Soap Hopper Tamara Braun Reacts to Her 2024 Daytime Emmy Nomination

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With Ava and Harris' efforts to take down Clyde ratcheting up on Days of Our Lives, FIRST for Women caught up with 2024 Daytime Emmy Lead Actress nominee Tamara Braun – who talks about her character Ava’s antics and redemption, and what it was like to reunite with Steve Burton decades after playing Carly to his Jason on General Hospital.

Plus, the two-time Supporting Actress Daytime Emmy-winner shares what made this year's Lead Actress nomination for playing Days of Our Lives Ava all the sweeter.

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Tamara Braun reveals what makes the 51st Annual Daytime Emmys so special

Actress Tamara Braun attends the world premiere of Affirm Films' 'Big George Foreman' at Regal LA Live on April 26, 2023
Actress Tamara Braun attends the world premiere of Affirm Films' Big George Foreman at Regal LA Live on April 26, 2023
Paul Archuleta/Getty Images

When the 2024 Daytime Emmy nominations came out on April 18, Tamara Braun was more than a bit distracted. She’d lost her father and a father figure within days of each other, was nursing mysterious stomach pains … and it was her 53rd birthday!

So the nomination was an extra nice gift,” Braun shares. “It feels really wonderful. It's good to have some joy and something to be happy about among the sadness and the hard stuff.”

While she’s touched by her own nomination, the soap fave, who has appeared on Days of Our Lives, General Hospital and All My Children, is also thrilled for the Daytime community as a whole.

“There were 16 soaps once, so it’s nice to know that we're all still around and being honored for what we do,” she explains. “It’s an absolute blessing.”

Another blessing? Getting to play a Days of Our Lives character who keeps coming back for more!

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Actress considers Ava Vitali’s 'nine lives' on Days of Our Lives

Tamara Braun Day of Days Lives Ava Vitali
Tamara Braun (2023)
Todd Williamson/Peacock

Mob princess Ava Vitali is one of those deliciously unstoppable troublemakers. In 2008, Steve’s one-time stalker skipped town after torturing hostages, killing Shawn Brady and so much more. Her 2015 machinations culminated in Steve and Kayla’s barely legal son, Joey, falling for Ava… and then “killing” her. And after Rolf resurrected her in 2020, she eventually spiraled out, planted a bomb and landed in Bayview.

“I don't know how it continues,” Braun admits with a laugh. “I mean, she was on ice for many years! But it's absolutely wonderful that Days of Our Lives keeps having me come back. She's like a cat with nine lives.”

No matter what stunts Ava pulls, she always seems to re-find her footing in Salem … until she falls again.

“Ava comes from great hardship,” Braun reminds. “She was not brought up in a healthy environment. She's from the mob. She watched her dad kill her mother. She was drugged by him to keep her from remembering that. So she can be an absolutely awful person … but I think she’s doing the work on herself.

“She's a fighter,” the actress continues. “She's vulnerable. She's sassy. She's a loving mother. She's fiercely devoted to the people she loves. Maybe that is what makes her endearing – and enduring! I think she's finally starting to realize where she came from and what she's done. She's trying to make amends, give herself some grace, and be better.”

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Tamara Braun reveals why she’d be friends with Ava Vitali

Tamara Braun days of our lives Kayla Strangles Ava.webp
"Days of Our Lives"
NBC

Over the years, Ava has come closer and closer to finding this internal peace – as well as the happily ever after to go with it. After stalking Steve that first time, she almost found love with John, but that went up in smoke when she went on the run. Then she made a home with Rafe … only to slide of the rails after he slept with Nicole. And after Jake proposed, he was murdered for her engagement ring, which sent Ava into DiMera machinations, off a cliff and off to Bayview.

Her son Charlie has also thrown a few psycho wrenches in her life!

“She does face a lot of heartbreak,” Braun says with a sigh. “I think that is part of what makes her ability to endure and try again appealing.”

In fact, while folks like Kayla will never get past all the trouble the trails behind Ava, Braun – a devoted dog mom who works with the rescue organization The Real Bark – would be friends with her character, today.

woman kissing a dog; Tamara with her dog
Tamara and her pup (2017)
Courtesy of Tamara Braun

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“When she was doing the drugs stuff, I wouldn't probably have known about that,” Braun justifies. “So if I didn't know, yes, I would be. If I did know … I think that would be hard for me. But then if we were already really deep friends, I'd be friends with her because I'd have to know why. And then I'd have to try to get her out of it!”

Star talks Steve Burton pairing and exit on Days of Our Lives

man and woman posed
Steve Burton and Tamara Braun (2002)
Jean-Paul Aussenard / Contributor / Getty

These days, Harris is the one trying to help Ava out of her predicament by assisting her taking down Clyde – and the story reunited Braun and Steve Burton, who solidified the Carly/Jason super-pairing over 20 years ago.

Days brought me back so we could work together and see how that goes,” says Braun, who returned to General Hospital as Kim Nero in 2017, but rarely crossed with Burton during that run. “We didn't have storylines together there, so it's been great.

“At some level, it was like reuniting, but it's different sets and our characters are different,” she continues. “We’re in a different relationship, so it has been wonderful to explore that and get a second opportunity to do some meaningful work.”

While Ava and Harris are still in the thick of it on Days of Our Lives, the show shoots several months ahead – and Burton is now back on General Hospital, where he’s played Jason on and off since 1991.

“I was sad that he left and I miss him, but I understand,” Braun says. “As long as he's happy with where he is, I’m happy.”

The storylines that landed Braun a 2024 Daytime Emmy nomination

man and woman at award show
Tamara Braun and Steve Burton (2016)
Kathy Hutchins/Shutterstock

Whatever Burton’s exit will mean for Ava, their Days of Our Lives reunion played a role in Braun landing this year’s Daytime Emmy nomination.

“I submitted scenes with Steve,” she says. “It's when Ava comes back, so I'm in the mental hospital. We are talking about mental illness and coping and love for my son. I also submitted scenes with Gil, who attacks and tries to rape Ava. She's able to get a gun from him, push him away and take care of herself.”

Not exactly the lightest of scenes – which is why Braun also wanted to include some of the fun Ava and Harris had during their Parisian adventure searching for Susan.

“Soaps are heavy and dramatic, so it's important to infuse lightness,” she explains. “I don't know that there's been a lot of light for Ava… but I always try to find humor where I can.”

Why Days star Tamara Braun can’t wait to celebrate the 51st Annual Daytime Emmys

Woman with Emmy award
Tamara Braun wins an Emmy for Outstanding Supporting Actress for her role as Ava (2009)
Gregg DeGuire / Contributor / Getty

As someone who's been on a number of soap operas, Braun is looking forward to all the fun events surrounding the 2024 Daytime Emmy Awards at the Westin Bonaventure Los Angeles.

“I literally am so excited,” Braun gushes to FIRST. “Most of these people are my friends, or I've worked with, know and respect them.”

With nothing but love for her competition, Braun is also thrilled to attend the annual Leading Ladies lunch – which, based on tradition, will be hosted by last year’s Lead Actress-winner, Jacqueline MacInnes Wood.

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“The women in my category, my goodness!” Braun cheers of General Hospital’s Finola Hughes and Cynthia Watros, The Bold and the Beautiful’s Katherine Kelly Lang and Annika Noelle, and The Young and the RestlessMichelle Stafford. “It's lovely to be part of this beautiful group of strong, wonderful women and actors.”

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The 51st Annual Daytime Emmy® Awards will air Friday, June 7 on CBS, 8:00-10:00 PM, ET/delayed PT. The Daytime Creative Arts & Lifestyle Emmy® Awards will stream on Saturday, June 8, via The Emmys apps and at watch.TheEmmys.tv.