Cait Fairbanks Previews Mariah & Tessa's Reunion on 'Young & the Restless'
Savvy soap fans know that characters getting out of town jobs can often be a backdoor way of writing them off the canvas indefinitely. So, when Young and the Restless' Tessa (Cait Fairbanks) got a music gig away from Genoa City with Tanner (Chase Coleman), her ex-husband (!), fans of the singer and her girlfriend Mariah (Emmy-winner Camryn Grimes) were concerned about the long-term commitment to Y&R’s (and daytime’s) only female same-sex pairing.
Fear not, the two have not only been talking face-to-face thanks to their smartphones but today, the two characters will reunite in person. Will Tessa return to Genoa City for a surprise visit or will Mariah crash the concert tour? You’ll have to tune in to find out.
TV Insider spoke to Fairbanks in anticipation of the episode and she weighed in on her daytime journey, what it’s like sharing emotional scenes with Grimes, music, and more! Read on for the scoop.
Some “Teriah” fans were fearing the worst when Tessa got the out of town concert gig. Were you concerned that this might be a longer break?
Cait Fairbanks: Before I got the script that had Tessa going out of town, our lovely head writer and co-executive producer, Josh Griffith, pulled me aside and said, ‘I don’t want you to panic. This is just part of a bigger [story].’ I thought, ‘Cool!’ But, yes, of course I would have panicked. My boyfriend’s character (Fenmore played by Zach Tinker) went out on tour and stayed away for a while.
We haven’t seen the actual tour Tessa’s been on – will we?
No. It’s not really about the performance. Her being on tour is more about her relationship with Mariah and how it affects them, how they both respond. It’s about Mariah being [back in Genoa City] and Tessa having everything she’s ever wanted in terms of her music. She’s living her dream. Tessa does have Mariah on her mind the whole time she’s away.
After Mariah and Tessa ended a chat, Mariah dealt with her insecurity by pretty quickly firing a needless zinger at Summer (Hunter King).
I saw that. I loved it because that’s what’s great about TV. You get to see people having all these different sides. [Mariah did that] because she’s hurting. Summer has her own issues and the two of them use each other as punching bags. I think viewers like to see good people doing bad things.
Just out of curiosity, do you and Camryn actually see each other when you’re shown communicating or is that added in later?
No. That’s all added in later. But I’ve been working with Camryn long enough to get her mannerisms and have an idea of how she’s reacting.
Most everyone wants to see themselves represented on television. As part of daytime’s only same-sex female pairing, what kind of response do you get from fans?
In person, everyone is nice. No one is mean in person. Also, I’m a [littler] taller so, I think people can get intimidated by that? So many people are nice and giving and patient. I only tend to read social media posts if I’m tagged in them, but if [the remarks] are cruel I don’t really need to say anything. Most of the supporters who are passionate about “Teriah” will spring into action. I’ve lived a lot of my life as a loner. It’s nice when people defend me because they want to.
You’re coming up on your third anniversary at Y&R in March. What you have learned about being in daytime?
Joshua Morrow (Nick) has given me great advice about just going with the flow. I’ve learned to be resilient. Everyone here at the show is so kind. I look forward to going to work every day. You get spoiled and it’s also like a boot camp. I’ve learned to keep my heart open and to work hard. I brought some of that with me because I come from the theater. I’d do eight shows a week so, the pace here is something that I’m used to.
Because of your storyline and because there aren’t that many same-sex couples in soaps, do you feel like a spokesperson for the LGBTQ+ community?
No. I’ve always participated in things. I grew up in the theater and the gay community was always around me. I take part in things when I’m asked. I love what I do, but no, I don’t feel like a spokesperson. I am a big proponent of people being kind to one another.
Camryn’s been in the daytime world for a while now as she began playing Cassie (Mariah’s twin) as a young girl. What wisdom can she share with you?
Technical things – like she’ll remind me if we’re doing a ‘fade in’ to the scene to wait a few seconds [before saying a first line]. She’s given me life advice and I’ve given the same to her. We gab, we vent, we cry – it’s hard to pinpoint on one particular piece of advice.
You and some of your Y&R co-stars are in a short film, Across the Room, written by Y&R scribe Matt Clifford and directed by another Y&R writer Mellinda Hensley. What’s that about?
It’s myself, Tyler [Johnson, Theo], Zack, and Christian [Jules LeBlanc, Michael]. We’re in this short film and it’s really funny. It’s fun to see the show’s writers do something [outside of Y&R]. We all have things that we do away from the show.
Music used to be a bigger presence on soaps when budgets were bigger. You performing original music has brought some of that back. Do you have a memorable performance?
Yes. The one that sticks out in my mind the most is when I performed ‘Fight or Flight’ on the show at Nikki’s (Melody Thomas Scott) recital at the benefit for MS (Multiple Sclerosis). We used it again at the memorial for Neil [the late Kristoff St. John]. It was interesting watching that song play out in two different ways. Each were very emotional.
Was that song written specifically for Y&R?
Yes. We (Robert Howard Hartry, Daena Jay Wienand, and I] wrote it for the show for the recital episode. The original intent was me thanking Nikki for her taking me in and pushing me to have a career and a life and then, it grew into something more with Tessa having a life with Mariah. The song can play different ways. You can actually make a song about anything. For example, the Police song ‘Every Breath You Take’ is played at weddings, but it’s also about stalking. People take what they want from it.
Can you tease what’s going happen on today’s show?
I think anytime a couple spends time apart it can put pressure on a relationship. It’s a test and we’ll see if Mariah and Tessa are strong enough to endure their time apart.
Your fans loved the anniversary party for Tessa and Mariah. Usually, that type of story beat isn’t given to same-sex pairs.
It’s great that we’re still in love, but as actors we crave for our characters to have conflict and drama. We saw the dialogue for those [party] scenes and we’re like, ‘Oh, okay.’ But when we shot it, all of a sudden, I found myself crying. Mariah read this cute poem to Tessa. Both of us saw how far the characters have come and it meant something. It just hit me how much this all means. It’s exciting, but nerve-wracking.
Young and the Restless, Weekdays, CBS