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Interview With Lauren O'Connor, Mother of Twins Ailish and Julia (Baby Grace)
Phone Interview Conducted on June 18, 2009
By Gwen Morett, About.com

I had the wonderful opportunity to chat with Lauren OíConnor, mother of twins Ailish and Julia, who recently played baby Grace. Lauren was actually gracious and understanding enough to take time to speak with me a second time, since my first recording with her didnít take. She talks about being on set with them, the heartfelt storyline with baby Grace, the set teacher who worked with them, her praise for Alison Sweeney, and even a little upcoming spoiler which will air in July.

GM: So how was the first day on the set of DAYS with your twins, Ailish and Julia?

LO: Marnie (Saitta, the casting director) arranged for someone to be with us because itís just too short notice to call a nanny or to get someone else to be with me. We were back-up for the prior baby Grace who was sick. Marnie loved the babies, she said how adorable they were. She introduced them to some cast and crew and said, ďCan I introduce them to the producer?", and mentioned it would be great to fit them in a spot someday. I thought, ďThat would be great, sure!Ē So we did since the other babies (Lily and Sophie Gimbel) werenít able to finish the baby Grace storyline. I donít know if it was a couple weeks later or when exctly it was, but shortly afterwards we said, ďSure, weíll do the fifteen episodes,Ē and I knew the tragic storyline. I was like, ďOkay, Iím not superstitious, Iím not worried, itís a character.Ē

GM: Good for you, because thatís the storyline of the year thatís going to go under my ďBiggest Tearjerker,Ē definitely.

LO: It got harder as we got towards the end of the storyline because a lot of the earlier tapings were of the baby with Sami when she seemed okay - with a just a fever that eventally broke. Then she had a seizure and was hospitalized. I was actually crying just from the reading the script. Itís a subject that is hard for anyone. Even though itís only make-believe. But watching the scenes with Sami, her emotions,it was just, well... I donít think anyone could really contain themselves. The actors were so good.

GM: It was very hard to get through that week without needing a box of tissues, I agree. Even if you donít normally watch the show, you couldnít possibly sit through the show without feeling something. It was very emotional, very powerful.

LO: Yes! Iím standing maybe ten feet away right behind the cameras looking at them, Sami and Rafe, and tearing up. I was asked if it was okay if the babies just stayed on the set the whole time because they had a bunch of scenes with the baby Grace that weren't back to back. We stayed so that actors wouldnít have to break character. The babies were at ease, and it all worked out.

GM: And tell me again, the set teacher named Bobbi, what it is that she did with them and what goes into working with a baby on the set?

LO: Sheís very good. She ensures that thereís no liability, that they handle the babies correctly, she accompanies me and my babies on set. There are a lot of cords and cables sometimes, the cameras are huge, and sheís just there to ensure that everythingís okay with me and the babies. She's been wonderful with Ailish and Julia. I mean, she really loves babies. Sheíll come into the dressing room and when she has time in between takes for other babies or kids she handles, sheíll stay and chat and play with the babies, just a lovely lady.

GM: And I remember you mentioned the other day that you hadnít watched DAYS in about 14 years, you mentioned something about Jack and Jennifer. So did you understand this baby switch storyline, with itís really Miaís baby, but yet Sami doesnít know it.

LO: Itís interesting, because the first day that I came on set with the babies to cover for the mom whose babies were sick, a young gal had introduced herself to me and said ďHi, Iím Taylor (Spreitler, Mia). I play the babiesí mom.Ē But then I thought, ďOkay,an interesting storyline," as she only looked 15. I had no idea about the twist and the turn and the baby mixup or the baby switch. I was clueless. I was even confused the first week we were filming. Itís just interesting, and unless you have been watching the soap you haven't got a clue, You know I just havenít been watching the soap. Itís been a long, long time and Iím not even up to date with whatís going on.

GM: And itís even confusing for those of us who watch it consistently day after day.

LO: Iím sure they do that on purpose (laughs).

GM: Yes! (laughs).

LO: I really want to mention that the actors handled the babies very well. Alison (Sweeney, Sami), is WONDERFUL with Ailish and Julia. As you know she has a baby of her own and has always been considerate to me, very friendly, so itís been a great, great experience working with her and Galen (Gering, Rafe).

GM: And you also mentioned to me that Alison was very concerned like if they needed a bottle warmed up.....

LO: Yeah, she just said, ďIs this okay? Do you need to warm it up?Ē I just thought it was very sweet that she thought of the little details. Sheís a mom, and sheís wonderful about it! She is also just a true professional, a wonderful actress. Sometimes they do readings on the set before they actually film it, I think itís a very quick study. But sheís not just doing her part, sheís concerned with whatís going on with everybody else. There was this scene with Rafe, Sami and Grace, and they were doing inserts of the baby to fill in the scene. (Because a lot of times itís easier to film the baby, and then insert it where they want it to fit in the scene). And I remember Alison pointing out that the baby was supposed to be smiling as Rafe mentions how she has Sami's smile, so I sat underneath the cameras and try to get little Julia to smile, and she did. I thought it was great that she (Alison) pays attention to whatís going on with the other characters around her and not just her own character.

GM: Yes, sheís a wonderful, wonderful actress all the way around. And you also mentioned how sweet Taylor Spreitler (Mia) was.

LO: Yes, very nice on the set, VERY good with Ailish and Julia. She and Dylan (Patton, Will) were both very good with handling the baby.

GM: And you mentioned the scene the other day that scene were little Grace was looking up at Will....

LO: Oh, it was the scene (June 8, 2009 episode) where he asked his mom if he could hold baby Grace and she handed him to her, and the way Julia just leaned onto his chest and looked up to him pleadingly, it was just the sweetest thing like, ďOh, big brother, please help me!Ē It just seemed to really fit within that scene. And you canít really direct a baby. It just happened. It was a wonderful, natural coincidence, which happened to work that way, and I just melted.

GM: Yeah, that was a beautiful moment to see her looking up at her big brother like she really did adore him.

LO: And after baby Grace passed away, I guess they wanted to film a dream scene and so we came back on Friday (6/12) and it felt so wonderful to come back on set. We were sitting in the dressing room and Gary (Tomlin) came up to me and the baby and said that she did such a great job, especially with that scene where Will was holding her. He (Gary Tomlin) expressed his appreciation for the work my babies did. It feels good when you get that kind of compliment from someone that high up.

GM: Thatís wonderful! Iím glad they treated you and your twins so wonderfully. Now you also mentioned a flashback scene where E.J. has some kind of dream sequence with baby Grace.

LO: Yeah, and I donít know when it airs, and I donít want to be giving anything away if Iím not supposed to, but itís some sort of thing, I guess they bring back people from the dead in some way. Like a dream scene or a flashback I guess Iíve heard itís a common thing on soaps?

GM: Yes! (chuckles)
LO: It was one of those situations where my agent wasnít sure if we wanted to come back and do it. Only because the babies have to sign up for AFTRA after 30 days of work. So, we went ahead and did it, and I paid the fees. So we came to the studio and it was wonderful because it only took two hours of our time. We came in, my husband had one Julia in one dressing room, and I had Ailish in another dressing room on a "playdate" with my friend Laura whose babies play Sydney (Hailey and Lauren Sinnema) and the next thing you know we are called in to film a very simple scene, it was short and sweet - a very easy day.

GM: So now E.J., is he going to have some kind of dream sequence where he sees Grace and heís with Nicole?

LO: He was in his bed with Nicole and Sydney, and all of a sudden he sees instead Sami holding Baby Grace and sheís like ďIsnít she the sweetest thing?Ē It was just one of those things where he must be dreaming. I don't know if he will continue to have dreams of Grace, though.

GM: Well, we canít wait to see that. That sounds interesting. Do you think you're still going to watch Days of Our Lives after this storyline wraps up?

LO: Probably now, because it actually got quite interesting. I even got caught up with the storyline with the kidnapping of Stephanie. It becomes interesting to see whatís going on. I also might because I think its fun to watch Hailey and Lauren play baby Sydney since I've gotten to know them and their mom Laura while working on set.

GM: Now you also mentioned that your twins were trying out for a commercial.

LO: Yeah, theyíve tried out for a commercial, and we always stay hopeful. You never know what theyíre looking for. They have such a wide range in age and ethnicity, but you never know. So we just try to keep positive. Ailish and Julia had been on In the Motherhood and then went over to DAYS, and it worked out that the babies were consistently working for maybe two months I think or maybe a little more. So things will work, things will happen. I donít know when or what but weíll just keep our eyes open. And our agent, she says the same thing.

GM: and they already have a very impressive resume, and theyíre not even a year-old yet, so thatís wonderful.

LO: Itís been a lot of fun. People have commented, ďOh my gosh! I saw your baby on the cover of a soap magazine!Ē

GM: Well, you have every right to feel proud, thatís quite an accomplishment.

LO: Absolutely!

GM: Now let me just wish the twins an early Happy Birthday. I know they have a birthday coming up on July 17, turning the big ď1.Ē.

LO: Thank you!

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