INTERVIEW: Chiara D'Ambrosio shares early memories of The Young and the Restless and teases her new project with Josh Duhamel

Posted Wednesday, September 29, 2021 8:52:06 AM
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The Young and the Restless' Chiara D'Ambrosio (ex-Summer Newman) opens up about being a child star on the CBS soap opera and how it prepared her for roles like her next film, an action thriller called Bandit that stars Mel Gibson and Josh Duhamel (ex-Leo du Pres, All My Children).

Chiara D'Ambrosio recently made headlines when she won the Outstanding Young Performer in a Daytime Fiction Program category at this year's Daytime Emmy Awards for her role as Regan Sanders on The Bay, but the actress' success actually started many years ago, when she landed the role of Summer Newman on The Young and the Restless.

D'Ambrosio was just three years old when she and her twin sister, Bianca D'Ambrosio, were cast as Nick (Joshua Morrow) and Phyllis' (Michelle Stafford) daughter back in 2008. But the actress' young age didn't stop her from absorbing a lot of tips and tricks about showbiz that she was able to apply to her career, which now includes countless roles in projects with major stars, a Daytime Emmy Award win, over 400,000 followers on Instagram, and an impressive 12.8 million views on the Youtube channel that she shares with her sister.

In a new interview with Soap Central, D'Ambrosio -- who is currently applying to colleges with the hope of one day becoming a screenwriter -- opens up about what it was like to be a child star in Genoa City. She also shares details about some of her upcoming projects, which include an action-packed bank robbery film starring Mel Gibson and Josh Duhamel (ex-Leo du Pres, All My Children); a creepy horror film called Slapface that co-stars The Bay's and Days of our Lives' Mike Manning (ex-Charlie Dale); and a Christmas film called The Magic that was directed by Gregori J. Martin and stars Eric Roberts (ex-Vance Abrams, Y&R), Charles Shaughnessy (Victor Cassadine, General Hospital; ex-Shane Donovan, DAYS), Katherine Kelly Lang (Brooke Logan, The Bold and the Beautiful), Ian Buchanan (ex-Duke Lavery, GH; ex-James Warwick, B&B; ex-Ian McAllister, DAYS), and more.

Editor's Note: To read our in-depth interview with Chiara's sister, Bianca D'Ambrosio, click here!

Soap Central: I know you have a lot going on, but I'd love to start at the beginning, when you and your sister were cast on The Young and the Restless as Summer Newman. You were super young, but can you remember anything about your audition or starting on the show?

Chiara D'Ambrosio: We were three years old when we auditioned and booked the role to play young Summer Newman. I can't really remember too much about it, because it was 13 years ago, but my mom always tells me stories about how much fun I had on set. There's a story that Bianca has that she will always remember that is super crazy about a Halloween episode, but I'll let Bianca tell that story! But my mom reminded me when we auditioned, we went in and played with Disney playing cards, and we played with Michelle Stafford and the rest of the producers in the room, and that's how they booked us. That's all I remember, but there are a ton of pictures of me in these cute little outfits, and I get to see videos of my time on the set, which is fun.

Soap Central: One of the reasons that Mary-Kate and Ashley Olsen landed their role on Full House is because they were the only set of twins that didn't cry during their audition. Do you know what it was about you and Bianca that made the producers cast you over all the other children who auditioned for the role of Summer?

D'Ambrosio: I definitely think the Disney playing cards was a big factor in why they cast us, because we had such an energy. Our mom was with us, because we were so little, but we were really energetic, and she told us that we always wanted to be playing our Disney cards with everybody -- and we were dancing! So, I guess our charm got us the role!

Soap Central: Does one of you do something better than the other and vice versa when you're on set and acting? For example, if a director needs the character you're playing to cry or to make a joke, etc., is one of you the most obvious choice to do it?

D'Ambrosio: I have more of an advantage doing comedy. I was able to get down the speed and timing for everything, so I would definitely say I am more organic at comedy. I love to make people laugh, and I'm always thinking outside the box in terms of how I can make the script my own.

Soap Central: You were very young when you were on Y&R, so did you realize that you were in fake scenarios and scenes, or were there times when you felt confused or scared about all of the drama going on around you?

D'Ambrosio: I knew it was fake because our mom was like, "Okay, here's what happening in the scene," and she would try to explain it to the best of her ability, because I obviously couldn't understand everything that was going on. But she would always draw out what was happening, and that was how we would comprehend what was going on. Because one minute, I would see people yelling at each other and then when the cameras would stop rolling, they were talking and having a great time! So, I was definitely a little confused, but my mom talked me through it, like, "Okay, here's the agenda for this scene."

Soap Central: Do you remember any of the Y&R storylines that you were involved in?

D'Ambrosio: I know there was a Halloween episode, but it's hard to remember! I know that Nick and Phyllis were married, and now they've been back and forth for the past several years! [Laughs] I still watch the show on and off to this day... Oh, I also remember that Phyllis thought that the house was bugged. I was like, "What? What is Phyllis up to?" Because Phyllis was always up to something! [Laughs]

Soap Central: What do you remember about working with Michelle Stafford and Joshua Morrow?

D'Ambrosio: I remember that they were always super nice to us, and they were also so great on set. Josh would always come to our dressing room and hang out with us, just to build our chemistry. It was a great time.

Soap Central: How do you think appearing on Y&R helped prepare you for your acting career? It was really your springboard for everything you've done since!

D'Ambrosio: Definitely for memorizing lines! You do so many scenes a day and you have to memorize so many pages a day, and honestly, at the time, we were super young, and we didn't have that many pages, but it definitely was a huge factor in developing my memorization skills, and it definitely shaped my way of learning lines quicker.

Soap Central: Before you auditioned for Y&R, were you and Bianca the ones pushing your parents to be performers, or was it your parents' idea to put you into acting?

D'Ambrosio: So, how it happened, because we were twins, and up to a certain age in the entertainment industry, they need twins to play one character so they can switch them on and off for hours-wise, so people would always stop my parents in the street and say, "You should put them in acting, even just for a little bit, so that they can be on-screen, and you can help [shows] that need twins to play young roles." My mom and my dad thought about it, and they finally said, "Okay, we'll let this happen." And one of our first auditions was for The Young and the Restless, and ever since, my mom has asked me, "Do you still want to do this? Because I'll always encourage you if you want to keep on going," and I've always said yes. To this day, she still asks me that question! And I say, "Yes, I always want to be in the entertainment industry."

Soap Central: That's a really responsible parenting decision, to make sure that your heart and soul is really into it.

D'Ambrosio: Yeah, she always asks me around the holiday season. She says, "Are you sure you want to do this?" And I'm like, "Yep, I do!"

Soap Central: Your decision has paid off, because you are super busy! Your recent list of credits and the projects you have coming up is soooo long, you must be exhausted!

D'Ambrosio: You know, it's all about balancing your schedule, because I still have to do school, I'm applying to colleges now because I finished high school two and a half years early, and a lot of those projects that are recent, I filmed during quarantine. So, at the beginning of quarantine, I really focused on getting as much schoolwork done as I could and really focused on preparing for other aspects of the entertainment industry. I want to be a screenwriter when I grow up, so I'd like to take classes at UCLA to further develop my craft. I did school 24/7, and now I am graduating early, but in between that, I had to film projects, so it was all about balancing my schedule.

Soap Central: Congratulations to you on finishing high school so early and having a clear plan and going forward with your career. That is super inspiring.

D'Ambrosio: I'm ready for a tiny break now! Just a tiny break! [Laughs]

Soap Central: You recently wrapped production on a film called Bandit that stars Mel Gibson and Josh Duhamel. It sounds like a super action-filled project. What can you say about the story and your character?

D'Ambrosio: It's actually based on a true story of a Canadian bank robber who successfully pulled off robbing 53 jewelry stores and banks, and it follows his life and how he made those decisions. My character is the daughter of Mel Gibson, who was an accomplice to Josh Duhamel's actions and heists, and she is definitely a reflection of Mel's character in this movie.

Soap Central: So you were able to work directly with Mel and Josh?

D'Ambrosio: Yes, I was working directly with them, and they are both super, super nice. They were always super engaging, and both were very much into improv and just keeping me on my toes, so it was a fun and interesting experience.

Soap Central: Josh actually started on soap operas, as well. He was a HUGELY popular actor on All My Children, where he played Leo du Pres. Did you guys talk at all about soaps?

D'Ambrosio: Oh, really?! I didn't know that. We didn't talk about that, but he is so nice. He is such a nice guy. We were actually there, and he was like, "Hey, while I film, I know that the air conditioning is a little bit off, so do you want to go sit in my trailer for at least an hour and practice your lines before we go on set?" And I was like, "Oh, I would love to, but I have to go to hair and makeup. But thank you so much!" And I will tell you that he is super tall. Like, extremely tall. He is a giant. I took a picture with him -- I can't post it yet, because I was in costume, but I will post it when the movie comes out -- and he's really like a giant! He's like 6'4" or something.

Soap Central: Have you been surprised by any of the other celebrities that you've met or worked with, in terms of how they are in real life compared to what you thought before you met them?

D'Ambrosio: I honestly don't think so -- all of my first impressions were right. And everybody that I've met thankfully has been super nice and super engaging. I have not had any bad experiences to date that I can think of.

Soap Central: That's a good thing, if everyone has been kind. You're lucky!

D'Ambrosio: Yes, I'm very lucky! Everyone that I've worked with has been really nice.

Soap Central: Switching gears a bit, I'd love to congratulate you on your recent Daytime Emmy win! What did winning that award mean to you?

D'Ambrosio: I started my career in the daytime community, and I might have mentioned this in my speech or during the questions I was asked afterwards, but being acknowledged and even being nominated for a Daytime Emmy Award was such a full circle moment. I am so honored and grateful.

Soap Central: What was it like to be nominated along with your sister? That must have been really special.

D'Ambrosio: It was because I started in this industry and this genre with my sister, and I could not have imagined being in that moment with anybody else. So, I'm happy for her, and I know she is happy for me, and no matter what, we're just going to keep on going.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Bianca & Chiara D'ambrosio (@dambrosiotwins)

Soap Central: When you started your career, you did a lot of stuff together, because of the labor laws around children performers and everything, but you're doing a lot more projects separately now that you're older. What has that experience been like for you, to spread your wings and go your own way?

D'Ambrosio: It's definitely fun, but I miss my sister so much! But I know that I can just call her if I need help running my lines or if I need her to give me some advice, and vice versa. But I need to step out on my own sometimes, and I know that she needs to do the same, as well. But we will always support each other.

Soap Central: What do you hope for next in your career, and also, what do you hope for long-term? You mentioned screenwriting, of course...

D'Ambrosio: I think that next in my career, if I stay home for the rest of the time or if I work on upcoming projects, I definitely want to write some more. Doing my college applications and going to visit colleges at this time and everything has been hectic, so I definitely want to focus more on my screenwriting. But also, I'd love to write a book! I think that would be super cool. And long term, I would love to study screenwriting and creating my own films and TV projects with my sister, be the next Duffer brothers!

Soap Central: So, are you definitely hoping to study screenwriting in college?

D'Ambrosio: Yes, and film and production. But I think writing gives you more perspective on what the writer thinks when it comes to characters, so when I go to do acting, I know more about what the writers' tools are and what they are trying to hide in the writing, so I can decode it and bring their characters [to life]. It's a full circle moment to be writing and acting at the same time.

Soap Central: Could you see yourself one day writing for a soap opera?

D'Ambrosio: I would love to do that! I think that would be so much fun. I love to bring drama to every single scene, and daytime is the best at that, so I would love to write for a daytime show!

Soap Central: You have two other projects going on, the first of which is the horror film called Slapface. Do you remember much about filming that?

D'Ambrosio: Slapface was one of the greatest experiences that I've ever had. We filmed for about two weeks in upstate New York. It was the coldest time of the year, it was super foggy, and it was during the week of Halloween, so we got all those spooky vibes for the movie. I got so close with the cast and crew, obviously August Maturo, Mike Manning, Mirabelle Lee. I'm still so close with them to this day, and Jeremiah Kipp is a great director and writer. I had such a blast working and being on this film. It's going to be on Shudder, I think in January of next year.

View this post on Instagram

A post shared by Slapface (@slapfacefilm)

Soap Central: You mentioned Mike Manning, who was also a super popular soap star with his role as Days of our Lives' Charlie Dale. What was it like working with him on a project like Slapface?

D'Ambrosio: I've known him for so many years, so that on-screen chemistry, no matter what scene it was, whether we are yelling or just having a full-on conversation with him normally, I think he is such a great actor, and I learn a lot from him. I've gotten to work with him on yA, on The Bay, and now in Slapface. He's a great person to be around, and I definitely look up to him.

Soap Central: You'll also be appearing in an upcoming Christmas film called The Magic, which has so many names from the daytime community. Was that like a family reunion for you?

D'Ambrosio: Yes, it was! Because of quarantine, you don't get to see these people that much anymore, so I got to see everybody in the daytime community again during this film, and it was great to work with Kristos Andrews and Gregori J. Martin and Alejandra Espinosa and Eric Roberts and Sally Kirkland and Andrew Canon; they're amazing people. I am so grateful to be a part of this Christmas movie, and it's so different from any other Christmas movie. I can't wait for people to see it.

Soap Central: How is it different? Or, at least, what can you say about the story?

D'Ambrosio: The film follows Kristos Andrews sort of getting his life back together after a tragic incident happened 15 years ago, and we are sort of guiding him toward finding love again and believing in the holiday spirit.

Soap Central: Holidays films are so popular these days. They play like 15,000 now on channels like Hallmark.

D'Ambrosio: Yes! Christmas in July, Christmas in October. I'm always up for watching those!

Soap Central: Is there anything else you'd like to mention before I let you go?

D'Ambrosio: There's actually a project that we're going to be starting filming pretty soon, but I cannot say anything about it, except stay tuned!

What do you think about our interview with Chiara D'Ambrosio? What are your thoughts about her memories of playing Y&R's Summer? What do you think about the casting and premise of her upcoming film, Bandit? Are you looking forward to watching her in Slapface and The Magic? We want to hear from you -- and there are many ways you can share your thoughts.

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