Amsterdam native nominated for Daytime Emmy

By Rebecca Webster / Recorder News Staff


Recorder News Staff

Jessica Collins never thought she'd be an Emmy nominee.

In fact, she had forgotten they were announcing the nominees that night. While other actors waited up to hear if they were selected, she as fast asleep.

But at 5:55 a.m. on May 1, a text came through from her publicist congratulating her on the big news.

She was nominated for a Daytime Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress for her role as Avery Bailey Clark on the CBS day-time soap opera "The Young and The Restless."

Collins, formerly a Capogna, grew up in Amsterdam, attending Amsterdam High School where she played in the orchestra and was a majorette for all four years.

Post high school, she took a leap of faith and moved to Manhattan, with, as Collins would say, "a dream." 

"It was a huge jump. I don't know now how it is, but when I was a kid, it was just far enough that nobody went to New York City. It's not like I knew people there," she recalled. "It seemed like this big scary mysterious place, but for some reason, I couldn't wait to get there."

She was so excited to pursue her dream of acting, she said, that the excitement just seemed to outweigh the fear and reservations.

"I started working in commercials and from there I did kind of the classic story of waiting tables in New York, auditioning every day, and I landed a part in my first real acting job on a show called 'Loving.'"

But eventually it was Los Angeles where she wanted to be.

After working through different projects and networks, it was a little less than two years ago that she was contacted by representatives from "The Young and The Restless" to see if she was interested in a job.

"I wasn't really looking to do a soap, but they were very convincing," she said. "I liked the character a lot."

In the show she became Avery, a quirky, nerdy attorney who is notorious for tripping and spilling things, Collins explained.

"She's kind of a geek who also happened to be very successful and very smart," she said. "It's recently been revealed in this last year that she is a closet chef, which is great because I'm a chef in real life."

Collins graduated a couple years ago from Le Cordon Bleu and hosts her own food blog.

"When producers found out that, they incorporated it into the character," she said, adding that when she is shown in the kitchen in the soap opera, she is often actually cooking food on the set.

When it came time to send in an episode for nominations, she gathered suggestions from the writers and producers of the show, accepted some help from a fellow actor, and decided on the episode that best represented her work.

"I knew the episode that I wanted to submit and I kind of knew when we shot it that it was for me a special episode," she said. 

In the episode, Avery's father dies, but she finds out that he wasn't who she thought he was all her life. It was the biggest turn for her character, Collins said.

"She really went from being a girl to a woman in that time."

When she received that nearly 6 a.m. text message, the congratulations and energy just kept rolling in.

"The best way to describe it is like your birthday on crack," she said laughing. "Your birthday happens once a year, but I've never had an Emmy nomination before so this is a first."

Emails, texts, phonecalls, Facebook messages, Tweets, and more flooded her inboxes that day. Some of her family still lives in Amsterdam, but many have moved all over the world, and they contacted her sending their best and happiness.

When asked what helped her get to her Emmy nominee success, Collins attributed it to her life.

"I think what really makes an actor most is life experiences. It's the personal things that you go through that enrich what you can do with these characters," she said. "Someone writes it and creates a character, but you fill it with life and soul."

Collins will go up against four others in her nominee category on June 16 at the 40th Daytime Entertainment Emmy Awards.