Digital Series Emmy nominees feature familiar soap faces
Posted Monday, April 3, 2017 01:24:39 PM
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The Daytime Emmys expanded the number of categories devoted to digital drama series. We chatted with the nominated stars to learn more about the series they star in and to get their reactions to landing Emmy nominations.

To skip ahead to this year's list of nominees, click here

It probably isn't too much of an overstatement to say that when the Daytime Emmy nominations are announced each year, the bulk of our readers are mostly -- if not only -- interested in the nominations in the daytime drama categories. That isn't to say that the nominees for talk shows, game shows, cooking shows, court shows, and the countless other daytime programming options are any less important. For whatever reason, most other genres fail to elicit the fervent support that soaps do.

But there are five additional categories that soap fans should take an interest in because they'll find a lot of familiar faces among the nominees: the categories devoted to digital series.

With each year that passes, the number of high-quality digital series (previously referred to as web series) grows exponentially. This year, the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences expanded the number of categories devoted to digital series to include two supporting acting categories. Sprinkled among the daytime fixtures soap fans know and love are other extremely deserving nominees that fans might want to get to know.

soapcentral.com reached out to the nominees in the various digital series categories to get their reactions to their Daytime Emmy nominations and to give readers a look at what they're missing if they're not tuning in. Here's what they told us.

For the past two years, the star-studded The Bay has taken home top honors as Outstanding Digital Series. Despite that success, Creator/Executive Producer/Director Gregori J. Martin was still overcome with emotion when the series tallied a whopping ten nominations.

"I couldn't believe my eyes. 10 nominations for The Bay? It was surreal," Martin told us. "To be nominated this year with [Executive Producer] Wendy Riche on our team is also truly a dream come true. And I am so happy that so many cast members of our show were recognized by the academy. They all work so hard."

Added Riche, "Gregori Martin's The Bay created engaging characters and stories that we must see and changed the world of dramatic storytelling in the digital media -- I am so proud to be part of his award-winning team."

Last year, Days of our Lives star Mary Beth Evans earned her very first Daytime Emmy for her work on The Bay. She then added another as Outstanding Lead Actress for her work on DAYS. Evans is again nominated for her work on The Bay this year.

"It really shows that with passion, hard work, and dedication by everyone involved, you can really make something new happen. I am so excited to be a part of it all," Evans (Sara Garrett) beamed.

"Can't begin to express what an honor it is to be recognized for my work amongst great talent and by a community I'm so grateful to be a part of," last year's Lead Actor in a Digital Series winner Kristos Andrews (Pete Garrett) explained. "Back in school, if I were to say I'll one day have Emmy recognition, I would have likely received the response 'in your dreams.' Well, it's now very evident that dreams do come true. The greatest difference between anyone and their dream is dedication. I am thankful beyond words to be recognized."

Daytime favorite Matthew Ashord (Steve Jensen; ex-Jack Deveraux, Days of our Lives) had a more foreward-looking reaction to his Outstanding Supporting or Guest Actor in a Digital Series nomination. "Being nominated for an Emmy as a producer and actor for The Bay excites me to think that I am a part of this new digital industry -- 50 years from now, who knows where it will all be, but we will be part of its foundation!"

This year, The Bay, which tells the stories of the privileged residents of Bay City who find themselves entangled in scandal, betrayal, and love affairs, finds itself nominated against the only other winner in the Digital Series category: Venice, from executive producer Crystal Chappell (Gina; ex-Carly Manning, DAYS; ex-Olivia Spencer, Guiding Light).

"I'm honored to be among such amazing talent nominated for Daytime Emmy Digital Drama," Chappell told us of the series' third Emmy nomination.

Also nominated again this year are Anacostia and Tainted Dreams. Two years ago, Anacostia, which chronicles the lives (and drama) of residents of the Washington, DC, community, picked up its very first Emmy win when Martha Byrne (Alexis Jordan/JoAnne Edwards; ex-Lily Snyder, As the World Turns) won Outstanding Performer in a New Approaches Drama Series. This year, it's creator, executive producer, writer, and star Anthony Anderson picked up a nomination in the Outstanding Lead Actor in a Digital Series category. The nomination came as a surprise to him -- and his coworkers.

"I screamed so loud in my office that I scared my coworkers," Anderson (Sean Williams-Grey) admits. "My phone started going crazy with calls and texts from friends. The feeling was indescribable, and for it to happen four days before my birthday was a great way to kick off the celebration."

Tainted Dreams was nominated in the Outstanding New Approaches Drama Series category three years ago. The star-studded, loosely based on reality look at what goes on behind the scenes of a soap opera snagged five Emmy nominations.

"I was 25 on my first day at As the World Turns. This nomination comes 25 years later, what a way to ring in 50," Kelley Menighan (Veronica Ashford; ex-Emily Stewart, ATWT) said of her Outstanding Lead Actress in a Digital Series nod. "I'm as grateful as I was 25 years ago as I am today... beyond grateful."

"I'm flattered and grateful for the nomination, but more happy for everybody involved in bringing Tainted Dreams to life," Michael Lowry (Jordan Bradford; ex-Jake Martin, All My Children) said. "It was a lot of hard work, and I'm glad the show is getting some recognition!"

"I'm thrilled to be nominated a second time around. Sonia Blangiardo made the shoot effortless," Natalia Livingston said. "I truly enjoyed every second of working with her and the entire cast. And, I finally got to work with two of my all time favorites - Alicia Minshew and Grant Alexander! I'm looking forward to our next episodes and can't wait to see everyone in LA!"

Series creator Sonia Blangiardo echoed that sentiment. "It's always a moment of sheer pride and joy when you see your show nominated. Something of this magnitude is never a one-man show and I am forever indebted to my team. The even bigger moment for me was seeing the cast that was nominated also. It thrills me that they were acknowledged by their peers for their work. If it were up to me, the entire cast would be because that's how talented everyone is."

"I'm so excited to be nominated," Anthony Wilkinson (Anthony DiGiacomo) said of his Supporting Actor nod -- before deadpanning, "I was cast as a gay Italian guy from Staten Island, which was really a stretch for me."

While Anacostia, The Bay, Tainted Dreams, and Venice are stacked with actors and actresses from soap operas, one of the other Digital Series nominees is widely known to television viewers -- and remarkably this is his first ever Emmy nomination.

Armin Shimerman, easily recognizable for roles on Buffy: The Vampire Slayer, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and countless other prime time appearances, has never before been nominated for an Emmy. This year, he nabbed a nomination in the Outstanding Supporting or Guest Actor in a Digital Series category for his work in the series Red Bird. Unlike the previously mentioned series that follow a format very close to daytime dramas, Red Bird is a totally different, um, bird.

In fact, Red Bird's uniqueness merited special praise from Brent Stanton, the Executive Director of the Daytime Emmy Awards. "Excellent work. In some ways, Red Bird managed to break the mold of what we've seen in the 'Daytime webseries' category and I love that!"

So what is the series all about? Here's the video explanation in the form of a trailer and the short synopsis version: Early one morning, a group of militiamen crossed the border from Missouri to Kansas. They rode into town and murdered every man they could find. Kitty Mae watched as Bloody Bill gunned down her only son. Now, vowing revenge, Kitty Mae is hunting down every member of Bloody Bill's gang, and she won't stop until the last one's dead.

Alexandra Goodman, who plays Kitty Mae, summed up her feelings about being nominated in a single word. "Humbled is the best word to describe how I felt when I heard about this nomination."

"We're very excited to have been nominated for four Daytime Emmys," Jeremy Osbern, co-creator, Red Bird, shared. "This series was our way of experimenting with episodic television in new ways to create something we wanted to see with actors we love. To see those actors receiving Daytime Emmy nominations makes it all the more special."

It's never easy to add another show into an already busy schedule. This year's Emmy-nominated Digital Series, however, all provide compelling reasons why fans should check them out. That leads to another question: How and where can I check out this year's nominated series? Anacostia is distributed on YouTube and can be watched for free at any time. Venice utilizes a subscription-based format that you can learn more about at venicetheseries.com. The Bay, Red Bird, and Tainted Dreams are available on Amazon Video.

Anyone can watch the series for free on Amazon, and Amazon Prime members will be able to watch without ads. If you are not an Amazon Prime member, click here for a free 30-day trial.

CLICK HERE TO VIEW A LIST OF THIS YEAR'S NOMINEES

Are you a fan of digital series? What do you think of this year's nominees in the Digital Series categories? Is there anyone you hoped would make the nominations list but unfortunately did not? We want to hear from you -- and there are many ways you can share your thoughts.

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