A recent high school graduate, Jessica Dunphy joined the cast of As the World Turns on Thursday, April 25, 2002 in the role of Alison Stewart, a conniving teenager who goes to extreme lengths in order to get attention, especially where Aaron Snyder is concerned. No stranger to a fictional world of corruption and backstabbing, this native of Glenside, PA has appeared in HBO's hit series The Sopranos, and ABC's All My Children. In addition, Dunphy's movie credits include Storytelling, If Freud Had a Video Camera and Chaperone. She has appeared in regional theater productions of The Crucible, The Red Shoes, Grease and Little Women as well as the lead in the off-Broadway production of Servicemen. Jessica R. Dunphy was born on October 23, 1984, in Glenside, Pennsylvania. Her nicknames called: Jess, Jessie, Jesse. She has 2 siblings: Julia (two years older than Jessica) and Stefan. If she wasn't an a ctress: She'd be an interior decorator, or a fashion designer. Her hobbies are decorating and cooking. Jessica's first job was a commercial for J-14 magazine at age 14. In school Jessica was on the honor roll, played the trumpet, and hated to be stuck behind a desk!
Jessica Dunphy lives In New York City. Has her own apartment, and has decorated it herself.
Jessica Dunphy: Soaps' Hottest Teen
Do you think of yourself as a typical teen? "I definitely feel like a teen. There's a part of me that's like a 40-year-old woman, because I plan everything out, I feel responsible about everything. But a lot of teens now take on a lot more responsibility."
Are you and Alison alike? "We're very, very different! I'm not as crazy; I don't tackle people, first of all. I think before I do things, I guess. That's the biggest difference between us. And I think I'm more secure with myself. There are a couple of crazy similarities, like certain relationships she has. Even though it sometimes seems like it's just about her, she does look out for other people."
What movies do you like? "I'm into Legally Blonde and things like that, because they're just fun and bubbly. Everyone always jokes that that's how I am: 'Pink Girl.' Everything I own is pink. Then, when I started the show, they made me really edgy and funky and weird. And I never wore the color red or any dark colors, so when my mom saw the first air show, she was like, 'What are you wearing? I didn't even recognize you.' She thought I was Katie, because I only wear pastels and pinks, and everything I have is monogrammed."
Seriously? "No, not everything, but I have a lot of pink monograms. I like bright colors; they just make me happy. I'm very in touch with my inner girl."
"Jessica is such a hot mama! She's 17 years old and she has a lot of screen presence. You can't help watching her. She's very smart, very conscientious, she works really hard and I just love what she does with the character. She really makes it work. She's a classy girl."
Getting To Know Jessica Dunphy
Her character craves attention, but chronic shopper Jessica Dunphy is more likely to crave... accessories.
Chocolate Or Vanilla? "Vanilla, definitely. You think you'd want chocolate everything, but no."
Beach Or Pool? "That's a hard one. I don't like all the sand, but I still have to say beach."
TV Or Movie? "Movie. I like to go out."
Candy Or Flowers? "I love flowers. I would say candy, but some of Alison's wardrobe can be tight."
THE REAL WORLD Or ROAD RULES? "Neither. When they came out, I was into them, but now there are so many reality shows, and I'm not a big reality-show person."
JOE MILLIONAIRE Or THE BACHELORETTE? "JOE MILLIONAIRE. He looks like he should be on BOLD AND BEAUTIFUL, doesn't he? But I think I'm the only one who watched JOE MILLIONAIRE for the home decor and styles. I liked seeing what everyone wore and how they decorated."
Dog Or Cat? "Cat. I am such a cat person. I have had cats growing up, and whenever I go home, I see my cat. I do like little dogs. I like to be able to cuddle."
Dine In Or Eat Out? "Definitely go out. I like the atmosphere of different restaurants."
Sunrise Or Sunset? "Sunset because I shouldn't be awake that early in the morning. I'm definitely a night person."
Matt Damon Or Ben Affleck? "Do I have to choose either [laughes]? Then, I would say Matt Damon. I'll let J. Lo have Ben. I don't need him."
Truth Or Dare? "I guess truth."
Diet Or Regular? "Diet. Diet everything. My mom laughs at me, but I always have my Diet Coke and diet popcorn, and it doesn't really do anything. But the thought of having it be junk food, but diet junk food, makes me feel less guilty."
Brand Name Or Bargain? "Brand name. I'm a non-bargain shopper. I like service and quality!"
Gold Or Silver? "Gold. But if it was gold or platinum, it would be platinum."
Jessica Dunphy As Independent Woman
Jessica Dunphy (Alison) grows up.
As she approaches her first anniversary on AS THE WORLD TURNS, Jessica Dunphy still finds it odd that people have a hard time separating her from her scheming character, Alison Stewart. "She's so not me," laughs the actress. "When I tell people that know me about the character, they're like, 'You couldn't possibly be like that.' And then people that see the character don't think I could possibly be nice. It's very weird."
In fact, while her rebellious alter ego's future is decidedly bleak, Dunphy's looks brighter than ever as she strikes out on her own to forge a new life for herself.
"It Was Extremely Overwhelming"
Of course, when she joined the cast of the long-running soap back in April of 2002, Dunphy discovered she had her work cut out for her. "I had no idea what I was doing," she admits with a chuckle. "I had never done a soap before. And soaps are all about getting in there and knowing your blocking and all that. I was so dumbfounded by it all."
Having already appeared in independent films like Storytelling and television series like THE SOPRANOS, the young performer was unprepared for the schedule of daytime. "Soaps are a totally different genre for acting," she explains. "It's really fast-paced and technical, and even to this day, sometimes I get a little nutty."
Luckily, once on-screen sister Kelley Menighan Hensley (Emily) returned from maternity leave, Dunphy began to get the hang of it. "As soon as I met everyone and settled in, then it started becoming easier," she admits.
"You Just Have To Go With It"
Knowing firsthand how intense the experience was, the actress was more than eager to share what she'd learned with other newbies, including co-star Bailey Chase (Chris). "He had just started, and I told him all my techniques and everything," Dunphy reveals. "Because you come in and you're just expected to know all of this information. So I told him some things that are helpful to me.
"Having a different director every week and knowing their different styles, working with that, it's just very technical," she adds. "Sometimes you have so much on your plate and they're making you kind of crazy. If you look around at all the people waiting for you, it can get kind of nutty. So I just have to focus, because if not, then that's when you get overwhelmed."
"My Little Palace"
Whatever Dunphy's secret, it seems to be working for her. She recently made a couple more SOPRANOS appearances and moved out of her parent's Pennsylvania home into her own Manhattan pad. "My first apartment," the actress says with a big smile. "I go back to Pennsylvania every two or three weeks, but I really feel like my New York apartment is my home. I love it."
Although she moved in June of 2002, Dunphy laughs as she admits that she's only just now finishing decorating her new digs. "Everything in it, all the furniture, I designed myself," she reveals. "It was fun."
But having a career and a place of her own was always in the cards for the fiercely independent young woman. "I love being on my own," Dunphy declares. "Even when I was younger, I could never just sit behind a desk. I needed to be out there and working. Even though sometimes I get crazy, I love it. I'm having a great time right now!"
Jessica Dunphy plays rebellious, beautiful Alison Stewart
As Susan was too old to conceive on her own, she and Larry agreed to go through with in vitro fertilization, and Emily happily donated her eggs for them to use in the procedure. Soon after Alison was born, Emily was overly attached (having come to think of Alison as her daughter), so Susan cut her off for a while. Eventually Emily made peace with the fact that Alison was Susan’s daughter, “merely” Emily’s half-sister.
As payback for Emily’s treachery re: The Intruder, David Stenbeck arranged for Alison to be kidnapped. Luckily, David’s plans were foiled.
As a teenager, Alison has become rebellious and acts out often. Jealous of Lucy and Aaron’s budding relationship (especially since she saw Aaron first) Alison is doing her best to undermine them. To date, she’s alerted Craig to Aaron’s criminal record from Seattle, left him pictures of Aaron and Lucy riding Aaron’s motorcycle.
Aaron and Alison had a one-night stand when Lucy had broken up with Aaron, and Chris with Ali. Ali became pregnant with Chris's child, but Aaron went along with Alison's shenanigans, said it was his, and even married Ali to keep Chris at bay. It was finally revealed that Chris was the father and he came after Alison. In a horrible accident/misunderstanding, Ali fell off a fire escape and lost the baby. Aaron blamed Chris and he was arrested for manslaughter of an unborn baby. It was revealed to be an accident and the charges were dropped. Eventually, Chris and Ali reconciled. Aaron remained Ali's steadfast friend, many times coming to Ali's rescue while she was living with the Hughes (think pottery plate, job at Metro). While Alison prepared for her wedding, she and Aaron teamed up for the Six Keys to the Kingdom contest in order to win 300 grand for Chris and Ali's first house. In the process, Aaron fell in love with Alison. Before the wedding Aaron came upon Chris and Emily kissing. Chris assured Aaron he'd do right by Ali, so Aaron kept his mouth shut... until right before the wedding. Aaron declared his love for Ali and told her about Chris and "another woman." Ali refused to believe him and went ahead with the wedding. Chris's conscious got to him, and at the altar he told Ali he couldn't marry her because he was in love with another. It took some time, but Ali eventually got over Chris and forgave Emily.
Post wedding, Aaron decided to find a new direction and ignore his feelings for Ali. He took up boxing and somewhat unwittingly got involved in a fixed fight against Lucy's old friend from Montega, Rafael Ortega. Rafi's gloves were weighted by his duplicitous manager and during the fight Aaron was knocked out. Aaron had to have two brain surgeries, the first one leaving him with brain damage. It was right before the fight that Ali realized her love for Aaron, and while he was in the hospital she stood vigil.
Jessica Dunphy believes in true love
Alison always seems to find herself in hot water somehow. This time, however, is a doozy! CBS.com chatted with Jessica Dunphy about Alison’s latest dilemma: her pregnancy and the deception surrounding it.
CBS.com: So Alison is literally in trouble.
JESSICA DUNPHY: Yeah, exactly. [Laughs] When is she not?
CBS.com: How did you react when you found out that Alison was going to get pregnant?
JESSICA DUNPHY: Well, you have to understand, I really feel like we’re the last people to know anything. I feel like everybody knows things before we actually find out. I think when I read [the script where] Chris and Alison had unprotected [that’s] when I first had an inkling [that Alison would end up pregnant]. But I mean, even still, they don’t say anything to you! [Laughs] It’s exciting to find out what new directions your character’s going to go in and it was fun.
CBS.com: Alison seems pretty sure that it’s Chris’ baby. Is there any way that this could be Aaron’s baby?
JESSICA DUNPHY: I don’t think so. It’s obvious that it is Chris’ baby; it’s not a “Who’s the daddy?” storyline at all. She knows who the father is; she just really, really loves Chris and she doesn’t want to keep him from having a great life. I think the Stewart women, they’re like the black sheep [of Oakdale]. No matter what [Alison] can do, it’s always wrong. And here’s this great guy and she really does love him and she wants him to have a good life. She loves him so much that she wouldn’t want him to just be with her and [not] care for her. She just couldn’t live with that. I think that’s the reason why she doesn’t want to tell him [that the baby is his].
CBS.com: Do you think that Alison has any romantic feelings for Aaron at all?
JESSICA DUNPHY: I don’t think she has any romantic feelings for Aaron. I think her feelings for Aaron are like a brother, where you’ve been through a lot [together] and you both care for each other. She really does care about his friendship but there’s nothing romantic at all about [it]. I mean, she doesn’t think of him that way, he doesn’t think of her that way, but there is a caring.
CBS.com: A lot of fans are really upset about the way Chris dumped Alison.
JESSICA DUNPHY: I was, too! [Laughs]
CBS.com: What was it like to play those scenes?
JESSICA DUNPHY: They were very heartbreaking scenes for me to do.
CBS.com: Do you think that Chris and Alison are going to able to find their way back to one another?
JESSICA DUNPHY: I think as long as two people honestly, truly love each other - which they both do - it’s always possible. But there can be really big obstacles in the way. Who knows? I’m always optimistic. I think that Alison needs some happiness in her life! I do know, though, that Alison and Chris do both love each other. I would never say that they’re over or anything like that. Just because people break up doesn’t mean that they’re over.
CBS.com: Why do you think Chris broke up with her in the first place?
JESSICA DUNPHY: I think that because of Alison’s age and because there’s negative feelings [between] their families, his head went against his heart, and afterwards he realizes, “Wait a second, I really just wish I did not do that.” I think that happens all the time with guys. They break up with someone and then they’re like, “Why did I do that?” She felt that afterwards he didn’t really love her, and he thinks she doesn’t really love him, even though they both love each other. It’s very complicated! [Laughs] My life…I don’t lie, I don’t do anything like that. I have so much stress in playing Alison that I can’t have anymore in my everyday life! It’s too much.
CBS.com: Alison has done a lot of maturing in the past year. Do you see this as a setback for her?
JESSICA DUNPHY: She’s trying to be the better person and I think all of her intentions are usually good. She just tries so hard to do things right but not necessarily by doing the right thing, and that’s what [gets] her into really [hot] water. I think that what people are seeing of her maturing is like when she tries to make a good situation and it really does turn out to be a good situation. But the other side is when she’s trying to make a good situation and she does it by screwing up other things. She’s just trying!
CBS.com: Alison’s friendship with Katie has developed. It must be nice for Alison to have a real friend.
JESSICA DUNPHY: Yeah, it’s cool, because if you really think about the characters, Katie’s like her non-judgmental big sister. It’s so much fun to do stuff with Katie because both characters have this fun, bubbly excitement. [They’re] spits of fire. Both of them try to make good situations, [but] getting there, sometimes they screw up. But I mean, they both know what it’s like to screw up and it’s so much fun doing stuff with Terri [Colombino]. She’s wonderful. That’s fun to have someone who likes Alison - besides her [family]!
CBS.com: Alison had some funny scenes with Henry. How did you like working with Trent Dawson?
JESSICA DUNPHY: Oh my gosh! When I first met him and they were shooting some stuff with him and Jack and he was in the bushes and I literally had to hold my nose so I couldn’t breathe - I was laughing so much. Every time he does something fresh and exciting. When I was shooting my scenes with him, he brings things to a whole other level with certain innuendoes, and it’s just so funny. Trent’s so wonderful. You can’t breathe you’re laughing so hard. It’s really fun. When they moved in together, I was hoping there would be more slumber party type of things. Maybe later on they’ll do some fun things.
CBS.com: Do you think Alison has any clue about being a mom?
JESSICA DUNPHY: I don’t think anybody has any kind of clue what [being] a mom is going to be like until they’re a mom. Even with grown women, they don’t know what it’s going to be like until the baby arrives. She knows that she doesn’t want to have an abortion and she knows that she doesn’t want to give away her baby, so she knows that she wants to keep the child. She just kind of put one foot in front of the other trying to make everything work, but she’s scared to death. I think she feels really alone with the burden, feeling like the town you-know-what. I mean, she’s only been with two people. She just feels like everybody looks at her like [she’s] trash. It’s really hard; she just feels really alone and really scared.
CBS.com: Have you reading pregnancy magazines or anything to research what a woman actually goes through when she’s pregnant?
JESSICA DUNPHY: Well, I think that it’s a completely different ballgame just because it’s not an everyday pregnancy; she is a teen. Even though she’s eighteen; I mean you, see people that are fourteen and thirteen having babies now. I’ve talked to a few young mothers. It’s just a scary thing. The thing with women is, especially teen moms, when they get pregnant, even though there are some bad looks towards the guy, it’s as if the [woman is] tainted. It’s not like Alison’s been around the block or anything, but because she’s pregnant and this happens with a lot of teenage moms to be. It’s a really sad thing because they’re the ones that need to care for this child and give up things in their life. And not only that, but then they get looked at in a bad way. It’s just a really sad thing. So, I think it’s a really lonely and scary place to be.
CBS.com: What would you like to see happen for Alison?
JESSICA DUNPHY: I would like her to be happy. [Laughs] I’m such a happy person and I come home and I’m like, wait a second. She needs to win the lottery or something because there’s just too much sadness. I think with everybody’s life they live and they learn and they go through obstacles. Who knows? She might be president next year. You never know!