The 2018 Daytime Emmy Award winners will be announced on April 29, but they’ve already been decided in the soap opera acting categories by blue ribbon panels that viewed sample performance reels. That includes the race for Best Younger Actor, where Casey Moss is nominated for his role as JJ Deveraux on “Days of Our Lives.” The 24-year-old actor has played the role for the last five years, but this is his first Daytime Emmy bid. Will it lead to his first win?
Moss’s performance reel focuses on the police shooting of an unarmed black man. In this case, Moss is that police officer. In the first scene Detective Deveraux is interviewed by fellow cop Hope Brady (Kristian Alfonso) about the incident. He remembers being alerted to an attempted break-in at a warehouse. When he investigated he confronted a man in a hoodie with an unknown device in his hand. Believing it was a gun, JJ shot him, only to discover that the suspect was Theo Carver (Kyler Pettis), who not only was unarmed but is autistic, so he did not fully understand JJ’s command to drop the object in his hand, which turned out to be a device to bypass security systems.
Theo is left fighting for his life, and riddled with guilt JJ returns to the town square where the shooting occurred. His mother Jennifer (Melissa Reeves) tries to comfort him, but he’s prepared to accept whatever consequences are coming to him.
He still hasn’t forgiven himself as the holidays approach. After giving away all his money to a charity bell-ringer he returns home where he writes suicide notes to his family and to Theo with the intention of taking his own life with the same gun he used in the fateful shooting. He answers a call from his unsuspecting mother and says goodbye to her, but as he leaves to do himself in he runs into his ex-girlfriend Gabi (Camila Banus), who is able to talk him down, convincing him to live through the night.
Will Moss win Best Younger Actor with this performance against Lucas Adams (“Days”), Rome Flynn (“The Bold and the Beautiful”), Tristan Lake Leabu (“The Young and the Restless”) and Hudson West (“General Hospital”)? Let’s consider the pros and cons.
JJ’s struggle with suicidal depression gives this reel the highest emotional stakes in this category. Last year’s winner, Bryan Craig (“GH”), also submitted scenes in which he struggled with mental illness and suicidal thoughts.
The subject of unjust police shootings is especially resonant in the Black Lives Matter era. JJ wins our sympathy despite perpetrating such a shooting because, unlike most scenarios that have played out in real life, he believes he should face consequences for his actions.
There are moments of great impact, especially later in the reel when he’s on the phone with his mother. It’s a gut-punch when he tells her, “Thank you for being there,” and she doesn’t know he’s trying to say goodbye for good.
Moss gets a powerful emotional catharsis in JJ’s last scene with Gabi, pouring out all of his self-loathing and regret. The last impression he gives voters is a strong one, finally putting down his gun and crying in Gabi’s arms.
Moss’s performance is subdued until his emotional release towards the end. Oftentimes Emmy voters prefer big emotional fireworks. Does this reel have enough of them?
Moss has been pre-nominated multiple times and had never been nominated before now. Is there something about this role that voters just don’t respond as strongly to?
This storyline resonates in the current political climate, but in light of the police shootings that are making real headlines, will voters feel hesitant to sympathize with the shooter as opposed to the victim?
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