90s sitcom fans are geeking out over Family Matters star Telma Hopkins beginning her new role as Denise Tolliver on The Young and the Restless today, as it marks a very special on-screen reunion between the actress and her former TV son Bryton James (Devon Hamilton). But the exciting blast from TGIF's past almost didn't happen!
Shares James with Soap Central, "[Telma] called me and told me that they had offered her a part, and she was nervous -- she didn't know if she wanted to accept it! She had heard so many stories about the pace of filming on a soap and just how much dialogue there can be sometimes and how little time you have to prepare. She wanted to make sure that she would be okay and be ready for it."
Fortunately, James knew exactly how to calm her fears and convince her that coming to Genoa City was a good idea. "I told her, 'Oh, my gosh, you will be more than fine, and I will hold your hand through it the entire way' -- just like she did with me 30 years ago during my first time on set [as a child star on Family Matters]."
If James really did mirror Hopkins' early welcome to him when he started acting at the age of three-and-a-half, then she was in for a treat. Recalls James of his first memories of the actress, "I'm pretty sure the first time that [she] and I met and interacted was for a photoshoot that they were taking of the Family Matters cast at the start of the second season. I remember that she was loving and so warm. She held me and picked me up the first time that we met, and I just felt so much love from her, from day one. She made it fun to be on set, and we'd spend time off set, as well. She made a point to stay close with my family and myself... I just have a ton of very fond memories of starting out with her. She made the environment very, very enjoyable for me."
As for how Hopkins has now found herself entering James's world at Y&R, the actor shares that several years ago -- when he first stepped into the shoes of Devon -- he found out that Hopkins was a longtime viewer of the soap. He's been begging the powers that be to bring her to the show ever since, and they finally decided to make it happen!
"She is a huge fan; she's been watching the show forever," James enthuses. "And I've since been telling the producers, 'You've got to try and figure out how to get her on the show, even if it's just for a day! She loves it so much, and it would be so amazing for the fans to see her on here. You have to make it happen.' And they did! So, I have so much thanks to CBS and Sony for making that happen."
James reveals that it's not just him and fans who are geeking out about having Hopkins on the show. His Y&R costars are also pretty thrilled to have such an icon in their midst.
"Everyone is so excited! I mean, really, everybody. And not just because of Family Matters, either. People go way back to [her 70s pop group] Tony Orlando and Dawn. She's a legend in this business!" James enthuses. "And also, we found out that one of her first jobs on screen doing the Tony Orlando and Dawn variety show, they filmed it here at CBS on Stage 31! She's worked here before, so it was a homecoming for her. And then I found out that Kristoff St. John [ex-Neil Winters] was on an episode of Tony Orlando and Dawn with her when he was nine years old! So, it's a big homecoming, and I am so grateful."
Telma Hopkins makes her debut as Y&R's Denise Tolliver today, June 1. For more information about her role and what to expect from Genoa City's new private detective, click here.
How do you feel about Telma Hopkins joining Y&R and reuniting with Bryton James? What do you hope to see from her new character, Denise Tolliver? We want to hear from you -- and there are many ways you can share your thoughts.