The 2017 Daytime Emmy Awards will be handed out on April 30, but the winners in the soap opera acting categories have already been decided by blue ribbon panels that viewed sample performance reels. In the race for Best Actress, Jess Walton (“The Young and the Restless”) is nominated for the sixth time for playing Jill Abbott, a role she assumed in 1987 and which has already earned her Emmys for Best Actress (1997) and Best Supporting Actress (1991). She also received one additional nomination in the supporting category (1990) and two more in the lead race (1996, 2000). For her submission, Walton has entered scenes where Jill deals with issues involving her son. Watch her reel above.
Jill arrives at the Genoa City jail to bail out her son Billy (Jason Thompson). She lectures him about his poor life choices, and when he tries to walk away she presses him further, particularly about his marriage to Victoria (Amelia Heinle). Billy believes their marriage is over, but Jill pleads with him not to give up on his relationship so easily. Later Jill visits Phyllis (fellow Best Actress nominee Gina Tognoni), Billy’s sister-in-law with whom he is having an affair. Jill warns Phyllis that nothing good can come of their relationship and tells her to end it before it destroys their family.
In the next scene Billy is on life support in the hospital. Jill rages at the rest of the family for always pressuring Billy and making it impossible for him to live up to their expectations. She calls out each member of the family individually, listing all the instances where they denied Billy the support he needed. Later, when Jack (Best Actor nominee Peter Bergman) decides that it is time to take Billy off of life support, Jill lashes out at his decision and threatens to take Jack to court to prevent him from ending Billy’s life. The reel ends as Jill sits at Billy’s bedside and tearfully says goodbye to her son.
Will Walton win Best Actress with this performance against Nancy Lee Grahn (“General Hospital”), Tognoni (“Y&R”), Heather Tom (“The Bold and the Beautiful”) and Laura Wright (“GH”)? Let’s consider the pros and cons.
Walton plays all facets of motherhood: overbearing, then fiercely protective, and fianlly terrified at the prospect of losing a child. These scenes give her the chance to show a great deal of emotional range and help to engender the audience’s sympathy, considering how universally relatable it is to be a parent.
The reel ends with a gut punch as Walton’s character says goodbye as her son is dying. It is a highly impactful way to end the reel and will keep her in voters’ minds.
Walton’s scenes in the hospital are the type that win Emmys: long passages of emotional dialogue delivered perfectly by a respected veteran. The scenes are both emotionally impactful and serve as a demonstration of the craft and skill that have made Walton such a respected actress.
The first two scenes of Walton’s reel are very brief, and not very weighty. Will they dilute the impact of her more substantial scenes later on?
This submission includes a lengthy scene between Walton and her Best Actress rival Tognoni. Could she end up giving an Emmy boost to her co-star instead of herself?
At only 10 minutes, this is the second shortest reel in the category, and many of her scenes involve complicated interactions with many characters. Voters may choose to reward a longer reel that serves as more of a showcase for the nominee.
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