Crystal debuted as "Olivia Spencer Lewis Spaulding"on CBS's soap opera "Guiding Light" in July 1999. After she lost her fiance to his former wife, Reva, Olivia turned to Reva's husband, Josh Lewis, for comfort. Now, Olivia and Josh are divorced and Olivia is involved with Alan Spaulding, but is drawn to Alan's son Phillip. Crystal is best known to daytime audiences for her portrayal of Dr. Carly Manning on Days of Our Lives, a role which garnered her a Soap Opera Digest Award for Hottest Female Star. She also appeared on One Life to Live as Maggie Carpenter. In 2002, she won her first Daytime Emmy in the category of Outstanding Supporting Actress. Born in Silver Spring, Maryland, Crystal studied computer science at Coast Carolina College. Switching gears to journalism, she also attended the University of South Carolina. While on a break from her studies, Crystal won the lead in the University of Maryland's production of Beauty and the Beast, a role which required her to enroll in the university's acting program. While in the program, Crystal was cast in a production of Spring's Awakening, which made it to the finals of the National College Theatre Festival where Crystal performed at The Kennedy Center. Upon graduation, Crystal moved to New York City to pursue an acting career. Inspired by the book Sanford Meisner on Acting, Crystal wrote the author and famed thespian who invited her to join a group of students at his home in the West Indies for intensive theatrical training. In addition to her daytime television roles, Crystal has guest starred on Walker, Texas Ranger, Pensacola, Wings of Gold, Burke's Law and Diagnosis Murder. She also starred in the feature films Lady in Waiting and Bigfoot: The Unforgettable Encounter. Her other theatrical endeavors include The Three Sisters, The Balcony, The Twelfth Night and The Comedy of Errors. Crystal resides in Brooklyn, New York with her husband, actor Michael Sabatino, and their sons, Jacob Walker (born 5/11/00) and Dylan Michael (born 9/2/03).
Crystal was born on August 4, 1965 in Silver Springs, Maryland. Crystal's acting training began long before she decided to become an actress. "Though I was born in Silver Springs, Maryland, our family frequently moved around when I was growing up," says Crystal, "and I became good at going into new environments and adapting." Crystal's father is a retired Washington, D.C. fireman, who with her mother would buy "fixer-upper" houses and completely renovate them. "It was a family affair," says Crystal, who along with her older and younger brothers, helped by installing insulation and acting as the clean-up crew. However, by the time the family could enjoy the fruits of their labor, it was time to move on again. As a matter of fact, Crystal attended seven different schools throughout South Carolina and Maryland in a short period of time.
Drawn to the arts at an early age, Crystal penned volumes of poetry, read the classics, and play acted..."I was pretty much in my own world." In her junior year of high school, Crystal won the lead in the school play, "Dark of the Moon". It was at this time that she found a new sense of direction and..."felt at home on stage". Her high school acting experience allowed her to win a drama scholarship. Though she attended Coast Carolina College in South Carolina, strangely enough, she majored in Computer Science. Realizing that acting was not always a practical way to support herself, Crystal also studied journalism and worked her way through the University of South Carolina as an aerobics instructor.
While taking a year off from her studies, Crystal read about an audition at the University of Maryland in Baltimore. She won the lead role in the play "Beauty and the Beast", but only after agreeing to enroll in the school's acting program. Cast in Wedekind's expressionistic masterpiece, "Spring's Awakening", the school's production made it to the finals of the National College Theatre Festival where Crystal performed at The Kennedy Center. Having appeared at this prestigious theatre, Crystal's enthusiasm really soared and she began to feel that an acting career could become a reality.
After graduating from the University of Maryland, Crystal moved to New York to continue her acting studies in order to advance her career. While pounding the pavement, waiting tables, passing out photos and doing showcases, she was inspired by the book Sanford Meisner on Acting. She wrote to the author and famed thespian, who in turn, invited Crystal (and a few other students) to his home in the West Indies for more intensive training and to further hone her craft.
As luck would have it, upon Crystal's return to New York, she was cast as a day player on ABC-TV's "All My Children". She then moved to Los Angeles, continued studying with Meisner, acquired an agent and was cast as a high-class drug addicted dealer on NBC-TV's "Santa Barbara". However, the character died a week later. The pace of daytime television and heavy dialogue left Crystal so exhausted that "...I thought I would never do a soap again." Yet, a month later, she was offered the role of Dr. Carly Manning on NBC-TV's "Days of Our Lives", becoming one of the most popular actresses on daytime television. While on "Days of Our Lives", Crystal also appeared on stage in the Los Angeles production of A.R. Gurney's hit play "Love Letters". There is no doubt that having already proven herself a successful and beguiling artist with a compelling repertoire, Crystal's classic beauty, charm, charismatic talent and business acumen will further establish her as one of the leading performers in the arts today!
Crystal Chappell vs Olivia
While hobnobbing in Manhattan recently, we interviewed Crystal Chappell, who plays Olivia on Guiding Light. Crystal, we can see that you are a far different person than Olivia, the character you play on Guiding Light. But can you tell us how you differ? Please comment upon how you and Olivia would answer the following questions:
What is your:
1. Dream Vacation
Crystal: 50 mile trek through the Sierras
2. Dream Date
Crystal: Dinner & dancing with Michael
Olivia: Fly to Italy for an evening
3. Favorite Meal
Crystal: Fresh fish & salad
Olivia: Seven courses of something
4. Dream car
Crystal: BMW convertible
Olivia: BMW convertible
5. Favorite outfit
Crystal: Sweats & t-shirt
Olivia: Emanual Ungaro original
6. Favorite City
Crystal: New York, of course
Olivia: New York, finance capital of the world
7. Best present received
Crystal: My son
Olivia: Emerald earrings from Alan
8. Most embarrassing moment
Crystal: Trying to find anything in my purse
Olivia: Losing all my men
9. Most romantic moment
Crystal: My husband’s proposal
Olivia: Richard’s proposal
10. Favorite halloween costume
Olivia: Joan of Arc riding outfit
11. Greatest pet peeve
Crystal: Undermining another person
Olivia: I get blamed for everything
12. Favorite weekend getaway
Crystal: Our Catskill cabin
Olivia: The house in Saint Tropez
13. Best vacation
Crystal: Hiking in the Sierras
Olivia: A trip to the bank
14. Favorite Charity
Crystal: Any children’s charity
Olivia: who cares – it’s a write-off
15. Favorite TV program
Crystal: The Bernie Mac Show
Olivia: CNN News
16. Favorite movie
Crystal: The Philadelphia Story
Olivia: Breakfast at Tiffany’s
17. Favorite book
Crystal: Atlas Shrugged
Olivia: Karma Sutra 689 Poses
18. Fondest memory
Crystal: May 11, 2000, my son’s birthday
Olivia: Sailing with my father
19. Favorite pastime
Olivia: Playing the stock market
20. Best and worst qualities
Crystal best: Acceptance of others
Crystal worst: When I lose it, I lose it
Olivia best: I love passionately
Olivia worst: I love blindly
21. Plot development on the show you’d like to see happen
Crystal: A love story
Olivia: Olivia becomes mayor of Springfield
Thanks Crystal. The next set of questions are just for you:
1. What city are you from originally?
Silver Spring, MD
2. What’s your favorite part of the job?
3. What advice would you give a newcomer who wants to be on the soaps?
Study, study study!
4. What was your favorite storyline on the show?
Olivia’s relationship with Alan
5. What was your least favorite storyline on the show?
So far, so good
6. The thing that people would be surprised to know about you is:
I’m obsessive about cleaning
7. Who is your favorite coworker?
I adore Ron Raines (Alan), Wes Ramsey (Sam) and Grant Alexander (Philip)
8. The funniest blooper on the show?
Ron has the funniest bloopers
9. What type of jewelry do you prefer?
Simple and fun.
A.C. Chase: Thanks Crystal. Hope to talk to you again soon.
Crystal Chappell's Witchy Woman
Before joining Guiding Light in July 1999, Crystal Chappell (Olivia) was known for portraying crowd-pleasing do-gooders like DAYS OF OUR LIVES' Carly and ONE LIFE TO LIVE's Maggie. But since slipping into her latest character's skin, the actress has experienced very different viewer reactions. "It's very difficult to have people talk about how horrible and bitter Olivia is, because I'm like, 'I agree!'" she laughs. "People are hissing at you, or walking around you because they're terrified. It's hard to shake off."
The Wages of Sin
Though Chappell's current role has been her most difficult, she has found it to be the most rewarding. "Olivia's got a lot of wounds, so she's capable of doing just about anything. That's what's most appealing," she smiles. "Sometimes I play characters where they're so good, it's almost impossible to take them in too dark a direction. I'm happy not to be there. I like that I can take Olivia as dark as we need to."
Yet as much as the laid-back soap vet enjoys exhibiting such atrocious behavior in the land of make-believe, she's often found it to be draining long after the director yells cut. "You're walking around being a total bitch to people on carmera, and just doing nasty things that you might think of doing in a really bad moment, but would never do. And then you have to go home to your family, you puppies and your kids," she sighs. "It starts to take its toll on you."
Home for the actress is a renovated Brooklyn walk-up she shares with husband Michael Sabatino, her onetime love interest on DOOL (as Lawrence) and GL (as Vince), and their 2-year-old son, Jacob. In order to keep Olivia out of the Sabatino house when Crystal arrives, she's adopted a daily routine of switching gears. "I have to talk myself into a more present space, like, "'That's not me. it's my job. I'm not writing the show. I'll go anywhere they want me to go,'" she confides. "Ultimately, I know I do my job, and that's kind of what I carry with me.
"The bigotry you have in playing one of these characters," she continues, "is that you're going to become so bad that they're going to kill you! And then you're going to be unemployed! But there are worse things than becoming unemployed. So you just keep it in perspective and go home and look at your family."
However it is that she manages to juggle her personal and professional selves has paid off for Chappell: This past May, she took home her first Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress. "I feel thrilled to have an Emmy, but I don't think it really changes things. And I don't know that it should," she says. "It's really about getting up and going into work and continuing to make things happen."
Likening the coveted statue to "a really big hug from all my peers," Chappell at last feels comfortable in Olivia's point hat. "[Executive Producer] Paul Rauch cam up to me when I was having these scenes with Cassie and just being [evil] to her, " she recalls. "he says, 'You are such a bitch!' And I said, 'I think that's in my job description.' When most people tell me they really hate Olivia, I think, 'Good, that's the point.'
"You can't take it personally," she adds. "It's really weird going to that place. But I'm lucky I work with such fantastic people. We try to be as nasty as we can be, and hopefully make it interesting."
Golden Girl Crystal Chappell
In reality and fantasy, everything is coming up roses for GL's Crystal Chappell...
Don't hate Guiding Light's Crystal Chappell (Olivia) just because she's beautiful. Sure, she's striking. Yes, she has a wonderful husband, fellow actor Michael Sabatino, and an adorable little boy, Jake. Plus a job that she loves, for which she earned her first Emmy nomination and nabbed the prize this year. Okay, so the green-eyed monster may be tempted to rear its ugly head. After all, how can one person be so blessed in so many areas? It's something that the daytime veteran always asks herself, and simply states that she's very fortunate.
Chappell is part of an elite group of actors who have a triple crown, so to speak... meaning, having logged in time on soaps on all three networks. She first go recognition as Carly Manning from 1990-93 on Days of Our Lives, where she met her future husband. Later, after moving to New York, she landed the role of Sister Maggie Carpenter on One Life to Live in 1995, which lasted until 1997. Two years later, Chappell would nestle into her niche at GL as Olivia Spencer. With such a successful career on soaps, the only thing that would be the icing on her multi-tiered cake would be to win an Emmy. That frosting surely tasted sweet when the envelope containing the name of the Outstanding Supporting Actress at the 29th Annual Daytime Emmy Awards was read... and it was hers!
"I was stunned. The actresses in my category were just amazing. It's one of those things that no one can ever take away from you." She adds, "The DMV could revoke your driver's license, the bank could take this Emmy away. It's great! Winning the Emmy is sort of like getting a big hug from your peers. that's wonderful and really comforting after working so hard for 12 years," effuses Chappell. "It's the biggest honor you can get."
Since joining the longest-running daytime drama, Chappell's Olivia is in the midst of practically everyone's business -- the most intriguing being the Spaulding men Alan and Phillip -- and that's exactly how the actress likes it. "It's a classic soap story. Olivia is trying not to fall in love. She's with Alan for that reason. She's certain she can't fall in love with him. Olivia does love Alan, on some level, but that's enough. She's not going to get her heart broken. She gets Alan. They just know how to screw with each other constantly, but it's fun."
Olivia is human after all, and does meed to make some sort of love connection. "She starts to feel things for the son. She and Phillip are a lot alike. He befriends her. There's the kiss that stirs up feelings in her that causes her to have dreams about Phillip. She's trying to stay away from him, but she's drawn to him in spite of herself. What happens from there is just your classic story. She'll probably run to Alan because she can't bear to think about getting her heart broken again. There's just a lot that can come of that."
It's no secret that Olivia has been less than lucky in love. She is capable of giving her whole heart to someone, just not in the romantic arena. "Olivia needs to have a place to put her heart. She is vicious and bitter because she is lonely," theorizes Chappell. Olivia has been at her best emotionally when dealing with her brother Sam or her nephew Jonathon, who just happens to be richard and Reva's biological son.
"Jonathon loves his Aunt Olivia. It would be very interesting if they did that. They brought up the idea of my brother. It's amazing that I've lasted this long on the show. I'm playing a character with no relationships. It's almost impossible to do that. It's not the kind of show where they have people talking to themselves, and that's fine with me. So, they're talking to me about getting a pet parrot or a snail. I'll take it. Olivia needs something; someone that she loves. She needs to be able to love someone, like she always did with Sam."
Make no mistake, Chappell isn't campaigning for Olivia to become Springfield's version of Little Mary Sunshine. "I don't even want to see Olivia become a herione," declares the soap vixen. "I'm not interested in that. Olivia can love the people that she loves and really go after those that she doesn't. She should always be that way."
The part of life that Chappell enjoys most is her private time with her family. Marrying her soulmate and being a mother to their son are her most treasured gifts. "Things are so amazingly great," she gushes. "I have a beautiful little boy and this great husband."
In September, Jake will venture on to the world of pre-school, something that makes his mama beam with pride. "He'll go twice a week for three hours each day. He goes on adventures every day -- boat rides in the park and to the zoo. He has more of a social life than I do," she notes. "He's talking now. He understands things. He's just a person."
As for her other half, he's been busy renovating their cabin. "It's just a weekend hom. It's so beautiful out there. It's really nice, small but nice. Michael is almost finished. He just has to put in the floor and the banister and we can actually move in. He's doing all the work himself and is very good at it. Michael did this kind of work before he became an actor, like Harrison Ford."
As far as the future, Chappell is certain that the light is shining bright. "I keep hearing rumors about GL ending, but it's not going anywhere. I'm sure of it," she states definitively.
GL may not be going away, but what about Chappell? "It's great to go into work and like the people you have to see every day. I feel really lucky because I love where I work. Why the hell would I want to go anywhere? I plan on being on GL as long as the show's around -- until I die."