Having premiered back in 1973, The Young and the Restless is approaching its 12,000th episode. The long-running soap has been TV’s No. 1 daytime drama for 32 years. Real life couple Bryton James and Brytni Sarpy play on-again, off-again couple, Devon Hamilton and Elena Dawson on the show.
The couple spoke to Spectrum News 1 anchor Melvin Robert via Skype about life under lockdown and the unique challenges involved in producing a daily daytime drama amid an ongoing pandemic.
“We’re doing well actually, we’ve been taking some necessary precautions at work,” said James, who has been on the show since 2004. “Luckily for us, we don’t have to take the same precautions in scenes, because we’re together.”
James did highlight the on-set precautions the show's producers had implemented.
“We’re getting tested multiple times a week, maintaining six feet distance,” James said.
Soap operas like The Young and the Restless were among the first productions to get back to work following the industrywide shudown at the outset of the pandemic. Sarpy said they were fortunate to have, for the most part, being able to continue working without interruption.
“We haven’t had to shut down and that’s kind of the great thing," she said. "I think we were the second show back and, knock on wood, we’re doing good. Were strong.”
To cope with the stress of the pandemic, Sarpy has been diving deep into her yoga practice and using it to create content for her Instagram account.
“It’s been my peace, it’s been my one stability thing, from March until now, I’ve probably clocked a million hours of yoga," Sarpy said.
But does James join?
“Sometimes," he said. "I have some bad knees from basketball.”
Both James and Sarpy take encouragement from the fact that they're able to bring viewers a sense of normalcy and comfort during this time.
“I think it’s great to be part of the routine of someone’s life a part of the thing that makes them feel comforted every day, adds a little bit of normalcy in their life," Sarpy said.
"It’s been such a big part of my life too. We were just talking before this, talking about the 12,000 episodes. I’ve done just over a thousand episodes myself, it’s felt like a lifetime," he said.
Being a real life couple, James and Sarpy have the unique ability to perform intimate scenes in the era of social distancing. Despite that, their characters on the show remain estranged from one another. Will Devon and Elena be reconciling?
“I think it’s going to be pretty rocky until it isn’t, but I mean it’s a soap. That’s the magic of it,” James said. “Seeing as we’re the only ones that can do this and actually kiss, maybe hopefully something will change pretty soon."
Sarpy talked about some of the creative ways the show's producers have been working around the need to socially distance.
"Everyone’s so creative, just the way they work out these 6 feet distances and trying to recreate us still being close. Even when my character cheated, there’s a scene where we’re right here, but I couldn’t be close, so we had to green screen it, and it looks great," she said. "Its’ kind of cool to see what technology can do to make it all work."