GH’S Hayley Erin says good-bye to Kiki and hello to prime-time.
■ When Kristen Alderson vacated the role of Kiki early in 2015, GH tapped Y&R alum Hayley Erin (exAbby) as her replacement. Fast-forward nearly four years, and the actress has wrapped up her run and started filming Freeform’s upcoming PRETTY LITTLE LIARS spin-off, THE PERFECTONISTS (and Kiki became the latest victim of serial killer Ryan). She gave Digest the scoop.
Soap Opera Digest: So, how did your departure come about?
Hayley Erin: Well, we all know that I was headed up to Portland [Oregon] to film this other show. I wanted to do both shows, and we were all saying for the longest time, “We’re going to make it work, we’re going to make it work.” But when push came to shove, it just wasn’t as easy as it sounded and this was really the only option left. Everyone was really sweet and gracious about it, so I didn’t feel like I was being cast aside or sent off in some sort of negative way. It was sort of a cathartic way to leave and move on to my next project, the death of the character that I’ve been playing and loving for all these years. Digest: What was your reaction when you found out that Kiki was going to be murdered? Erin: It’s interesting. I would have thought that I would have been more upset than I was, just because it’s a very final thing. Well, as final as they can be in soaps! Frank [Valentini, executive producer] had called me up to his office and let me know in a very respectful and professional way, and I sort of felt relieved, in a sense. I’ve made so many big life changes in the past year and it was one of the final things that closed this chapter in my life. I’ll carry on all my relationships and friendships with the people there, but it really let me know, “I’m really moving on from all of these things that have been my life for so long.”
Digest: What were your last few weeks on the show like for you? Erin: The past couple of months of shows I did, we filmed in, like, two weeks and it was really all out of order. Matt Cohen [Griffin] and Sofia [Mattsson, Sasha] and I, the three of us kind of had our butts handed to us with material. We taped all of the death stuff, like, weeks before I actually finished taping and because that wasn’t the last stuff I taped, it got to be kind of fun. The last scenes I shot were the scenes where Sasha puts the glass to Griffin’s face, so it wasn’t really this big, sad good-bye scene. I think how it panned out made it a very easy transition. It wasn’t so harsh; it wasn’t like I got killed and that was the last time I was ever there. It was more of a gentle push out the door [laughs]. When I was done with my scenes, everyone was so sweet, and we did a good-bye cake. At that point, looking out at everyone while I was standing next to the cake and everyone was clapping [gets choked up] ... You know, I can justify all of the professional reasons for moving from one project to another, but the hardest part was saying good-bye to the people who have become my family over the past couple of years. Ugh, that broke my heart, looking out and seeing everyone’s faces all at once. But everyone was so happy for me, and I think that just speaks to the camaraderie of the cast.
Digest: What was it like saying good-bye to Maura West (Ava)?
Erin: Unfortunately, or maybe totally fortunately, she wasn’t there on my last day, so I was never faced with actually saying good-bye to her, which would have destroyed me emotionally. We’ve talked since then, so we just keep carrying on our own friendship, but in a new way.
Digest: What about Roger Howarth (Franco)?
Erin: Every time Roger and I had scenes, we thought it was our last set of scenes, so we said good-bye, like, three or four times [laughs]. By the time it actually came
around, it was like, “Okay, okay — good-bye, I’m leaving!” But he was so sweet and said some supportive stuff that I will never forget. He is such a doll.
Digest: What about Matt Cohen? Erin: Matt and I have been in touch a whole lot, because I actually went to do a bit in his short film [Mama Bear]. Staying in touch with him has helped me realize that it wasn’t actually good-bye; it was, “I’ll see you guys later, in a new, different way.” Like, no one actually died.
Digest: And what was your good-bye with Frank like?
Erin: He’s so sweet. He gave a little speech at my cake ceremony and said a bunch of really lovely things about me moving on and new opportunities and wishing the best for me. I’m always going to be grateful to him for this opportunity. This is always going to have been such an important part of my life and I’m always going to be grateful for it. I wouldn’t be going the places I’m going without having had this experience and I am always going to hold GENERAL HOSPITAL and the entire soap community as family. It’s always going to be my first home.
Digest: What are the stand-out memories for you of your time there?
Erin: Gosh. Getting nominated for an Emmy was awesome [in 2018 as Outstanding Younger Actress]. I loved the Kiki and Dillon romance. It was so wellreceived and felt so good to be a part of and, obviously, it was really fun to play opposite one of my best friends [Robert Palmer Watkins, ex-dillon]. The “Me Too” storyline is my other favorite thing that I got to do. To have the story resonate with people meant a lot to me. It was just a really important storyline to be doing right now and it felt like we were using our platform to reach out and I was honored that they had Kiki be the character that led the story. Digest: What did it feel like to leave the studio for the final time?
Erin: It was really bittersweet. Seeing everyone’s faces and saying good-bye was definitely the saddest part, but physically leaving the building and the drive out was such an interesting feeling. It felt like I closed such a beautiful chapter in such a positive way that I could sort of take stock of it all and think about all the people I met there and what a positive impact they made on my life.
Digest: You mentioned Matt and
Maura; who else do you see yourself staying in touch with?
Erin: Well, I love Kin Shriner [Scott]. I am sure I will be shooting him tweets. Josh Swickard [Chase]. Love Josh Swickard. He is a doll. Brytni [Sarpy, Valerie], of course. I feel like a lot of my close friends that I’ve worked with, like Rob and Ryan Paevey [ex-nathan], all sort of left before I did. So it’s not the biggest, most major adjustment in that sense. I’m devastated that I don’t think I’m going to be able to make it to the holiday party, but there will be Emmy stuff
next year that I’ll hopefully be invited to and I’ll get to see everyone.
Digest: Let’s talk about your new job. The role you play on THE PERFECTIONISTS is being kept under wraps, but how has Portland been for you and how has work been going? Erin: It’s been awesome, and I love Portland. It’s my favorite city that I’ve ever been to, in the United States, at least. My brother moved up three years ago and the the first time I visited him, I said to myself, “If I ever get the opportunity to live here, I will take it.” And this is the most exciting project I could possibly be working on as a young adult woman, especially coming from a soap background. It’s a soap for young adults! And it’s got all these fun elements of the thriller and horror, and it’s just awesome to be here. I think the show is going to look beautiful, and I get to live 20 minutes from my brother. Things just work out in mysterious ways. I don’t know how I got this fortunate, but I’m not going to question it, I’m just going to be grateful. I can’t say enough about how lucky I feel. Not only are my castmates so cool, but the producers and directors and the whole crew that I have gotten to work with are just so friendly and welcoming and I’m just excited to keep getting to know everyone and to do all this exciting, new stuff. It’s such a great place to be in life. And I think it will be fun for the GH fans to see me play someone who is so different from Kiki.
Digest: Would you be open to coming back to GH for a dream sequence or a Ghost Kiki moment?
Erin: Not only would I be open to it, this is a formal application for that. I would love that more than anything.
Digest: Anything you’d like to say to the fans?
Erin: I’ve gotten so many supportive tweets and I want to say to everyone, “Thank you. I read them all. I just couldn’t reply to them because it wasn’t confirmed that I was leaving yet.” I will miss Kiki, and I’m really grateful that everyone seems to be on the same page — I started out a little shaky, maybe, but daytime is sink or swim, and I’m grateful that I learned how to swim, eventually! Getting to meet the fans was such a special thing. Everyone is facing their own struggle and this show means so much to them. It was an honor to be in their living rooms and hopefully, to brighten their day. Some of the stuff Kiki did maybe wasn’t such a bright spot, like, I don’t know, drugging Michael [laughs]. But to feel overall that I played an important part in people’s lives makes me feel so grateful.
Absent Minded: Erin was relieved that she got to skip an on-set good-bye with on-screen mom Maura West (Ava), “which would have destroyed me emotionally.”
“Killon” It: Kiki’s romance with Robert Palmer Watkins’s Dillon was one of Erin’s favorite stories.
Bear Hug: After wrapping at GH, Erin reunited with former co-star Jeffrey Vincent Parise (excarlos) to shoot a role in Matt Cohen’s directorial debut, Mama Bear.
Pop Culture: The actress loved working with Kiki’s pseudo father, Roger Howarth (Franco). “He is such a doll,” she says.