Camryn Grimes on How Her 'NCIS' Role Compares to 'Y&R's Mariah (VIDEO)

Michael Maloney
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When little Cassie Newman (Camryn Grimes) died on Young and the Restless, it didn’t appear as if she’d ever be back. After all, the top-rated CBS serial has always been grounded in reality a bit more than other soaps and Cassie perished on-screen in what many call the show’s most heart-breaking scene.

Fast-forward several years and the “Cassie ghost” that Grimes appeared to be playing turned out to be Cassie’s twin, Mariah. Since her return, Mariah, who trades a mean quip, has discovered her attraction to singer Tessa Porter (Cait Fairbanks).

TV Insider recently chatted with Grimes about her guest spot on NCIS on October 22, Mariah and Tessa, and the one character with whom she’d love Mariah to share screen time. Read on for some thoughtful insights from the two-time Daytime Emmy-winning actress.

You’ve been in the NCIS universe before, correct?

Camryn Grimes: Yes. I’ve been on NCIS: LA in 2010. I’m not playing the same role. Even though I think the NCIS shows exist in the same universe, apparently, when it comes to [being a guest star] you can do all of them!

Emily Wickersham as NCIS Special Agent Eleanor "Ellie" Bishop, Camryn Grimes as Marine Corporal Laney Alimonte on NCIS (Michael Yarish/CBS)

How is your NCIS character differ from Mariah?

By leaps and bounds, which is a nice challenge for me. Marine Corporal Laney Alimonte is struggling in more ways than one. Her struggle is brought to life during the episode as more is revealed. Your heart breaks for her as mine did. At this point, Mariah is put-together and has her wits about her, unlike Laney, whose whole world is falling apart.

Get an exclusive sneak peek of her role here:

Mariah is fairly content these days. Is it nice to play her more settled?

Totally. People go through that in life. It’s no surprise that we’d mirror that in a show where you see characters every single day. You’re living their lives along with them. Characters go through struggles and then, they don’t.

How old were you when you started on the show? What memories do you have from that time?

I was  6 or 7. It never felt like a chore or work. It always felt like fun. I was very lucky, as I have been in so many parts of my life. My parents were great about it. They felt that if I had stopped having fun, then I’d be off [the show]. It felt like a safe haven where I could come and play. I really always just loved it. I can’t explain it. I just did. When I was 5, I remember asking to start acting and I never stopped. I wanted people to be happy with what I was doing. I have no idea why, as a 6-year-old, I had the work ethic I did. But I knew it was important to me. I took it seriously and I had a lot of fun.

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Did you take anything with when you left – like the drawings the show did that were "Cassie's"?

Actually, the show used to [ask me] to draw those. Y&R sent me home with "homework." They’d say, "Oh, we need Cassie to have drawn something." So, I’d go home and [do those drawings]. I had these little projects. Anytime someone held something up and said, "Cassie drew this" that was really me. I loved doing them.

Including the famous one of Sharon, Nick, Cassie, and Noah?  

Yes. That was me. I have one that I did of my [real] family that’s in my dad’s house. I think [the show] has made copies over the years. But I never took one home. The family group drawing I think might have been auctioned at one of Kate Linder’s (Esther) charity teas. I recall it went for a lot of money.

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No doubt. It speaks to the connection the viewers have to the families and characters on Y&R.  

Definitely.

Mariah and Tessa are ranking in "favorite couples" on the show. How does it feel seeing that evolution?

It’s amazing. We haven’t shied away from it. Cait [Fairbanks] and I are always talking about what we’re showing people and making sure it looks and, more importantly, feels authentic. We know how much it matters. Representation matters. The popularity is a reflection of the progress.

These stories are things that soaps have shied away from, at times. Soaps are a reflection of our times and society – or at least they should be. When you move with your audience every day, day in and day out, that’s what you need to be. You need to be addressing topical things. You need to be showing what the world looks like. And it’s beautiful. And it’s freaking awesome. It’s love. That’s my opinion.

CBS

Where do you keep your two Emmys? (Grimes won the Daytime Emmy Award for Outstanding Younger Actress in a Drama Series for playing Cassie in 2000 and for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Drama Series for playing Mariah in 2018.)

They’re at my grandparents’ home. They were always going to go there. I’m very grateful and am very proud of having won them. It’s such an honor. I know my grandparents enjoy seeing them and showing them to their friends when they come over.

My grandparents have been supportive of my career from day one. In fact, my grandmother was my agent. She was one before she became mine. She said I’ll send you out on a few auditions, thinking I’d get bored. My grandpa used to take me to set when I was little. I learned my work ethic from him – the do’s, the don’t’s. He’d explain to me that, even though I was having fun, people were counting on me. He explained that work can be a well-oiled machine and if I wanted to do this, I’d have to keep up.

Camryn Grimes at the 27th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards in 2000 (Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)

Did you ever think after Cassie died on-screen that you’d ever be back as more than a ghost or some kind of apparition?

If you had told me seven years ago I’d be back on Y&R, I’d be like "no!" My return [that led to Mariah] was supposed to be four or five episodes [but] they liked what was happening. After I’d been back at Y&R for about four months, there was an audition at Bold and the Beautiful. I went to Y&R and said, "I’m having a blast, but I’m still a ghost so..." They were like, "No, no. Don’t leave. We’re trying to bring you back."

But I was really scared of being a different character. I did not think it would work. I was still young when I came back to the show. You want to be liked. I knew the Y&R audience loved Cassie. I didn’t know what I had done to make them like her so much. If I wasn’t Cassie, would I disappoint them? I was so concerned. I was like they’ll make me a new character — the anti-Cassie, who could be a bitch. I thought it could go horribly wrong, but it didn’t.

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What would you like to see next on Y&R for Mariah and Tessa?

It’s great to see couples be happy. Nobody stays happy forever, though. Who knows what will come in that direction? On a different topic, I’d like to see an episode with Mariah and Cassie. It sounds selfish, but as an actress it would be so fascinating for me to break down the differences and play the two characters. I don’t know if it’d be a dream episode or a "what if?" episode. I like the idea of them talking together and being in the same episode. I’ve been saying it for years! Please give me this challenge!

Young and the Restless, Weekdays, CBS