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Colleen Zenk Talks Joining Y&R: ‘Jordan Has a Master Plan’

The newest Y&R star teases Jordan’s master plan against the Newman family.

colleen zenk talks christian le blanc and young and the restless storyline with nikki and victor.Colleen Zenk with Nikki and Victor Newman and Christian le Blanc.
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Colleen Zenk and The Young and the Restless pulled off a big surprise when she debuted on the top-rated soap as Claire’s conniving Aunt Jordan earlier this month. Now, the fan-favorite star who played Barbara Ryan on As the World Turns for decades chats with Soap Hub about the new character she’s playing.

Colleen Zenk: From Oakdale to Genoa City

“I’m just so thrilled to be here and to be tackling this fabulous role,” Zenk says. “It’s just been lovely, truly lovely.” The actress revealed that joining Y&R came about after she received a phone call last summer from Josh Griffith, the show’s executive producer/head writer. “He gave me the outline of what he was looking for and then asked if I was interested. I said I’d be on the next plane!”

Zenk had to keep things under wraps so that the news of her return to soaps would come as an on-air surprise. She let her children and a few close friends in Florida, where she now resides, know of her opportunity. But that was it!

“I told Maura [West, ex-Carly, ATWT; now, Ava, General Hospital] that I was coming to Los Angeles to visit my daughter, Georgia. We’d been texting back and forth, but I didn’t tell her a thing, especially as there’s a connection with Hayley Erin [Grace], who played Maura’s daughter [Kiki] on GH.

Who Is Aunt Jordan

Viewers have started to learn more about Aunt Jordan since Zenk’s debut. While ATWT’s Barbara schemed to get what she wanted, viewers have already witnessed that Jordan is capable of going to even further, potentially deadlier lengths. “Jordan has a master plan to deal with the Newmans that has been in the making for a very long time,” Zenk teases. “[This] is extremely personal to her and to Claire. There will be a price to pay.”

Zenk’s cryptic appearance in the final moments of her debut episode was reminiscent of classic soap tags. Remember when ATWT’s James Stenbeck (the late Anthony Herrera) made his dramatic reappearance, stunning Zenk’s character with the chilling words, “Hello, Barbara.”

“They did a great job of setting up my entrance,” Zenk raves. “I thought it was very good. CBS has incorporated the word ‘World’ into everything.”

Timing is Everything

Zenk, along with ATWT’s Ellen Dolan (Margo), Martha Byrne (Lily), and the late, great Elizabeth Hubbard (Lucinda), appeared on The Talk in 2016 as part of CBS’s celebrating the network’s daytime division being No. 1 for 30 years. While bringing ATWT (and Guiding Light, for that matter) stars onto Y&R makes perfect sense, Zenk says that the timing of this invitation is simply perfect. “I was doing other things [for a while],” Zenk muses. “This came at the right time. Before now, I don’t think it would have worked.”

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Together Again for the First Time

Zenk was met with one familiar face in particular when she came to Y&R — Christian Le Blanc (Michael), who played Kirk McColl on ATWT from 1983-85. “We jumped into each other’s arms the minute we saw each other,” Zenk says with a smile. “We went out and had a nice long lunch and caught up.”

The actress starred in the 1993 NBC TV movie Woman on a Ledge, which boasted a bevy of familiar soap names, including Deidre Hall (Marlena, Days of our Lives) and Peter Bergman (Jack). “I’ve known Peter for a while,” Zenk shares. (The two met through Zenk’s pal, Christine Ebersole, Bergman’s first wife.) “He came to see me in Star Spangled Girl, the Neil Simon play, which I did with Michael Tylo [ex-Alex/ex-Blade; ex-Quint, GL] and Jerry verDorn [ex-Ross, GL; ex-Clint, One Life to Live].”

Once the secret of Zenk joining Y&R got out, the actress dove into social media to read the positive responses to her return to soaps. “I have seen the overwhelming amount of love, support, shock, and happiness from the fans,” she says. “I wasn’t prepared for that. To see it is pretty overwhelming. I’ve tried to ‘like’ or ‘heart’ every single comment on every platform. I’ve been a busy girl!”

Colleen Zenk: The Eve of a New Storyline

Fans have wasted no time in speculating just how Aunt Jordan and her niece Claire are connected to the Newman clan. Just why do they have it in for the wealthy clan? “I have read speculation,” Zenk says. “I love that the fans are trying to figure it out and are so invested. They want to know why this woman has such a vendetta and why she sent her niece to Genoa City to implant herself in the inner sanctum of the Newman family. They’re all trying to figure out what it is. [Laughs] And I’m not going to tell you!”

What Zenk can say is that the Y&R cast and company have welcomed her with open arms. “I didn’t expect to get the reception that I got from the actors on this show,” the actress humbly says. “I didn’t know what to think as I’m this New York actress coming onto another show, hoping to be a part of a new family and that they’d accept me. I got this huge embrace from every single person here.”

Zenk joining Y&R is, in a way, a full-circle moment. William J. Bell, who created Y&R and the Newman family, worked for soap opera creator Irna Phillips for years when they wrote ATWT, which Phillips created. “I also watched Lee Phillip Bell when I was growing up [in Chicago],” Zenk says of Y&R co-creator who had her own talk show in the Windy City for decades.

“I’ve gone from Oakdale, Illinois to Genoa City, Wisconsin [on TV], and my real-life hometown was about a half an hour from the Wisconsin border,” Zenk shares. “It’s a natural fit that I’m here. It feels right.”

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