Everybody wants to put their best foot forward in a new job. For Jason Canela, though, it was a tad difficult when he first started as the hunky Arturo on THE YOUNG & THE RESTLESS. “My first day on the set, I couldn’t even walk!” he confided to Soaps In Depth with a laugh. “I hurt my ankle the night before. It was so bad that I had to ask for a wheelchair at CBS. When I met [executive producer/headwriter] Mal Young and everyone, they looked at me in the wheelchair and were like, ‘What the hell? You were fine at the audition!’”
It got worse. “My first scene, I had to go up the stairs!” recalled the actor, shaking his head. “It was only five steps, but that was the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do in my life! But I was just so grateful to be there. I didn’t want to miss it.”
As difficult as the situation was, the Miami native says it wasn’t all pain and no gain. “It was as intimidating as hell knowing I had to work with Eric Braeden (Victor) and Melody [Thomas Scott, Nikki],” he said, “but [my injury] sort of took the pressure off. I was so focused on getting by that day, and I think everybody was extra nice to me because I was in a wheelchair, so that might have worked in my favor. I think that just by showing up, I proved to them how badly I wanted to be there!”
Clearly, Canela knows how to adapt to life’s unexpected surprises, which is a good thing because he’s had to be pretty fluid when it comes to dealing with storyline twists for his alter ego. “I had an idea where I was going with this character, but then I see things in the writing and am hit with a curveball!” he chuckled. “Sometimes I’ve read things about Arturo, and I go, ‘Man, how can he have done this?’ But then I sit down and try to find the justification of the character.”
Early loop-de-loops included Arturo’s red-hot affair with married lady Nikki and, after she returned to hubby Victor, a new relationship with Abby. Still, none of that prepared Canela for finding out that Arturo’s estrangement from Rey came about because he’d slept with his sister-in-law! “I’m like, ‘Oh my God, how can I be such a jerk to my brother? To my family?’ I think I said that when I was in the makeup room, and someone said, ‘Oh, did you think it was going to be all butter flies and rainbows? You’re on a soap opera, kid. Wake up!’” he recalled, laughing. “But it was a wake-up call, and I had to sit down and really think how Arturo could have taken this route!”
That said, Canela is delighted with the journey that he’s on, even if he doesn’t know what may be around the corner for his character. “It would be good to know where Arturo is going, but at this point in my life, I’m kind of focused on the present,” he shared. “Whatever they want to do with Arturo, I’m on board! I’m having so much fun with it! I never, ever imagined that the character would take the turn where he was dating Abby, and when I get my scripts to see other turns ahead... it’s so cool.”
Indeed, the actor says that he’s had plenty of “Pinch me!” moments since joining Y&R. “The other evening, we had an event at [the outdoor shopping mall] The Grove, which is next to CBS. I wasn’t working that day, but I drove in and parked at CBS, and used my card to walk through CBS, and I thought to myself, ‘Oh, man, these years I’ve been in L.A., I’ve walked into CBS, Fox, everywhere for auditions,” Canela shared quietly. “For the first time, I’m walking in these hallways and am like, ‘I can call this home.’ It was a really cool moment. It’s such a blessing to be on Y&R. I do not take it for granted. Not for a second!”
For more on your favorite Y&R stars, keep reading the CBS edition of Soaps In Depth magazine!