Who says you can't go home again? As any long-time soap viewer knows, just about any actor can return to a soap they've left -- even if their character is supposedly dead. Sometimes, though, when an actor returns, it's to a totally different role.
That's the case for Hayley Erin, whose soap opera career began in 2008 when she landed the role of Abby Newman on The Young and the Restless. She left the show two years later, but now -- more than a dozen years after that -- she's headed back to Genoa City in a new role: Newman Media employee Claire Grace.
"It's like the greatest surprise ever," Erin said of her return to Y&R. "Especially in the middle of the [writers' and actors'] strikes! Like, how did I get so lucky?" the actress asked.
Erin revealed that she was in Ireland -- where she resides with her husband, actor Adam Fergus, and their two-year old twins Maude and Juno -- when she learned about the opportunity to return to Y&R. "Basically, during COVID, we picked up and moved overseas -- accidentally, kind of. My husband was doing a show in Norway, and he's Irish, so we were just going to spend eight months in Ireland so I could get to know his family and friends really well," Erin explains. During that time, Erin discovered that she was pregnant with the couple's twin daughters, whom she gave birth to in August 2021.
"Well, what are we going to do, move back with newborns?" Erin asked. She explained that circumstances had kept them overseas, and she fell in love with Ireland. "I was so happy to be there with my little babies and my husband, so it just kind of made sense [to stay]," Erin said. Erin shared that her parents had been visiting when she received an email from her manager asking if she would be interested in returning to Y&R. "I was like, 'Heck, yeah!' I wound up reading for the role of Claire, then I found out on a Friday that I had gotten the role, and by the following Sunday, I was on an airplane! I started that Thursday, so it was all a quick turnaround," Erin recalled.
Erin was also grateful that her parents had been in Ireland at the time because it gave Erin and her husband a couple of extra hands. Despite not returning to her original role of Abby Newman (Melissa Ordway has played the role since 2013), Erin admitted that she had always been open to returning to Y&R. "I love the rules, or lack of rules, in the soap opera universe," she said with a grin. "I had never expected to come back, and I didn't think it would happen, but I had hoped! I always thought, 'Maybe they'd let me,' and I'm really happy that the soap opera universe is so fluid, and these kinds of things can happen."
There have been a lot of big changes in Erin's life since her last run on Y&R. "I was a kid," she noted. "I was 14 when I started and 15 when I left. I was there for my freshman and sophomore years of high school. That was half my lifetime ago! And what's so amazing about my relationship with the soap world is that it always seems to come around for me in times of change and growth in my life," the actress said. She explained that prior to landing her first role on Y&R, she had only done comedy, so walking onto the soap's set had been intimidating and challenging. "I wasn't prepared for the emotional nature of the material. When I went to General Hospital, I was a young woman, and I felt able to enter that situation with a bit more maturity and professionalism, and I was excited to take on the challenge of the material."
"And now, I'm coming back to Y&R in this new phase of my life. I'm so excited to really use the life experience that I've garnered in the last 15 years to create a really dynamic and interesting character. I'm not gonna lie; I think I might have manifested this role for myself because I think I've matured and grown as a person, and I feel ready to meet the challenge of stepping back into this world," Erin said. It's familiar territory for Erin because she not only knows the physical lay of the land at the Y&R studio, but she also has some good friends who work there, including GH alums Brytni Sarpy (Elena Dawson, Y&R; ex-Valerie Spencer, GH) and Michelle Stafford (Phyllis Summers, Y&R; ex-Nina Reeves, GH), and Erin's real-life best friend, Camryn Grimes (Mariah Copeland, Y&R).
"I'm very grateful. I feel so fortunate that in the midst of all these strikes, I'm one of the few people to actually gain employment, and I get to work on a show where I have close friends welcoming me back into this family," Erin said.
Of her new role, Erin said that she loves that Claire is "a fantastic businesswoman, which is something so different than what I've gotten to play before. She's smart and driven -- and a lot more put together than I am!"
Erin's dad seems to agree. "That really doesn't look like you," Erin recalled her father saying when he saw a photo of her new Y&R character. "Well, that's because I look professional -- not a band T-shirt in sight!"
Are you looking forward to Hayley Erin's return as a new character? Will Claire Grace stir up trouble, and if so, for whom? We want to hear from you -- so drop your comments in the Comments section below, tweet about it on Twitter, share it on Facebook, or chat about it on our Message Boards.