EMMY INTERVIEW: Y&R's Sharon Case on her very first Lead Actress nomination

Posted Tuesday, June 06, 2023 7:41:10 AM
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The Young and the Restless' Sharon Case (Sharon Newman) opens up about finally joining the Leading Ladies club at this year's Daytime Emmy Awards: "This is something that I've been working hard for for a long time, and I'm really, really happy to have achieved the nomination."

It's been nearly 30 years since Sharon Case stepped into the role of The Young and the Restless' Sharon Newman, which makes it a little hard to believe that the beloved performer has never received a Lead Actress nomination during the Daytime Emmy Awards. Yes, you read that right: never! Despite being a major part of the show and delivering top-notch scenes for three decades, this is the first time that she's been recognized in the top category. In an interview with Soap Central's Dan J Kroll, she opens up about how thrilled she is to finally be a part of the club, why this year was different, and the special reason she super appreciates her fans.

Soap Central: Hi, Sharon! How are you today?

Sharon Case: I'm really good, thank you! How are you?

Soap Central: I was going to say happy Monday, but I realized it's Tuesday, so, that should tell you how my day is going. I'm not entirely sure what day it is or where I am!

Case: Well, at Y&R, we start production on Tuesdays, so Tuesdays are always feeling like a Monday to us.

Soap Central: Great, thank you. That may or may not be true, but it makes me feel better that I've been walking around telling people today is Monday, so thank you for that. It gives me something to hold onto!

Case: You're in good company, because all of us over here do it every week.

Soap Central: I have a question, I've been looking things up because I've been doing interviews and chatting with people and trying to keep all of my facts straight, so I want to make sure I've got this correct: Is this the first Lead Actress nomination for you?

Case: Yes, it is!

Soap Central: I thought so! Well, congratulations!

Case: Thank you!

Soap Central: How does it feel to be nominated this year?

Case: It feels amazing! I am so pleased with this. It just couldn't have come at a better time, in all regards, in life. I feel like this is something that I've been working hard for for a long time, and I'm really, really happy to have achieved the nomination. I hadn't had any nominations for a long time, so that makes it all the more special. I'm just thrilled that I get to go to the Emmys in this category with all my colleagues who are also nominated. It's going to be a fun night.

Soap Central: Let me ask you then, because that was sort of the lead-up to this, of having been nominated in Younger Actress, having been nominated in Supporting Actress, and now Lead Actress, for you, in your mind, what is the difference between Lead Actress category and Supporting Actress category. I know that every year on social media, fans sort of try to figure it out on their own and [try to find] an understanding, so what goes into your mind? What do you think is worthy? What goes into a Lead Actress?

Case: You know, that's a good question. I've been asking myself that, because it's the judges who decide, if they find that you're Lead Actor material or Supporting, or what they think. The judges somehow come up with this totally as a collective, and I mean, obviously, the Younger category is under 25 so, that's pretty clear. The Supporting Actress category is actually a pretty tough category because that's where you have more people who enter that category than any other one. When I've judged, many years, there's over 40 entries to Supporting Actress, and there is a lot of really great work in the category, as well. So, I think when I look at it that way, Lead Actress is probably somebody who is a vet of their show. I've mostly seen that as a common theme in this category in all my years of being on soaps. And not just a [veteran on the show], but you've also carried storylines, you've led your storyline. That qualifies it.

Soap Central: I don't know that there is a "real" answer, to be honest. And that's why I always ask. In terms of nominating, in the early years, 30 years ago, when I started asking people in interviews, there was always this belief that you had to be a certain age to be a Lead Actor or a Lead Actress, and in recent years, you've had folks who are just barely aged out of the Younger Actor category, and they're in the Lead category, so that has sort of taken that away. But you're right, the Supporting Actress, for a lot of years, it seems everybody was in the category, and it's always so hard to pick and to look at these reels because there are obviously so many talented and qualified people, so I just wanted to see if the definition has changed over the years, and I think that what you've said, in terms of leading and carrying...

Case: I think it has changed, because I've noticed the same thing that you just said. It did seem, like, a long time ago, that to be a Lead Actress, to be nominated, you had to be of a certain age. And it always felt like that must be a criteria, because that's how the nominations went every year. And then, in recent years, that sort of changed. You know, there's no way for you and me to figure it out, because there's no written rule about it, and it's just whatever direction that pool of judges goes that year, and we're trying to sort of glean what they were thinking! But we're not in their minds, so, we can't!

Soap Central: I'm sitting here and I'm laughing, and I'm thinking, gee, I wonder if the reason that my idea has changed is because, I just mentioned, I thought of this 30 years ago, and now I'm 30 years older. I don't want to think that the reason it has changed is because I'm 30 years older! Let's not even go there! I'm kidding, but it's nice, I think, because you get a better competition -- though I hate to use that word -- but you get a better sense of Emmys, a better sense of material, when there aren't people sitting and thinking, "I need to be between 21 years old and 35 years old to be Supporting, and I need to be over 35 years to be Leading," or whatever that is. I think that it's good that we've gotten out of these rigid definitions. That being said, I want to know what goes into an Emmy reel that makes it to the Lead Actress nomination! What are some of the scenes that made your Emmy reel this year?

Case: Well, that's also [difficult] to answer... I put in a pretty good reel. I edited together a pretty good reel in the years that I have previously submitted, and in this category, I've had no luck so far, and I was wondering if it had something to do with my reel... Actors speak to each other about putting together a reel, just the criteria of how you do it, like, "It should be all one storyline," "No, it should be a lot of different storylines." You know, there are just a lot of ways that people have said is the best way to put together a reel. I think over the years, I've tried it all, and I just tried to put together something that I like watching myself and that I'm proud of. So, I don't really know what makes [a good reel], if it's a certain style to your reel or what you submit that is going to make a difference or not. But this year, I just submitted what I thought was my best work, and it was the storyline I told when Sharon's husband, Rey [Jordi Vilasuso], died. There were a variety of aftermath scenes to choose from, other than the core scene where she finds out he died, and I just shuffled through those and watched them a few times over and talked about it with my editor. We had to squeeze it into 15 minutes, so that made a difference in which scenes got submitted, because maybe I would have preferred one scene over another but it was too long, so we had to go with a shorter one. You know, a lot of things happen when you're putting together your reel, so what I put together was just all that storyline, and I thought the reel played really nicely.

Soap Central: It's funny, too, I spoke earlier to Michelle Stafford [Phyllis Summers], and we were talking about how the rules have changed over the years, and even with Robert Newman [Ashland Locke] earlier, as well, that in the olden days, you had to pick a single episode. It didn't matter if you were only in a minute or two, if that's where you thought your content was, you had to use the entire episode of all of the scenes that you were in, even if you were only going for that little bit. In my opinion, it seems like it has helped, so I'll ask you that: Does it help to know now that you're able to pick and choose bits and pieces from different scenes throughout the year rather than having to focus on just one episode? Or was it easier to go back and have to pick one episode?

Case: Probably in your decision-making process, it was easier to have to just pick one episode or two; that was all there was to it for you as the actor. Now, you have a lot of decisions to make, so there may be a little more involved and feeling satisfied with what you chose because now you have a lot more to choose from. But I do think that in the end, because you can choose from different episodes, you can put together a reel that you really enjoy more at the end of the day, because yeah, before, you had to pick one show, and all your scenes from that show were submitted, and a lot of the scenes that you have in one episode are simple, not something that would be "for your consideration" scenes. But I think back then, what they were looking for in nominations was who had a single episode [in which] they really nailed it, they nailed every scene in the episode or something, and everything was poignant, everything was a big scene. So, you really had to have an Emmy show back then! Now, you don't necessarily; you can have some great Emmy scenes, one or two in each show over the course of a week or a year, really, if that's what it takes.

Soap Central: Let's get to this other little thing that is sort of dangling out there. This Leading Ladies Who Lunch thing, have they told you about this? Do you know about this? Are you ready for the Lead Actresses Who Lunch gala that they have?

Case: Well, I mean, mentally and emotionally I'm ready, yeah. [Laughs]

Soap Central: There have been so many stories about it over the years! It seems like it's gotta be so much fun, to get all these Lead Actress nominees together in one place with food and whatever else. It seems like it's going to be a really good time.

Case: Yeah, I have seen pictures of it and heard of it. I'm aware of it. I hadn't realized the last few days that this would be coming; no one has brought it up. I'm sure someone will at some point. I would imagine that tradition is still going on. But you know, we're just a few days away since we were nominated, and I don't know who's throwing it this year...

Soap Central: Mishael Morgan [Amanda Sinclair], since she won last year. It'll be Mishael Morgan who is the hostess with the mostest for this year.

Case: Oh, my goodness, well, that's going to be fantastic then! And I'm really looking forward to it. I'm glad to be part of the club. I've seen pictures of this, I've heard of it, and I'm so pleased that I get to be a part of it.

Soap Central: That's something that's funny, everyone's first go-around, they say almost the exact same thing as you, so now I think there's some sort of secret initiation! Everyone says, "I've seen photos, I've heard some kind of stories," but it's like Fight Club, well, not Fight Club, because it's not the same thing, but whatever happens at the Leading Ladies Lunch stays at the Leading Ladies Lunch!

Case: I guess so! Yeah, I can't wait to find out what that is! So fun. [Laughs]

Soap Central: I hope I haven't upsold it now, where it's actually really calm and tame, and now I've led you to believe that there's some sort of mystery thing that goes on, a secret handshake or something.

Case: Well, maybe it depends on the hostess?! It's her decision on what theme to go with, so we'll see what Mishael has in store for us all!

Soap Central: I can't wait to see the photos on social media. That being said, we're talking about the other nominees, and of course, there are two others from your show in Lead Actress. In general, were there any nominations for other people in other categories from folks, maybe behind the scenes at your show, that you're particularly excited about or happy for?

Case: Yeah! Peter Bergman [Jack Abbott] and Jason Thompson [Billy Abbott], I'm very happy for them. I'm really, really happy for them. They were very well-deserved nominations.

Soap Central: There are so many, and so many first-timers this year, certainly for other shows. I like the fact that it seems that this year, they did that change last year for the technical awards, where they opened it up to everyone in daytime, and for a year or two, a lot of the soaps didn't make it into the tech categories as much as they had in the past, and looking [at this year's nominations], Y&R has four in the creative arts, B&B had six, and even GH and DAYS had some, so, it's nice, I think, and it's important to honor those people that are behind the scenes, because a lot of times, we take it for granted; we turn on the television, we see you guys up there acting and doing these great things in the stories and forget that someone had to write it, particularly now that the writers' strike is happening, somebody had to direct it, someone needed to turn the lights on to make sure that we can see you, they had to do some makeup and all of those other things. So, it's nice to get those folks nominated, as well.

Case: Of course, it is! The Young and the Restless gets a lot of technical nominations, I think, every year, or most years. We have a great team. They do a fantastic job, and they always have. They are a very well-recognized group. There were a lot of nominations, and we are, of course, always thrilled for them. But I didn't know that they had changed, like you said, who could compete in the category. I didn't realize that.

Soap Central: Yeah, there's a whole thing. I had to read a handbook and learn. It's like being back in school to know exactly how it's being done! Two other questions for you, and I'll let you go. The first is, I've been waxing nostalgic here, looking through all of this stuff, and certainly with the Daytime Emmys turning 50 this year and The Young and the Restless turning 50 this year and Soap Central is celebrating its 30th anniversary, it reminded me of the days of the Daytime Emmys being in New York City. I'm curious, do you have any favorite memories or thoughts on when the Daytime Emmys used to be over here on the East Coast?

Case: Oh, we all loved it! When it was there every year, we looked forward to, for us, anyway, here on the West Coast, we looked forward to taking a trip to New York and having a week in New York, because The Young and the Restless would go dark for the week so that people could really make a trip out of it. So, that meant that we weren't just going to the Emmys, but I would go there and meet colleagues or friends and see some shows and have a merry time of it altogether, and the Emmys was tied into all of that. So, my memories of back then, that was my great fun trip to New York each year, and I would be going through which shows I was going to see, reading up on them, trying to get those tickets in advance, and that was part of the Emmy journey. Now it's not. Now it's a journey to Pasadena, which can be like a transatlantic voyage sometimes! [Laughs]

Soap Central: [Laughs] You are speaking my language! As someone from the East Coast, if something is 60 miles away here, we figure, okay, it's roughly 60 miles an hour, that's 60 miles, that's about an hour. And then to realize the one year I had stayed sort of on the line between Beverly Hills and Los Angeles when it was up in Pasadena, and I looked and saw, "Oh, it's only 15 miles away. Eh, half an hour should be fine." But I was almost late for the Daytime Emmys! I did not realize that a block away takes an hour.

Case: Yeah, it takes a long time to get to Pasadena! It is absolutely lovely there. The people who live there and work there love it, and I would imagine so, because it's a beautiful community. But it's almost impenetrable from anywhere else! [Laughs] So, you have to plan ahead.

Soap Central: And this year, it's back at the Westin Bonaventure, which is a bit down and bit east or so. I don't know where it is!

Case: The Westin Bonaventure is downtown.

Soap Central: That's where it is this year, so it's another journey...

Case: What? I didn't even know that!

Soap Central: Yeah, don't go to Pasadena! They'll send you in another direction.

Case: Well, I'm glad you told me, because I was going to go to Pasadena! [Laughs]

Soap Central: Please don't! It will take you about two hours out of your way! And the last thing that I have for you is, certainly you know from social media and just from being in daytime that the fans are there, and they are supportive, and of course, the ones who are diehard for you and for your character, they're there to support, and they're there to cheer. I'm wondering, do you have a message that you'd like for me to pass along in the course of putting out this interview that you'd like to share with your fans?

Case: Oh, my gosh, yeah! I always have a million things to say to the fans and I never get enough time to speak to them... they really are a part of this. Being involved in soaps, whether you're in front of the camera or you're behind or you're a viewer, we're sort of all in this together; fans are just as much a part of it as anyone else. Especially with social media these days, they are a presence, and they have a voice about the shows and the stories that we didn't used to hear in the olden days, so I'm really glad that we hear from them and that they're there. I love feeling their support, I love hearing it, and I want them to know that I love them back. I love them, too. I support them, as well. I'm glad they're there to support the shows and the characters, and it's a mutual effort. There are certain fans, several of them, that I see on Twitter often throughout the years. When I [go through my feed] I see common names of lovely people who always have nice things to say, and I really appreciate that. Some people, I know their names, and they're so sweet, and they've been there for a while... We're going to have to start an awards show for viewers, for fans! For the people on Twitter... We can have nominations for Best Fan, Biggest Fan, Best Tweeter, something like that. That would be fun!

What do you think about Sharon Case receiving her first Outstanding Lead Actress nomination? Do you think she'll take home the gold on Emmy night? We want to hear from you -- and there are many ways you can share your thoughts.

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