Victoria Konefal is one of the newest additions to Days of Our Lives' cast, bringing energy and excitement as Ciara Brady, a spunky, fiery young woman who is trying to find her place in Salem after being away in Hong Kong for about a year.
TV Fanatic had the opportunity to catch up with Victoria to discuss her take on all things Ciara just as her on-screen mother's wedding to Rafe Hernandez imploded thanks to Ciara's ex-friend and rival Claire spilling the beans about Rafe sleeping with Sami.
Check out her thoughts and share yours in the comments! And don't forget to check back on Sunday for the Days of Our Lives Round Table discussion.
Did you watch DAYS before you got the role of Ciara or was it new to you?
I watched it with my mother when I was younger. She moved to America from Poland when she was about 20 years old and she watched it for years after that to learn English, and she fell in love with the show and watched it for 10 or 15 years.
Were you watching when the previous Ciara was on?
I didn't. I wanted to make Ciara completely my own. I didn't want to get any character traits from the actress who played the role before me because they hired me and I wanted to bring as much of myself to the role as possible.
Do you think there are any special challenges that come with playing a character that has been recast?
The only challenge for me was winning the audience's heart, I guess, because, you know, they have their own Ciara that they're used to and that they watched every single day and switching to a completely different face isn't easy for them. That was my biggest concern: to not anger the audience.
How did knowing you were playing a recast influence your approach as you began on DAYS?
My approach as an actor? Hmm. I learned a lot of the character's background. I asked Kristian Alfonso [Hope Brady, Ciara's TV mom] who the character was and her history with her mom and her brother and her father and the rest of her family.
I had a long conversation with Albert Alaar, the executive producer, before I started filming and he told me where we wanted to go with her character development, as far as her new relationship with Claire and her relationship with her mom, how it changed from before she went to China, and her relationship with Rafe now that she found out his secret. So there was just a lot of studying.
What was your initial impression of Ciara?
My initial impression of Ciara was that she was a total badass, and I love that about her. She is really strong and independent, and that is something I appreciate in any person. She was really bratty, though. That's something I have to say. She did let things get a little bit out of hand. She was very emotional.
But I do love the young lady that she is turning into.
It seemed like at first she was really rebellious and really angry, and she was especially angry at Rafe. When she first found out that he had slept with Sami, she was all gung-ho to blow this relationship up and tell her mom, and then she changed her mind. What do you think changed in her?
She realized how happy Rafe made her mom, and she didn't want her mother to get hurt again, because of the history her mom had with Aiden and Ciara's father passing away, she wants to see her mother happy.
And given the fact that he slept with her when they were technically broken up, I guess that that kind of softened the blow for Ciara a little bit. She didn't want to see the look on her mother's face when she told her that Rafe slept with Sami.
She wants to protect her at all costs because she sees how much she's gone through and she just wants her to be happy.
It seems like you see her as very protective of Hope.
Yeah. Because Hope is all that Ciara has left, really. Hope and her new friendship with Tripp. She doesn't have a friend in Claire anymore, Theo left... so there really isn't anyone for Ciara to lean on, and I think that also has something to do with her not wanting to lose Rafe.
She wanted to protect her mom, but she also wanted to protect Rafe and keep it in the family because he is her only father figure, and he is the person that her dad told to protect Ciara and her mom. So she doesn't want to lose this happy family picture. She doesn't want to lose this great thing that she has.
And maybe she wants that connection with Bo as well.
Mmm hmm. Exactly.
What are some of the ways that you think Bo's death continues to affect Ciara?
It will always affect her because she was Daddy´s little girl. A lot of her personality comes from Bo, and her love of the motorcycle life. And I don´t think anyone ever truly gets over losing a parent. That´s really difficult, and I feel like Ciara never really had closure with saying goodbye to her father. She´s gotten over it, but she hasn´t forgotten.
It sounds like she's trying to pick up the pieces and move on.
Like you said, she seems very isolated. Is there anybody in the characters currently on canvas that you wish Ciara could be closer to?
I wish that Ciara had a friendship with Gabi! I think they would really hit it off, especially since Gabi is Rafe's little sister. Gabi's personality is definitely close to Ciara's, in that they are both fiery and outspoken, so they'd definitely have a lot to talk about!
Yeah, I can definitely see that. Especially right now with what Gabi is going through, it would be really cool to see Ciara supporting her.
You mentioned that Ciara and Claire used to be best friends and now they're fighting all the time. It started over Theo, but at this point he's not there, and now they're fighting over Tripp or they're fighting over all these little things. What do you think is at the root of all this?
I think that it took Ciara a while to get over Theo and get over losing him as a person because they were so close growing up, but she is getting over him slowly. Her chemistry with Tripp is definitely there. They have a strong bond.
There is something between them, but Ciara has to grow up a little bit and deal with her own stuff before she can start thinking about being in a relationship.
It does seem like there's this dynamic where Ciara and Claire are always fighting and Tripp comes in and he's like the parent who tells them to go to their rooms and stop that.
Yeah. Tripp is caught in the storm and he didn't ask for it. He just wants to live in a happy home, and we're not giving that to him, and it's frustrating to walk into a war zone every time he comes home from work.
He's trying his best, and Ciara is trying her best to accommodate Tripp, but the tension between her and Claire is so high that it's impossible to avoid the confrontation.
A lot of people on some of the fan groups have said they really like the idea of Ciara and Tripp, because it would be Bo's daughter and Steve's son, and Bo and Steve were such close friends. It would be like the next generation of them. What do you think about that?
It would a really sweet way to commemorate and honor Bo. I think Steve would be proud and really happy for Tripp. He knows what kind of person Ciara's father was and I'm sure he knows that Bo raised a great girl. So he'd be all for it.
Yeah, I definitely see the chemistry between Ciara and Tripp. I'll be interested to see where that goes. You mentioned that Ciara needs to grow up a little bit. What are some of the ways you hope she grows over the next couple of years?
She needs to curb her anger and her animosity. She needs to accept that the way they are and she can't get so angry at every little thing. She needs to develop more of an adult relationship with her mother. I think they could be really great friends and have a mother/daughter duo.
Those are some really good arcs. It'll be interesting to see her grow. When she first came on, some people were comparing her to Sami and saying she was like this generation's Sami. Sami was more of a bad girl with a heart of gold. Do you see Ciara as a good girl character or a bad girl character?
I think she's a good girl kind of character, with a feisty side to her. She's the kind of person that you shouldn't really mess with, but she'll always be there for her friends and for those that she loves. I definitely see her as more of a good girl than a bad girl.
She's very spunky and fiery and I think that she has that heart. I remember one of your first scenes where Ciara went to see Theo while he was in his coma. She was very emotional. How did you prepare for those scenes?
For emotional scenes like that, it's really important to bring it from a place of honesty, and you can't force those emotions. I sat down with Kyler [Pettris - ex-Theo] in the dressing room and we ran through those scenes and we sat down with our on-set acting coach and we talked about it.
We talked about all the intentions and the reasons behind the scene and what it made them feel. And we took the feelings and we tried to manifest them as organically as possible, and that ended up coming across on-screen.
What do you see as Ciara's driving force? You talked about how she's got this heart and she's got this fieriness and the ability to stand up for herself. What do you think drives her at her core?
Surviving everything she's been through. Ciara has been through an overwhelming amount at such a young age, and I think that all of the negative things that happened to her built her personality and made her as strong as she is.
We also talked about a lot of the ways she is like Bo. How do you think she is like her mother?
This is really funny, and I'm not sure if it was captured in the actual final cut of the episode, but in the Christmas episode, Kristian and I were in the back during the ornament celebration, and we were both just eating massive amounts of cake and chocolate and donuts, everything that was there, because the crew had put out a big buffet of treats for us.
And Kristian and I just came over at the same time and walked up to the cake and started eating. So, that's something they have in common! They're always eating, always hungry. They also both like to talk a lot and you can't win an argument with those two. It's like they're always right.
That's why when they butt heads, it's such a roller coaster with them, because they're both so stubborn and strong, and they both refuse to lose when they argue. That's what causes the conflict that happens between them sometimes.
What are some of the ways that you are like Ciara?
Ciara and I are similar in that we're both outgoing, but I'm a lot more respectful to my mom than Ciara was, and I guess I'm a little more mature than she is, but she's growing. She's getting there.
Right now, we're right up to the part of the story where Claire is spilling the secret about Rafe and Sami and Rafe and Hope's wedding, and Ciara is not happy about that. What did you think about this storyline when you were filming it?
I thought it was so juicy! It was such a fun storyline to do. Ciara ended up punching Claire, and that was really really fun to shoot. Olivia [Keegan - Claire] and I had a blast doing that. While filming, we were all really content with the takes that we did. We all felt the energy on set. The energy was great and it was a great episode.
Do you hang out with Olivia a lot off set?
We do! We actually went to a concert together last week. She is a great friend of mine and I love her company. I love seeing her face when I come to work. It just makes my day.
Is it difficult being friends in real life and hating them on the show?
No, it's not difficult. At the end of the day, it's our job. It's acting, and whatever happens stays in Salem. We leave the set with no hard feelings. We all know it's just a show.
As we wrap up, is there any message you'd like to share with your fans?
I would just like to tell the fans: thank you so much for accepting me and welcoming me with open arms! I really look forward to reading your tweets and reactions to the episodes on Twitter. Even though I don't respond a lot, I do read them. So thank you for the funny memes and all of that. And I can't wait for you guys to see what happens!
Check out Victoria's work and the latest happenings in Salem on Days of Our Lives every weekday on NBC!
Jack Ori is a staff writer for TV Fanatic. Follow him on Twitter.