Kelsey Wang Teases What's To Come On The Young And The Restless - Exclusive Interview

"The Young and the Restless" has constantly kept us tuning in for all its twists and turns. From the romance to the betrayal and everything in between, there's a reason it's been on the air for nearly 50 years.

One of the biggest shockers this season was Diane Jenkins returning from the dead. Along with her came a young girl named Allie — who happens to be the granddaughter that Jack Abbott never knew about. When Allie walked into his life, the actress who played her was also walking onto the set of "Y&R" for the very first time. As an avid fan of the soap opera series, stepping onto the set was a surreal experience for actress Kelsey Wang, and we had the opportunity to ask her all about it.

In an exclusive interview with The List, Wang shared how she landed the role of Allie, the prank that's pulled on every new cast member of "The Young and the Restless," and where she hopes the soap opera takes Allie's story next.

Kelsey Wang has always aspired to become an actress

Before we jump into talking about "The Young and the Restless," I wanted to ask you: I read you were in investment banking before this. How did you get into acting?

I know. It's a crazy story. I definitely don't have a very traditional actor's path, and for a long time, I was actually very scared to talk about it ... I moved here from Singapore when I was young, and my parents are typical immigrant parents who worked very hard. They really wanted me to have this great stable career, and I'm competitive. I went to Duke, and then I did what everyone else did, which was recruit for these finance jobs. And I was very, very fortunate. It's intensely competitive in that world, too, and I got an internship [and] went to New York, and I got an offer.

At that time, in my heart, I was like, "Oh, I definitely want to do acting." But I was like, "I'm not sure if I can make it as a career."

After college, I graduated, I went to New York City, I worked at Deutsche Bank, and it was a phenomenal experience, but it was crazy. It was like what they see on TV. It was 90-hour weeks. And then, I remembered on my second week of working until 5:00 a.m. for what I called an "IPO bake-off." In my mind, I knew there was something else I really wanted to do, which was the arts and acting. Long story short, I left that job and went to acting school, and then things snowballed from there.

Allie and the actress who plays her have a lot in common

What drew you to the role of Allie on "The Young and the Restless"?

When I got the role, I was like, "Oh, this is amazing that they're making this." And then I was like, "This is going to be a really big role, a series regular on 'The Young and the Restless.'" She comes from this legacy Abbott family. I knew that reading the sides. I kind of guessed what the storyline was about.

What drew me to it was that she's so multi-dimensional. They weren't making her a villain. It was clear that they were not going to make her a villain, but there's backstory. There's a lot of backstory to her, and it was a role that is very close to my heart, because she also moved here from Vietnam. I moved here from Singapore when I was young, and she's motivated — she built her own career by herself, which is essentially what I did.

I think casting could see that in my screen test. They asked me to talk a little bit about myself, and I think that actually made a difference because my story is so similar to Allie's. I loved how they created this role and wanted to be a part of it.

When you went into the role, did you know the whole trajectory of Allie's story?

It's funny, because I watched "The Young and the Restless" like you. I watched it when I was younger, so I have these vague memories of Jack Abbott and Phyllis [Summers] from 15, 20 years ago.

When I got the sides, it was interesting. There was this scene — it was clearly with a family member, and there was a clear relationship. I don't know how much I'm allowed to say, but it was a grandfather-granddaughter relationship. I did a little research, and it was an Asian American role, so they were clear [that] they wanted an Asian American for this part. So I did a little research, a little digging, and I had a pretty good idea where they were going with the story.

Did you get to write any of yourself into the role since you are so similar to this character?

Definitely. Allie is definitely a culmination. That's why they wanted to know about me. [To] each of the final five girls, they asked the same question. It's like, "Okay, now you've done the audition. Tell us a little bit about yourself." Because they really want to find someone.

I'm still new to this, but I do think casting is so much about the essence of a person. Especially with these long-time serious regular roles, the writers are trying to find this person, and the actor is essentially bringing a lot of themselves into their role. They have an idea of who Allie is, but so much of it is left to who they cast and then melding the actor's essence with the idea of Allie that the writers had.

Y&R isn't the first soap she's starred on

Do you feel starring on "General Hospital" prepared you in any way for "The Young and the Restless"?

In some ways, for sure. That was my first experience doing soaps, and it was interesting. The biggest difference is how fast they shoot. "General Hospital," "The Young and the Restless," all of these, they have a certain timing, because it's every day. There's new episodes every day versus weekly.

Getting a sense of the rhythm was really important [to] understand. With primetime, you have multiple takes, so you can warm up as an actor. You can warm up into it. For this, you have to come in with good ideas [and] be prepared with your lines.

Of course, there's a myth that it's one take only. They would like it to be one take, [but] if you mess up, you're definitely allowed to have multiple takes. It's not that crazy, but they do move fast. With "General Hospital," it taught me that rhythm, but it was a much smaller role. With "The Young and the Restless," it's a whole new show, a whole new perspective with a whole new character that I'm able to go much deeper with.

I read that you were on "The Young and the Restless" back in 2011, too.

Okay, that's a funny story. I actually have no idea what really happened. [Laughs] You know when you don't have any job experience? You're like, "I'm going to fill out a couple job experiences." There is a story there.

I came to LA for a semester in college when I was very young, like 18, 19. Duke has a program with USC, and I was interested in LA. I wanted to see it. It was my time to have my artistic semester, so I came out here to see how LA was. I was so young [and] literally did not know what was going on, and I was like, "Oh, an extra role at ..." I honestly can't remember. I think it was at CBS TV City. It could have been "The Bold and the Beautiful." It could have been "The Young and the Restless." But I did one day of extra work. And then, as a teenager, I was like, "Well, I'm going to put that on my resume on IMDb."

I was in there for not even a millisecond, so they don't know if I'm in it, but I think I was in it for a hot second, maybe on "The Young and the Restless."

Why it was 'hard' to join such an established cast

"The Young and the Restless" has been around for decades. What was it like to join such an established cast?

It's really hard. I will say this: It's a hard show to walk onto because you're working with people who are legendary in the soap world — like Eileen Davidson. When I first shot a scene with her, she [had] played Ashley Abbott for years. And, of course, testing with Peter Bergman [who plays Allie's grandfather, Jack Abbott] ... all of these guys.

The audience grew up with these characters. A lot of them grew up with these characters. They have their favorites, they have who they love, so it's definitely intimidating to walk on a show like this. When there are characters that have been on the show for 30 years, it is very hard to walk on, because the audience knows who they like and who they don't like. And you're trying to create this new character.

It's funny, because they've written Allie as such a great, kind person, and even then, the audience is suspicious. [Laughs] I'm like, "What in the story has caused you to be suspicious?" There's literally nothing. The writers have written her in such a positive light, and I'm like, "This is hard."

But overall, I've gotten so many nice messages on Instagram, so many fans who are also positive and supportive. I am so overwhelmed by how great the fans have been. But I do find it funny, because I'm like, "Allie could not be a nicer character, and still people are so suspicious."

Well, fans are used to all the twists and turns over the last few decades, so you have to wonder.

Exactly. That's it. You have to wonder. Let me tell you, Allie does have her secrets. It's not in a bad way that will hurt anyone, but she has a backstory. There are flaws, there are strengths, and then there are flaws to anyone.

Allie has now met the Abbott family, and she's flown into Genoa City. What was it like for your first time meeting those actors?

Like I said, I grew up watching it a little bit as a young kid, so it's weird. It was weird to see. Peter Bergman, he's so classically handsome ... Eric Braeden [who plays Victor Newman], all of these guys.

You can either let it shake you or you can treat them as anyone else. These soaps, they have large casts, and it's an ensemble show. The first time, it is nerve-wracking, but then they're so nice, and they make you feel so comfortable. Now, I feel like I'm part of the family. I was able to get comfortable really fast due to how nice and welcoming everyone has been.

What the Y&R stars are really like off camera

I know it's a soap opera, but are there any of your co-stars who are always cracking up between takes?

Yes. Everyone has a lot of fun on this show.

I cannot wait ... There's a big wedding event coming up, and the show went all out for it. There were probably 15 to 20 [of] the regular cast members there for three days. Those were long days, but it was so fun. It was so fun to see everyone.

And then especially when there's jokes ... Our fabulous makeup artist on set has this magic trick that he plays on every single cast member. You don't realize it, but some other crew member is taping you, and they have these amazing reactions. It's a little scare thing, and you will not believe [how] some of the most serious actors on the show react. It's so funny. It's in some archive somewhere, and it's hilarious, but people are so funny.

I think Josh Morrow [who plays Nick Newman] is so funny. Everyone cracks jokes, and the more comfortable you are on set, the easier it is to film. The more nervous you are, the harder sometimes it is to film these scenes.

What is your secret to crying on camera? How do you get into that mindset?

Everyone has a different process to getting there. If you watch Sharon Case [who plays Sharon Newman], she is amazing. She's recently had this really hard storyline, grieving her husband who passed. Some of the veteran actors are able to — I've seen it, [they] literally take two seconds and get there. It's incredible because they're so emotionally available. For me, a lot of it is being empathetic and tapping into what the character's going through. Sometimes it's just saying the words, because the words are very emotionally charged a lot of the time.

But everyone still gets nervous. It's such a natural thing to do, but it does come with practice. The more you do it and the more you empathize with the character, [that's] a big part of it.

You have to become really vulnerable for a moment like that.

Exactly. This is my first big role, so I'm still learning a lot. Every day, I feel like I've learned something new about acting. But the camera can catch honesty and truth, and the more vulnerable you are and stepping into that character's shoes, the more it shows on camera.

Here's what's coming up next for Allie

What can you tease about what's coming up for Allie? I've read that she might be falling for someone in Genoa City.

I know. I wish I could say more about this. It's true. It's very true. I think a lot of fans will be very happy with where the story goes in the next few months.

She's in Genoa City, and she's in this place where it's a whole new town of people, and she's looking for people to anchor herself with. Jack is the first one, and then she meets the Abbotts. But then she needs to go out and meet some people, and she's still grieving her dad. Having someone who really understands her, not in a hookup way, but almost in a best friend and partner sense, could help her heal a lot. There's going to be some really good scenes coming up with some fun guys my age.

What's something that you hope your character has the opportunity to do on the show?

I would love to see Allie's career development. Soaps are sometimes very focused on romance, as they should be, right? We all want to watch people falling in love. I definitely want that for her, too, but I would love to see her grow in terms of her career, her job, because it sets such a cool example because she's STEM-focused. She's a scientist. She's a chemical engineer. It's such a positive light to bring to a lot of women, and to shine on her career growth and career development and show that women can have both a love life and also a great, amazing career. She's super motivated and ambitious, so I really hope the writers keep writing on that.

She does have so much going for her.

Yeah. Romance is extremely important, but I hope ... She is an independent, strong woman who should have her own career and her own story with that, in addition to falling for a particular someone.

What was your experience of filming the big wedding this season?

There's two fan-favorite characters, Mariah and Tessa, who are getting married on the show. This is the first time they've had a same-sex wedding on the show, so it's huge in the history of the show, and it definitely felt that way, too. It was a monumental event. The director came out before we started shooting, and he made a speech about why it's so important to him and to the show, and it's huge. Cait [Fairbanks] and Camryn [Grimes], who are the two actresses, played it ... It's a beautiful, beautiful scene.

I know "The Young and the Restless" definitely spent a big budget on making the wedding. It's going to be a fabulous event. If you take a look at the pictures, everyone's dress looks amazing. The outfits look amazing. There's going to be a lot of dancing, a lot of different characters I meet, and basically the entire Genoa City at the event. Then, there's a couple of surprises along the way, and there's going to be a lot of love in the air.

Is that when we'll see Allie falling for a certain someone?

Not even Allie. A lot of characters. Summer is coming back. Yeah, [there's] a lot of great stuff happening.

This is why Kelsey Wang loves soap operas

What do you love the most about working on a soap opera?

What I love about it is that you get to live out something. Because of the amount of material you shoot, you get to live out something almost every day, because you're going in there and then working on scenes that [are] very close to what we go through in real life. I think a lot of people can identify. I get there are the crazy storylines, [like] Diane coming back from the dead. But at the end of [the day], it's romance, family. The soaps are about romance, family, [and] betrayal.

For "Y&R," it's about business as well. These are things that most of us go through in our lives, like getting married, having kids, [and] getting sick sometimes. It's so wonderful that it's these characters that are so real and that people can relate to. [I'm] not saying that superheroes aren't great, too. That would be fun to play. But I love that aspect where it's reflective of all of our lives, in a way.

What's your dream role? Would you love to stay in the soap opera realm throughout your acting career?

I am loving Allie. I've got to say, I love her. I want to keep developing her. I think there's so much. It's a new character. There's so [many] storylines that they can explore, especially since she's an Abbott — Abbott-Newman drama. There's a ton of different paths [where] they could go with it. I am so grateful right now, and I would love, love, love to keep playing her.

I don't really have a dream job. Being able to play characters that are three-dimensional and have a great story makes me really happy. And I think you see that more and more.

[But] "Killing Eve," what Sandra Oh is doing is pretty [amazing], and Jodie Comer is pretty amazing. That would be something. Oh, and I loved watching "Charmed" when I was little. "Charmed" and "Buffy," and playing any kind of — [playing something in] the magical, those worlds, would be super fun. But having a really good story, a really strong character, is a dream world for me.

New episodes of "The Young and the Restless" air weekdays on CBS.

This interview was edited for clarity.