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32 August 26th, 2017 Y&R’s Jess Walton Dishes On Her 30-Year Milestone As Genoa City’s Jill!

Photo credit: JPI Studios

August has been a month of celebration for The Young and the Restless enduring star, Jess Walton.  The two-time Daytime Emmy-winning actress has played the one and only Jill for now 30 years in Genoa City.  Not an easy milestone to reach, or feat in the world of soap operas.

On Friday, August 18th, at a gathering in her honor: cast, crew, CBS and Sony executives, and Y&R creatives came together to praise and thank Jess Walton for her outstanding performances and efforts as a legacy member of the number-one daytime drama series.  From Y&R’s executive producer and now head writer Mal Young, to Sony’s Steve Kent and Jason Clodfelter, to Walton’s cast mates, Peter Bergman (Jack), Kate Linder (Esther), and Melody Thomas Scott (Nikki), everyone shared fond memories, and their love for Jess, and her one-of-a-kind brilliance, that has made Jill a character soap fans have either loved to love, or loved to hate for over three decades.

When it was her turn to speak, Walton noted those along the way who helped her and meant so much to her with some touching and humorous stories including those of her longtime scene partner, the late Jeanne Cooper (Katherine). In a surprise for Walton, Y&R producer, Jimmy Freeman put together a clip package of memorable Jill moments through the years illustrating the series love for Jess. 

On-Air On-Soaps sat down with Jess following the tribute in her honor to get her thoughts on the 30-year celebration, and her fantastic series run.  To kick things off though, here is what a few of her co-stars had to say about Jess on her big day.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

Peter Bergman (Jack): “People always ask who my favorite person to work with is, and I always say Jess Walton, because I have so much fun history with the character of Jill, and our scenes just play themselves.”

Sharon Case (Sharon):  “Jess is amazing.  I have watched her work over the years.  My favorite storyline with Jess was with Jerry Douglas as John Abbott, when they were having a custody battle over baby Billy!  That was just so well-written, and performed so well that it was one of my all-time favorite storylines on Y&R.  Jess is a really powerful actress, and she is so talented that she can play anything. 


Jess, you mentioned when you got up to address those in attendance, and to make your speech that it’s hard for you to speak publicly.

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

JESS:   Yes.  I don’t like public speaking.  I hate it!  It was harder than I expected and I didn’t know where to begin, because I had so many ideas in my head and so many memories. When I got up there to speak, I thought I couldn’t possibly fit all of this in; people are waiting for their lunch. (Laughs)  So, I just did a hodgepodge of memories.  I remember one of them was Ed Scott (Ex-EP, Y&R) running down the stage to me a million times at the beginning.  I then remember going to Bill Bell (Creator, Y&R) and saying, “Do I have to cry when it says in the script to cry during a speech, because it would always make me freeze up?”   Bill said, “No. You don’t.”    I went to Ed Scott and told him that, and then Ed said, “I’m going to kill him” (Laughs) Ed did not want me to have permission not to cry, because Ed loved seeing the actors cry. (Laughs)

When you watched the stroll down memory lanes in the clip package that was shown featuring those memorable Jill moments, what was your reaction?

Photo Credit: CBS

JESS:   I loved seeing me when I was younger.  I loved the Jeanne Cooper scenes, and I know it would have been magnificent if she was here with us for this, but I know she is watching. Jeanne shaped me so much, and she was such a strong person, that she made me strong.

I don’t know if you are aware, but so many over the years have told me how phenomenal they think you are as an actress, and many out there, who are your peers,  revere you as one of the penultimate actresses of the genre. 

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

JESS:  I can’t believe that, and I have never felt that!  That’s amazing to me and makes me feel very humbled, because all of that makes me uncomfortable, but I am very proud that people think that.  It’s funny, one of the great things and gifts on being with this show is that you could be really mediocre one day, absolutely feel bad about your performance the next day, and then do a kick-ass job on Thursday. So, you always have another chance. It used to be if you were a guest star on a weekly primetime show, if you blew it during your one shot that was it.  I remember when I felt that.  I would want to kill myself for the next month! (Laughs) Now, the crew and the cameramen at Y&R have seen me be good, bad, and indifferent.  I don’t have to prove a thing to them.  They know what I can do.  You can always do your best work when you feel comfortable, and I feel comfortable when working in front of them. 

In your 30 years, which were the storylines you disliked, or you thought were real stinkers for your character, Jill?

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

JESS:   I didn’t like when they sent Jill off into the witness protection program with Bobby played by John Enos. I did not like that; to leave to be the nanny to their baby?  Jill hated Brittany Hodges (Lauren Woodland), who was the mother of the baby, and Jill had worked all her life to be an executive at Jabot.  So when Jill says, “I will just go off with you two and be your nursemaid”, I thought, perhaps, that wasn’t the easiest scene to play.  A similar thing happened when I was in scenes with Michael Nouri (Ex-Elliot Hampton), and his character came in to steal Jabot.  Jill was supposed to run off with him and leave all of her family, friends, and everything she worked for behind.  That was another one where I went, “I don’t think so!” (Laughs)

On the flipside, what has been some of your favorite storylines?

Photo Credit: JPI Studios

JESS:  I particularly liked when Jill has both John Abbott (Jerry Douglas) and Rex Sterling (Quinn Redeker) on a string, but they did not know about each other.  I thought that was hilarious, because Jill always had to back herself out of a corner, and it was really a lot of fun.  There was also the storyline with David Kimball played by Michael Corbett.  It wasn’t that long, like maybe two years of the 30 years, but Michael is one of my dearest friends to this day. 

You replaced Brenda Dickson in the role.  What do you recall about that time, and coming on to Y&R as the new Jill?


JESS:  I did not know much about The Young and the Restless at all, but Nicolas Walker (Ex-Trey Clegg, Capitol) who was my co-star on Capitol, had been on the show for a little bit.  He had come over for a day and filled me in on the story. Nicholas would run lines with me and play Jeanne Cooper’s part as Katherine.  He truly filled me in on a tremendous amount of stuff! 

In closing, you know live in Oregon.  However, when all is said and done, do you want to continue coming back to Y&R, and being part of the fabric of the show?

JESS:  Oh sure, yeah.  I wouldn’t want to do it day in and day out anymore, but I like to come down in chunks.  It has been an amazing run for me on Y&R, and yes, I would like to keep coming back.

Share your congratulations to Jess Walton for her 30 years as Jill Foster Abbott Atkinson in the comment section below.  Then let us know what has been your favorite Jill scene over the three decades, and let us know your thoughts in subjects shared in our conversation with Jess.

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  1. Mateo says:

    Jess Walton is always a breath of fresh air. I love her gritty determination that she shows in each and every scene, be they big or small. Her storylines always true and most often are performed with precision and pure talent. Congrats on 30 years Ms. Walton, I am grateful for each and every one!


  2. Brenda klyce says:

    Jess/Jill thanks for all the tears, the laughter, the love and the tension you so eloquently portray when you come to the show….I’ve watched the Y&R since the beginning and you are one of my favorite charActers.

    I live in a small southern time and am widowed ..
    Watching the show I can live vicariously and get a piece of the star lifestyle I would never get without you and the show
    I really have been enjoying the private pictures of Oregon and you dog.
    That’s all I have when I come home now and they are just like your child
    .I have 1 son ,50, who has term I al heart disease …he is trying to Take care of me since I have just had foot and leg surgery.
    Thanks for giving me something to look forward to everyday…and thanks for being you…love you and wish you 30 more!!!!


  3. diane says:

    I always loved to hate


  4. Ray says:

    Two words: Class act!


  5. JK says:



  6. Paul says:

    The show needs Jill but not as a baby sitter for Billy or Cane but as the tremendous talent the actress brings to the character. She could fly in and take down Hilary in one clean swoop, put Victor in his place and even Cane.
    I miss the character and the actress


  7. Celia says:

    Love you, Jess. You are Queen….the epitome of grace, and in-your-face, savoir faire acting.
    Wishing you the best of the best in life……and more Jill, please!!


  8. Lew S. says:

    Totally miss her on a day to day basis. The show isn’t the same without her. Yes, a class act!


  9. James R. Poissant says:

    I love watching Jess own her scenes. She can really give a powerhouse performance when she has to rise above it.


  10. Helen says:

    Jess is the total package! I enjoy every scene she is part of and sincerely hope her presence continues. Living a short distance from Jess, it would be neat to pass her on a sidewalk or spot her out shopping ~~ but alas, no such luck. She deserves privacy and peace and I believe she has found that in OR.


  11. soapqueenforever says:

    I have always loved Jill. She has always been my favorite character. I loved the cat fights she had with Katherine. Classic soap opera at its best. Also the scenes with Jill and Esther have always been priceless. I am hoping we can see more of this class act in upcoming shows. Especially now, that her bbeloved Cane got himself into such a mess. Here’s to hopefully seeing more of the wonderfulness that is Jess Walton in future episodes. And on a side note, and I know what I am about to say has nothing to do with the abovementioned topic. I was wondering if I was the only watcher of The Bold and The Beautiful who is loving the pairing of Wyatt and Katie. Talk about chemistry. I say bring it on and bring me more. Let papa Bill stew over that a bit. Congrats again to the wonderful and talented Jess Walton.


    Kevin C replied

    Soapqueen, I am loving Wyatt and Katie together, wonderful paring and YES, for sure they have chemistry…


  12. Judith says:

    I still miss the dynamics between Jeanne Cooper and Jess. What great characters they played. Hopefully Jess can turn up from time to time on Y&R. It always makes me feel good when she’s on. Miss the old days of Y&R.


    Celia replied

    Yeeeessss, Judith!!!!! Everything you said!!


  13. jaybird369 says:

    CONGRATULATIONS on 30 years…and here’s to MANY MORE!!!!! CHEERS!!!!!


  14. Timmm says:

    See, this is the problem, Jess only wants to come in and work in chunks. NO! Y&R needs that character full time! Jess has earned the right to do what she wants in her life BUT when a production calls for Jill to be front and center, you have to be there. Imagine if Tome Brady only wanted to play 5 or 6 games a year! Its time for Jess to walk away. I love and respect her but they made a mistake not recasting Kathrine and they shouldnt do the same with Jill. Its about the show, not one singular cast member.


    Scott (ATWT Fan) replied

    Recasting Katherine Chancellor in anything but a short-term stint, a-la Michael Learned’s tenure, would be a major mistake and insult. As for recasting Jill, it’d be a daunting task, but it would be done. Though, I’d rather see Jess Walton continue her portrayal, even if it is in chunks. But more consistent chunks, than pieces here and pieces there, much like Traci Abbott.


    Soaphound replied

    Amen to that, Timm. Can you imagine the memories Jess Walton must have after 30 years? The scenes with Jeanne Cooper alone must make her proud. I wish we had more flashback scenes of their best tender and/or explosive moments. Not more of this insane Charlie & Mattie takeover!


    Tomas Torquemada replied

    Everyone deserves a happy retirement. She clearly enjoys hers.

    She’s needed. She’s a great actress. But – and I hate saying this – either they retire the character or they recast.


  15. Mo says:

    Congratulations! Can’t wait for you to return to Y&R.


  16. damien says:

    still waiting for tricia cast to return as nina and reignite the jill vs nina feud!
    after katherine , nina was jill s second arch nemesis…now that cane s single and broke and a snake maybe he can cozy up to nina?! this could amp up the chancellor war again!
    the newmans are tired, give the chancellors some love
    …give lily and cane a break, they re better apart. bring back redaric as tyler who had real chemistry with cristell.this jordan characters not cutting it. his lame history with chelsea who is also lame without adams pointless


  17. Barbara from Atlanta says:

    I like Walton and congratulations on the milestone.

    That being said, Walton has barely been on screen for the past 5 years (averaging about 10 shows a year) that I’m having a hard time with the significance of the event.

    Mal Young has been with the show for less than 2 years. Anyone else wonder exactly what “memories” Mal Young shared about his time working with Walton on Y&R?? I bet Walton hasn’t been on the show for a total of 30 episodes since Young has been employed there.

    I like Walton and hope that she is enjoying her (clearly desired) retirement. She certainly earned it. However, I miss Jill Foster Abbott (none of this inane, “Fenmore business”) and want her back. Jill deserves more than the once a quarter appearances that Walton is lodging as the character. (At this point, Big Foot sightings in Walton’s beloved Oregon are occurring more frequently than an appearance of Jill in Genoa City!!).

    The show needs to give Walton a well-deserved pat on the back, wish her well in Oregon, and RECAST THE ROLE OF JILL!!!!!!


  18. janet says:

    I do not watch Y&R .Can’t stand eric B, But I loved Jill on Capitol. She was great with Nickolas. She is a very talented actress.


  19. Ann says:

    Congratulations Jess – I have enjoyed your portrayal of Jill Abbott over the years – especially your scenes with Jeanne Cooper (Katherine Chancellor).


  20. Ann says:

    I have also enjoyed the smartalic comments that use to go back and forth between Jill and Jack Abbott when she was married to John Abbott


  21. Gia says:

    I miss seeing Jess Walton, Excellent actress.


  22. Jerry says:

    She’s amazing and always has been!


  23. Sara Ouzts says:

    We love Jill…she is such a professional!


  24. Marita Lilley says:

    I doubt that there is an actress who could fill Jess Waltons’ shoes as Jill! She was/is inimitable in that role!


  25. Joy Tew says:

    I have watched Y&R since Jess was a manicurist on the show. Jess is one of the greatest actress and miss her a lot. Wish she was on more often. Love that she shares with us on face book. A beautiful lady!


  26. vickie jean spiars says:

    My favorite schene was the time Kathryn and Jill’s mom was dying and didn’t know at the time about Jill’s mother whom was actually Kathryn Chancellor. When the time they told Jill, I thought she was going to have a heart attack or just have a moment without words but she was just Jill and said you got to be kidding me. But it was true and Jill’s mom whom raised her all those years wanted Jill to know, because, sorry, can’t remember Jill’s mom at this moment but she like and loved Kathryn and wanted Jill to know and to accept her has her mom, because Kathryn helped Jill’s mom whom raised her without Jill ever knowing it even though they had some big brawls thru the years when she was a young lady as a stylist. Jill was a rebel and she still is but has made all these years because she was a maverick and made it a strong character to this very day. Don’t ever stop Jessica, because you are the greatest.


  27. Daiana says:

    Congratulations you are a focal point on Y&R and your bubbly personally can always be felt!! Well deserved !!!


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