Jennifer Gareis Is Thrilled That She Can Go Home Again To B&B
Despite having over two decades of soap experience, Jennifer Gareis admits she had a few butterflies when she recently returned to B&B as a contract player. “The last few times I was here, it was just for a few episodes,” she explains. “I was feeling nervous. I thought, ‘Wait, how do I do this again?’ because I was feeling like I might be rusty. But after about the third day of being back and working with John [Mccook, Eric] and all the regulars, I felt like I never left. I got back into the rhythm of it. It felt very natural and everything just felt really good.”
Gareis says that the timing of her move back to the front burner couldn’t have been better. “Until now, working just a few days here and there was perfect,” she relays. “I honestly was not interested in going back to work because taking care of the kids and volunteering at school was my full-time job. My friends have been asking me for the past couple of years, ‘When are you going back to work? When are you going to start auditioning again?’ and I kept saying, ‘One more year,’ but I just couldn’t pull myself away from them. These are such wonderful ages for parents and finally, Sophia went to kindergarten.”
In the months leading up to the official invite, Gareis admits she was hoping her visits would turn into something more permanent. “The last time I was back [for Hope and Liam’s second wedding in September], they added the flashback of Donna remembering her days with Eric and I thought, ‘Uh-oh. Something is going on,’ ” she grins. “So I was wishful thinking, but I was not counting my chickens before they hatched.”
Maybe that’s because Gareis, who relocated to Los Angeles from Lancaster, PA, after college, never thought she would make Tinseltown her home. “Geez, when I came out here, it was like a temporary situation,” she recalls. “I actually had rental furniture, I had a rent-a–car, an apartment for rent, I was not really expecting to stay. In fact, I called the apartment manager to say that I was going to go back to New York, so go ahead and rent out my apart-
ment next month, and then the very next day, [Y&R Co-creator] Bill Bell gave me my job on YOUNG AND RESTLESS and it was like, ‘Well, okay, I take it back, it looks like I’ll be staying for at least a few years now. Oh, boy, now I’ve got to make some friends.’ I didn’t know anybody, not one person, but Sharon Case [Sharon, Y&R] and Heather Tom [ex-victoria; Katie, B&B] were so amazing to me when I first started. They just brought me in and made me feel so comfortable. I had immediate friends on that show, it was great.”
She still counts the duo as pals today, and she and Case have formed lasting bonds with Tamara Clatterbuck (ex-alice, Y&R) and Lauren Woodland (ex-brittany, Y&R). “I guess we’ve all gone through so many different changes in the last two decades together, yet we’ve put everything else aside and just stayed true friends,” she reflects. “All the highs and lows and ups and downs of fame and fortune and whatever, we don’t judge each other on any of that, which is what true friends do, they don’t judge. We’re friends to the core, we love each other unconditionally, through thick and thin, and that’s so special, especially with girls in L.A. I feel like sometimes girls can be very competitive and I’m just not that type at all, and it’s the same for the other girls. I think I’m really lucky to have been on two Bell shows because they really hand-pick their group, especially my experience with Brad [Bell, executive producer/head writer] in the more recent years at B&B. If you’re not down-to-earth and chill, cool and professional, you’re just not going to stay.”
Plus, Gareis says she’s never let her chosen profession define her. “I’ve done acting for a lot of years, even before L.A.,” she notes. “I did commercials and modeling and a little bit of acting in New York, but it’s not who I am. It happens to be what I do for a living. During the time I took a break to raise the kids, every once in a while, somebody was like, ‘Aren’t you from...’ ‘Yeah, that was me,’ and I actually forgot that I did it for a living because it’s not the core of who I am. I like doing it, but then I come home and I don’t do it.”
However, should Sophia or Gavin
choose that path, Gareis is fine with it. “I’m a firm believer that my kids should be who they want to be and do what they want to do, so if they expressed an interest, I guess I would have to let them do it,” she shrugs. “But, I would insist they still get their education, just like my parents insisted. My parents said to me, ‘Get your degree, graduate from college and then you can do anything you want.’ When I finished my MBA, it took me four years to do it because I was working on B&B at the time, but I still did it.”
And maintained a positive outlook on life in the process. “My dad always used to say to me, ‘What’s your five-year goal?’ and I would say to him, ‘I want to be happy.’ He’d say, ‘What does that mean?’ and I said, ‘I don’t know, Dad, just to be happy,’ ” she shares. “Now, it’s not just me. I want to be happy myself, but my own little family to be happy, as well. I want my kids to be fulfilled and happy and loved unconditionally — that’s really it. Being back on the show makes me feel really good. I don’t want to go anywhere else. It fulfills me. I feel so blessed that I have two happy, healthy kids, a wonderful husband and now, a career again. Check back with me in another five years!”
Family Reunion: Gareis loves B&B events that bring all the Logan girls together, (from l.) Heather Tom (Katie), Ashley Jones (Bridget), Annika Noelle (Hope) and Katherine Kelly Lang (Brooke).
Connect Four: Before her return to the soap, Gareis was happy at home with husband Bobby and their children, Gavin and Sophia.
Friends, Indeed: Gareis’s pal posse includes Tamara Clatterbuck (ex-alice, Y&R, l.) and Sharon Case (Sharon, Y&R). “We’re friends to the core, we love each other unconditionally,” she says.