I recently chatted with actress/singer Olivia Rose Keegan who portrays Claire Brady on the long-running hit soap Days of Our Lives. We talked about acting, singing and all of that dialogue! You can follow what Olivia is doing via Twitter.
How did you get into acting at such a young age?
I was maybe seven years old when I was intrigued (and almost scammed) by this “acting” kiosk in a mall in my hometown of Marin. I dragged my parents to an information session that led to a high-pressure sales pitch, but, luckily, my parents knew better. I was devastated and became obsessed with the idea, so my parents guided me towards community theatre instead, and I was hooked. I did about six plays, landing great roles and learning a ton along the way. Although I loved theatre, I basically woke up one day when I was 10 and wanted more. I wanted to pursue an on-camera career and proposed the idea to my parents, who, of course, laughed in my face, thinking that it was another phase. After a year of constant begging and dramatic speech-giving, they told me that I could take a small step forward. So, I went online and found myself an agent and wrote her a letter. Soon after, we were signing papers with my new agent, who eventually started to send me to Los Angeles for auditions.
How did you hear about the role of Claire Brady?
I received the audition for Claire Brady from my manager and agent. The audition called for a slightly offbeat aspiring singer trying to find her way in the world through creativity. I immediately knew how rare an opportunity like this was, especially one where I can include music.
Can you tell us about the audition process for Days? How long was it? Did you work with anyone for it, etc.?
It was a very fun and interesting process. I think it was because of how collaborative the casting director, Marnie, is, and because of how curious I was. I had never auditioned for a soap and had no expectations. I knew that they could do crazy things with the role and I wouldn’t be locked into a certain “attitude” forever. I love that the characters evolve so often; that’s one of my favorite things about soaps!
I auditioned a total of three times. After the first audition, I headed to Northern California to record a couple of songs with my voice coach, Amber Morris. Of course, as soon as we drove into town, I got the first callback, and it was scheduled for the next day. I was up until midnight recording the songs while my mom was trying to change our flights. Many hours later, two seats magically opened up on the flight that we needed. And, of course, when we got to the airport, our flights were hours delayed so that I would miss my callback. Thankfully, my mom got a single ticket on an earlier flight, and I flew alone, making my callback! I ran lines and chatted with Marnie before going into the audition room to read and sing a snippet of a song. I felt great about it, and about a week later, I was asked to come back to read a third time. About five minutes after I got home from the third callback, I got the call from my manager saying that I booked it. We all screamed and cried for a while. After all, I was about to be a part of an iconic show that had been growing into people’s bloodlines for nearly 50 years.
Did you always know that Claire would be the daughter of Shawn Douglas and Belle Black? How does it feel being the offspring of one of Daytime’s most beloved super couples?
I don’t know that that was said in the audition breakdown, but I think I figured it out! I was honored, and definitely felt like I had some big shoes to fill, being the offspring of these two iconic characters. Meeting Martha and Brandon (and Jason for a short while) really helped put me at ease.I was very nervous when I first started working; a job like this was what I had been shooting for for over five years. They were very maternal, knowledgeable, and just fun to be around, and they made my experience so great. There was definitely a bond with the both of them, so it was rough to see them go.
How is it learning so much dialogue?
(laughs) I’ve found that it’s all about confidence and trusting yourself! That’s not to say that you don’t have to put in a lot of time and effort, but the more you “know” that you know your lines, the more you know them. It can get a little tricky balancing school and work, but it’s all worth it.
What’s a typical day like on set?
Sometimes I’ll have to be there at 6:15 and sometimes I will have to be there by noon. That’s pretty rare, though. I actually like the early call times better; I think it’s fun to drive to work while the sun is rising and no one is on the road! If it’s a new day in Salem, I’ll go see Richard, the head of wardrobe, to try on a bunch of magical clothing that I will usually want to “borrow” indefinitely. Then, I’ll go put my things down in my dressing room, located downstairs in the “basement,” where the cool people are. I’ll admire my dressing room for a hot minute before heading to hair and makeup (I decked out the décor in my room, and I think did a pretty good job!!). The hair and makeup room is usually pretty poppin, so I’ll chat with people and eventually block my scenes. Some days I’ll have more free time than others, but it’s always fun. I’ll try and get some schoolwork done in my dressing room, hang out with the teen squad, and run lines with Maria, the dialogue coach. Later, I’ll get a touch-up and film my scenes with awesome people.
Claire also sings on the show… So did they know that you were a singer before you got the role?
I had to sing at the first audition, but my youtube songs weren’t recorded until I went to San Rafael a few days later. As soon as the songs were finished, we sent them to casting to share with the producers. I have no idea if they ever heard them, but they heard me sing live at the callbacks.
Speaking of singing, ALL of the songs on your album are songs that you have performed on the show, could you tell us about the making/writing the album? How did it come about?
All of the songs on the album are songs that Claire sings on Days, with the exception of one. They were all produced, written, and composed by the Days musical director, Brent Nelson, and his daughter, Gennessee Nelson. I wasn’t involved in the creation of the songs, but I love them, and I am so happy to be singing them. When we realized we had enough material to create an EP, we went ahead with the project because it sounded like a good idea. A lot of the fans ask about purchasing the songs, so we were happy to make them available!
Are you currently working on another album?
I’m working on my own music separately, and I will have more information on that soon! People can expect lots of inflections from a couple of different types of genres and a three-dimensional, honest, feel. It’s going to be fun.
Any plans to tour or do live theater?
Right now Days is keeping me very busy, and I love it! I don’t have any plans to tour, but that is definitely something I am shooting for in the future. Live theater may be fun to go back into someday, but for now I am so happy doing TV and film.
Is there a dream role that you would like?
It’s hard to imagine a role more distinct and fun than Claire, but I’d love something along the lines of Kate Hudson’s character in “Almost Famous.” Something set the 60s or 70s is a plus, especially if it includes the music scene! At the end of the day, I am happy to be a part of any project that I believe in.
Do you see yourself directing or producing in the future?
I would really love to! The more I am on set, the more I realize that “acting” is a very small fraction of the effort it takes to put on a show like Days. In a way, it’s relaxing to realize that the only goal is to collaborate, rather than to “impress.” The more you know about your craft, the more doors can be opened, so I also plan to learn about music production. There’s no better way to make the music you want to make than by making it yourself!
Who are your singing inspirations? I noticed that you did a cover of Adele’s “Crazy For You.” Any others?
I also have a cover of Banks’ “You Should Know Where I’m Coming From.” I’ll be making my YouTube page more active very soon. For vocalists, in particular, I love listening to John Mayer, Frank Sinatra, and Lana Del Rey. Right now, artists like The Red Hot Chili Peppers, Kanye West, Rihanna, Tame Impala, A$ap Rocky, and Jack Johnson help me with inspiration. As you can see, my taste in music is all over the place!
Your character is involved with Theo Carver, and you have a ship name of Cleo! Is there anything storyline wise you can tell us about this pairing and what’s coming?
You can expect a very fun dynamic as they adjust to each other’s “quirks.” Theo showers her with love and attention when she deserves it, but doesn’t have a problem letting her know when she is being outrageous. Claire is constantly bouncing off the walls with ideas to progress her career and lifestyle. Theo’s natural awareness of the world–that is, the world outside of Claire’s–acts like gravity and keeps her closer to reality.
Finally, our website is called Talk Nerdy With Us, so what brings out your inner nerd? What do you “nerd out” over?
Anything James Franco-related or Kaye West-related. They have made me spiral into phases where I try and learn everything about what they have learned over their years of experience. It’s a chain-reaction of knowledge, and it’s actually quite fun! I’ll “nerd out” over anything music-related as well. The more I know about music (and anything in general), the cooler the world gets. I recently downloaded Logic, a music-producing program, so I plan to “nerd out” over that and hopefully be able to create my own tracks!