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INTERVIEW: Camryn Grimes Talks Cassie, Mariah, Tessa, Teriah and 25 Years of The Young and The Restless

Soap star reflects on iconic tenure.
Camryn Grimes, The Young and the Restless

Camryn Grimes

It’s been 25 years since The Young and the Restless Camryn Grimes first graced our screens as little Cassie Newman. She quickly stole the hearts of critics and fans alike, and became a beloved character. The show did the unthinkable and tragically killed a teenage Cassie Newman in 2005. 

Grimes returned to Y&R as Cassie lookalike Mariah Copeland (who later turned out to be her long-lost twin) in 2014. Once again, the incomparable Grimes created a fan favorite character.

Daytime Confidential recently sat down with Grimes to chat about her 25 years in Genoa City. The actress reflects on Cassie, Mariah and reveals what it's like to be part of  super-couple in training, Teriah.

Daytime Confidential: Congrats on 25 years on The Young and the Restless!

Camryn Grimes: Thanks! It’s a little surreal.

DC: How does it feel after 25 years?

CG: It certainly ages a person. Does it not? I mean, you know, if you have any illusion of youth, that kind goes out the window. It’s definitely a period of time, of retrospection and looking back and absorbing all that is those 25 years. Just being grateful, appreciative and looking back at the good and everything in between.

DC: You started on the show when you were just a tyke. 

CG: Yes, I believe about six or seven!

DC: You really grew up on this show! What was it like?

CG: For me, it felt completely normal. Obviously it wasn’t, and it was incredibly unique. To me, it was an environment in which I really thrived. I also had these dual lives. I would go on sets, and have that life. Then, I would go to school. I went to public school. I had a very normal existence outside of the show. It was almost like the show was like playing a sport, or having a hobby. That was my version of that. I give a lot of credit to my family for really not making a big deal out of it. I could have stopped whenever I wanted to. I just, never wanted to, you know?

DC: Did you think 25 years later you would still be in Genoa City?

CG: Absolutely not. I died on the show! It felt the end. If you had asked me then, “Did you ever think you’d be back on the show?” well, never I’m dead. It’s very amazing and strange and serendipitous it happened the way it did. Now I’m back 25 years looking back like, “Oh my gosh!” It’s pretty spectacular.

DC: Did it feel like a homecoming when you came back to the show in 2013? 

CG: In my understanding and familiarity, yes, but nearly the entire cast is different. After Cassie’s death, life went on. It’s a job. You just move on to the next story, the next scene, the next day. I had to adjust to, “Oh, I’m essentially starting from scratch.” It was such a weird dichotomy between feeling like home, and such a sense of familiarity, but then feeling like a stranger. That was a very important thing to navigate for me. It was like starting again. Before that, I had really only had an opportunity to do guest stars, and I did a movie. This was my real test again. Well, can you do this every day again? Can you create a character? Can you prove it? Prove it! I kind of relished in that challenge.

DC: When Mariah Copeland debuted, she was pretending to be Ghost Cassie to gaslight Sharon (Sharon Case). Did you have any concerns fans would be a little resistant to accept Mariah?

CG: My main focus and only concern was, “If I’m not Cassie, why would anybody care?” They love Cassie. They don’t know me. They love me as Cassie. They want what they want, and let’s give them what they want. So, there was a lot of doubt and a lot of fear. Especially that moment, after the reveal, of "What do we do now?". [It was] a very experimental and unsure period of time, where you now have to weave this new character into the canvas and relationships. Especially, someone who is so opposite of Cassie. She’s sardonic, witty and has a chip on her shoulder. I just tried to figure out who this person was. That was my main focus to distract from, “Oh God, people are going to hate me.”

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DC: You made a great point stating Mariah is so opposite of Cassie. She is so full of fire and always speaks her mind. How is it playing a character that is so outspoken and driven, but really full of love and seeking acceptance?

CG: I’ve always said Cassie and Mariah are two halves of my own personality. I just go from one extreme to another. At the very beginning of Mariah, I just went to the extreme of my own personal battles, and the scars they’ve left. Knowing what it’s like to put walls up and to view the world without rose-colored glasses. [She was] the opposite of rose-colored glasses. What’s been beautiful is to start from that point and watch Mariah evolve. To watch her soften, and grow and become more well rounded. It was a very natural journey for me to switch from the one extreme, back to somebody who’s a lot like me in personality and day-to-day function. I’m not quite as mean, though. They were both respectfully characters that I could play at the time. The innocence and the positivity of Cassie was me at that time. Mariah ended up being a representation of the years I had lived since then.

DC: Mariah has found her big love with Tessa (Cait Fairbanks)! What is it like being part of one of the show’s hottest couples?

CG: [Laughs]. Honestly, this might be weird to say, but it doesn’t feel like that big of a deal to me. It just feels like an on screen coupling. It’s not like I walk in everyday like, “Ooohhh!” I work with Cait whom I love and I trust. She is just the best on screen partner you could ask for. We have built so much trust, and chemistry and camaraderie. We have the same goals, and respect and idea of what we want to do. We respect the storyline as well. At the end of the day, we just play it as two people connecting and being in love. The gender doesn’t really make a difference, as is the whole point of the story in general.

Cait Fairbanks, Camryn Grimes, The Young and the Restless

Cait Fairbanks, Camryn Grimes Howard Wise/ JPI Studios

DC: Do you have any thoughts about Tessa and Mariah’s upcoming wedding?

CG: Gosh! As someone who is planning a wedding myself, it’s very funny! I kind of have an idea of it. If you would have asked Camryn seven to eight years ago, I would have had my ideal wedding planned down to the freakin' minute. Honestly, even just the starting out conversations between my fiancée, and me I’m very laissez faire with the whole thing. I’m like “Sure, yeah.” I’m the opposite of a bridezilla at the moment. I put a lot of trust in the writers. No matter what, I just want it to be fun for audience. I want the audience to have fun! These are two characters who are creative and eccentric and have a rhythm of their own. I want the wedding to reflect that. I really would love it to be a true celebration. To have a bunch of the cast of characters come together for that would be all the better.

DC: Is the show going to pull out all the stops for the wedding?

CG: I have no idea! Because of COVID, we have even less of an idea than ever about what’s happening or the specifics. Before COVID, the writers would be on set. You could go up to production floor and sit down and talk to them. Now, they work from home mostly. We only get information a month before, because we’re shooting a month out. I would hope so [re: pulling out all the stops]! I doubt this will not be a big deal in some capacity, given the monumental nature of it. So, I just put trust in the writers and the production. I’m very excited to see the stops they pull out. It’s fun for me kind of being in the dark. I get to have that same surprise. It makes for an authentic performance when I walk out and see whatever they create.

DC: What’s something you would like to see Mariah do in the future?

CG: That’s a good question. I’m not sure how to answer. I feel like all roads have been leading to this [Teriah wedding]. After this, is kind of one of those unknowns. It’s much like after the reveal of Mariah “What do you do?” It’s the closing of a chapter, and the opening of a new one. She had this huge storyline with the baby, Abby and Devon. Now, she’s capping off that trauma by celebrating love, happiness and a future. Then, the rest is unwritten, literally and figuratively. You’ve got a happy married couple in Genoa City. What do you do?

DC: I’ve been watching this show long enough to know, it doesn’t usually stay that way!

CG: No, which I always try to caution the Teriah fans. At the end of the day, this is a soap opera. I can guarantee nothing. Please remember, I don’t write it. I’m very interested to see the future. I’ve never been married on this show before, so I get to have my first soap wedding. Then, you go, “What’s next for these two?”

DC: Could anyone from Tessa or Mariah’s past show up in Genoa City?

CG: I have been dying from some sort of appearance, whether it be a stunt casting or a cameo casting of Tessa’s parents! To kind of answer your question before, it would be cool if they just kind of randomly showed up. Like, they weren’t necessarily invited. You can kick off the, "Who are these new people in town?" story. Given Tessa’s history, I would love to see us delve more in to that backstory. You have where Tessa came from and her sister there. I would also love to see Kyle and Kevin at the wedding as well. When Mariah first arrived on the scene, she kind of made the rounds. I imagine it would be a very eclectic group of people.

DC: Do you have any favorite moments/storyline over the years?

CG: Of course! With the respective two characters, the obvious ones are Cassie’s death and Mariah’s coming out. It’s a death and birth, if you will. It’s been really cool to have two characters who have gone through such crazy moments. It’s been monumental, and changed the trajectory of the canvas of the show and characters.

DC: Especially Cassie’s death! That was a game changer for everyone.

CG: Yeah. You look back and you can kind of see how a lot of characters on the show at the time, it sent them in a completely different direction. It really changed the face of what the show was, which was the purpose. In that, it was an epic story that I was honored to be apart of.