It's hard to believe that with a 22-year run as Days of our Lives' Sami Brady under her belt, fan favorite Alison Sweeney has never received an Emmy nomination. However, her unlucky streak ended today with the announcement that her hat is officially in the ring for Outstanding Lead Actress in this year's Daytime Emmy Awards race. An outpouring of love and congratulations for the actress soon followed, but luckily, she took a few minutes to bow out and chat with Soap Central about her exciting day and what it feels like to finally receive an official Emmy nomination.
soapcentral.com: Congratulations on your first-ever Emmy nomination! You must be so overwhelmed with happiness.
Alison Sweeney: I am beyond, beyond excited.
soapcentral.com: Did you find out via The Talk, or did somebody call you with the news?
Sweeney: The Talk didn't come on for another couple of hours, so my friends were texting me, waiting anxiously, and I was getting in a workout, because I just wanted to distract myself. So I had this really intense workout with my trainer, and my phone starts beeping off the hook. And I thought, "You know, it's probably just people telling me the show started." But there was one that kept coming in, and it was my best friend, and she was like, "CALL ME, text me, call me! 911 emergency call!" And so I did, and she said, "You got it! Congratulations!"
soapcentral.com: That's a great friend! After you two had your freak-out moment together, who was the first person you called with the news?
Sweeney: The first person I called was my mom, and I was just so excited to share it with her. I hadn't even told my parents that the announcement was today because I didn't want to jinx anything. I actually have this weird thing, I didn't want to know [when the announcements were]; I didn't want to get myself all psyched out. So I thought it was last week that the announcements were coming, and then I thought it was the first of the month, I don't know what sort of crazy things I was thinking. So anyway, I found out this morning that it was happening today, and I was nervous, and so I got this workout going, and then I found out and was still sweating, but I called my mom and said, "Mom, I got it!" I was so excited.
soapcentral.com: And out of breath, I'd imagine.
Sweeney: Yes! She was like, "You're really excited!" And I said, "Well, I'm also working out."
soapcentral.com: What scenes did you submit that finally snagged you a nomination?
Sweeney: I submitted the episode that was the fake out, where E.J. [James Scott] has this nightmare of Sami finding the picture [of him and Abigail], and then it turns out not to be true at the end of the show.
soapcentral.com: Did you know immediately that you'd choose those scenes, or did you consult your costars, family, and friends?
Sweeney: I thought that was going to be the episode, but not when we were shooting it. After 21 years of not getting nominated, I've long ago let any ideas about that go while I'm working [laughs]. Just really, this episode meant a lot to me, and I really wanted to put my best foot forward. The executive producers and head writers had given us this episode that was basically just James and I for the whole first half, so there was a lot of content and a lot of material that we had to memorize, and you know, you do have a sense of responsibility, like, "Oh, I better make it good. They're counting on us to make this episode good." So we put in a lot of extra effort with that script and worked really hard to deliver what they wanted. It was really a fun process, and the director, Steven Williford, was just so wonderful to work with, and it was written by Melissa Salmons, one of our dialogue writers, who was just so fantastic. It all came together, and I was really happy. And of course that was a year ago, and I'm not even on the show anymore, so when Emmy submission time came around, it was such a trip down memory lane, looking at those old shows. I also looked at the episode where Sami tells E.J. that she knows, when she finally tells him that she's known for a while when he was in jail, and I thought briefly about the episode where he died, when he got shot in her arms and she follows him to the hospital and is sort of out it and collapses on his body at the end. I was actually happy to have a couple of episodes to choose from. And then, the best advice I got was from an actress, a dear friend of mine. She said I had to go with my gut, and she advised me to pick the episode that, no matter what happens, I would be proud that that's the one that everybody watched.
soapcentral.com: You consistently worked hard your entire run at DAYS, so what do you think it was about those scenes that finally got you the nomination? Do you feel there was anything different from the scenes you've submitted before?
Sweeney: You know, I have no idea. Like quite literally, I don't know. It's tricky. Maybe it was just better?! But I was really proud of this episode because I thought it had a lot of levels. There were a lot of things about it that were interesting to me. Like technically, anyone who has ever worked on a soap would know how technically difficult it was to do those scenes. I mean, an entire act with just two people talking. It was an almost 20-page scene, and you know, and there were three of them, and everybody knows they didn't give us all day to shoot it. We still had the rest of the show to do. We're doing eight episodes a week, so it was like, "We're so excited for these interesting and exciting scenes. But chop, chop!" You know? And I mean that with the utmost respect, because everyone wanted the scenes to be successful. But I did sort of have the sense that my peers would know that these were complicated scenes, very challenging scenes to do. And then I was really happy that they had a lot of variety in them, that it wasn't just all anger or rage or tears. There were a lot of levels: she's happy with him in the beginning, and then she finds out and it's heartbreaking, and then there's the rage and the anger and the ultimate low, and then she goes and bitches out Abby [Kate Mansi], and then it turns out not to be true, and then you sort of see the romantic side of her. So I was really happy with all the different elements of it.
soapcentral.com: Well you should definitely feel proud, because you did great work. And nobody knows this more than soapcentral.com's DAYS Two Scoops columnists, Tony and Laurisa, who are very supportive of you and send along their congratulations.
Sweeney: Oh my gosh, that is the loveliest thing. I didn't know about them for the longest time, and someone sent me a link last year, and I was the ultimate fan. I hope that our executive producers read their column, because I think they do such a lovely job of being the best cheerleaders, but also calling us on it when we need it. They were so lovely to me. I think the one that Tony wrote when I left, it made me cry. I'm so happy to tell you to please tell them that I have the utmost respect for how clever they are and how lucky we are to have them cheering on our show.
soapcentral.com: I will definitely do that, and again, congratulations to you on your nomination. But before you go, I have to ask one more question. It was recently revealed on Twitter that you may be in the process of working out a deal to return to DAYS for the 50th anniversary. Are you and the powers that be truly trying to make a return happen?
Sweeney: That answer is the same answer I've had since the day I told executive producer Ken [Corday] that I was not going to renew my contract, which is that I'd love to be a part of the 50th. And as you read a bit on Twitter, I'm hoping it works out!
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What do you think about Sweeney finally receiving an Emmy nomination? Do you feel it's long overdue? Would you like to see her return for DAYS 50th anniversary celebration? We want to hear from you -- and there are many ways you can share your thoughts.