanted it all told. He was such a champion for that. This is something he wouldn’t have shied away from [in today’s world]. I’m glad that the show is finally taking these steps. It was overdue. Fans have written to me about this storyline, telling me how moving it is to them.
Soap Hub: Do you have any final thoughts and/or a shout-out to the fans who’ve watched you for 25 years?
Camryn Grimes: I’m so grateful that the fans have stuck with me on this crazy journey and for supporting me. I feel so loved. Even during this pandemic when we can’t see each other in person. I read and listen to everything.
The Young and the Restless (YR) airs weekdays on CBS. Check your local listings for airtimes. For more about what’s coming up in Genoa City, check out all the latest that’s been posted on Y&R spoilers, and for an in-depth look at the show’s history, click here.