Kristian Alfonso: What I’ve Learned From Nearly 30 Years on Days of Our Lives
Little did Kristian Alfonso know when she hit the set of NBC's iconic daily drama Days of Our Lives on Friday March 13th that it would be her last time playing fan-favorite Hope Williams Brady. In fact, nobody did. Had it been clear, of course, there would have been a celebration deserving of the spunky, no-nonsense student becoming a cop, mom, wife, and friend to mark a 37-year-old show arc that began in 1983. When Alfonso wrapped the four-episode work week, she had a lot more scripts at home the following week.
In mid-March, when COVID-19 started shutting down stores - and TV shows - most assumed it would only take a few weeks for things to get back to normal. We all know what happened next. When Alfonso returned to the Burbank Studios property in late July, a place she'd called home for 26 years in a row, it had an entirely different reason: to clean up her locker room. There would be no epic final bash, final act, receiving series of castmates.
Just a few weeks earlier, Alfonso had received a call from her boss and dear friend Ken Corday. The Days of Our Lives executive producer is the son of Ted and Betty Corday, who created the Emmy Award-winning soap opera in 1965. It was Betty Corday that Alfonso hired in her late teens. The Cordays were a family - so much so that Ken's wife, Sherry Alfonsos, threw baby showers.
But a family business is still a business. When Corday called Alfonso to deliver the news that lead writer Ron Carlivati and co-executive producer and director Albert Alarr were going to take Hope off the screen for four to five months and then bring her back, Alfonso had a revelation. In an interview with Glamor, she says: “I thought you know what? I think it's time for a new chapter. "
Alfonso in 1983 when she began her run as Hope Williams Brady on Days of Our Lives. During several breaks from Days, Alfonso played in Falcon Crest ,,, and more.
"Has my heart sunk? Yes, "says Alfonso. "I didn't expect that. But was I relieved? Yes, absolutely. After hanging up, I took a deep breath and thought, okay, I don't have to learn the next script. It was a great feeling. But in the end, [Ken] had Made me a great gift by letting Albert and Ron take me off the screen. I don't have any hard feelings. "
According to Alfonso, Corday has promised for years never to leave Days until the very last show (NBC renewed the long-running soap for a 56th season earlier this year). But this time he understood. Alfonso says, “I have been so fulfilled on so many levels. And I don't regret staying [during the times I wanted to go] because Ken was so good to me. I regret nothing. None. I thank Betty Corday. I thank NBC. I'll always."
Still, it was an emotional summer's day when Alfonso left the studio for the last time with a few personal items. "It was scary," she says. “My husband came with me and when we got into the car our eyes met and I looked at him and said, 'Don't ask me questions. '“Alfonso isn't one to be free to show her emotions (she saves that for the screen) but this time she knew the tears were ready and waiting. "My feelings were right there on the surface," she says. “I just wanted to worry about what I had to do. There have been so many incredible moments in life that took place and happened when I was part of the Days of Our Lives and NBC family. "
From encountering the love of her life Bo Brady in Shenanigans to epic trips to New Orleans, New York and beyond, Alfonso has done it all as Hope Brady (and sometimes her alter ego, Princess Gina). "I've always described them as diamonds in the rough and waited for another facet of their personality to be discovered, and I really liked that," she says. "She was physical, she was brave, she was strong, she was funny, she made mistakes, she loved hard even when she knew she was going to be hurt, and most importantly, she never gave up."
In many ways, Hope was just like Kristian Alfonso. “If I could go back to Days as a young girl in 1983 I would say to myself, 'Thank you for taking the risk. You are about to go on an incredible journey. You will always be eternally grateful for that. "
Ahead of her final appearance on October 14th, Alfonso Glamor opens up the lessons she has learned along the way, from the value of your nerves at work to what you need.
Alfonso with Days costars Stephen Nichols (Steve "Patch" Johnson) and Galen Gering (Rafe Hernandez) in 2015
Simplify big work decisions.
When my contract had to be renewed in the mid-1980s, I didn't know whether to stay or go. I asked my father for advice. I said, should I stay, should I go? I just don't know what to do. "And he asked me if I was happy, and I said," I'm happy. "And he said," Well, there is your answer. "
Nervousness can actually serve you well in your job.
I am always nervous because I want to be great. I've never been the person to say, "Let's just do this and I'll collect my paycheck." I want the audience to feel what the character is feeling. I want to do my best. I want to give them their money. They gave me their time; I want to give them some joy. But while I've been with Days for so long, some actors would annoy me for being nervous. But my parents always said to me, "Kristian, it's good to be nervous - you never want to feel too comfortable."
Don't confuse your job with your identity.
None of my identities are preoccupied with playing hope. If they say cut, I'm out. I am Kristian. Ultimately, a job is a job, and many relationships - even great relationships - arise [from those jobs] but never accept anything. Just show yourself prepared. Be professional. And always be respectful of your employees, regardless of who was there for how long. It does not matter. We're all trying to do the same thing.
Never be afraid to let others know what you need.
I never miss a moment in the family, a moment in life. And Days always knew that. If something happens to my family in the east, I get on this plane. My family trumps everything. You are my heart and soul. So I was never afraid to ask for days off and Days worked with me to make that happen.
It's okay to learn when you go. You don't need to know everything now.
Since I'm in the business community and have my jewelry line, I've learned over time. I also had real estate companies and would buy and manage real estate in addition to Days. I was raised that you can do anything you want to do. And believe in you Not that there won't be tough times and you will fall and stumble, but the most important thing is to get up again. Sometimes you get up a little more slowly, but don't let anything or anyone hold you.
Learn to be a great negotiator.
Everyone who knows me knows that I'm a great negotiator, but it's important to remember that every situation is different. What worked once may not work anymore. But you need to be able to compromise so as not to dig your heels because there is always a way around something. You can always get something working. Give a little and take a little. And be fair.
Loyalty is important.
I really thought about leaving Days four years ago. And I didn't do it. I stayed. Ken Corday asked me not to go, so I stayed for him. I don't regret my decision because Ken Corday was really wonderful for me. I love his family. I love his wife. I have always felt the great love and support of the Corday family. So I don't regret staying. Sometimes things happen in families and you need to take a breather, but that doesn't mean your love is wearing off.
Ken Corday and Kristian Alfonso at Corday's ceremony on the Hollywood Walk of Fame
Michael Tran / Film Magic
Never stop doing hard work, no matter how successful you get.
Sometimes on weekends I would sit at the kitchen table all weekend thinking about how I am going to learn all this dialogue because it would be so much. But I have to be prepared. Days paid me a very generous salary so I wanted to make sure they got even more bang for their buck. And because it is a total training to memorize all this dialogue, in the last few years I have even hired someone to come into the house and have a dialogue with me. That way, I knew all eight and a half episodes when I went on set Monday morning.
Give yourself a break.
Seize every moment for me and appreciate it and do not look away. Watch where you go and enjoy. And pause. And take in the beauty that really lies ahead of you before it's too late because you don't know what the next moment will bring. You really don't.
Jessica Radloff is the editor of Glamor West Coast. You can follow her on Instagram @ jessicaradloff14 and Twitter @JRadloff.
Originally published on Glamor
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