Hello friends of Days of Our Lives!
On Thursday June 2, 2011 I arrived in Los Angeles, California with excitement practically bursting from my veins. I bounded out of the aircraft and down to the luggage carousel, texting my friends (the other members of Team Molly) to let them know I had arrived. I was, annoyingly, the last one there.
After what seemed like ages, I finally spotted my suitcase, struggled to get it by myself, and bounced out the door just as Team Molly pulled up. This was the first time we had all been together since last August when we were in Boston (prior to the creation of Team Molly to support Molly Burnett). I could not have been more excited if I tried!
Once we had checked into the hotel and unpacked a little – although not a lot, except to pull out candy and some things I had brought for my friends, since I never unpack on vacations, no matter how long I’m staying somewhere – we hit the town to celebrate. Our trip had officially begun!
Since I am writing this article about the events we attended, not the trip as a whole, I will not bore you with details of where we ate or what we did otherwise.
On top of that, the whole weekend became somewhat of a blur, since certain people woke up at 4 AM every morning and I did not get much sleep. I can tell you, though, I count it as the best vacation of my life so far and one would be hard-pressed to beat it.
Our first event was Friday night. We attended the For Love Charitible Events dance party. We arrived much earlier than we needed to, which made me realize just how much I hated the shoes I wore. My feet hurt about ten minutes into the event. That is aside from the point, though.
The first two stars to arrive were Kate Mansi and Camila Banus. I had met Camila briefly at Day of Days in November 2010, but never met Kate before – save for Twitter interactions. Matthew and I were the first brave ones to go talk to them. Everyone else seemed to just be sitting at their tables or mingling slightly. We decided we could mingle later and headed over to them.
I must say, those two ladies are so much fun to talk to and both are absolutely stunning in person. I chatted with Camila, mainly, while Matthew talked with Kate. Eventually the rest of the team made their way over as well. Somehow it came up that I am a vegetarian, which led Kate to mention that she is, as well, most of the time.
We also talked about college, weather, journalism…a lot of stuff, really. Just before I left, I told Kate that I also go by ValaBlack, which I had forgotten to mention to her earlier. It was nice to meet her, since we had tweeted before. She exclaimed that she was sorry she had not recognized me and gave me a hug.
We headed back to our table for a bit before being pulled out onto the dance floor by some friends. It was fun, except that the floor was very hot and I felt disgusting. I tried my best to fix myself up before the other stars arrived – which happened to not be too long after. Molly Burnett, Casey Deidrick and Mark Hapka walked in together and we greeted them a few minutes later.
Since this was our first time seeing Molly Burnett as Team Molly with all of us together, we decided we were in need of some group photos. Molly happily agreed, and Casey was our photographer. We posed for the first photo and just as the flash was about to fire, I saw movement from the corner of my eye. Mark jumped straight into our photo! Once we all stopped laughing, we took a few more photos, but I think the one with Mark is my favorite. A print of it now hangs in my cubicle at work.
Later, we saw we were joined by Chandler Massey, as well. Although he did not stay too long, we did get to chat with him. I decided to introduce myself as ValaBlack, rather than Stephanie, since it had come to my attention that, thanks to Twitter, more people know me by this name. Case in point, he remembered me as soon as I said my name. He thanked me again for the candy and mittens I sent him at Christmas and we talked for awhile, as well as got a few photos. I also got a photo with Chandler and Casey together, but unfortunately, it was very out-of-focus, which makes me sad, since it would have been so good otherwise. Oh well, it was a ton of fun, regardless.
As I was trying to convince someone to come back out to the dance floor with me, James Scott stopped by our table. He explained that he could not stay long, but wanted to see everyone, so he was going table-to-table. Molly Burnett ran over and introduced us as her team, telling him he had to be nice to us, which made us all laugh. They whispered something between them a moment before she bounced back off. We talked with James for a few minutes, though I cannot recall for the life of me what about. I know he was very nice and charming. His accent is to die for – but anyone who has ever seen the show probably could tell you that.
By this point, Matthew had been pulled out onto the dance floor by Kate and they were doing the “Cupid Shuffle” together. He and the cast members in attendance were comparing dance moves and eventually, I got a couple of my friends to go back to dancing with me. Basically, we danced the rest of the night. I got to dance with both Molly and Casey, and Molly danced with the team for quite awhile, too. It was nearly impossible to keep up, and I do not consider myself the best dancer by any means, so I was worried I was making a fool of myself, but, well, that did not stop me.
We ended up back in our room around midnight or just after, completely exhausted – or at least I was. I’m fairly sure I was not the only one, either. We fell into our beds, alarms set for early the next morning, when the events would continue.
At some point during the dance party, I had kicked off my shoes, so I was dancing in bare feet (as were all the other girls) and the next day, I woke up with big blisters on my feet and legs were killing me. Completely worth it though.
Our first event (of four) on Saturday was the “Samantha’s Friends Breakfast” at Henry’s Hat – a bar owned by Days alum, Martha Madison. We found seats at the bar, but to be clear, we did not order any alcohol. After all, it was only 10 AM. The whole morning became like a blur once the stars showed up. I got a chance to talk to just about everyone, luckily, but I think there were one or two I did not get to see.
Camila Banus ended up right next to where my friends and I were sitting, so I got to talk to her first. I had brought some candy with me, since Canadian candy is very different from American candy, so I have learned. I gave her a bit and told her I hoped she liked them. She later tweeted me to say she loved it and told me later she had even gotten her mom addicted to Smarties. We talked awhile longer before other fans came over to speak to her.
I found my friends talking with Terrell Ransom Jr. and Lauren Boles, so I went over to greet them as well. Both kids were completely adorable and sweet. Lauren probably did not stop smiling the entire time and Terrell and his mom were very friendly and easy to talk to. Although I did not get a photo with Terrell, we all got photos with Lauren.
Around this time, I also briefly got to speak to Suzanne Rogers. I am in awe of that woman. Honestly, she is so stunning! I got her autograph, as well as a photo, but she was quite busy (as one might expect), so I did not have much time to speak with her.
I worked my way over to where Shelby Young and Camila Banus were hanging out. I had never met Shelby before, but she was another star with whom I had tweeted. She remembered me from twitter, as well as for sending her Smarties and Canadian mittens at Christmas. Camila offered to take our photo, mainly because she wanted to use my professional camera.
It was so cute how excited she got over the clicking of the flash. She took two shots just so that she could hear it again. As it turned out, I had not had the camera in focus at all (literally, we were blurred beyond recognition), but both agreed to take the photo again, once I had put it into better focus. I stayed a few moments to talk again before heading over to where the other stars were.
I saw Kate Mansi had arrived, so I ran over to where I had left my candy and grabbed what I had brought for her. I managed to catch her before she went upstairs and she excitedly took the candy. She told me she had stolen a bunch from Casey when I had sent him a ton of it earlier in the year and that they were her favorites. She said since I was so sweet, I deserved another picture, so I handed off my camera to a friend and they snapped a shot for me.
As I was headed back to my seat, I ran into Carrie and Matthew chatting with Wally Kurth and joined them for a few moments. We all got autographs from him and Matthew got his photo, as well. We also ran into Arianne Zucker, who had been (conveniently) right next to our chairs. We talked with her until she was pulled away for something.
The auction is always one of my favorite parts of any event – besides actually talking with the actors. I do not know what it is about auctions, except that at fan events, they manage to combine three of my favorite things: Days of Our Lives, shopping, and competition. Well, I was a fairly good girl, setting a decent limit on myself (since my idea of decent is probably quite different from most other people’s, I shall not post that here), and bid only on items I truly wanted. Well, due to this limit, I missed out on a few things that would have been really cool, like a lunch with pretty much all of Young Salem, but I realistically had to take paying tuition for school into mind. Oh, and, you know, that whole eating thing, too.
I did win one auction, however, which was really the one I wanted the most. They auctioned off a photo in Soap Opera Digest with any of the stars of your choice. Which seemed like a lot of fun – plus, I knew my mom would be really excited if my picture made it into a magazine. I actually was surprised that I didn’t have to spend as much as I thought I would. Then, I just had to give my credit card and contact information to the woman in charge and wait with the winner of a photo in Soap Opera Weekly for the photographer. It was a hard decision for me to determine who I wanted a photo with, and actually I ended up just having several people, while the other woman chose to have hers with just Wally Kurth. In my photo, I had Kate Mansi, Lauren Koslow, Camila Banus, Molly Burnett, Casey Deidrick and Mark Hapka, and they brought along Lauren Boles and Terrell Ransom Jr, which of course I did not protest to.
While waiting for the photographer, I found Camila was about to leave, but she was kind enough to stay around for the picture, though I told her it would be alright if she had to go. I got to talk with her, Kate and Lauren while the photographer rounded up the others. The photo was published about two weeks later and I was happy with the results. I didn’t even blink!
It wound up being a tight crunch to get back in time for the For Love Charitable Events Q&A. We ended up having to change into our Team Molly t-shirts in the parking lot. Thank goodness we all had tank tops beneath the shirts we had worn to the breakfast. This also meant I had the wrong lens for the next event (I needed a zoom, but only had my basic kit lens), unfortunately, but the majority of the photos turned out fairly decent.
At first, no one was asking many questions, so Arianne Zucker began telling us funny stories and making all of us laugh. I hadn’t realized before just how hilarious she is! Eventually, a few more people began asking questions, primarily about EJami and EJ-related topics.
Matthew raised his hand and asked about everyone’s first job, which led to some funny tales of James Scott as a donkey in a Dasani water commercial (and someone finding it on YouTube). During this time, Molly and Casey wandered in late. When asked for an excuse, they replied that their car had been in a freak accident and flipped over so they couldn’t get there on time. We never did get the real story (and in case you believe their tale, at the end of the night, Carrie and I were walking outside the hotel and saw them drive by in a perfectly untouched vehicle).
Something you learn from Q&A sessions with the cast is that they are all really funny people! But they also answered some questions seriously, especially those about the new writers. They all seemed generally enthusiastic about the writers and explained that they had been promised more character integrity and fewer flashbacks. The story would move in a quicker and more understandable way, and characters would not just change on a whim to suit the situation. This pleased everyone to hear!
When the questions seemed to die down again, I decided to ask one. I had to laugh because as soon as they spotted my hand, everyone on stage practically announced, “ValaBlack has a question!” Camila, remembering an earlier conversation, said, “ValaBlack-slash-Stephanie-slash-Amanda-slash-anything-else.” Mark, much to my surprise, even told the audience how I had always made fun of my mom for naming me after Stephanie Johnson, only to find out later from my dad that I was really named after Stefano DiMera. (Actually, that was his reason – my mom really named me after an awful song from The Partridge Family, but that too is aside from the point.)
Well, my question was for Casey, in reference to Grace. I asked if he thought Chad would have changed so much if she had lived and whether or not he thought his character would have been a good father. He responded that he had not thought much about it, but he thought Chad would have been a good dad and obviously had always loved Grace. He added that he wished he could have had a few scenes with Grace before she died and that it was a very tragic storyline – which it was. I admit, I am still a bit heartbroken.
During the Q&A everyone had noticed our t-shirts. We were the only ones to come in matching gear – uniquely designed by Team Molly. We were asked to stand up and show them off, and were complimented on them. James was amused by the photo we had chosen as our logo, saying it was the most hilarious picture he had ever seen of Molly. She admitted she did not even remember it being taken (until Sara told her where we got it from). The team ended up later sending a bunch of the t-shirts for some of the cast, since they seemed to enjoy them so much.
Okay, so then came another auction. Actually, I did not win anything in this one. I bid on one or two items, but one of them, Matthew bid on and I did not have the heart to take it away from him. No one did, which was nice, and he ended up with a painted portrait of Molly. I was hoping they would have one of Kate that I could bid on, but no such luck. At least I saved some money. The auction was fairly fun to watch, anyway. Usually two people would get in a war over something and the price tag became unbelievable. I enjoyed those ones the most – whether I was part of them or not.
Once the auction was done, the Q&A was over. We were asked to pose with Molly, wearing our shirts. The photographer for the event snapped some shots of all of us together, and Casey took one, which Molly tweeted out.
We filed out and waited while they set up for the meet-and-greet, which began soon after.
The meet-and-greet was pretty standard. You choose a line-up, wait and meet the star. I had already met everyone there, but I wasn’t honestly going to pass up another opportunity. I saw Molly first and asked her to sign a photo for my friend Robin. Matthew also took our photo.
After talking to Molly, I stood in Mark’s line-up. He laughed at my shirt and asked why I never show any Hapka love. I told him if he comes back to Days, I would make a shirt for him, and joked that I would wear a sign to the cocktail party that night saying something along the lines of “I love Mark Hapka”.
Then, I headed over to see Casey. He thanked me for making a video for him earlier in the year. He had requested a video of Chad set to his favorite song, I was Once, Possibly, Maybe, Perhaps a Cowboy King, which I was happy to make for him. I was honestly just happy it turned out halfway decent, considering I have never made a video set to metal music before.
I decided to see Camila next. Her line did not seem too long and I had so much fun talking with her earlier. We talked for quite awhile, and when she mentioned how much she and her mom had enjoyed the Smarties I had given her, I told her about Kinder Eggs. I said I had always wanted to send them to the cast, since they are some of my favorite chocolates, but that I could not, as they are illegal in the States. This really seemed to intrigue her, and set her on a mission to find some. It was so tempting to throw some into the package I sent for her birthday, but I could not risk them being found.
After awhile, some other people had lined up behind me, so I headed off to see Lauren Koslow. I called over my friend Meg (not the one from Team Molly) who is a big fan of hers, since we had decided that if we could, we would get a picture of the three of us showing off our blue streaks. Meg talked with Camila while we waited to make it to the front, so I had Carrie take my picture with Lauren (blue-streak-to-blue-streak, as Lauren put it) and took hers and Matthew’s in return. I managed to catch Meg’s attention and we posed for our photo.
We all made our way back over to Molly and chatted with her for quite awhile until we had to make way for other fans. We also realized that we had yet to talk to James Scott, so we decided to stand in his line-up. It moved fairly quickly, which surprised me. Usually if I am waiting to meet James, it takes at least 20 minutes, but that was not the case this time.
Since none of us had an actual photo for him to sign, we handed over blank construction paper. Instead of signing his name normally, as most others had done, he began to draw portraits. In mine, I was a very large bunny and he was a hillbilly playing a banjo. He posed for photos with us, including one where he and Matthew were looking at each other, disgusted, which cracked all of us up.
Again, we went back to talk to Molly and Casey, where we stayed until the event was over and were ushered out of the room.
Our last Days event of the trip was to go to the Days Charity Events cocktail party, which took place at the Hard Rock Cafe on Universal City Walk. We went back to our hotel and changed into fancier clothing before heading over in that direction.
Once we walked in, we quickly found Crystal Chappell, who was the first celebrity to arrive. We waited patiently a few minutes before talking to her. She posed for photos and signed our papers for us.
She also told Meg and Sara that they crack her up and should make their own show or something. It’s true, when those two are together, they are really funny. They have since made a couple of videos, which I think they should win some sort of awards for.
When we left Crystal, we found Nadia Bjorlin had just arrived and talked to her for a few moments. However, she was quickly pulled away, as she was hosting the event and was very busy so I was not able to get a picture with her.
Valerie Wildman was the next we saw. I had been tweeting with her lately, and she had told me that her family calls her Vala, as well. So I introduced myself as the other Vala. We had a great talk! She was very encouraging about my studies and endeavors to become a journalist, a job which she told me she had once considered, as well. I actually kind of hated leaving her, but I figured I should allow the other fans some time with her and by that time, I had lost my friends to the crowd. Valerie is so kind and so much fun to chat with. She really puts you at ease and is so genuine!
I found Carrie and Matthew with Shelby Young and Camila Banus, playing some sort of touch-screen puzzle. I got to talk to them a bit more, and showed Camila the photo of the two of us I had gotten the night before. (Between events, Carrie and I had printed off a few photos at a nearby drugstore.) She exclaimed that she loved it and signed it for me. I asked if we could get another, since we had both turned out so pale. She agreed and we tried several shots before getting a picture we were both satisfied. I thanked her for that and she said she is a perfectionist, too, so she understood and was happy to do it.
Unfortunately, by this time, it had become quite apparent to me that eating meat at lunch was an awful idea (since I’m a vegetarian) and I felt a bit sick. Coupled with the heat generated by having so many people in a confined area, I wound up just finding the nearest table and sitting down for awhile.
I did not get up again until one of my friends came over to tell me they had gotten a table outside. I followed them in that direction and saw Molly and Casey, along with C.J. LeBlanc promoting the silent auction. I had bid quickly on a couple of items, but didn’t bother to see if I needed to increase my bid. I bought a few raffle tickets from Casey, then headed outside with Carrie.
Molly came over to our table to say hello and jokingly asked where my drink was. I told her I was not feeling that great because I had eaten meat, to which she asked why I did not get a veggie burger. I laughed and said that would have been the smart thing but the menu at the place we had gone to confused me and I could not find one. She said she hoped I felt better.
I pulled out an 8×10 photo we had taken the night before of all of us which Team Molly had jokingly all autographed and told her we had brought this for her. She excitedly took it and exclaimed that she was going to hang it in her dressing room. We all talked for awhile until the raffle began. She cheered for me when I won a psychic reading (or something like that – I’m still not quite sure what it is) and for Matthew when he won a gift bag, but had to go for a few minutes. She promised us she would come back before the event was over to see us again.
Once Molly left, I actually won twice more in the raffle; a small gift bag and a large one. I found myself laughing at the t-shirts they had inside. I loved what I had gotten. Matthew won once more, as well. We amused ourselves looking through the bags while we waited to see Molly again.
We later found Molly getting her photo taken by event photographers and watched the show. The photographer would call out a scenario and Molly, Casey and Shawn Christian would do a pose to represent their reactions. “Molly’s pregnant!” “Casey is gay and just ran off with Chandler!” were some examples.
Once they were done, Molly saw us and headed over. She told us we all should have our photos taken on the red-carpet area, so I handed off my camera and we posed for a few shots.
Matthew pulled out a picture he had gotten of Shawn in one of the gift bags where he was shirtless on a beach wearing some sort of triangle necklace. Molly thought it was hilarious and we posed for another picture holding that up. Carrie reminded me of a shirt of Shawn I had gotten of a similar nature. “Wanted for being too hot and sexy” or something along those lines. I fished in my bag for it and brought it to Molly, who got a good laugh out of it. I told her she should have it, since she could do more good with it than I ever could. She immediately threw it on over her dress and chaos ensued.
Casey jumped over and told her to take that off immediately, and Michelle Carter began screaming about taking her man. Casey and Michelle got in a fake fight, chasing each other through the Hard Rock, while Molly and Shawn posed for photos. Molly made jokes about “the family that showers together.”
We talked with Molly and Casey until we were literally forced to leave, but ran into her and Casey later at the hotel when Carrie and I had gone out to move the car from the precarious spot we had chosen earlier in our rush. Casey made a joke that we were stalking them and I laughed that he was probably trying to cover that they were stalking us. We told them goodnight, then headed back to our rooms.
Although our trip was not yet over and we continued to have an incredible time visiting different restaurants we had been told about and hitting the beach (where I incurred a massive sunburn), that was the end of the Days events portion. It was so much fun to attend and hang out with the stars.
Thank you so much to all the actors who came out, to the event staff and For Love Charitable Events, Days Charity Events and Samantha’s Friends for providing us all with such incredible experiences!
Due to Vala (Steph) being too busy to complete the post subsequent to her completing her summer job and getting ready for a return to her journalism university education coupled with her anticipated resignation in late 2011, I was more than happy to do so for her and help even though it is a ton of extra work that was not scheduled.
Unfortunately Steph (ValaBlack) announced her resignation prematurely before it was accepted by our management team. This caused an Internet hate group (which has attacked her and WHR previously) attempting to put her, WHR and Team Molly in a bad light publicly. Their hate attempt failed.
Steph, our mutual friends and in fact the entire team at WormholeRiders News Agency (WHR) knows who these malcontent persons are. They are being lead by several hateful women on Twitter, Live Journal, Facebook and elsewhere. These malcontents use many alias Internet accounts to try to mask their attacks. They also change names often to try and hide their identities. Two women in fact are using Steph as cover to this very day. WHR management has advised ValaBlack in this regard.
Alias identities will do these troublemakers no good since their hateful activities and alias’ have been reported in four countries (so far) with ongoing investigations in progress by various authorities monitoring their foul activities.
The management of WHR and Steph have communicated subsequent to these sad hateful events breaking out once again on the Internet. We are in 100% agreement that the best course of action is to report the hate attack(s) to the authorities and then ignore anyone who participates in an Internet hate group.
We mutually suggest to not participate in hate. Instead please demonstrate only love for your fellow human beings. No matter how misguided the malcontents may be, we ask that you show them how to love, not to hate.
Thank you for your thoughtful internalization of these important concepts. You can help make the world a better place for everyone to live in by loving.
This news article is the first of three final reports to be filed by Stephanie (ValaBlack). Per written agreement between herself and the management of WHR, the agreement times out later this year with the posting of her third and final news article. Date is TBD .
In closing, Team WHR wishes Stephanie well in her career as a journalist and at TeamMollyB, a wonderful Molly Burnett fan group that WHR management has supported since prior to its inception in November 2010 when Steph and I covered Day of Days 2010 together as fellow journalists. We will have one more feature story about Day of Days 2010 before Day of Days 2011 so stay tuned.
Thank you for reading and visiting WormholeRiders News Agency.
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Or as many of our readers and visitors often do, visit WHR on Twitter, WHR on Facebook or visit me on Twitter by clicking the text links or images avatars in this news story. I and the WHR team look forward to will Seeing You on The Other Side“!