0209SOAPaudListen as Chandler Massey talks about the role he plays on "Days of our Lives"
When: 1 p.m. weekdays
On: NBC (WXIA-TV Atlanta)
It wasn’t too long ago Chandler Massey was landing key parts in high school plays and visiting Gainesville to see his grandparents, Kayanne and Abit Massey.
These days, as the newest cast member on the long-running soap opera “Days of Our Lives,” he gives an interview arranged through NBC handlers and other publicity folks.
“It’s been amazing, so exciting. I love it,” he said of his acting journey in an interview on Feb. 1, when he premiered on the soap as Will Horton.
Massey, 19, a Norcross native, joined the cast Dec. 8 after arriving in Los Angeles to start classes at UCLA.
He had an agent there and a few credits to his name, including a scene in CW’s “One Tree Hill,” HBO’s “Eastbound and Down” and Lifetime’s “Army Wives.”
The agent was able to arrange an audition for Massey, who was later called back and hired.
“It’s just a fantastic opportunity,” he said.
His family, including his grandparents and his parents, Lewis and Amy Massey, caught his first episode and called with congratulations, Massey said.
“I was very nervous,” he said about awaiting their reaction. “I didn’t have a huge part in this first episode, but they were really supportive and made me feel very good about it.”
And proud they were.
“We’re excited about it. We saw very early that Chandler was special. He’s done well in school and he’s an Eagle Scout,” said Abit Massey, president emeritus of the Gainesville-based Georgia Poultry Federation.
“He had the lead in most of the plays at Norcross High.”
Chandler Massey said his thespian history dates to fifth grade, when he played Injun Joe in “The Adventures of Tom Sawyer.”
“I liked (acting) from the very beginning,” he said. “When I was a kid, I used to make my own movies with a video camera.”
He went on to perform in high school plays and ended up in acting workshops and acquiring an agent.
“I never really considered professional acting until late in high school. I didn’t really think I was good enough,” Massey said.
Lewis Massey said his son has long dreamed of going to California and becoming an actor.
“He is certainly off to a great start and we’re proud of him, and we hope there are great things ahead for him,” he said. “He had a great drama teacher in high school ... who helped him develop his skills and motivate him to become better and better.”
Chandler Massey said he was able to handle earlier TV roles while living in Georgia, as those scenes were shot in North Carolina and South Carolina.
He described his “Days of Our Lives” character as someone mature for his age and well grounded, often acting more like the parent in the relationship with his mother.
“He kind of had an interesting upbringing, but he turned out to be a really good kid, very forgiving,” Massey said. “He doesn’t like being lied to, definitely, but that happens all the time to him.”
He said he is surprised at how quickly it takes “to get a scene down.”
“The pace is a lot faster, so I had to get used to that,” Massey said. “... It’s definitely challenging.”
He has taken the winter quarter off at UCLA, but “I definitely plan on going back,” he said.
Massey said is studying international business as “a backup plan,” and noted that he also wanted to learn Chinese.
He said is not looking beyond his part on “Days of Our Lives” or giving much thought to the notion that soaps have launched many a film star.
“I really appreciate and want to fully take advantage of the opportunity I have now,” Massey said. “I just want to take each step at a time.”
He laughs when asked if any loved ones were soap fans before he landed the part.
“No sir, but they are now,” he said.