Fea­ture In­ter­view

Fea­ture In­ter­view Even when THE YOUNG & THE REST­LESS’ Tessa crosses the line, that’s all she’s do­ing, says por­trayer Cait Fair­banks

CBS Soaps In Depth - - News - — Julie Mcel­wain

Yes, Tessa does some very bad things. But don’t worry — Cait Fair­banks can ex­plain!

Ever since THE YOUNG & THE REST­LESS’ Tessa ar­rived in Genoa City, she’s been a ne­bu­lous char­ac­ter, with fans try­ing to fig­ure out if the dark- haired beauty is some­one they should root for or rage at. Con­sid­er­ing her bad be­hav­ior — steal­ing Mariah’s pri­vate di­ary to boost her singing ca­reer and now black­mail­ing Sharon, Vic­to­ria, Nikki and Phyl­lis in or­der to make some quick cash and pay off the hu­man traf­fick­ers she’d hired to smug­gle sis­ter Crys­tal into Canada — the nee­dle seems to be tilt­ing th­ese days to­wards rage! “I find that ex­cit­ing!” in­sists her por­trayer, Cait Fair­banks. “I ac­tu­ally like the chal­lenge of mak­ing bad be­hav­ior into more of a hu­man in­stinct. It’s more in­ter­est­ing as an ac­tor to try to take a char­ac­ter that is a vil­lain and try to hu­man­ize them as much as pos­si­ble. It be­comes a fun game!”

Of course, it’s a game that can oc­ca­sion­ally evoke an­gry tweets! “It is in­ter­est­ing, be­cause some­times peo­ple don’t just at­tack the char­ac­ter of Tessa, it turns into per­sonal at­tacks, which is where I’m like, ‘Wait, wait, wait! That’s not me! I prom­ise you, that’s not me! I’m not hurt­ing Cam­ryn [Grimes, Mariah]. It’s Tessa hurt­ing Mariah!’” shares Fair­banks. “But I think it’s hard be­cause Mariah is such a loved char­ac­ter, and

hurt­ing her leads to a neg­a­tive re­sponse. So I do un­der­stand the re­ac­tion!”

Still, the ac­tress is quick to point out that her al­ter ego isn’t the only one in town who has crossed lines! “I think there are a lot of flawed char­ac­ters in Genoa City!” she laughs. “If you look back at the his­tor y of some of the show’s char­ac­ters, they’ve done worse things than Tessa, so to see how per­sonal this sto­ry­line feels with her and Mariah is very in­ter­est­ing.”

Crim­i­nal In­tent?

Even though Tessa’s de­ci­sion to black­mail her girl­friend’s mom, Sharon, has put her on Santa’s naughty list, Fair­banks doesn’t think her char­ac­ter is so much evil as she is self­ish! “Tessa tends to be op­por­tunis­tic and al­ways takes the quick­est ac­tion to get what she wants,” she ad­mits. “But she’s very good at com­part­men­tal­iz­ing. With the black­mail thing, it was such a per­sonal be­trayal with Sharon, but I don’t think that Tessa ever truly thought about it or thought she’d be found out!

“Maybe in the back of her mind, she was al­ways go­ing to pro­tect Sharon. She’s like, ‘I never had any (con­tin­ues)

in­ten­tion of mak­ing this hap­pen, I just wanted the cash!’” she con­tin­ues. “That’s how sim­ple it was. That was her way of ra­tio­nal­iz­ing it.”

Hope For Tessa & Mariah!

It might be Tessa’s way of ra­tio­nal­iz­ing it, but it has cer­tainly cre­ated tension be­tween her and her fel­low Genoa City denizens, in­clud­ing her sweet­heart! In- deed, given Te s s a ’ s p e n - chant for ly­ing, many fans have even be­gun to won­der if Y& R’s first same-sex cou­ple might be doomed. For Fair­banks, how­ever, the Tessa/mariah re­la­tion­ship is a lot like all the other re­la­tion­ships in Genoa City! “Look at all those cou­ples on the show that break up and then get back to­gether — Nikki and Vic­tor, Sharon and Nick, Billy and Phyl­lis,” she re­minds. “I think Tessa and Mariah have a bond that goes be­yond.

Real love is when you do bad stuff, and the other per­son can look at you and say, ‘I love you de­spite all those messy bits!’ And Tessa’s messy bits are about self-preser­va­tion and her will­ing­ness to do what­ever it takes to get what she wants.

“If Mariah can ac­cept that about Tessa, it will be fine,” she has­tens to add. “I think there are so many things that bring this cou­ple to­gether. Now that the se­cret is out, they can be truly hon­est about who they are. It could be a new be­gin­ning!”

If the ac­tress vis­ited Genoa City, she wouldn’t try to warn Mariah to stay away from Tessa. “I usu­ally let peo­ple make their own mis­takes,” she ex­plains. “Oth­er­wise, you end up be­ing the one they hate. Self-preser­va­tion isn’t just a qual­ity of Tessa’s!”

Fair­banks says that she’d love to work with Gina Tognoni (Phyl­lis) more. “She is a badass! Phyl­lis prob­a­bly needs friends, and Tessa def­i­nitely needs friends, so that might work!”

Fair­banks doesn’t have a prob­lem blend­ing her real-life mu­sic with Tessa’s singing. “I grew up do­ing mu­si­cal theater, so I don’t see them as dif­fer­ent worlds.”

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