The hardest working woman in show business

Let’s say you’re an actress. You’ve been in the business for almost two decades, you’ve hit the big 4-0, and the show that you’ve been appearing on for the last decade has just been canceled. What’s your reaction?

For many performers (male or female), the scenario above would mean lots of tears, a few drunken middle-of-the-night phone calls to your agent, and a sudden interest in Botox.

But there are no tears and no handwringing for the hardest working woman in daytime (and perhaps in show business).

She just enjoyed perhaps the best year of her career thus far. She (and her costar) have ignited one of the biggest and most powerful fanbases in daytime history. The last year has been completely made of win, win, win for her.

Yes, her show was canceled. But with almost acrobatic ease, she’s managed to land a role on another daytime show, where her dedicated fanbase will no doubt follow her. AND she’s not forgetting about that fanbase; she’s writing and developing her own Web series.

And she looked damned good doing it all, too.

How can Natalia possibly resist this face?

How can Natalia possibly resist this face?

I am talking, of course, about the “goddess” herself, Crystal Chappell.

Chappell is immensely talented, and she’s always been a really unique performer. I wasn’t a big DAYS fan at the time she played Carly 1.0, but there was something that was really engaging to watch about her even then. (She was all but wasted as Maggie on OLTL.)

Her role as Olivia on Guiding Light has been, hands down, the most consistently compelling story on the show in the last decade. If you look at some of Olivia’s life on paper, it sounds like a multitude of different characters, not one. But Olivia’s always been consistently entertaining, and Chappell is the reason.

When the writing for Olivia was great, Chappell just soared with it. Olivia’s steamy romances with Phillip and Bill were very memorable. Her fights with Alan and Alexandra were legendary. (During Joan Collins’ tenure as Alex, watching Phillip/Alan/Alex/Olivia, with a side of Beth and Harley, was the best part of GL.)

Olivia is a champion pouter

Olivia is a champion pouter

But – and this is the key to a great performer – she made it work even when the writing wasn’t so great. She made it work when the writers tried to shoehorn Liv into the Cooper family (and smooth out our girl’s jagged edges).

She made it work when she was given a sudden daughter (and then, unbelievably, tried to take a hit out on said daughter). She and Robert Newman made the Josh/Olivia story work, even when it was a pale retread of the usual psycho-bitch-keeps-Josh-and-Reva-apart nonsense. (Their flirty chemistry is still intact – their recent scenes have had flammable chemistry.)

And perhaps most impressively, she almost succeeded in selling us the worst story Guiding Light’s told in recent memory: the Jeffrey/Olivia rape debacle.

It’s absolutely no surprise that Chappell’s performances in the Otalia storyline – and “Otalia” itself – have been glorious.

I mentioned earlier this week that I was really enjoying Alan and Lillian’s current stories, because they were bringing their characters full circle. Olivia, too, has come full circle. She started her life in Springfield as a barracuda, but she’s come to love others more than herself – her daughters and, of course, her beloved Natalia.

There are so many things about Crystal Chappell that have impressed me. I was impressed with her performances and her dedication to the Otalia story. I was impressed with how much of an advocate she was for Guiding Light, and how hard she worked to keep Otalia going after the cancellation was announced.

I was impressed that, after it was clear GL wasn’t going to continue, she wisely landed a new gig.

The hopefully-soon-to-be-happy couple?

The hopefully-soon-to-be-happy couple?

And perhaps most of all, I’m really impressed that Chappell had the business sense and the creative impetus to create Venice, her upcoming Web series.

Crystal Chappell is one of the most Web-savvy performers; she’s communicated with fans via Twitter and Facebook, and she’s well aware that she has a very vocal fanbase on the Web. (Big Purple Dreams, the Otalia fan site, numbers well over 5,000 unique users.)

With Venice, she’s not only hoping the Otalia lightning strikes twice, she’s connecting with that fan base on different platforms – TV, the Web, social media. THIS is what it’s all about today, kids – you’ve gotta keep fans excited and engaged on their flat-screen LCDs and their iPhones.

Daytime TPTB have been best known in the last decade or so for ignoring common sense, history, and fan suggestions about future story. By creating Venice, it’s a win for Chappell on so many different levels.

But it’s also a win for fans, who usually find that their interest or fandom is met with a slap in the face or a cold bucket of water.

This show really could be the future for soaps, and Venice could be the most sustainable model in that genre that we’ve seen yet.

I’m excited to see Crystal Chappell’s next moves, on DAYS and in Venice. But I would be remiss if I didn’t say that before I see Crystal on Venice Beach or in Salem…….that it’s time for Olivia and Natalia to KISS ALREADY!!!!!!!!!!!!!

A sad postscript: today (August 11) was the last day of filming for Guiding Light. To see my eulogy for GL, click here.

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24 thoughts on “The hardest working woman in show business

  1. Crystal Chappell is the only actress i know that has become a fan of her fan’s. Well that is how I see her. She is both endearing and gracious with her time, reaching out to us to Twitter us, web chat’s and speak on Big Purple Dreams Blog talk radio.

    Her big heart and let’s not forget her beauty will hopefully have her connecting with us for a long time to come.

    Thank you for the article

  2. Nice, Patrick. Three cheers for women like Crystal Chappell who ignore the conventional “wisdom” that says viewers want to watch hot-looking 20 year olds, and go out there, strutting their hot 40+ year old stuff, *and* acting up a storm, thus showign the 20 year olds how it’s done.

  3. Crystal Chappell is indeed the hardest working woman in show business and the most loyal and dedicated and AVAILABLE to her fans. She is the ULTIMATE soap DIVA, interacting with her fans and the public the way she does is remarkable. I wanted her on GL way before she ever came to the show and I feel so lucky to have watched her take Olivia to the places she did. Olivia is a character of epic proportions, not unlike Erica Kane or Viki Buchanan, and will live on through Crystal. Thank you so much for bringing me joy. I look forward to seeing ALL of your future endeavors. This article is such a great testament to what a wonderful human being she is!

  4. I agree with Karen. Crystal Chappell is the only actress/actor that i have found that has shared her life with all of her fans,she is the most caring person that i know.Crystal relates to all of us, and it shows .Just go check out any of the fan sites that have been created for her.I will warn you(dont look in her eyes) because if you do there is no going back.Power to the purple peeps.

  5. Wonderful article Patrick! A pleasure to read. Crystal is amazing. A real anomaly, unfortunately in this day and age. She truly is a fan of her fans, and we fans SO appreciate her.

  6. Crystal Chappell has very well captured the attention ” and the hearts ” of an enormous international fan base. I, being an outsider met her through Otalia, and have become a big fan of all her work finding daily a reason to search for new and not so new work of her. Pardon my english if i made a mistake but i had to come up and say: CRYSTAL CHAPPELL, “Thank you for your constant support and we know, Venice will be another of your precoius gifts to us!”

  7. Wonderful article. I am a new fan of Crystal Chappell’s and it hasn’t taken me long to see what all of the fanfare is about. People need to see that there is an incredible brain behind the beauty.

    She deserves all of her success and so much more.

    Thank you

  8. Great article. Crystal is a wonderfully talented actress and a humble human being. Her fans love and respect her and she gives it right back,that says alot about who she is,where she came from and where she is going.

  9. Great article. Can’t help watching her even when she given crap. She is amazing. I too first saw her on Days and don’t what it is, but you can’t help watching her. One thing to add, you can see her co-stars like working with her, she brings out the best in them too. Thanks

  10. Wonderful article! I absolutely love Crystal Chappell. She is so authentic and genuine! I look forward to all her future endeavors and will follow her anywhere.

  11. This was so beautifully written and couldn’t convey everything there is about Crystal that’s so special any better! Thanks for this! The talent this woman has is nothing short of amazing! When you become a fan of Crystal Chappell, you get the real deal…you get the talent and the person! Noone is more gracious with their fans than Crystal and that is why her legion of fans is growing by the day! Thanks again for this article…it made my heart smile! Venice can’t come soon enough and here’s hoping DAYS has some good stuff in store for her to make magic with!

  12. Patrick, I never appreciated Crystal on DAYS or OLTL. When she joined GL, I thought it was just a bit of “let’s cast a familiar daytime face.”

    Was I ever wrong.

    CC’s Olivia quickly became the bad(?) girl you loved to hate…but, more often than not, felt sorry for. The broken engagement to Prince Richard (who lost interest in Olivia the minute that faux Amish Princess Cathereva showed up in San Cristobel…TWICE). The Boardinghouse suicide attempt to opera (prevented by Josh, of course). The snarky asides from Marah while Olivia only tried to be a competent stepmother to Reva’s hellspawn. The infamous tumble down the Beacon staircase, courtesy of Olivia’s other stepdevil, Lizzie, to prevent the birth of Emma.

    And, long before Otalia, CC won me over with that famous graveside speech at Phillip’s “funeral.” “THE SON OF A BITCH HAD IT COMING!!!” And he did. CC spat venom at every one of her attackers: Lizzie (“Spoiled brat!”), Alan, Alex (“Oh! This from THE DRUG DEALER!”), and with every retort, I thought, “Olivia’s the only one who’s really putting Springfield in its place!” Even HARLEY wanted to accept part of the blame for Phillip’s actions prior to his “demise,” but Olivia let everyone know who was really at fault. And it ain’t her!

    I’ll follow her to DAYS, begrudgingly. I don’t think she’s done herself the biggest favor in moving to a show that might be ending itself in a year or so. (Why not just send ATWT out in style with the continuation of the Otalia storyline? Why not indeed? This should have been a real possibility.) I honestly think her future, her longevity in daytime, will be assured when she joins Y&R…and she MUST, at some point! Ashley, Nikki, Sharon, et al, MOVE OVER! When Crystal Chappell arrives in Genoa City (and wouldn’t it be great if it could be Olivia Spencer too?), Jack, Victor, and the other male power brokers won’t know what hit ’em. CC’s character could be an ALLY of Jill’s, in a nice twist, instead of a rival. Throw Gina Tognoni (Dinah) in there as well as a recast Heather Stevens and we’d all have reasons to tune in for years to come.

    Looking forward to VENICE, to DAYS, and to Crystal’s eventual rank as THE leading lady on daytime television today.

    Great comments, Ant, and I love that funeral scene, too!

  13. What a great actress….OMG. CC is a method actress par excellence, at the top of her game and as good as the best. She can do anyhting and do it well, and she will set the bar for the future with Venice.

    And here’s a refreshing fact:

    In Venice , CC IS TPTB!

  14. My loss that I only discovered Ms. Chappell’s Olivia Spencer 2 months ago. At least I had that….Amazing actress. Good luck in all your endeavors and thanks for the good times. 🙂

  15. Loved her as Carly, Loved her even more as Olivia. Love her the most as Crystal, she is just amazing and giving and deserves all the success in the world. She is so thankful for her fans and really knows that her fans open their hearts to her. She is gracious enough to do the same in return. Thank you Crystal, and good luck.

  16. It’s funny how Crystal Chappell has managed to get herself a major lesbian following. We al know she is not a lesbian and yet she is a lesbian icon

    Her portrayal of Olivia in the otalia love story is evidence of how fluid her acting abilities are

  17. crystal is a mixture of all the great actresses of the past ,I see joan Crawford, lana turner.claudette Colbert etc great actresses and great beauties…she really belongs on the big screen….I pray she’ll b e around a long time ..and I pray all the wonderful writers on fanfic continue to bring us otalia

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