The Young and the Restless will soon say farewell to one of its powerhouse performers. Daytime Emmy winner Michelle Stafford (Phyllis Summers) has confirmed that she is exiting the show, just days after multiple sources reported her departure.
"I would like to personally confirm to the fans that yes, I have decided to leave The Young and the Restless," Stafford told Soap Opera Digest. "It has been a glorious 16 years and one of the greatest rides of my life. The constant support and love from the fans is not lost on me. I think I'll miss you the most."
Citing sources close to Y&R, E! reported yesterday that Stafford's exit is a done deal, and that the actress will depart the show she has called home for 16 years.
News of Stafford's possible exit first surfaced in April, when an insider told soapcentral.com that Stafford had put out feelers to gauge possible interest from other projects.
Earlier this month, Stafford received a Daytime Emmy nomination for Outstanding Lead Actress. In retrospect, Stafford's reaction may have had an entirely different meaning.
"I'm reading all your tweets!! Thank u SO much!! This mean SO much to me! U have no idea," Stafford posted on Twitter, adding "I could not be MORE excited for my love, Jeff Branson! He is an amazing actor!!! So happy!"
Michelle Stafford joined Y&R in 1994, but exited the show three years later. Y&R recast the role briefly, with actress Sandra Nelson stepping into the role until 1998. Stafford returned in July 2000 and has been with the show ever since -- and she even had the opportunity to play a second role, Sheila Carter, for several months.
"[Michelle Stafford] has been a huge part of the Y&R family," CBS Daytime vice president Angelica McDaniel said on Twitter. "Respect her decision to move on, but will miss her. Wish her the very best always."
Stafford will make her final appearance on Y&R in mid-June.