Michelle Stafford is hands down one of the most recognizable faces in television. As 'Phyllis' on The Young and the Restless, Stafford created a wildly popular and complex character that earned her two Emmys and legions of fans. Fans of Y&R know that Stafford is an extraordinary actress and that her talents know no bounds. So, it should come as no surprise that when Stafford decided to leave Y&R, she created her own path... an exceptionally funny web series entitled The Stafford Project. Now the rest of the world can see what daytime fans already know... Michelle Stafford is an incredibly talented, hilarious, and beautiful force to be reckoned with.
The Reel Spin: It's no secret that your character, 'Phyllis,' was wildly popular. What made you decide to go in a different direction after being part of The Young and the Restless for so many years?
Michelle Stafford: In a different direction? You mean quit? I have answered that question many times, and the answer remains the same: I loved doing Y&R, but many factors made me decide to leave. It was just time. I am having so much fun creating The Stafford Project (TheStaffordProject.com). I am exec producer, lead actor, co-writer (with The Paiges), casting director, props, wardrobe, craft services... ha! It's work, and it's fun! People have been so supportive! We have over 140,000 views on YouTube in 4 weeks!! Not as much as Miley Cyrus humping Robin Thicke's leg, but we're getting there!
TRS: How did your fans react to your decision?
Stafford: They have been amazing to me... I love social media, because I can get their opinions right away. They have been lovely. So supportive of me as an actress. So supportive of my website (MichelleStafford.com) and of The Stafford Project. I was never lying to anyone about my reasons for leaving Y&R. I think people saw that. They have been nothing but supportive.
TRS: Your new web series, The Stafford Project, really shows off your comedic chops... is comedy something you would like to do more of in the future?
Stafford: Yes, yes, and um...YES! It's where I live really. I have always, all my life, had a comedic take on things that have happened to me. I have a comedic take on life in general. I get very bored of "serious." I love quirky people. I love "odd." It's just how I roll.
TRS: The Stafford Project is also a bit reminiscent of shows like The Larry Sanders Show. How much of the actual storyline is inspired by your real life experiences?
Stafford: Every episode of The Stafford Project is based on my life. Every writer knows that "you write what you know." So, I got together with the other writers, and we went over all the outlines I wrote and experiences I had and picked which ones we could create upon. My life kind of writes itself. I will call them and say "This just happened to me," and they'll say "That's our episode 12." I keep my eyes open in life. I am always thinking of what would be a good episode or good script. I am very interested in the human condition. I am very interested in exploiting that in a funny way.
TRS: Your daughter is such a natural in the series. Were you surprised to find her so at ease in front of the cameras?
Stafford: She is a natural in front of the camera. It's crazy. She doesn't desire to be in front of it in a way that's creepy though. You know? She doesn't have a "need" for it. She just views it as fun! She can take it or leave it. That's healthy.
TRS: Any chance we will see any of your Y&R co-stars making cameos?
Stafford: Yes! Episode #3, which [came out] Labor Day weekend!!
TRS: Are you enjoying being part of the producing and writing process as well?
Stafford: Yes! I have (from a very young age) been a storyteller. I always find myself in the corner at parties holding court with one of my experiences in life recanting it in a humorous way. It's who I am and who I will always be. I think being on a soap opera really aided that, because you are telling a story over a long period of time. As an actor you are very involved in how that story plays out, more than any other medium. You as an actor have a lot of control in how the story plays out.
TRS: You have a new creative freedom now, a new web series... what's next for Michelle Stafford?
Stafford: I have been getting many accolades for The Stafford Project, not only in the press but within the Hollywood community. I have never had so many business lunches in my life. Many people love the story. They love the writing and concept. I really am having a ball at creating this. I am really putting myself out there, more than I ever have in my life. I think it's important to laugh at yourself. I like to make others laugh. This woman that I portray on The Stafford Project is a version of me, but a version of every woman too. She personifies many gals out there who are raising their children on their own and trying to make their romantic life work. I am taking that kind of woman and putting her out there to view and laugh with! Not laugh at, but understand and enjoy.
For more on Michelle Stafford:
Interview by Pamela Thomas