Exclusive: Michelle Stafford Dishes Her Exit from The Young and the Restless, New Web Series
Michelle Stafford | Photo Credits: Jason LaVeris/FilmMagic
She's still lying in a coma on The Young and the Restless but, in real life, two-time Emmy winner Michelle Stafford is kicking ass and taking names — as always. Her new comedy webseries The Stafford Project (MichelleStafford.com), which debuts Aug. 5, skewers reality TV, Hollywood agents and even Stafford's own adorably sad love life. TV Guide Magazine scored an exclusive sneak peek at the first two episodes and a one-on-one with the lady herself, who tells us why she has chosen to exit her crazy-popular role as Y&R's Phyllis (her last airdate is Friday, Aug. 2) and why her millions of disappointed fans shouldn't be hating the powers that be.
TV Guide Magazine: Congrats on The Stafford Project! It's terrific and audacious and so, well...you! As we know, there's never a dull moment in the life of Michelle Stafford. Is that why you're turning it into a web series?
Stafford: A primary reason I have left Y&R is that I want to do comedy. I decided I needed to create something for myself, and you write what you know, right? I teamed up with my two friends, Paige Long and Paige Dorian, and we came up with The Stafford Project as a way of finding the humor in all the degrading things that happen to me. I just lead that kind of life. Things go wrong. Things blow up in my face. But even the most difficult things in my life are riddled with comedy, like how hard I tried to have a child. I went through years of literal hell — seven surgeries and nine different adoption cycles all of which failed. I was constantly being told I was an old bitch, that my eggs were as old as the hills. Then there was the in-vitro doctor who, after giving me two surgeries and looking up my vag every other day, suddenly revealed that he had feelings for me. Plus there's all the reaction and the criticism I get because I'm not married. "How come you're single?" "What kind of a loser must you be?" "There must be something wrong! Are you a closet lesbian?" And most of this comes from other single women, or women who are in a miserable marriage! It's insane! At the time, none of it seems funny. In fact, it's pretty horrific. But now that I have some distance and a beautiful daughter [Natalia Scout Lee, 3, who was born via surrogate using Stafford's fertilized embryo], I am able to look back at everything and find the humor in it all. And I do know how to tell a good story! So I thought, why not turn all this into a web show? Self-deprecation is my friend.
TV Guide Magazine: Does this series feel like therapy to you?
Stafford: It's very therapeutic! Maybe it will help other women, too. There's such torment attached to being single and trying to find a man these days. Torment! In the second episode I go on this date from hell that actually happened to me. We've all had them, but you keep on trying. This series is about Michelle Stafford but exaggerated elements of me. It's got heart. You root for her to succeed because she has so much hope. If you don't have hope you just look like a stupid woman who keeps dating tools. I also throw in the fact that I'm in my 40s and how I don't want to admit that. Society has decided that it's all over for me when, in fact, I'm still feeling like a hot bitch. I'm still getting my groove on!
TV Guide Magazine: You also don't hesitate to savage your agents. The opening episode has them convincing you that soaps are over and that you must do a reality show to save your career. Any of that true?
Stafford: That's not a conversation I've ever had with my own agent but it's definitely a reflection of the way people perceive soaps. It's the same ole bandwagon bulls--t you keep hearing in this business — that soaps are dead. Meanwhile, everyone's still looking for their 10 percent commission. My agent on The Stafford Project is named Steve and so is my real agent, who watched the first episode and was just filled with criticism. He did not find it lovely. I'm going to have to give him some time.