Why Tamara Braun Returned To Days For A Third Go-Round
By Robert Waldron
Soap Opera Digest: What was your reaction when DAYS called and asked i fyou would like to come back as Ava?
Tamara Braun: I was excited. I lvoed playing Ava the first time around because whe was such a complex character with many layers to be explored. Playing Ava allowed me to delve into territories I had not delved into on-screen before, so it was a joy for me when I originated the character. [Then-Co-Executive Producer]Ed Scott really trusted me and allowed me to fly with her. When they were interested in bringing her back, I was so curious to see what they had in store for her. Why now? Where has she been? What has she been up to? What’s happened in her life? My imagination started to churm. I loved Ava, I won my Emmy for her, so I was very interested.
Digest: Did DAYS tell you the story that was planned?
Braun: They told me the idea they had. I had questions about specifics and the writers were open to exploring and answering those questions. What I was told and what became of the story was different, though. But that’s a soap. One day, you are an upstanding citizen and the next, you are a criminal. The reverse can happen, too. Sinner to saint. Saint to sinner. It’s forever changing and full of surprises.
Digest: What excites you about playing Ava again?>
Braun: Jumping into her skin to see what it feels like. Seeing how she’s changed, grown, stayed the saem, evolved or not. her psyche is so different from other characters I have played on daytime. Her psychological wounds run much deeper and the effects of those wounds manifest in unique ways. There’s a lot to discover and rediscover.
Digest: What was your first day back like?
Braun: Pure joy! People were really surprised to see me back. I was asked not to say anything and so I didn’t. Therefore it was a surprise. Everyone was so welcoming and happy. It made me feel quite loved. It was great to see so many faces from the past and to meet some wonderful new people, too.
Digest: Who did you see on your first day?
Braun: Stephen Nichols [Steve], Mary Beth Evans [Kayla], Kate Mansi [Abigail], Kristian Alfonso [Hope], Galen Gering [Rafe], my lovely makeup artists Nina [Wells] and Deidre [Decker], Richard [Bloore], Jammie [Harris], and Adam [T. Talbot] in wardrove. [Co-Executive Producer] Albert Alarr, of course, and Steven Williford was my director on my first day back. I had the pleasure of working with him and experiencing his brilliance on ALL MY CHILDREN in New York when I played Reese. I was so excited to be working with him again. It was a quick first shoot day for me but it was fun. I felt so appreciated and welcomed. I was shocked at how warm and the welcome was. I guess since I have only done short stints on DAYS in the past, I never really felt I earned that sort of family status you gain while working for long periods on shows. But the way I was received made me feel like a part of the family. I was so incredible.
Digest: What was it like for you to get back into Ava’s head after playing Taylor in 2011?
Braun: I never thought of Taylor with my playing Ava.
Digest: There have been a lot of changes at the show since you were last there in 2011. What are your thought on the current atmosphere? Do you notice an excitement?
Braun: There is so much positive energy there; it’s wonderful! People seem happy and they are prepared to work and are excited about the work. I absolutely noticed an excitement. I commented to friends and my family about how the energy there seemed to have changed for the better. It was a pleasure to be a part of.
Digest: What is it like for you to bbe working Stephen Nichols again?
Braun: Oh please! Wonderful! A joy! A gift! Stephen cares so much and he is kind, thoughtful, always prepared and funny! Hecan be silly and so we laugh a lot. You didn’t ask about Mary Beth, but I have to mention her, too, because she is such a doll, a real woman’s woman No BS. And talk about laughing a lot? Honestly, working with the two of them is a treat. I’m so grateful to work with them because they are terrrific people. I just adore them both.
Digest: How is it working with James Lastovic (Joey)?
Braun: Okay, let’s talk about James. Seriously, I wish I knew what air date it was to tell you do look out for, but he just blew my mind one day. Absolutely blew me away. I was talking to everyone about it and asking if they saw his scenes. He has such a wealth of available emotions that I did not realize was in there. He possesses an honesty, simplicity and sensitivity that I don’t see that much in actors his age who are just starting out. I really enjoyed working with him and can’t wait to see his work in the future. On top of being a compelling young actor, he is an incredibly kind and gentle soul. Such a pleasure to work with him.
Digest: You’ve played several diverse roles in daytime. What appeals most ot you about the genre?
Braun: Having a place to go to daily and do the work. Being an actor is a tough business. Most of us really want to do the work and use our craft. Except for theatre and daytime, yo udon’t get the opportunity to do a lot of work in one day. Sometimes daytime can be difficult because the pace is so fast that there isn’t time to get it “right”, or to have another take, but it’s rar that you don’t have something substantial to do in this medium. there is always work to be done, new avenues to explore. Even with the pace the way it is not (which can be nuts), you know that “tomorrow is another day” and you always have nother chance to improve and work your muscles.
Braun kept in touch with Kate Mansi (Abigail) in her time away from Salem, but didn’t tell Mansi about her return to the show. “I was asked to keep things quiet about returning so I did. I was sitting the makeup chair and did’nt want to bother anyone. All of a sudden I hear, ‘Tamara, is that you? Oh, my God, Tamara, what are you doing here? Are you back? Why didn’t you tell me.’ I got up and went over to her and gave her a big hug and saw that was tearing up. I think she was a little hurt that I didn’t tell her about my return but I was just following instructions from the powers-that-be! She also thought I saw her sitting in the makeup chair, which I hadn’t. she’s a sweetie pie and my has she grown as an actress!”