Why Tonya Lee Williams has no plans to return to The Young and the Restless

Posted Wednesday, May 29, 2024 3:56:41 PM
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Former The Young and the Restless star Tonya Lee Williams puts the kibosh on a possible Genoa City return.

The Young and the Restless fans often clamor for the return of Olivia Barber Hastings Winters, the popular character played by Tonya Lee Williams from 1990 to 2012.

The character hasn't lived in Genoa City for years, but she still has various ties to the canvas, including her son, Nate Hastings, and niece, Lily Winters. She even has ties to The Bold and the Beautiful canvas, as her cousin is Bill's former BFF and Donna's former love, Justin Barber. Knowing Olivia is out there somewhere means she can return at any time and give her adult son and niece some tough love when they need it, but if Olivia ever does make a comeback, it won't be in the form of Williams.

The actress told She Knows Soaps that she put that time in her life behind her. Even when the show approached her about a return in 2023 for the soap's 50th anniversary, she turned the offer down.

"Honestly, it would have been lovely to do. But I could not imagine doing the role," Williams said. "I go through a lot of process into who that character is, and that character was someone from 20 years ago. I said to them, 'I don't want to do it a disservice. I really feel I left Olivia on a high note, and everyone has a great memory.' It would stress me out to think of the weeks I would need to shut down the other things I'm doing to focus only on this."

Williams stressed that she left Y&R of her own volition, and there were no hard feelings at all.

"The show is fantastic. By the way, I left on great terms. I absolutely love the show," she said. "I try to explain it like this: Have you ever dated someone for a long time? And then you don't want to date them anymore and you have broken up with them. And like, 10-15 years have passed. And people are [still] saying, 'Would you go back with that guy?' No, You're a different person now."

Since leaving Y&R, Williams has turned her focus to the Reelworld Screen Institute, a Canadian production company she founded in 2000. At the end of May, Williams was honored by the Academy of Canadian Cinema and Television with the organization's Changemaker Award, which recognizes "those in the media community in Canada who are using their voice or platform to call out systemic racism and discrimination," according to the group's Instagram page.

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Does Williams' rationale for saying no more Y&R make sense to you? Do you want to see Olivia return to Y&R in some form one day? 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.

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