Jen­nifer Gareis Is Thrilled That She Can Go Home Again To B&B

Soap Opera Digest - - ROUNDUP - By Tom Stacy

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.

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